Over the past four years, I have been running my main rig in the Magnum TH10 monster of a case. In that time I have abused the case almost every day and it has held up to that abuse without a ding, dent, or chip in the finish. So when I saw that Caselabs had introduced a new case and it was available in a bright orange I couldn’t get in touch with Caselabs fast enough. The new Bullet line of cases are much smaller and incorporate a lot of new features from what Caselabs have learned in the last few years including a dual chamber design. Given that I’ve never actually built an orange themed build and I’ve always wanted to, I set out to build a monster PC in the Bullet BH7. You can expect a project build in the future, but for now, I did want to sit down and dive into the Caselabs Bullet BH7 and tell everyone what it's all about and if they should pick one up for their next build.
Product Name: Caselabs Bullet BH7
Review Sample Provided by: Caselabs
Written by: Wes
Pictures by: Wes
|Native HDD Locations||2/3|
|SSD Locations (Using included adapter)||2|
|Total possible HDD locations with extra HDD cages (using additional mounts)||6|
|Total possible SSD locations with extra SSD mounts (using adapters, purchased separately)||12|
|PSU Mounting Locations||1 (ATX)|
|Weight||8.8 pounds (4.0kg)|
|Rear Fan Mount (lower compartment)||2 x 80mm|
|Top Fan Mount (Reversible):||120.2 (240)|
|Front Fan Mount||2 x 120mm|
|Compatible Motherboard Form Factors|
|SSI-CEB/EATX *||Yes *|
|Overall Exterior (W x H x D)
Feet add .4" (10mm) to Height
13.38" x 10.50" x 13.0"
(340mm x 267mm x 330mm)
|GPU Clearance (with fans)||282mm|
|Cooling Tower Clearance (air cooler)||146mm|
|Case Features and Included Accessories|
|All Aluminum Construction||Yes|
|Removable Motherboard Tray (non slide out)||Yes|
|Anti-Vandal Style Power Switch with MDPC-X Sleeved Cables||Yes|
|Standard Front I/O Panel with HD Audio||Yes|
|Included PSU support mount||Yes|
|Compatible Radiator Sizes|
In case you haven’t heard of Caselabs before I should point out that they are one of those rare situations where production doesn’t get shipped overseas, Caselabs cases are made in America, in California in fact. There isn’t a big production line, it is a machine shop that designs and produces everything in house. So it's no surprise that the box for the Bullet is just a standard brown box. They did, however, include a made in the USA sticker. Inside of the box, our orange BH7 comes wrapped up in a very thick plastic and then it is put in the box with foam in each corner keeping everything secure and giving a small buffer from damage. The documentation is in a plastic folder that is inside of another thick plastic bag, then it is taped to the case. The BH7 was also the first time in my life that I have gotten a PC component with a living thing inside, when I was pulling everything out (and it's all in there very tight), I had a centipede run out and scare the crap out of me lol.
So when ordering the Bullet BH7 Caselabs gave me a voucher to cover the cost of the case, but I went a little above that and paid for a few upgrades myself. I picked up handles, their lighting mounting bars, and I went with dual windows. So when opening everything up I did have to dig into the case and dig out the case handles prior to getting photos of the case. On top of that, I also had to remove the two side panel windows and take off the protective coating.
So I had to remove all of the screws to take off the top panel then take off the nuts holding each window on. It didn’t take too long but plan on having to do a little pre-work when getting the case in. This was a lot better than my last Caselabs case that came in flat packed and had to be built.
Inside the case I found our handle upgrade packed in a ton of bubble wrap to keep it from doing any damage inside of the case. In addition to that, I also found that they pre-installed the light mounting bars. Also inside was a large bag with all of the accessories and screws. Caselabs did a great job of individually packing each into their own bag and then putting labels on everything. You get standoffs, case feet, cable ties, rubber mounts for hard drives, a bag of spare parts, and an SSD mounting kit.
For documentation, they have a full set of printed out instructions on how to build in the Bullet cases
Before getting photos let also put the new handles on. The mounting holes for the handles come pre-drilled out and plugged with plastic fillers. I don’t know if you order the case without handles if it will come with these same holes and frankly I’m a little torn on if it should. On one hand it would be nice to not have the black plastic dots if you don’t plan on using handles, but on the other hand, if they pre-drill all of the cases you could get the handles later if you change your mind without damaging the finish. Anyhow the handles just screw on with two very large screws, it doesn’t get much easier than that.
Starting off on the exterior of the Bullet BH7 the most obvious thing is the bright orange color. Well the BH7 is actually available in a few different colors. You can get it in a standard black, white, gunmetal, tangerine, lime, and berry. The tangerine (this color), lime, and berry all cost a little more and typically take a little longer to get.
Before diving into the details we do need to install the included feet. They are rubber with a metal washer molded in and they attach with a screw up the middle. The case is pre-threaded for the feet. Because they are removable you can actually upgrade to other feet as well.
While we are on the bottom of the case we might as well check it all out, right? The Bullet BH7 has two main things going on beyond the rubber feet. On one side there are slot vents for the bottom mounted power supply to pull air in. There isn’t a filter or anything similar on the intake. Then on the left is a panel that takes up a good portion of the bottom of the case. This panel gives you access to the bottom half of the case when you have everything built. It is also what the hard drive rack is attached to.
