February 24, 2014

Unboxing & Review: Bitfenix Ronin

Bitfenix has gained popularity among PC builders, watercooling enthusiasts with its finely crafted PC chassis. Each and every Bitfenix chassis has a striking and unique appearance of its own that makes Bitfenix stands out in the PC Chassis market. Among the chassis from Bitfenix, the Prodigy is seems to be one of the most popular around - the mini-ITX chassis that really packs a punch.

The Phenom, Colossus M and Ronin is among the latest chassis from Bitfenix that offers more to satisfy the needs of different level of enthusiasts and we're really lucky to be able to review one of these latest product from Bitfenix - million thanks to Bitfenix Malaysia for providing us with the chassis, making this review possible.

Priced at 319 Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) each, let's find out what features does the Ronin offer - still packs a punch or nay? 

Dimension205mm x 483mm x 505mm
Motherboard SupportATX, mATX, ITX
Expansion Slots
TypeMid Tower
MaterialSteel, Plastic 
Drive Baysx 5.25”
x 3.5” (3 + 3)
x 2.5” (using 3.5 bracket)
Cooling Optionx 120mm fan at the front panel (120mm fan included)
1 x 120mm fan at the rear (120mm fan included)
2 x 120mm fan at the top or 2 x 140mm fans at the top (optional)
1 x 120mm/140mm fan at the bottom (optional)
Front I/Ox USB 3.0 Portsx USB 2.0 Ports
x Speaker/ headphone
x Microphone
Power SupplyNot included
ExtrasSofTouch™ surface treatment, Stealth Cover


Just like other chassis from Bitfenix, the Ronin comes in an eco-friendly packaging with a large bitfenix logo printed in the front of the packaging.

There's a brief introduction on the features at the back of the packaging.

Protection wise, the Ronin comes flanked with two polystyrene foam cover that works as a shock absorber to cater with rough courier handling (if there's any) and a plastic cover to protect against minor scratches.

Just as any manufacturers would do, the screws for all your needs - except for the cable ties. Not all chassis comes with cable ties.

The pretty much expected Bitfenix logo as shiny as always and somewhat giving the chassis itself a premium appearance.

The front I/O panel with USB 2.0, USB 3.0, audio jacks, power on switch and reset button. Something to highlight is that the reset button is rather small and is prone to damaging the rubberized surface, but good against reset by accident. 

The front panel resembles the Shinobi but in a different way. Instead of having either mesh front ventilation or fully covered front, Bitfenix takes a different approach by having these tiny holes as the main intake for the front assisted by the meshed side strips.
*Just for your information, Bitfenix does offers the meshed side strips in different color so you can get cuztomize it to your liking* 

As the entire front panel are coated with a layer of rubber, it would be a nightmare to those who lives in an area where dusts gathers easily. 

By taking a closer look behind of the front panel, we noticed something which is rather disappointing - the tiny holes for ventilation doesn't comes with any form of air filters. 

The ODD bay cover is secured by clip-on design that can be easily removed.

Every piece of the ODD bay cover has rubberized surface.

As compensation for the front panel without filter, Bitfenix included 2 pieces of fan filters instead in which we're pleased with the included fan filters. 

The filter has these fine holes which helps to reduce dust intake.

Back to the chassis itself, we have a Bitfenix Spectre fans here at the front and as you can see, the front supports only 120mm fans. It would be even better if it supports 140mm fans, more options for the end user.

At the rear of the chassis, we can see that there's support for both 120mm and 92mm fan at the rear exhaust fan mount. This is rather odd as we don't really used much of these 92mm fans anymore (or any other enthusiasts would?) except for those low cost ATX chassis where the 92mm fans is the largest supported fan.

Other than that, we have these thumb screws with plastic head instead of the standard fully metal thumb screws we've seen on most higher end PC chassis. This somewhat gave the chassis itself a less premium feel.

Going further down to the bottom rear, we can see there's 2 holes covered by rubber grommets in which these holes gave you the option to have an external watercooling setup if there's any necessity.

The top panel comes with the same tiny holes as well, but this time... no filters. It was meant for exhaust purposes but if it was used for intake purposes, you'll have to prepare for dust storm  your own alternative for dust filters as there's only 2 pieces of dust filters included, so that's a 5 points from Bitfenix.

Removing the top panel reveals the cooling option (fan mount) on the top. From the looks of it, you'll be able to go for either a 280mm or 240mm radiator with the mounting holes available without any issue. So, 5 points for Bitfenix. 

You have 4 pieces of large rubber feet with shiny awesome looking metal rings at the bottom of the Ronin, some perks for the premium look - it actually looks great. A large dust filter is included as well for dust filtering.

Just like the included fan filters, these fine filter holes helps to reduce dust intake. 

The bottom filter uses 4 pieces of magnet to keep the filter attached to the bottom. We like the approach taken by Bitfenix as the magnet filter is way much easier to remove compared to slide-in design.

We have an extremely large window here on the side panel, a total wet dream for almost any enthusiast out there would love to have and we love it. 

Right behind the side panel is one and only, Stealth Cover. This is what makes the Ronin unique, as we've never came across any chassis with such features. It might not be everyone's liking but it's still a good innovation from Bitfenix except for something - removing it was a total pain even after a few try. 

The Stealth Cover has a texture that resembles the texture on the Spider-Man costume (Toby Maguire as Peter Parker), looks awesome.

This is the culprit behind the highlighted issue for Stealth Cover. Bitfenix should really  reconsider on its design.

Like any other BitFenix chassis would include, the 5.25" to 3.5" External Drive Bay Adapter. It comes pretty handy when you need to remove the entire HDD cage for watercooling purposes and we are very sure that not every manufacturer would include this with their chassis. Another 5 points for Bitfenix.

