Have you played the Portal games? If not, close this video and go play them, because they’re some of the best games ever. Bitfenix certainly seems to be a fan, as they’ve named their latest mini ITX case after the franchise. Although this thing obviously doesn’t resemble a portal, but the sometimes scary, sometimes funny turrets found in the Aperture Science labs. So, does a design referencing a popular video game make for a good chassis? Well if you’re gonna play games on it… Makes sense.
The Portal is, according to Bitfenix, intended to be an HTPC, or Home Theatre PC, case, but it also accommodates full-size graphics cards and even 240mm radiators for gaming. So it will definitely fit everything you need for a high-end gaming build. But, before you do that, you should know more about it. So let’s dive into a physical tour, shall we?
You might notice a lack of traditional side panels, or any removable panels at all really – the case curves around its edges, suspended on two rails. On the front, we have the LED illuminated power button, flanked on the top and bottom by air intake grills, which are part of the black strip that circles the case diagonally. On the right side, hiding in that black strip are 2 USB 3.0 ports, a mic, and headphone jack, and hard drive activity LED, while the left side is bare. On the bottom, we’ve got air intake holes while on top, is a sizeable window to show off the graphics card, but the Portal also comes with a windowless version.
But what is that dang GPU doing on top? Astute viewers will already have gleaned that the motherboard is upside down. Well done, very good. Which we can see by looking at the rear – we’ve got 2 PCIe brackets on top, motherboard cutout on the right, small form factor Power supply cutout on the bottom, yes, only SF or SFX PSUs allowed in this one. Fortunately, there are great options available now – I used a Silverstone SX600-G, which is.. 600Watts, and coupled with modern GPUs’ power efficiency, should be more than enough for the mid-to-high end gaming build. The back has space for 1 80mm fan, which is included. It looks like you could fit another 80mm fan there, but you actually can’t. Kind of a letdown, but I guess you’ve got to make compromises when you’re designing a super-small frame.
Here on the back, we also have the key to accessing the interior of the Portal – 2 thumbscrews at the bottom which, when unfastened, allow you to slide the internal frame out, which rests on a single extendable rail. A very unique design that can make maintenance easy, but also somewhat difficult, as you’ll see.
The interior frame is extremely light, but does not feel flimsy at all – to be completely honest, I haven’t been a fan of the way Bitfenix has constructed SOME of their cases in the past, but this one feels really sturdy, no discernible flex in the aluminum construction. In the front, a 120mm fan is included, along with the 80mm in the back, as I mentioned. The chassis has mounting points for mini ITX boards only, obviously, with a generous cutout for mounting your CPU cooler, which can be no taller than 125mm, so if you’re not liquid cooling, make sure your air cooler will fit before buying this, although, as you’ll see in a bit, you might want to go with a liquid cooler anyways. As you can see, I’ve installed a cooler Master MasterLiquid 120 with a single fan in front, although you could fit another fan for a push-pull configuration.
Now, GPUs up to 300mm long will fit, however – you’ll probably have trouble with extra tall cards – i couldn’t fit in our MSI Twin Frozr 1080, as the power connectors bumped against the side. The height limit isn’t listed, but ma tape measure showed about 4 and ¾ inches, or about 120mm.
Below the front radiator mount is a single 2andahalf inch drive tray, which rests atop a cage with two 3andahalf inch drive trays that can also hold 2andahalf inch drives, so there’s room for 3 SSDs, or 2 hard drives and an SSD. Or 2 SSDs and 1 hard drive. But’s that all the options. In my build I just opted to remove the trays and use that for cable management, but as I found out, when you slide the cage back into the shell, you have to pull the case connector cables through the hole above the radiator, and there’s no way to really manage where they end up inside, so you’re gonna have floating cables in there regardless. Although I did fit one tray back in while still leaving some room for cables. What I wouldn’t do is use the space on the sides for cable management – the GPU power supply cable got hooked on the internal case connector panel, and I had to spend some time unhooking it, so, I would recommend using that hard drive cage for cable management or just bunching them in the center.
And going along with that, I’d also recommend using an allinone liquid cooler, as you don’t want to take the chance that those cables will mess up your airflow. The Portal’s front vents effectively split the intake into top and bottom portions, so your GPU will be drawing fresh air from the top while your front fan will draw unimpeded air mostly from the bottom, so it makes the most sense to have your CPU radiator there.
Now, it seems like the Bitfenix Portal has some issues to work around! But, to be fair, that is the case with nearly any mini ITX enclosure. If anyone is going to make a system this dense, there’s necessarily some more rigorous component planning to be done to make sure everything fits properly. There’s definitely other ITX cases that are simpler to work with, but this case does a decent job of being accessible, while also making a striking visual statement. And that’s a reason to celebrate. Maybe we should get cake. If you’re interested in the Bitfenix Portal or want more details, you can click the button in the corner or the link in the description.
And that’s it for this episode of Unpacked, we haven’t done a case review in a while, this felt good. Let us know in the comments if you think the Portal is worth having cake over, or whether the cake is a lie. Thank you so much for watching. Click over here for previous videos and check us out on twitter over here. But as always, like the video if you liked it, comment below for fans with benefits and subscribe for more videos like this from NCIX.