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BitFenix Pandora ATX Case Review

The Pandora ATX offers a surprisingly high-end feature at an equally surprising price. How well does the rest of the case stand up to its competitors?

Test Results And Conclusion

The Pandora ATX looks fairly awesome built up, in spite of its ordinary sheet metal construction. The configurable logo certainly helps, as does the glassy appearance of the plastic face panel.

Here’s how the Pandora ATX stacks up dimensionally against the recently-tested $100-$140 enthusiast-market cases to which it’s compared.

Bitfenix Pandora ATX Riotoro Prism CR1280 Corsair Carbide Clear 600C NZXT Noctis 450
Dimensions
Height20.2" (51.3 cm)22.8"21.2"22.5"
Width8.0" (20.3 cm)9.9"10.3"8.7"
Depth22.2" (56.3 cm)18.9"18.3"21.5"
Space Above Motherboard2.5" (6.3 cm)2.5"2.2" Downward1.8"
Card Length16.3" (w/Fan)14.4" (w/Fans)14.6"11.6"
Weight21.9 lbs (9.9 kg)17.5 Pounds21.5 Pounds21.1 Pounds
Cooling
Front Fans (alternatives)1x 140mm (3x 120 / 2x 140mm)2x 120mm (2x 140mm)2x 140mm (2x 120mm)3x 120mm (2x 140mm)
Rear Fans (alternatives)1x 120mm (None)1x 120mm (1x 140mm)1x 140mm (1x 120mm)1x 140mm (1x 120mm)
Top Fans (alternatives)None (3x 120 / 2x 140mm)None (3x 120 / 2x 140mm)None (On bottom, up to 3x 120 / 2x 140mm)None (3x 120 / 2x 140mm)
Left Side (alternatives)None (1x 120mm)None (None)None (None)None (None)
Right Side (alternatives)None (1x 120mm)None (None)None (None)None (None)
Drive Bays
5.25" ExternalNoneNoneTwoNone
3.5" ExternalNoneNoneNoneNone
3.5" InternalFourFourTwoFive
2.5" InternalFour +4*Four +4*Three +2*Two +5*
Card SlotsSevenEightEightSeven
Front Panel
USB 3.0TwoTwoTwoTwo
USB 2.0TwoTwoTwoTwo
AudioHead/MicHead/MicHead/MicHead/Mic
Fan ControlTwo Speed ManualTwo Speed ManualThree Speed ManualMotherboard Extender
OtherLED ColorLED ColorNoneNone
Noise Damping
SidesNoneNoneNoneNone
TopNoneNoneNoneNone
FrontNoneNoneNoneNone
Price$140$140$140$120
*Shared on 3.5" tray **w/o Center Cage ***By 5.25" Adapter Tray ^Slot 1-4

Notice that even though fluff has pushed the dimensions of some cases skyward, the above designs are very similar. Examples of fluff include unusable space between the chassis and shell or extra-tall feet. Comparing usable space to external dimensions, we could call NZXT’s Noctis 450 the fluffiest. Conversely, Riotoro’s Prism gets the full tower label in spite of other similarities, as both its eighth slot and 2.5” of top-panel radiator clearance turn its extra height into useable space.

Test System Components

Test System Configuration

Test Hardware Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-5930K (Haswell-E): 3.50 GHz, Six Cores O/C to 4.20 GHz (42x 100 MHz) at 1.20 V Core
CPU CoolerNoctua NH-U12S
MotherboardMSI X99S Gaming 7: LGA 2011, Intel X99, Firmware 17.8 (02/10/2015)
RAMCrucial Ballistix Sport BLS2K8G4D240FSA 16 GB (4x 4 GB) DDR4-2400 Benchmarked at XMP CAS 16 defaults (1.20V)
GraphicsGigabyte GV-N970G1 GAMING-4GD: GeForce GTX970 1178-1329 MHz GPU, GDDR5-7012, Maximum Fan for Thermal Tests
Hard DrivesCrucial MX200 CT500MX200SSD1 500GB SATA 6Gb/s SSD
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
Powerbe quiet! Dark Power PRO 10 BN603 850W ATX 12V v2.3 / EPS 12V v2.92, 80 PLUS Platinum
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 8 Pro x64
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 347.52
ChipsetIntel INF 9.4.2.1019
Benchmark Configuration
Prime95 v27.964-bit executable, Small FFTs, 11 threads
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.3.0, Extreme Preset: Graphics Test 1, Looped
Real Temp 3.40Average of maximum core readings at full CPU load
Galaxy CM-140 SPL MeterTested at 1/2 m, corrected to 1 m (-6 dB), dBA weighting

Comparison Cases

Test Results

We continue to use our standardized case testing configuration from over a year ago to generate comparable performance data over the course of many reviews. Noise is measured .5m from the case's front corner, on the side that opens. The numbers are corrected to the 1m industry standard -- used by many loudspeaker and fan manufacturers -- by subtracting six decibels.

Does simply designating a case "full tower" give it a performance advantage? Thermal results for the Pandora ATX's default settings fall between those of the Riotoro Prism's high and low fan settings.

The Pandora ATX walks all over the Riotoro Prism in our noise test, although even at full speed the Carbide 600C and Noctis 450 match its full-load noise isolation.

Anyone could build an open frame with noisy fans, so the true measure of case performance is how well it cools while remaining quiet. Or, perhaps, how quiet it is while remaining cool. Either way, the Pandora ATX beats all of its competitors at full fan speed, and falls behind the Carbide 600C’s cooling-to-noise ratio only when the Carbide’s fans are slowed.

The Noctis 450 is cheap, so it still tops the Performance Value chart. Of course it doesn’t have any extra features, and the value of those features is in the eye of the buyer. For the same $140, the Pandora ATX provides a user-configurable lighted logo and unique design features, while the Prism CR1280 adds an eighth slot and extra internal clearance for both XL-ATX and EATX compatibility, and the Carbide 600C provides improved build quality and improved low-fan-speed performance.

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  • redgarl
    I don't understand how something like that is good against any Phantek or Fractal Design cases.
    Reply
  • Anathemata
    So the bottom line is: It's a decent enough case to buy if you like how it looks. If they integrated system status into the front-panel display then maybe it would have an edge up on competition on anything other than "hey, this would look cool on my desk".

    Even a criticism of the lack of a fan hub/controller is kind of moot since if you are going to buy this, you're going to buy it for how it looks and can shell out a little extra for a fan controller.
    Reply
  • Shot__
    I don't think behemoth case (ATX) looks good on your desk, no matter how much sugarcoating vendor throws in. Electronics shrunk over decades, but PC components manufacturers seems failed to notice. For me personally even standard mATX is too big, I have mATX board + GTX 970 inside 11"x11"x7" enclosure. (I had to remove PS cover and ventilator to fit it). This little box is bolted to the wall beneath the desk, out of view.
    Reply
  • Allen_7
    the front filter design is so stupid
    Reply
  • turkey3_scratch
    I've never seen so many rubber grommets in my life.
    Reply