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BitFenix Portal

It took 10 years, yet a iconic Valve diversion Portal finally spawned a possess PC. Or during slightest a possess PC case. Now, now: No sore puns about how “The box is a lie!” We’ve listened them all already. That’s since we done them. 

BitFenix Portal

The BitFenix Portal framework is a quirky outlier of a PC chassis, meant for compress DIY complement builds yet not overly tiny itself. The pattern takes a impulse from the watchman turrets in Valve’s classical nonplus game, yet there’s no denote that this is an central Valve-licensed product. Indeed, a similarity is some-more a reverence to, than a despicable copy, of those in-game frenemies. (On a upside, there is no pointer of a turrets’ pop-out appurtenance guns.)

You can also get a Portal PC box in black, but BitFenix’s white chronicle is a one that’s closer to a game’s vision. We labelled a indication we tested during $129 during this essay (mid-September 2017). Our indication also had a winding clear-acrylic window in a tip panel. BitFenix also offers a chronicle of a Portal box yet a window, during a slight discount, yet we cruise a window is one of a chassis’ best set-apart features, generally if we will be installing a dedicated video card. It shows off a good high-end label to full effect.

In a march of evaluating this case, we live-streamed a PC build regulating a Portal, along with a colleagues during PCMag.com. Read on for a essentials on this case, as good as a dermatitis of a tools we used for a exam build, and an repository of that livestream. (It’s tender and uncut, so you’ll see us contemplate a subsequent stairs and onslaught during times with a build sequence.) From that video, you’ll get a transparent pattern of a ups and downs of building inside a Portal, as good as lots of views of a guts. 



Design Features

The pivotal thing to comprehend about this box is that it’s designed for Mini-ITX builds. In settling for a Mini-ITX motherboard, we are, by a inlet of those boards, tying a PC we emanate to a singular video card. (Mini-ITX motherboards will have usually one PCI Express slot.) You’re also gripping your house options to this many smaller subset of boards.

The vital house makers—Asus, MSI, Gigabyte, Asrock—usually offer a far-reaching preference of ATX-size play in any given house family, a some-more singular preference during a MicroATX size, and usually a few in 5×5-inch Mini-ITX trim. That’s not inherently a bad thing. It’s usually value knowing, going in, that you’ll have a obtuse preference of motherboards than we competence think, given this chassis’ size. Also, Mini-ITX play tend to levy a cost reward for a miniaturization.

BitFenix Portal (Side)

Also value noting: This framework is a bit incomparable than we competence expect, given a reduction to Mini-ITX. It measures 15.5 inches high and 16.2 inches deep, and it looks like it should be means to take a somewhat incomparable MicroATX board. Not so.

The other thing to bear in mind is a specific CPU tallness choice that this box will expostulate we into. Most of a options that will work in here are Intel-based. The really latest high-end desktop power-processor platforms, Intel’s Core X-Series and AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper, don’t have Mini-ITX house options. (Well, bar one: a $400 Asrock X299E-ITX/AC for Intel’s Core X-Series. But that is an costly outlier.) So know that you’ll many likely, then, be building a PC in a Portal on Intel’s mainstream LGA1151 tallness (with a newest play during this essay regulating 7th Generation “Kaby Lake” CPUs), or on AMD’s Ryzen AM4 platform. And note: We’ve seen usually a few Mini-ITX-size Ryzen boards. For a exam build, we went with a Core i7 Kaby Lake chip, and a Mini-ITX house from ECS. 

The other considerations here are a energy supply and a CPU cooler. This box might seem roomy, yet it supports usually SFX energy supplies. SFX is a customary for compress energy supplies, meant for parsimonious framework like this one. At this writing, a SFX energy reserve on a marketplace surfaced out during 800 watts (we used a SilverStone SX800-LTIAMD Radeon RX Vega 64 ought to do usually fine.

The straight clearway on a CPU cooler we name will be an emanate to consider, as well. BitFenix rates a limit cooler tallness during 125mm, and we can use air-cooling or liquid, with ascent points adult front for a 120mm radiator if we confirm to conduct for a water. But an Intel LGA1151 or AMD Ryzen batch cooler will transparent a framework support usually fine. More on that below.



