[section_title title=Closer Look – Interior and Installation]
Closer Look – Interior and Installation
From the outset it is obvious that the internals of the Prodigy chassis are geared up for a mini-ITX system. For starters, there is a small, horizontal motherboard tray which is housed towards the rear of the case. This motherboard tray also sits above a large PSU cage which can accommodate PSU’s up to a maximum length of 160mm. This does mean that you will need to be careful choosing you PSU. The Antec High Current Gamer M that I generally use for case reviews just simply would not fit within the Prodigy, therefore, we have used another extreme, a Silverstone Strider SFX PSU. As you can see below, this PSU is very small, too small really for a case as big as the Prodigy. The only other PSU I had to hand that would fit was a Fractal Design Integra, however, being non-modular it does pose an issue trying to keep the cables tidy in the Prodigy. That may be something for potential buyers to bare in mind when selecting the case and PSU.
Another benefit of having the motherboard orientated so low in the case is that it has a lot of clearance to the roof, approximately 160mm. This is a nice feature for an ITX chassis, as you can get optimal air cooling for big CPU overclocks if you wanted to. However, the optical bay does limit you options and as you can see it was a little tight trying to house our Noctua NH-U9B-SE2 cooler, which is the same size with its fans on as our BeQuiet Dark Rock Pro 2 cooler without its fans. If you were to use a cooler such as the BeQuiet then you would definitely need to make sure that you remove the optical drive bay. As for roof fans, you could also run into some issues with the clearance if you install some inside the case. As you can see with our Noctua cooler, there is ample room in the roof to populate the fan bays, just bare in mind that this cooler uses 92mm fans and not the standard 120mm so it will be tight with a full size tower.
The front of the case is dominated by a set of hard drive cages, these are made up of two detachable cages. The bottom can house two drives, whether they be 3.5″ or 2.5″, whilst a separate cage above it can house a further three drives, with a 5.25″ optical bay above that. The entirety of the front hard drive and optical bay assembly are screwed to the case, this allows for easy removal if you were to water cool or need more space in the front for large heatsinks or graphics cards. In its standard configuration, the Prodigy will accommodate graphics cards up to 180mm in length. This is primarily due to a longer graphics card fouling the top hard drive cage. Some graphics cards will be able to overlap this cage without the user needing to remove it, as the cage is recessed enough to give it a few millimeters of clearance. However, as seen in the image below, our case testing graphics card, the MSI R9 270x, is very tall and therefore squeezes under the optical drive bay. However, there is a set of black mounts for the tool-less design on the drive cage, which the card was fouling itself on, which meant that it could not be installed into the PCI lane, therefore the cage had to come out. Removing this cage earns you an extra 140mm of room for you graphics card, which is not too bad considering that there are still the two cages below it and then two smaller ‘hidden’ SSD enclosures on the side panel which I pointed out on the previous page.
As you can see from the back of the case, removing the hard drive cages reveals a massive area in the front of the case. When I first saw this, my thoughts were immediately drawn to trying to make it look good with the cable management. However, if you have used a smaller PSU, like we have, then there is plenty of room in the PSU bay to hide them as well as behind the remaining hard drive cage, which is where we have hidden our SATA power. The front area in the case can be used to house another 120mm fan or even a single radiator liquid cooling solution such as a Corsair H80i. This is also the perfect area for those of you who would want to build you own custom water loop to place the water pump.
Building this air-cooled system into the Prodigy was remarkably easy and is a pleasure compared to some of the more compact cube style cases on the market. The motherboard design, being directly about the PSU, is probably the reason for this, as it means that the two most bulky components are restrained to a relatively compact area on the case and allows cable routing to become very tidy and accessible, which in turn keeps good airflow in the case. Speaking of unrestricted airflow, lets see how this case got on in our testing.