There's 2 pieces of metal which is the main structure for the Stealth Cover. In case if you don't like the Stealth Cover and has no reason of keeping these inside the chassis, you can easily remove to suits your needs.

If you did notice, there's no rubber grommets included. Nothing much to complain about as chassis that falls to the same price range doesn't usually comes with rubber grommets.

The removed parts. 

The removable HDD cage can be removed to support long graphics card.

The HDD bracket is rather disappointing, it's very thin and really prone to break in the hands of you-know-who. Bitfenix did include a sticker to warn us not to bend it.

The proper way as recommended by Bitfenix.

HDD cage removed for long graphic cards support. Removing a HDD cage would take away your slot for 3 hard drives but it won't be an issue if you don't plan to crank 6 hard drive into your system.

The cables for the front I/O panel to be connected to your motherboard. 

The ODD bay on the Ronin has the same tool free design as what we've seen on the Shinobi.

There's motherboard installation guide engraved to the motherboard tray.These details has been helping PC builders in making their life easier for decades. 

The power supply mount has these rubber pads to absorbs vibration from moving parts in the power supply unit that would potentially generates noise.

These holes which will be right next to your power supply allows you to route cables through for better looking cable management, especially the cable for the audio jacks on the front I/O panel.

The Ronin comes with a total of 7 expansion slots and each of the slots are secured with metal thumb screws.  

The included exhaust fan at the rear of Ronin - another Bitfenix Spectre 120mm fan.

As we've mentioned earlier, the entire HDD cage can be removed for watercooling purposes. Basically it means that you can install up to 2 pieces of 240mm radiator in this chassis.

The motherboard tray comes with these cable tie holes which we think are placed just right at the spot where must cables would be routed through.

The depth of the motherboard tray is just right, there's plenty much of space for you to route your power supply cables.  

Don't let the size of the Ronin fools you, having almost the same dimension as the Fractal Design Arc Midi R2 that we've previously reviewed, it can actually support up to ATX sized motherboard.

A sad news to Asus Sabertooth Z87 owners, you won't be able to have the fans installed inside the chassis if you're using a Corsair H100i AIO liquid cooler, all thanks to the thermal armor.

Just to show you guys that there's actually enough clearance for the H100i fans but because of the thermal armor, you won't be able to install the fan inside the chassis.

The good news is, Bitfenix has the option for you to install fans on the top. 

And here's our completed build with the Bitfenix Ronin.

Testing Method

Test Rig Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7 4770K overclocked to 4.0GHz
MotherboardAsus Savertooth Z87
MemoryCorsair Vengeance Pro 4GB x 4
GraphicsAsus GTX 680 Direct CUII OC
Power SupplyCorsair AX650 80+ Gold 
DrivesWestern Digital Caviar Blue 500GB
Corsair Hydro Series H100i

The airflow for this setup consists a 120mm Bitfenix Spectre fans at front as intake, while the exhaust consists of a 120mm Bitfenix Spectre at the rear and 2 Corsair SP120 fans mounted on the Corsair H100i radiator. 

Our CPU stress test is done using Prime95 with the option 'In-place large FFTs' for maximum heat output from the CPU while FurMark is used on GPU with its Furry Donut stress test. Our room temperature throughout the test is 30ÂșC, which is rather warm compared to our previous tests. The stress test is repeated for several times in order to get a stable temperature reading. The final result is calculated and plotted on the graph as below:

The idle temperature for both CPU and GPU is rather high and we're not really pleased with it. We've decided give it another try on the stress test, but this time with the side panel removed.

Drop in temperature reading is pretty much expected but we weren't expecting that much different from the GPU. This tells us only one thing: there's an issue with the Ronin's airflow, the 120mm fans included doesn't seems to be able to keep up with the heat generated. 

Another issue is that the tiny holes on the top panel somewhat amplified the fan noise if the fan is installed as intake purposes right underneath the top panel, which isn't a good sign.

Final Thought

The Bitfenix Ronin is a decent chassis in overall that offers both aesthetic appearance and expandability for watercooling kits at a pretty decent price of 319 Malaysian Ringgit (MYR), but we've noticed some design flaws that prevent us from going further in complementing the Ronin as an excellent chassis.

Here's the pros and cons which we would like to point out for your reference purposes:

- Large side panel window to exhibit your awesome system
- Interchangeable meshed side strips for customization to your liking
- Stealth Cover to hide your cables for a clean and neat appearance
- Comes with fan filters to reduce dust intake
- Very spacious and good watercooling support
- Removable HDD cage for long graphic cards support
- Magnetized bottom air filter for easy removal
- Comes with 2 Bitfenix Spectre 120mm silent fans
- SoftTouch Treatment for a pleasing touch
- Large premium looking rubber feet
- Included 5.25' to 3.5 drive bay converter  
- Supports ATX sized motherboard

- SoftTouch surface is really fragile/ prone to damage
- The tiny ventilation holes somewhat act as noise amplifier
- The Bitfenix Spectre 120mm fans included doesn't seems to be able to keep up with the heat generated
- Limited amount of fan filters included, might not be sufficient if you need more intake fans
- The hard drive bracket is somewhat flimsy and very fragile
- Removing the Stealth Cover is a pain 
- Stealth Cover might not be the apple of everyone's eye

To conclude this review, we'd say that the Ronin weren't able to score an A in this review but the   expandability for watercooling is still something worth to consider. Its support for ATX sized motherboard is another added point as there's isn't much mid-tower chassis at this size, price point and support for watercooling is able to support ATX sized motherboard - just to mention a few, Corsair Obsidian 350D, Fractal Design Arc Midi R2.  Last but not least, we're awarding the Bitfenix Ronin with our Tech Critter Silver award.