Curves and panels
The process of cracking open the Survivor is more involved than you might think. BitFenix keeps the side panels steady with thumbscrews, yet removing those thumbscrews alone doesn't actually do anything. To free even one of the side panels, you'll need to fetch a screwdriver and remove the two rounded plastic pieces at the top...
Each piece is held in place by two Philips screws recessed deep in those oval-shaped holes you see in the photos above. That's a far cry from the completely tool-less handle mechanism we saw on the Corsair Graphite Series 600T. To BitFenix's credit, the Survivor is quite a bit cheaper. Still, forcing the user to unscrew plastic guards strikes me as an unfortunate example of form over function, and I'm left wondering why BitFenix couldn't have just used thumbscrews to keep those things in place.
When I spoke to the BitFenix folks about the issue, I was told that the firm experimented with making the curved plastic parts entirely screw-less. However, that design was apparently too flimsy, leading the pieces to "sort of wobble around and sometimes fall off when moving the case around." I suppose folks who need to rummage around inside their PCs most of the time can just keep the pieces in the box—they don't really serve a purpose other than looking pretty.
With that left side panel off, we finally get a peek inside the Survivor. That's an enthusiast-friendly layout if I've ever seen one: side-mounted 3.5" drive bays, bottom-mounted PSU area with a removable dust filter, hole in the motherboard tray for easy installation of bolt-through heatsinks, and cable routing holes aplenty.
To leave room for extra-long graphics cards, BitFenix makes one of the two 3.5" hard drive cages removable. And as you might have guessed from the image, the trays have the same tool-less, snap-on design we saw on the Corsair 600T. Just pull out the tray, position your hard drive inside, and bend the sides until the little metal nubs snap into the drive's screw holes. The trays support 2.5" solid-state drives, too, but you'll have to fasten those into place with screws.
Removing the other panel reveals the Survivor's less exciting right side, which is used mainly for cable routing, providing access to the motherboard back plate, and accessing screw holes on the other side of an optical drive. (The 5.25" drive mounting mechanism involves thumbscrews.) One thing to note here is that the included cables make up a pretty thick bundle, so they don't leave a whole lot of room for any power and data cables you might want to have snaking through the routing holes. We'll see what effect that has on a full system build in a moment, but right now, we have more exploring to do.
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