Introducing the BitFenix Shinobi XL

We've had a remarkably heavy backlog of cases in house in desperate need of review over the past couple of months, and one of the standouts has been BitFenix's Shinobi XL. We were generally pretty pleased with the original Shinobi when we first reviewed it. Seventy bucks for a solid budget enclosure with great styling was a killer deal, and the enclosure itself has a lot of room to grow for the budding enthusiast. As it turns out, the Shinobi has been a pretty big hit for BitFenix. Big enough, in fact, that they decided it needed to go...bigger.

And so it did. BitFenix released the Shinobi XL earlier this year, but reviews for it have been fairly scarce and even a little bit dismissive in some cases. We have an opportunity here to rectify that and determine if the newer, larger Shinobi lives up to the legacy of its little brother, or if BitFenix has lost some of the magic in enlarging their budget design.

It's most definitely bigger. While the Shinobi was a standard ATX case (and a fairly small one at that), the Shinobi XL is all-in, with nine expansion slots and able to support XL-ATX motherboards. While it shares a lot of the design language of its predecessor, the larger scale allows two of the fans to be upgraded to 200mm parts. I'm not sure bigger is necessarily better, though.

BitFenix Shinobi XL Specifications
Motherboard Form Factor Mini-ITX, Micro ATX, ATX, XL-ATX
Drive Bays External 5x 5.25” (incl. one 5.25"-to-3.5" adapter bay)
Internal 7x 2.5"/3.5"
Cooling Front 1x 230mm intake fan (supports 3x 120mm)
Rear 1x 120mm exhaust fan (supports 140mm)
Top 1x 230mm exhaust fan (supports 2x 230mm or 3x 120mm)
Side -
Bottom 1x 140mm intake fan
Expansion Slots 9
I/O Port 4x USB 3.0, 1x USB (power only), 1x Headphone, 1x Mic
Power Supply Size Standard ATX
Clearances HSF 181 mm
PSU 200 mm
GPU 13.1" / 334mm
Dimensions 22.44" x 9.65" x 21.93"
570mm x 245mm x 557mm
Special Features USB 3.0 connectivity via internal headers (included USB 2.0 adaptor cables)
Support for dual 360mm radiators and one 240mm radiator
Price $159

Unfortunately I don't have a weight statistic for the BitFenix Shinobi XL other than "it's heavy." The chassis really is in many ways just a giant Shinobi, with a steel frame and then the soft-touch plastic finish. What's also a bit alarming is the price tag: at $159, the Shinobi XL is more than twice as expensive as its predecessor, making it an unusual heir to the Shinobi throne.

As a bit of good news, though, BitFenix cases are now finally available on NewEgg. I'm actually personally really happy to see this, as it both raises the profile of BitFenix and also makes more widely available what I consider some of the best budget cases available.

In and Around the BitFenix Shinobi XL
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  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    Of course it's not thorough if we ask you, I'm 95% certain you're BitFenix PR.
  • soloburrito - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    Hi Dustin I enjoy reading your reviews.

    Are there are fan filters integrated into the case? Are they easily accessible? Also is the hard drive cage module/removable? For the same price, it seems the Switch 810 comes with a few more bells and whistles. I personally don't like the cheap, glossy plastic though. I like the clean, subdued design of the XL personally.

    Anyway, can Anandtech invest in a 360/240mm rad so at the very least you all can demonstrate the water cooling potential of cases in future reviews?

    I know assembling a full loop would be very time-consuming and not really provide any extra insight, but just some pictures of a radiator installed in the supported areas would be a great addition to case reviews.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    There's a filter over the front 230mm intake, but you have to remove the fascia to get to it. There's also a filter under the PSU intake that slides out from the back.

    The Switch 810 isn't a bad case and the boutiques seem to like it (though that may be because NZXT seems to have a very thriving business with boutiques), but honestly unless you're doing any serious watercooling I'd look elsewhere. The Shinobi XL seems pretty ideal under those circumstances, although Azza's cases seem to be good for it, too.

    I feel like the problem with investing in a radiator just for the sake of pictures is that it seems like all it really does is just demonstrate "this radiator fits here." Watercooling is pretty niche to begin with, and I feel like with a lot of these you should be able to at least eyeball it and get a good feeling for whether or not a radiator can fit. Of course, the problem there is admittedly that I get to manhandle these cases all I want while you guys have to make do with the photos I post. :|

    I'll keep it in mind, but it's an interesting thing that many manufacturers are really attacking what's a fairly small minority of end users. "Our case is fantastic for custom watercooling!" Yeah, but what about the aircooling that the lion's share of end users are going to use?
  • cjs150 - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    Dustin: I do hope you are accusing Xbounrnex and not me of being BitFenix PR.

    I have nothing to do with Bitfenix, I own no products by them, although I do have a water cooled Silverstone TJ07 so entirely capable of comparing the Bitfenix to that.

    If anything I am a fan of Silverstone (with qualifications mostly related to build quality) as the TJ07 is the king for water cooled ATX cases and the TJ08-e (my next case) equally good for m-atx as long as you stick to one GPU
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    I'm referring to xbournex and it's not really an "accusation" necessarily...if you check out the review of the Prodigy, xbournex replies there basically as a rep for the company.
  • Galcobar - Wednesday, June 27, 2012 - link

    You may be 100 per cent certain Xbournex is Bitfenix-employed. He's a manufacturer representative who self-identifies as such on other sites, such as Hardware Canucks.

    Which to give him credit makes it pretty clear he's not trying to hide his status, since he uses the same screen name.

    Personally, I like the idea that manufacturers are paying enough attention to reviews to not only read them, but provide feedback. It's only fair that they have the opportunity to respond, and it indicates they're interested in what's being said -- which makes it more likely for them to consider the comments when it comes time to do the next design.
  • danjw - Thursday, June 28, 2012 - link

    It isn't common for 5.25" bays, but what you describe is called a backplane and is available in some cases with integrated data connections for 3.5"/2.5" bays. With 5.25" devices have a great deal of difference in their lengths, whereas most 3.5"/2.5" devices are standard size and connector positioning. I don't see how this would work well for 5.25" bays.
  • Olaf van der Spek - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    > the larger scale allows two of the fans to be upgraded to 200mm parts

    Shouldn't that be 230mm?
  • shin0bi272 - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    Shouldnt I get one of these for free or something? meh anyway... i thought windowed cases were out of style now.
  • SilthDraeth - Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - link

    Dustin, have you ever ventured into building your own case, and experimenting with design elements?

    You do a lot of reviews, and I am sure you have a good idea what works, and what doesn't, and I would think you could design a fairly well layed out ATX case with good thermals, and acoustics.

    I often think about doing one myself and wonder if any of the case manufacturers would ever consider a contest of letting users submit their own prototypes for consideration with some sort of deal worked out for the winner.

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