BitFenix Survivor

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bitfenix survivorBitFenix says it best in the press release "We wanted to design a PC chassis that had ruggedized features, but didn’t necessarily look like a tractor."  We will not say the Survivor is simplistic because of its broad rounded corners and the big red logo sitting on the top. But the case is rugged and will take its fair share of abuse, not extreme abuse, but simple wear and tear that a case would go through when transporting it from one LAN party to the next.

Introduction to the BitFenix Survivor

There are just a couple of companies out there that can say that made a big splash with their first product to market. One example of such a company would be Prolimatech as they put together one of the best coolers at that time. The Megahalems had everyone talking and I cannot count how many Editor Choice awards it received. Chances are if you bought one a couple of years ago when it was released you are still using it.

BitFenix is another company that had similar success with their first product to market. In August of this year they released the Colossus gaming case. It is hard to find a case that was quite as unique until it came along. The Colossus was built for the gamer that wants something different and that's just what this case was….different. The Colossus came available in two colors white and black, but what really made it an eye-catcher was the addition of blue or red lighting which surrounds the exterior of the case.

The Colossus was more than visual internally, offering the gamer and enthusiast more than enough room to house everything needed to build one hell of a rig. The motherboard tray even would support an eATX boards, which is uncommon outside of the server and workstation markets, even with motherboards like the EVGA SR-2 and the Gigabyte UD9 being so popular.

BitFenix is at it again with a new case that has not hit the market yet. This new case is dubbed Survivor and is the total opposite of the Colossus, aimed at the gamer looking for something compact. Something the gamer can take to their home away from home location, aka LAN parties. The Survivor is small but it does offer a unique styling.

BitFenix says it best in the press release "We wanted to design a PC chassis that had ruggedized features, but didn’t necessarily look like a tractor."  We will not say the Survivor is simplistic because of its broad rounded corners and the big red logo sitting on the top. But the case is rugged and will take its fair share of abuse, not extreme abuse, but simple wear and tear that a case would go through when transporting it from one LAN party to the next.

Bitfenix's take on the Survivor

Ruggedized features combined with elegant styling, Survivor is a new paradigm in chassis design. Engineered for the mobile digital warrior, Survivor comes fully equipped with BitFenix S2™ security, an innovative carrying handle that hides away when not in use, and full compatibility with extra-long graphics cards. BitFenix's SofTouch™ coating helps the system resist a few bumps on the way to the LAN party, and balanced airflow means Survivor remains cool and stable in the heat of battle. All of this is geared to help you dominate at your next LAN event, rather than worrying about if your hardware will survive the day.

About BitFenix

Focused on combining superior design with the latest advances in technology, BitFenix creates state-of-the-art computer hardware and peripherals that blur the line between man and machine.

Users shouldn't have to adjust themselves to the way their hardware works. So, we strive to put the user in complete control of his hardware, so that it functions as an extension of his will, and not as another variable he has to compensate for.

In the heat of battle, the user should not have to worry about the state of his equipment, which is why BitFenix products are engineered to perform under even the most extreme conditions. No matter how taxing the situation, users can rely on the strength of BitFenix products to perform as they are intended.

Finally, BitFenix is about performance. In the top levels of competition, the difference between first and second place can be razor-thin, which means that every advantage counts. BitFenix is about making high-performing products that give users an edge.

BitFenix is the result of the collaboration of several veterans in both the technology and gaming industries. From the same minds behind some of technology’s most venerable products, our goal is to create products that grant the user the utmost control, strength, and performance to complete their computing tasks.

We understand that some of the most innovative and novel concepts come from the community itself, which is why we take great steps to listen to the needs of our users and develop optimal ways to integrate their ideas into our products. By working closely with the global community, BitFenix is able to engineer solutions that directly address the needs of our users.

Combining a deep understanding of gaming and other high-demand computing applications with superior engineering and design know-how, the BitFenix team is dedicated to creating the go-to computing products and peripherals for those who refuse to quit.


