If there’s a theme in PC hardware companies’ product line-ups of late, it’s to provide as much of a one-stop solution for the PC builder as possible. XFX is no stranger to this strategy. The company is best known for its high-octane AMD Radeon GPUs, but it sells power supplies and PC enclosures, as well.
Today, I’m here to look at the Type-01 Series Bravo Edition, XFX’s first entry into the enthusiast case market. I’m going to see if the performance of this stylish chassis is in keeping with that of XFX’s other enthusiast-friendly products.
The Type-01 Series Bravo Edition is a striking case, but not because of a wild color scheme or dozens of blue LEDs. Instead, this case has gobs of sheer presence.
The Bravo is mostly matte black, save for a couple of red metal strips on the sides of the case. These strips boldly announce the XFX brand and Type-01 designation to the world. Arched plastic fascias at the top and bottom of the case serve as a counterpoint to the relentless right angles elsewhere. The overall effect is one of subtle menace, like what might happen if the last-generation Mac Pro collided with something out of the Mass Effect universe. I like it.
Another element of the Bravo’s dominating presence is its bulk. XFX classifies this case as a mid-tower, but the arched fascias add a few inches to the case’s overall height. At 26.6″ tall, 13″ wide, and 22.2″ deep, the Bravo is one of the largest mid-towers I’ve ever seen. Its elevated design isn’t just for show, either. The bottom panel is vented along most of its length, so there’s plenty of room for intake airflow.
At the front of the Type-01 are three stealthy 5.25″ drive bay doors, plus a pair of equally stealthy buttons for power and reset duties. Each of the hidden drive bay doors has an eject button for the drive inside, as well. While the stealthy buttons do blend into the front panel, they’re difficult to locate by feel, which means that turning the system on can involve a bit of fumbling around. A solid white LED bar in the power button indicates that the system is powered on, and another such light bar in the reset button indicates drive activity.
Up top is a group of USB ports. Two of these are USB 2.0, while the other pair is USB 3.0. There are also a couple of jacks for headphone output and microphone input. This arrangement of ports looks nice, but the rear-most ports are difficult to access when the Type-01 Series is under a desk—a problem that isn’t helped by the case’s towering height.
Each side panel features a full-height, unfiltered vent. These vents wrap around the top of the case, as well. The outer face of each panel is actually a plastic shell that’s fastened to a more traditional metal panel inside. This arrangement might hint at different-colored versions of the Type-01 to come. All it would take for a white (or yellow) Bravo to come into being would be an appropriate set of plastic shells for each part of the case.
From the rear, the Bravo looks like most ATX cases. There’s a single mounting point for fans and radiators, which is populated by an XFX-branded 140-mm fan. (Smaller 120-mm fans and radiators can fit in the same spot, too.) Also at the rear: a standard ATX port cluster cutout, a group of expansion slot cutouts, rubber-grommeted holes for external water-cooling reservoirs, and a mount for the PSU.
Here are the Type-01’s specs in tabular form, for easy comparison with our other case reviews:
|XFX Type-01 Series Bravo Edition|
|Dimensions (H x W x D)||26.6″ x 13.0″ x 22.2″ (51.8 x 23.2 x 56.2 cm)|
|Supported motherboards||ATX, micro-ATX, mini-ITX|
|3.5″/2.5″ drive bays||8|
|2.5″ drive bays||5 (in dedicated configuration)|
|Fan mounts||1x 200 mm (front)
3x 120 mm (side)
1x 120 mm or 140 mm (top)
1x 120 mm or 140 mm (rear)
|Radiator mounts||1x 120 mm or 140 mm (rear)
1x 120 mm or 140 mm (top)
|Included fans||1x XFX 200 mm (front)
1x XFX 140 mm (rear)
|Front panel I/O||2x USB 3.0
2x USB 2.0
|Max. graphics card length||12″ (30.5 cm) or 14″ (35.6 cm) with dedicated 2.5″ configuration|
|Max. CPU cooler height||6″ (15.2 cm)|
|Max. power supply unit length||10″ (25.4 cm)|
At $129.99, the Type-01 Series Bravo Edition faces some fierce competition, most notably from the Corsair Obsidian Series 450D, which Geoff found worthy of a TR Recommended award. I have an Obsidian 450D in my lab, and I’ll be pitting it against the Type-01 Bravo later in this review.
