BitFenix Shinobi XL review: BitFenix Shinobi XL

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The Good USB 3.0 cable has USB 2.0 cable built in for backwards compatibility. Removable, re-positionable drive bay. Quite flexible for water coolers.

The Bad Top and front incredibly hard to get off. Drive caddies don't insert or remove as well as they could, often slipping down.

The Bottom Line The Shinobi XL has quite a bit of flexibility if you choose to build up a highly custom rig — we'd just like a little more attention spent on the fit and finish.

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7.8 Overall

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BitFenix's Shinobi XL is as its name would suggest — a larger version of its earlier Shinobi. There's three variants available: black, black with window and white with window, with the latter's black-on-white colour scheme making it impossible to avoid Stormtrooper comparisons. What you order will affect how much you pay — at one local store, they were priced at AU$155, AU$165 and AU$175, respectively.

The Fenix shall rise! The black racing stripes actually hide cut-outs in the case for air flow.
(Credit: Craig Simms)

This full tower case is covered with a rubberised material on the top and front, while the sides and rear are typical steel. The window is quite strong, and smartly only shows the interesting bits, hiding the drive bay.

A window into your PC is a window into your soul.
(Credit: Craig Simms)

The black racing stripes aren't just for show, but provide airflow through holes in the case, as does the perforated grille on top.

Air is also provided by a huge 230mm fan on top, a matching beast at the front and a 120mm fan at the rear (although, it can take a 140mm). You can customise this set up, but first you have to remove the front and top panels, something that requires excessive force. We ended up using pliers initially to loosen the pegs holding the panels in place, but in the end, only sheer brute strength moved them, with the panels exploding off. Replacing them requires a solid bashing as well — we can only hope that this gets easier as time goes on.

The after-effects of removing the top.
(Credit: Craig Simms)

Once removed, you'll find three 120mm mounts at the top, or optionally, you can add another 230mm fan. There's about 80mm between roof and board, so you have a little wiggle room for water cooling. There are four 22mm-diameter water cooling holes at the top rear, should you decide to get quite serious.

The naked front after excessive force was applied. Note the slip-in air filter for the front 230mm fan.
(Credit: Craig Simms)

The front 200mm fan is protected by a slip of a dust filter, and it can be replaced by dual 120mm fans if you so wish. This is used to cool the seven 3.5-inch drive bays behind, in which seven quick removable hard drive caddies sit, and which also have mounting points for 2.5-inch drives. These could do with a bit of refining — when pulling out or inserting a mounted drive, we found that the caddy would often slip down a level, rather than just cleanly inserting or removing.

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