 SPECS:

Materials SECC, ABS
Color (Int/Ext) Black/Black
Dimensions (WxHxD) 230 x 502 x 510 mm (ATX Mid Tower)
Weight (Kg) 11.10 / 9.40 (Gross / Net)
Motherboard Sizes Mini-ITX, mATX, ATX
5.25" Drive Bays x 3 external, x 1 internal
Storage Drive Bays 3.5" x 7 or 2.5" x 9
Cooling Front 1 x 200mm Spectre™ Red LED Fan (or optional 2 x 120mm)
Cooling Rear 1 x 120mm (optional)
Cooling Side Panel n/a
Cooling Top 1 x 200mm Spectre™ Red LED Fan
PCI Slots 7 (tool-free)
I/O 2 x USB3.0, 2 x USB2.0, eSATA, Audio
Power Supply PS2 ATX (bottom, multi direction)
Extras S2™, Lockdown™, LED on/off control

 


Closer look at the outside

The Survivor is a stout little case. Without seeing one in person you can probably guess its general specifications, which would be less than twenty inches tall and about twenty-four pounds. As you can tell the Survivor is not a lightweight. Then once all the components are installed the weight will sky-rocket. The majority of the weight comes from the mixture of ABS and SECC (Steel, Electrogalvanized, ColdRolled, Coil. A higher quality then that of the cheap cases).

We begin our tour of the Survivor from the front. The Survivor does have an elegant styling to it, but is not as simple as it may appear at first glance. All the external features are flat and very close to the main body of the case. Besides the curvy stature, the next thing you see would be the big BitFenix logo on the top of the case, which illuminates red when the system is powered on (can be turned off as we will show you shortly). Just underneath are three 5.25” bays for optical drives, and sitting below that is a grilled area that protects a 200mm cooling fan, also lit red.

The left and right side panels do not share the rubberized material the front, top and bottom do. They are simple SECC metal. BitFenix chose not to similarly rubber coat the sides due to the fact the sides of the case very seldom get beat up like the rest of the case does.

The top of the case is ideal for the LAN goer, offering several options for connectivity, and there is even a conveniently stowable carrying handle. Simply pressing one end of the handle causally pops out the other end where it then can be fully extended. BitFenix made sure to get the computer user all the connections they would need and placed them in a great location. The top I/O area consists of USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, two of each, and to top off the peripheral options there is a single eSATA port. The basic headphone and MIC jacks are also present. as well as the power and reset buttons. There is even a button to control the LEDs of the case (logo and both fans). The vented mesh area to each side of the handle are the exhaust locations for the preinstalled 200mm fan.

      

The rear of the Survivor is nothing super exciting to look at, but is very functional. The top portion has a couple of outlets for running water-cooling holes. Beside them is a slotted opening for running the USB 3.0 cable for the front mounted ports. There is no rear fan included with the Survivor, so if you choose to add one it can be as big as 120mm. The seven expansion slots are covered with perforated covers for better ventilation. Finally, the Survivor uses a bottom mount for power supplies.

      

The Survivor sits on two pair of rubber feet for surface traction. The bottom has been recessed to aid in the proper cooing of the power supply, where a dust filter-covered fan opening is for the PSU to draw air through.

      


Closer look at the inside

Before we get into the internal of the Survivor you must remove a portion of the top and bottom rubberized material, as they prevent the side panels from being removed. We felt this was too time consuming, but after a few minutes of conversation with Lester from BitFenix, the route taken really was the best. Going this route eliminated other issues BitFenix saw when experimenting with different options.

We were very happy to see the inside of the Survivor painted black. We know this is quickly becoming the norm with cases but we are still seeing them with the bare aluminum or galvanized-metal gray.

From the image below you can see several openings in the motherboard tray for easier heatsink removal and for the routing of cabling.

Internally, there are a total of four 5.25” bays: three that are seen from the outside and one internal. The internal bay can be converted to mount a 2.5” drive if need be. Below the 5.25" bays are a series of HDD brackets made of plastic and are divided into two cages, with the top cage being removable to accommodate the use of longer video cards. A total of seven 3.5", or nine 2.5", can be installed in the Survivor.