Before we go any further, a note: I’m not oblivious to my own greasy fingerprints in the pictures above. It’s just hard to clean the outer surfaces of the Bravo. None of the mild cleaners I had on hand had much effect. Even a microfiber cloth, which usually lifts grease from surfaces like a sponge, didn’t do much. Since stronger cleaners and solvents might attack the plastic exterior shell, I had to concede defeat. Should you purchase a Type-01 Series Bravo Edition of your own, be aware that your fingerprints and smudges might not come off, even after extensive cleaning.
Now that I’ve toured the exterior of the Bravo, let’s open ‘er up and see how XFX laid things out inside.
Getting inside the Bravo is much like opening up any other case. Each side panel is secured with two thumb screws, and the front panel can be pulled off using the grip at the bottom.
The front panel features a removable dust filter and a socketed cable for the power and reset buttons—a first for any case I’ve used. This socket makes it easy to remove the front panel without bringing a bundle of cabling with it.
Upon opening the Bravo, I found a box twist-tied to the motherboard tray. This box contained the owner’s manual, five 2.5″ drive trays, and all of the hardware needed to install a system in the Type-01. XFX has marked each bag with its own screw type label, which is a helpful touch.
This box was sitting on the PSU mount. The PSU is mechanically isolated from the rest of the system by a foam gasket on the rear wall of the case and four rubber feet on the bottom. You can also see the full-length dust filter that resides on the floor of the case here.
Though it looks a little unusual, aesthetically speaking, the Type-01 Bravo’s motherboard tray is actually pretty typical of modern enthusiast cases. A cut-out sits behind the CPU socket, and rubber-grommeted holes surround the motherboard. Some of those holes are positioned specifically for micro-ATX and mini-ITX motherboards, so they’ll be inaccessible with an ATX mobo in the case. Standoffs aren’t pre-installed as they are in some other cases I’ve used, but that’s hardly a big deal. (I installed them before taking these pictures.)
Also inside the Bravo are three tool-free 5.25″ bays and eight 2.5″/3.5″ tool-free drive sleds. The upper five 2.5″/3.5″ bays can be converted into dedicated 2.5″ bays by removing a pair of thumbscrews, sliding the rear panel of the storage cage out of the case, and reinstalling this panel on the appropriate pair of guide rails.
Converting the upper drive bays to 2.5″ units makes more room for super-long graphics cards, as well.
The Bravo has only two included fans: a 200-mm intake at the front of the case and a 140-mm exhaust at the rear. Happily, there are mounts for five more fans: one 120- or 140-mm spinner up top, three 120-mm fans on the left side vent, and another 120- or 140-mm fan on the floor of the case.
While many modern cases have provisions for 240-mm radiators, the Type-01 Bravo does not. There’s one 120/140-mm radiator mount at the top and another one at the rear—and that’s it. The lack of 240-mm radiator support puts this enclosure at a disadvantage compared to other enthusiast cases. Even Corsair’s mini-ITX Graphite Series 380T can swallow a 240-mm radiator, and the larger Obsidian 450D, which sells for about the same price as the Type-01 Bravo, has room for a hulking 360-mm unit.
One other annoyance I should note is the type of thumb screw used inside the Bravo. The ridges on these screws are pretty sharp, and I found that most of the thumb screws were way too tight to turn by hand out of the box. I had to reach for a screwdriver to get anything done inside the case, at least to start with.
Next, I’m going to gird the Bravo with some high-performance components for our testing gauntlet.
The Casewarmer system I’ve used in recent case reviews is based on a mini-ITX motherboard. To better represent the system the Type-01 Bravo is geared for, I installed the ATX motherboard and accompanying processor from my own PC, instead. I’ll discuss its specifications in a moment, but for now, let’s look at the building process.
