It has been almost 6 months since we last reviewed a case from the guys over at BitFenix, but today they return with the ENSO… a case featuring Alchemy 3.0 addressable RGB lighting, developed in conjunction with ASUS.
|Material||Steel │ Plastic │ Tempered Glass|
|Motherboard Support||Mini-ITX, MicroATX, ATX, E-ATX up to 272mm|
|Maximum GPU Length||340mm|
|Maximum CPU Cooler Height||160mm|
|Expansion Slots (PCI-E)||7|
|Front I/O Ports||2 x USB 3.0, 1 x Audio/Mic|
|2.5″ Drive Bay||3|
|3.5″ Drive Bay||2 (Usable as 2.5″ bay)|
|Fan Support(Front)||2 x 140mm or 2 x 120mm|
|Fan Support(Top)||2 x 120mm|
|Fan Support(Rear)||1x 120mm|
|Included Fans(Front)||1 x 120mm Fan (Black)|
|Included Fans(Rear)||1 x 120mm Fan (Static RGB)|
|Radiator Support(Front)||1 x 240mm or 280mm (35mm thickness)|
|Radiator Support(Rear)||1 x 120mm|
|Power Supply||ATX & Standard / up to 160mm|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||210mm x 489mm x 454mm|
Closer Look – Exterior
Straight out of the box we are presented with a nice clean looking design, if not a little unremarkable. A nice big tempered glass side panel dominates the front side, with the front panel inlaid with a solid piece of steel. The marketing details state that there are “hidden” air vents situated around the front panel, but these are basically non-existent to the naked eye.
Around the back there’s little much of interest, due to the rear side panel being standard fayre, solid steel panel.
Left to right, the front IO consists of mic & headphone jacks, HDD & power LED’s, lighting control button, power button, reset button and finally 2 USB 3.0 ports. A magnetic dust filter comes pre-installed, but also included in the box is a magnetic blanking cover.
The underside shows that the case feet actually lift the ENSO off the ground a fair way, which is no doubt to enable as much airflow as possible to be pulled in through the base of the front panel, being it’s only real source of airflow.
Closer Look – Interior
Removing the front panel took a huge amount of force, so don’t be worried should you come across the same issue. Once removed, it reveals one 120mm intake fan mounted dead centre, with room for two more above and below it.
The cable that powers the front lighting didn’t seem to want to be removed, so I didn’t force it and it remained tethered to the chassis.
The front dust filters are a little out of the ordinary, being accessible from the front side of the case, without the need to remove the front panel. However, only two thirds of the front aspect is covered by filters, and there are gaps all around the ones that are there, so I don’t see how dust isn’t going to flood straight into the main chamber.
Upon removing the rear panel, we find the RGB controller mounted to the rear of the motherboard tray, with additional connectors should you wish to connect it directly to an ASUS AURA motherboard. For addressable RGB functionality, you will need a 3-pin header however.
Inside the main chamber we find a solid PSU shroud, with access towards the front, should you wish to fit a fan in the lowest position. The motherboard tray is perforated at various points, for anyone wanting to mount water cooling pumps or reservoirs. The rear exhaust fan is a static RGB 120mm variety, which can be connected to either the RGB controller at the rear of the motherboard tray, or directly to a motherboard RGB header.
Closer Look – The Build
- CPU – AMD Ryzen 7 1700
- Motherboard – Asus ROG STRIX X379-F Gaming
- Cooler – Cryorig H7 Quad Lumi
- GPU – ZOTAC GTX 1060 6GB AMP! Edition
- RAM – Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 32GB DDR4 2666MHz
- SSD – Crucial BX300 240GB
- PSU – BeQuiet Dark Power Pro 11 1000w (or at least, it was supposed to be!!! See below)
For the main part, the ENSO provides a pleasurable building experience, and the end result looks really good… however, there are some issues I’m afraid.
Perhaps the biggest, is the fact that the space allowed for locating the PSU, was too small for our BeQuiet Dark Power Pro 11. Luckily, I had a smaller EVGA GQ psu on hand, in order to complete the build, but this really is a bit of an oversight from BitFenix. If the drive cage was removable, it wouldn’t be an issue, but it is riveted into the main frame.
There are another couple of niggles, such as the cable access points in the PSU shroud being a tiny bit too small, and the lack of cable management options on the rear of the motherboard, but in the most part, the ENSO is a solid, well-built chassis.
Unless you really detest RGB, you cannot fault the design element of the addressable RGB lighting that frames the front panel. When paired with an additional BitFenix Alchemy 3.0 strip, the end result looks fantastic. For maximum effect, I placed these in full view just behind the glass panel, but they can be tucked away to give a much more subtle glow to your build if required.
I initially had reservations about the amount of air intake the front panel could provide, but in operation, our test system didn’t show any signs of overheating. More detailed testing would be needed to ascertain the actual effectiveness here, but for the average user, I don’t believe there would be an issue. With regards the effectiveness of the dust filters, only time will tell how much makes it’s way into the case, given the design behind the front panel.
It’s also worth noting that the ENSO is also available in white, and whilst I have only seen pictures of it, I must say that it looks amazing!
At the time of this review, the BitFenix ENSO can be purchased for £79.99 from Overclockers UK. For a case that looks this good, that is built really well, with high quality materials, I would say that this is a fantastic price point.
I am a really big fan of this case, and if I had around £80 to spend on a new case, this would most certainly be towards the top of my list. If it wasn’t for a couple of silly design mistakes (such as not allowing enough space for larger PSU’s) then the ENSO would have walked away with our Platinum award. Even so, for the price this is a great case, and more than deserves our Gold Award.
Huge thanks to OcUK & BitFenix for sending the ENSO in for review.
– Addressable RGB lighting looks amazing
– Packed with features (tempered glass, PSU shroud, RGB controller, RGB rear fan)
– Excellent price point provides great value for money
– Larger PSU’s will NOT fit
– Front dust filters may be ineffective, but only time will tell
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