The rear fan is typically provided, but you have the option to install a 140mm (or possibly 80, 92 or 120mm by the looks of it). Here also is a look at the vented slot covers. The Survivor does not use any fancy tool-less options for the securing of add-ins cards, just simple thumb screws, which is what is meant by the "tool-free" listed on the specs page.

The power supply sits atop four rubber bumpers to act as vibration dampeners. You also have the option of mounting the power supply one of two ways: the fan can be aimed towards the interior, or downward to take advantage of the vented area on the bottom of the case.

We see the 200mm fan mounted up top. BitFenix states that the Spectre 200mm is rated with a noise level of a quiet 19dBA @ 500-700 RPM, and is capable of blowing up to 65 CFM of air.


Broken down

Here we have removed the outer trim and siding to give you a cleaner look at some areas of the Survivor.

      

      


Installation

Installing components into this case is about the same as any other case you may have used. There are a few tool-less option like for the installing of storage and media drives. The mounting of the motherboard still requires the typical tools though.

We began the installation with the mounting of the hard drive into the plastic bracket. This process requires no tools unless you want to add a little security to the unit by using a single screw into each side of the drive.

With the motherboard in place you get a better idea of the cable routing as there is plenty of outlets to the right of the board to run them. Even without removing the hard drive cage there is plenty of space for video cards like the Radeon HD 5830, but nothing bigger.

The NZXT Hale90 we just reviewed is a nice add-in to the Survivor. There is plenty of room for larger power supply units.

The S2 is a security device by BitFenix that is included with the Survivor. It is used to secure your peripherals like your mouse and keyboard to the rear of the case. The device's cable is wrapped within the S2 and then fastened closed. The S2 use a magnet to keep the two pieces of the S2 together, as well as connecting it to the rear of the case; however, a lock is needed to provide the best security.


Conclusion

BitFenix is one of those companies that wanted to make a splash in the PC chassis market, and they did it. It began with their first the case the Colossus, as the flamboyant exterior was a big hit gamers and enthusiasts. Their second case to market the Survivor name, the Survivor Core, is another winner in our book as it is fully functional inside and out.
On the outside the rubberized sides can take its fair share of abuse and come out with little to no damage. BitFenix was even successful in making the rubberized exterior look good, proving not always does it have to be "function over form". The simplistic styling has an appeal to it that lovers of Silverstone and Lian Li cases would like. The rounded edges at the top and bottom really makes the case stand out. Before I even had the case in my hand I had my doubts on how BitFenix did the outside of the case. But once in hand my mind grew from uncertainty to a believer.

The inside of the case is rather spacious for a mid-size tower. We had plenty of room after mounting the motherboard to route all the cables to the back side of the motherboard tray. We were even able to house our longer than average Radeon HD 5830 without removing the HDD cage. Yet for those that do own graphic cards like the Nvidia GTX 480 or Radeon HD 5970 the cage can be removed for addition space.

BitFenix provides the user with good ventilation inside the Survivor, thanks mostly to the strategic locations of the fans. The Survivor comes with two very large 200mm Spectre fans up top and in front, both with red LED lighting which can be controlled from the IO panel. The top 200mm fan can be remove and replaced with dual 120mm, or even a dual 120mm radiator. Another 120mm can be mounted in the rear of the case as well but is not included.

The only nuisance we found was that the rear sections of the SofTouch rubber have to be removed in order to take the side panels off. If you are one that does not venture inside the PC once it is built then this is not a problem, but if you are a constant upgrader then it will add a few minutes to the procedure.

I would talk about the handle a little but BitFenix has informed me they will be tweaking it a tad so we will inform you as to what improvements it has undergone.

There are plenty more of the Survivor's features that could go into this conclusion, but there just isn't enough room. So, if you skipped straight to this section you'll just have to go back and read the rest!

For the reasonable price of $109, you get a lot of features and solid quality with the Survivor. It would be money well spent. If you are not into spending $109 for a case then there is another option, it's sibling the Survivor Core,  which shares the same exterior and interior as the Survivor but minus the USB 3.0 ports, S2 and Lock-down strips.

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