Tidying Things Up
I started to work on wiring for the case at this point. The Outlaw does not have any extra width to put wires behind the motherboard tray, but does take advantage of the reverse ATX design by placing the wire cutouts around the area behind the HDD cage. I found that this two inch space had more than enough room to route and hide wires.
Once I had the wires in place I completed the build with the CPU, CPU cooler, and graphics card. To install the Noctua I needed my screw driver again. The Noctua NH-D14 fits inside the Outlaw, but just barely and only after the removal of the 140 mm center fan. If replaced it with another 120 mm fan, the Noctua cooler could be used in this case. It was still easy to install since the motherboard cutout was large enough to work as intended. More often than not, I find these cutouts to block some of the screw holes making it useless. Once I installed the cooler, I broke off the rear expansion panel covers and installed the GPU with the included thumbscrews.
Now that we have a complete PC, we can move on to the testing. The acoustic testing is a simple measurement of the case an the noise level from 1 meter away.
This all boils down to the noise the fans generate in relation to the amount of noise from the CPU and GPU coolers the case lets escape. At idle, the BitFenix generates the least noise because it only has the one 120 mm fan generating additional noise. Once a heavy workload is run, the single fan is not enough to properly cool the entire system alone, so the CPU and GPU fans have to spin faster to compensate. This generates more noise and the Outlaw's well ventilated design works against it in this case. This is just one time in which buying additional fans is a requirement.
In addition to reducing noise, a computer chassis should also improve cooling over open air. This time I ran the same full system stress test and measured the temperature of the the internal components.
The BitFenix Outlaw, as I had it configured, improves the idle temperatures over open air. It also does better at idle than the Sentey GS-6000 that I reviewed a while back in both CPU and GPU temperatures. This is not that strange as my particular setup has both the included 120 mm fan and my PSU's 120 mm fan as exhausts right next to the CPU location.
The AMD reference HD 6850 GPU is left to draw in air on its on from the top vents. The problem is with a fan in the top slots, the vent is restricting airflow. The case has the potential to cool a system at low noise levels, but it will take more than the included fan. This of course starts to increase the price of the chassis once you start adding on these additional fans.
The BitFenix Outlaw is a PC builder's chassis. The design, style, and overall appeal is firmly directed toward those building a PC on a budget. With the exception of a few minor issues, it is a well designed, sleek case that is absolute joy to work with. While that is great for fellow reviewers and people who build a lot PCs for others, it is not so great for the PC owners who have to foot the bill. It seems that there may be some hidden costs.
At the MSRP of $49.99, this case is directed toward people who are looking to get the most out of their dollar. The price is attractive, but deceptive as you will need to buy $10 to $15 worth of fans to get the needed cooling and tame noise to within reasonable levels. The only other way to correct this is to spend money on a better CPU cooler or a graphics card with a more efficient cooler design. Both of these options will still cost you extra. This is where the hidden costs lie.
There are also some other minor issues that make me just scratch my head such as the vastly different designs for two of the HDD mounting spaces. The case also included an SSD mount point that seems like an after thought. The lowest 5.25" bay slot is always the first thing you have to give up for either better cooling or more powerful graphics. While these are problems with the execution of the design, I can't really hold it against the Outlaw. It is also too easy to look at these issues as strengths since an SSD doesn't take away a 3.25" space, a full sized GPU can be used, and many people don't like factory fans anyway.
Honestly there are only two real weaknesses to the Outlaw case. The paint is applied with a different method than any case I have owned. When damaged, the paint does not scratch, it cracks and peels off. It is very easy for a minor ding to turn into a big problem. The other other is the missing USB 3.0 front panel ports. I know it is not a widely used medium just yet, but I expect to have a PC case for at least a couple years before retiring it.
Even with the flaws and oversights, the BitFenix Outlaw is a great $49.99 computer chassis. If you need something in this price range you can work with easily and may already have upgrade plans for the future in a different chassis, this is your case. This mid-tower is surprisingly roomy with no sharp edges and flexible options to fit your needs. A great choice to include in any short list of cost efficient cases that I am sure no owner will be disappointed with.
- Easy to Work
- Soft-Touch Feels Great
- Four USB Ports on Front I/O
- Very well Ventilated
- Reverse ATX design allows large GPUs to Fit in this Mid-tower
- Lose of one 5.25” bay when using a long GPU and/or two front 120 mm fans
- Thumbscrews can be Mixed Up
- No dust Filters
- No USB 3.0
- Can Only Use One SSD
- Only One Included Fan
Overall Score: 8.0 / 10.0
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