Test Build

Rather than a common blow-by-blow of facilities and build-process quirks, let’s summation a exam build we did. It was partial of a hardware-minded live uncover we tide weekly, “Random Access,” done in unison with a colleagues during PCMag. In a hour-plus we spent building in a Portal (on a fly, mind you, with no operation or scripting, and usually minimal scouting-ahead), we unclosed a cold pieces and a quirks of this framework in genuine time…

   

   

As for what we put inside, here’s a shopping/parts list in box we wish to replicate a build yourself, or cgange it. It worked out to about $2,200 value of hardware, not including a Windows license. That said, we recognised of a exam build with a aim of maxing out a PC, with a Core i7-7700K and a rather desirous GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition card.

You don’t have to go this extreme, of course; a Core i5 Kaby Lake chip and a GeForce GTX 1060 label (a excellent combo for healthy gaming during 1080p), and a 250GB SSD instead of a 1TB model, would trim some-more than $800 off that sum and still leave we with a very, really means gaming and general-purpose PC.


      


     

You can perspective a video for a subtleties of building inside this case, yet mind a records from a final reckoning…

1) Drives fit good inside this framework (you can implement 3 of them, with dual of them being 3.5-inch or 2.5-inch), yet to revoke a unavoidable wire clutter, we’d use an M.2 SSD as a foot drive, if a motherboard we name supports it. It will be cleaner and discharge a few cables. 

2) Mind a video label we intend to put inside. BitFenix has downloadable lists on a product page that outline a concordant hardware. Not all will fit. (Length is not a issue; straight clearway is.) We managed to things in an Nvidia-official GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition, yet some other GTX 1080 Ti cards we had on palm were too thick. Big tradition coolers will not be your crony here.

3) We’d hang with a batch cooler, or a medium glass cooler. The flat, far-reaching SilverStone atmosphere cooler we used in a exam build was a small tight, laterally, yet it worked in a space.

4) Take good caring routing a cables from a front “shell” apportionment of a box to a support apportionment that binds a motherboard. You’ll need to track them by gaps in a frame, so they don’t meddle with a shifting movement when fasten a dual halves of a framework together.

5) Don’t go overboard on a SFX power-supply wattage. You won’t be adding many inside this box once a PC is built out, so usually buy what we need. Our 800-watt supply was technically what is famous as “SFX-L,” that is a small deeper than many SFX supplies. It fit, yet it took adult some of a box space into that we’d have favourite to jam a additional cable.

6) Area of alleviation for BitFenix: Put a outmost ports on a same support as a motherboard and a rest of a assembly, with a cutout for them in a side of a case. Routing a cables to a behind half of a PC from a front half, and shifting a whole works together on a rail, was a trickiest partial of this build. (You’ll see that toward a finish of a video above.)

BitFenix Portal (Ports)



Conclusion

The outcome on a BitFenix Portal comes down wholly to your like or dislike of a extraneous design, and perhaps, your affinity for a classical Valve diversion that desirous it. We found a build routine inside sincerely smooth, yet we’ve build many dozens of PCs over a years. The problem turn here is suitable for folks who already have a build or 3 underneath their belts.

BitFenix Portal (Angle)

However, don’t be intimidated. Given that this is a Mini-ITX box with some parsimonious corners and a two-piece design, building inside a framework was comparatively straightforward, with small of a hair-pulling and garment-rending that Mini-ITX builds mostly outcome in. Use a video as impulse and to assistance we devise your attack. The sequence in that we implement a tools creates all a difference, yet a tools themselves that we name will foreordain a best sequence of operations.

And in a end, a build will be value it. Once it is fabricated into a operative system, we have to say, a Portal is a unusual review starter, even if we have no connection to, or believe of, a diversion that desirous it. Pair it with some wireless peripherals, and you’ll have as 22nd-century-looking a desktop PC as anybody we know.

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