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BitFenix's Survivor enclosure

A new star rises

Manufacturer BitFenix
Model Survivor
Price (MSRP) $109
Availability Soon

Chances are you haven't heard the name BitFenix before. That's actually quite likely, since the Taiwanese start-up came into existence in April and only announced its first enclosure, the Colossus, in August. The company's second computer case was made official in late September, and it's what we'll be looking at today.

How have we come to know such a fresh face in the enthusiast hardware industry? Well, it turns out that the BitFenix team includes some of the folks we used to know from Abit. This is where I'd insert a pun about a phoenix rising from the ashes of the defunct motherboard maker—you know, if I wanted to be cheesy.

The point is, these folks aren't new to the industry, so they ought to know what makes a good PC enclosure. We actually caught a sneak peek at the Survivor at Computex this summer, and we came away with a positive impression, thanks in part to the case's unique rubberized finish. It's a little hard to describe, but the top and front bezel feel very smooth and warm to the touch, like a nice suede jacket or the leather seats in a luxury sedan.

The Survivor should start hitting e-tail listings later this month, but we got a chance to review a pre-production sample ahead of the retail release. The final product should look very much the same, although as you'll see, the sample had a few rough edges that BitFenix chalks up to its pre-production status.

Is BitFenix's second foray into the world of computer cases a success, and should it be on your Christmas shopping list? Read on to find out.

Unless you're one of those folks enamored with case windows and garish fluorescent lights, it's hard to deny that the Survivor looks slick and tasteful. The black, rubber-coated front and top surfaces look as smooth and soft as they feel, and all of the ugly bits and pieces—buttons and connectors, namely—are safely tucked away under a retractable trap door at the top. Meanwhile, the curves at the front and back provide a little bit of unique visual flair. Hey, not all cases have to be rectangular.

This isn't a very large enclosure, by the way. It measures about 9" x 20" x 20", making the Survivor quite a bit more compact than some of the behemoths we've reviewed in the past, like Corsair's Obsidian Series 800D and Thermaltake's Level 10. Still, there should be plenty of room for components inside: BitFenix has provided space for seven hard drives, three external 5.25" drives (plus one internal 5.25", for some reason), and full-sized ATX motherboards and power supplies. All of the gear that finds its way inside will be kept cool by a pair of built-in 200-mm fans, one at the front and one at the top.

Considering BitFenix also provides a generous helping of external connectivity, including two USB 3.0 ports and external Serial ATA, as well as its S2 cable locking device, the case's $109 price tag looks pretty tame. BitFenix has also announced a lower-spec derivative, the Survivor Core, which will cost only $89 and drop the USB 3.0 ports, LED fans, and S2 contraption. That doesn't sound like a bad deal, either.

Around back, the case sports a couple of ports for liquid cooling and clear signs of a bottom-mounted power supply, both good things to have on any enclosure. No rear fan comes installed by default, although as you can see above, there are mounting holes for 120-mm and 80-mm units. The pre-installed 200-mm fans at the front and top should do a fine job of dissipating heat on their own, though.

That all sounds pretty good on paper. Does the Survivor prove as enticing once you crack it open?