With standoffs in place, I secured my motherboard (with CPU, cooler, and memory attached) to the Type-01. I’m using a stock Intel heatsink in my system, but other builders might want to employ larger air- or liquid-cooling solutions in their own Type-01s. With that in mind, I grabbed a couple of aftermarket cooler backplates from my parts shelf and tried to fit them into place using the motherboard cutout. Unfortunately, the edge of the cutout was too close to the CPU heatsink mounting holes to allow the backplates to seat properly, at least with my LGA 1155 motherboard. To be safe, I’d suggest securing any aftermarket coolers to your motherboard before installing the board in the Bravo.
With the foundation laid for the rest of the system, I installed my graphics card, Wi-Fi card, and sound card. The Type-01’s expansion-slot covers are secured by the same annoyingly sharp and stubborn thumb screws found elsewhere on the case, so I had to grab my screwdriver to release them.
It was here that I discovered my biggest concern with the Bravo: the tolerances for the case’s rear panel seemed to be way off. I had to push in quite hard on that panel to line up the expansion card screw holes. While other cases I’ve used have required a tiny bit of encouragement to get everything lined up, none have needed as much force.
Happily, installing the power supply involved no unpleasant surprises. The Bravo’s foam gasket and rubber isolators should make for quiet PSU operation—although, for this build, I used an 80 Plus Platinum-certified unit that can run without spinning its cooling fan most of the time.
Next up was storage. I placed my SSD in the upper drive bay, which I had converted to hold 2.5″ drives, while my 3.5″ mechanical drive went into the lower, non-convertible area. As with the other tool-free features of the Bravo, these drive sleds required an alarming amount of force to remove and reinstall. Since these sleds are made of plastic, I was afraid to break them in the process.
With all of the components installed, I turned my attention to cable routing. The grommeted holes around the motherboard tray are positioned well, but there’s not a whole lot of space behind the motherboard tray. I had to keep my cable bundles as flat as possible, and even then, reinstalling the right panel involved some swearing and the use of my knees. I wish XFX had left a few more millimeters of clearance in this area.
Now that the build is complete, let’s see how the Type-01 Bravo fares in the heat of battle.
Our testing methods
The mini-ITX Casewarmer I’ve been using of late is taking the day off. Let’s have a look at the specs of my personal system, which is loosely based on the Sweet Spot configuration in our July System Guide:
|Processor||Intel Core i5-4690|
|Memory||16GB Crucial Ballistix Sport DDR3-1600 (2x 8GB DIMMs)|
|Graphics card||EVGA Nvidia GeForce GTX 760|
|Storage||Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD, Samsung Spinpoint F1 750GB HDD|
|Power supply||Seasonic Platinum Series SS-660 XP2|
|CPU cooler||Intel OEM CPU cooler|
|Wireless networking||Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205|
|Sound card||Asus Xonar DG|
|OS||Windows 8.1 Pro|
This build is pretty typical of the system most TR readers use, according to the results of our latest hardware survey. Let’s see whether the Bravo can keep it cool.
I relied on three software tools to test the Type-01 Bravo:
- AIDA64 Engineer for data logging
- Prime95 for CPU torture testing
- Unigine Heaven 4.0 for GPU torture testing
Each test cycle included the following phases:
- 10 minutes of idle time at the Windows 8.1 desktop
- 10 minutes running the Unigine Heaven benchmark
- 10 minutes running both the Unigine Heaven benchmark and the Prime95 CPU torture test
- 10 minutes of idle time at the Windows 8.1 desktop
The tests and methods we employ are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, join us on our forums to discuss them with us.
The Asus Z97-A motherboard that I’m using inside the Type-01 has pretty sophisticated fan control features, a relief when compared to the finicky firmware of the MSI A88XI AC that I used for previous case reviews. As part of my setup process, I ran Asus’ automatic fan profiling utility in order to create profiles for the Bravo, and I set the Fan Xpert software to use the “Standard” fan mode. I repeated the same procedure when I reinstalled the case inside the Obsidian 450D.
The ambient temperature in my office at the time of my tests was 72°F (22.2°C).
Here are the temperatures for my test system’s components, plotted over time:
And here are the minimum and maximum temperatures that each component reached:
Expecting a knockout punch from either corner? Sorry to disappoint. Both the Bravo and the Obsidian 450D keep the system inside plenty cool. Most of the temperatures for each case fall within a couple degrees of one another. The Bravo did keep my mechanical hard drive cooler overall, but the Obsidian 450D punched right back by keeping the SSD chillier. Let’s see if either case can break this tie by delivering better acoustic performance.
