Temps and Noise, ICON, and Conclusion
|Processor||Intel Pentium G3258 "Anniversary Edition"|
|Motherboard||ASUS H97M-PLUS Micro-ATX|
|Memory||Kingston HyperX Predator 2666MHz (@ 1600MHz) 8GB DDR3|
|Graphics Card||ASUS AMD Radeon R7 260X|
|Storage||OCZ Vertex 460 120GB SSD|
|Cooling||Noctua NH-U9B SE2|
|Power Supply||Corsair CX 750W Modular PSU|
|OS||Windows 8.1 64-bit|
Temperature testing was done with readings from RealTemp and GPU-Z, and results are presented as degrees delta (over ambient). I performed all noise testing with a digital sound pressure meter positioned 18" from the front of the case.
CPU temps are pretty good with my Noctua air cooler, though many other options for CPU cooling would work in this enclosure. A note on the G3258 here, as I've been sticking to the same components for the sake of comparision in the last few reviews. Some higher-end parts (including an i7 4790K) will be employed in the near future.
GPU temps are solid with my lower-end (but still overclocked) R7 260X, and the supplied intake fan pushes cool air directly across this GPU.
The Pandora is a quiet case with the included 120mm fans. My (admittedly lower-end) test hardware is very quiet as well, but the above charts are all using the same components so it's still a fair comparison. The top fan openings contribute to noise levels substantially depending on case fans, and the Pandora does very well in this department falling behind only the Fractal Define R5 (which had the top fan openings covered). The In Win D Frame mini falls just behind the Pandora, and is a little quieter at idle, but that build included zero case fans since the unit ships without any.
A unique design feature of the Pandora is something BitFenix calls "ICON". Here's how BitFenix explains it:
"Pandora is the first chassis to feature BitFenix ICON, a fully programmable display that connects to your system. With ICON, you can easily change the BitFenix logo with your own custom image. Featuring a simple and intuitive interface, BitFenix ICON makes customizing the look of your case as easy as drag-and-drop"
Essentially, after downloading the software from the Pandora's product support page it's simply a matter of dragging any image (provided it's either JPEG or PNG and 240x320 resolution) over the ICON's...er, icon. This feature adds about $40 to the cost of the Pandora, but it's pretty cool (and addictive) to be able to change your case logo at will.
An enclosure with a lot of style at a reasonable price is a welcome addition to the crowded market, and though there are many options out there that fit this description already it’s refreshing to see a company try new things. I haven’t seen anything quite like the combination of ideas present in the Pandora, and the price tag (though a little steep) makes it accessible enough to at least warrant consideration if you're planning a small form-factor build and care about enough about style. There are still those of us who would never consider spending $160 on an enclosure, though the Core version (without LCD screen) can be found for under $110.
By creating a visually distinctive enclosure with quality construction, good performance, and a price that's within easy reach, BitFenix has a winner here. The case offers support for a 240mm liquid cooler and long video cards, but still occupies a small footprint even for a micro-ATX case. The storage options are a bit limited, and some will still be offput by a price tag above $150, but the Pandora does an excellent job of differentiating itself in a saturated market.
- Distinctive, stylish design
- Small footprint still supports 240mm radiators, full-length GPU and PSU
- Lightweight construction with aluminum side panels
- Good cooling and noise levels with included fans
- LCD screen is easy to program with your own image file
- Limited space behind motherboard tray for cable routing
- Reduced storage capacity compared to other cases in price range
- Price is a little high for the version with ICON screen