Computex — I’ve seen a lot of PC enclosures this week, and they’ve all started to blur together. Well, the whole week is kind of a blur. A few tidbits from my visit with case maker BitFenix stand out from the noise, though.
The most interesting new product BitFenix displayed at the show was a multi-channel fan controller with a touchscreen interface. Dubbed the Recon, this double-height 5.25″ drive bay insert is still in the development stage, as evidenced by the fact that the touchscreen was busted and had to be replaced by a mockup. The circuit board behind it was working, and BitFenix has more than one way to control the thing. In addition to Windows software that lets you monitor temperatures and control fan speeds, there’s an Android app with similar functionality. Remote system monitoring with a smartphone is a neat trick, but iDevices will have to wait. Getting an app through Apple’s approval process requires a lot more work, which is why BitFenix is starting with Android.
On the enclosure front, BitFenix has a whitewashed version of its Shinobi to keep up with the Joneses. The firm is also rolling out a series of cheaper cases starting with the $40 Merc Beta. You don’t get much in the way of amenities at that price point, but the Beta has a nicely blacked-out interior, cut-outs for socket access and cabling, tool-free drive bays, and an upside-down internal configuration. Come to think of it, that is a lot of amenities for less than it costs to take a family of four to the movies. An Alpha version of the Merc adds more fans, vents, and associated mounting brackets.
BitFenix’s upside-down approach extends to the new Outlaw, which does a 180 with the motherboard. The flip-flopped internals require the main access panel to be on the right of the case, a configuration that might work out better for some folks depending on how their desks are organized. Hot air rises, so it does make sense to put the CPU socket as low in the case as possible. Perhaps it’s time to move the PSU back to its old-school position up top.
The Outlaw looks like another low-cost option, but BitFenix has more coming for the high end of the spectrum. Two high-performance cases are in the prototype stages, and they’re both designed to offer gobs of room for massive fans, big radiators, and other extreme cooling gear. The one pictured above is getting close to being ready for production. We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the second prototype, which is larger and offers a more angular overall design.