To determine how loud the Bravo gets, I’m once again relying on the iOS app dB meter. These results don’t have lab-grade accuracy, but they do provide an idea of the Bravo’s relative loudness when compared to other cases I’ve tested.
According to the app, the noise floor in my office with no appliances, HVAC equipment, or other computers running is about 30 dBA. To gather my numbers, I took readings from the front, sides, and top of the Bravo, and I repeated this procedure for the 450D. I positioned my phone 6″ from the cases for each reading.
Yet again, things are too close to call. Both of these cases are quiet runners.
Subjectively, the Type-01 Bravo was next to silent at idle. I couldn’t hear the 200-mm front fan without putting my ear right up against the front panel, and the rear-mounted 140-mm unit produced a gentle, broad-spectrum whoosh. The Bravo got a little coarser under load, though. Due to the vented side and top panels, my CPU and GPU coolers became clearly audible, even though the case fans didn’t get much louder. A better CPU cooler than the Intel stock unit might have helped here, but the open design of the Bravo will make any noisy component obvious.
The Bravo’s un-dampened drive trays can also transmit vibrations from mechanical storage. I noticed this problem with the mechanical hard drive I installed. This drive made the left side panel vibrate, resulting in the worst kind of PC noise: a loud, pitched hum that was difficult to ignore. Corsair cases feature rubber grommets in their tool-free drive sleds for just this reason, and I wish XFX had followed suit in the Bravo.
While the noise results I collected suggest a tie between the cases, I have to hand the subjective crown to the Obsidian 450D. The 450D’s open top panel still allows a fair amount of CPU and GPU noise to escape, but its solid side panel provides more noise dampening than the Bravo’s fully vented one. Also, the 450D’s rubber-dampened hard drive sleds prevent the kind of sympathetic vibration that plagued the Bravo.
The Type-01 Bravo marks XFX’s first foray into the PC case market. Did the company’s enthusiast DNA help it to produce a winner out of the gate?
In many regards, the Type-01 Bravo lives up to XFX’s mantra of attention to detail. The case is full of nice touches, like the stealthy optical drive bay doors and the generous rubber grommets around the motherboard tray. The Bravo is also quiet and cool in operation, thanks to its large, slow-spinning fans. Almost every air intake on the Bravo is filtered, and the filters are easily removable for cleaning. Tool-free features abound throughout, as well. Perhaps the biggest selling point for the Bravo is its subtle yet menacing exterior styling. This design language is distinctly XFX’s. The Bravo easily distinguishes itself in a crowd of forgettable black rectangles.
The Bravo has a few flaws, though. For one, I had to muscle the rear wall of the case into alignment with my expansion cards. While the Bravo is plenty competent at housing an air-cooled PC, it’s baffling that XFX omitted support for 240-mm and larger radiators in such a big case. The matte black plastic exterior, while understated, resisted all of my efforts to clean it. The tool-free thumb screws inside the Bravo were unfriendly to my fingers, and I had to use a surprising amount of force to remove and install the tool-free drive sleds. Those sleds are un-dampened, too, so any vibration from a 3.5″ drive can cause the entire case to hum like a beehive.
In the end, the Type-01 Bravo rates as a green warrior in an arena crowded with veterans. If XFX can iron out the wrinkles in the basic Type-01 Series design, it could have a real winner on its hands. For now, though, I’d recommend choosing a more refined case, of which there are plenty near the Bravo’s $129.99 price point—including Corsair’s Obsidian Series 450D. The 450D is about on equal footing with the Bravo from a performance standpoint, but it can accept bigger radiators, and its finer details are just more polished than the Bravo’s. For the same price (or less), I know which case I’d pick.
Update: During my time with the Bravo, I wondered whether the arched panels at the top of the case were meant to serve as handles, since they’re made of thin plastic and don’t feel particularly sturdy. Other reviewers have even broken their Type-01s by using the arches in this way. I asked XFX for an official statement on the matter to clear up the confusion. The company says that, despite appearances, these arches are not to be used as handles. Future shipments of the Bravo will contain a warning label to that effect.