Up on top of the case, we have the two optional black handles that I installed earlier and then one portion of the top has an offset slot vent the size of two 120m fans for running a little cooling up on top, above the CPU. The whole top of the case is attached with black screws going around to both sides so the handles have a lot of support. The top of the case can also be flipped around depending on your window configuration.
The sides of the BH7 have the rounded corners that roll around from the top to the side panels. There aren’t side panels at all, instead the case is basically a clamshell with the top portion being a little bigger. The BH7 base model comes with one acrylic side window and it would be on the CPU side of the PC. For $10 more you can get dual side windows and that is what our case has to give us a peek at the video card side as well. Beyond the side windows, the only thing on the sides are the 10 black screws that help hold everything together. In the darker color configurations they don’t stand out, but on the orange, they are a lot more noticeable.
Moving up to the front of the case we finally have a little more going on. For starters, the front of the case has a flat black finish where the side panels have the glossy orange. All of the finishes are done in a heavy-duty powder coating, not paint that can chip or get damaged. So the front of the case has another offset slot vent across the top half for two 120mm fans. Then down along the bottom on the right, there is a Caselabs sticker, the only branding on the entire case. For the front I/O panel you get microphone and headphone connections along with two USB 3.0 plugs. Then they use a nice Anti-Vandal switch for the power button. The switch has a ring light around it that glows blue, this is a complete contrast to the orange finish. It would be nice if the light was orange or at least white.
The contrast between the flat black on the front of the case and the bright orange looks great. You get the same effect with the lime finish and the white as well. The berry is a little more muted, like the black and gunmetal models.
Last but not least we have the rear of the case. We can finally see some of the configuration as well. The case is split up into two halves about 1/3 of the way up. The bottom has the power supply and then right above it is the motherboard tray and all of the components. The bottom half has two 80mm fan mounts next to the power supply mount. Then up top, there are 7 PCI slots and an I/O panel for full ATX support and then the rest of the top is vented in a honeycomb pattern for extra airflow.
To get into the Bullet BH7 you have to remove the 14 screws that hold the top panel on. Once the screws are removed pulling it off wasn’t hard with our handles but I would imagine it might be harder without the handles unless you want to get smudges on the side panel window. Like I said before the case is split into two halves horizontally. The split it right at the split for the two clamshell orange panels. The interior has the same flat/satin black finish as the front and back of the case.
The dividing panel is actually the motherboard tray as well as a second wire management panel. The motherboard tray is held on with four screws and the second panel has two, so they are both easy to remove and work without outside of the case. That also gives you access to the bottom half of the case. The motherboard tray has a very large CPU back panel access hole for installing a new heatsink later on with the motherboard installed. There are pre-tapped holes for motherboard standoffs to fit a variety of options. You can run ITX, mATX, ATX, and in some cases E-ATX. There is also support for SSI-CEB. With E-ATX board sizes do vary a lot so you have to be completely sure to check the measurements. They also slipped in a rubber pad for additional support right next to where the top PCI slot on most boards would be.
The smaller panel has a gap most of the length of the case for wires to come through. This panel can be flipped to move the wire holes over to the edge of the case if needed, but if you install any fans in the front they will block the wire access if you have it flipped. There are motherboard standoff holes on this panel as well for when you have it flipped to support some wide E-ATX boards.
Fr cooling there is a top mounted fan mount that holds two 120mm fans. This matches up with the vents on the top panel of the case as well. You can mount a 120mm or 240mm radiator here although I will say that it is a very tight fit once you add in fans, that’s not even counting trying to fit any other components. The case was designed for air cooling and frankly, even that will have you measuring and making sure things fit. The official support is for a 146mm cooler height but I’m not sure if that includes having two fans in the mount above or not.
The last optional accessory that I picked up for our case where the LED lighting mounts. You get two, one for each side of the case and you can mount lighting strips on any of three angles. The mounts hold a 30cm strip just about perfectly and the different angles depend on what style of lighting you want.
The front mounted fans have an interesting mounting plate on the inside of the case to keep from having any fan mounting screws on the outside. It is held in place using four nuts and two hold-down clips down at the bottom. When you pull the plate out you can mount two 120mm fans or if you want you could remove the plate altogether and use the front slots as a way to peek inside of the case.
I covered in on the exterior section but the back of the top half of the case has the rear I/O panel hole, the 7 PCI slots, and the honeycomb venting covering the rest of the free space. The PCI slot covers are all solid and held in place with thin thumbscrews with a Philips on top.
Pulling out the 6 mounting screws to take the motherboard tray and the wire panel off gives you full access to the bottom of the case. I imagine once you get your PC built you are going to want to avoid having to dig this deep into it so make sure you take your time with anything in here, especially wiring so you don’t have to do it again later.
The bottom of the case has a slightly raised panel to support the bottom of your power supply. It has ventilation for the power supply intake fan. It looks like the case could support a long power supply if needed, but it would really make things tight for wiring, especially up against the front I/O wiring. The other side of the case comes with a black hard drive bracket with three mounting points on it. Along with the SSD adapter, you can install your 2.5 or 3.5-inch drives here. The plate that it is mounted to has mounting holes for a second hard drive rack or their optional accessory mounting plate for something like a water pump.
The removable bottom panel is a good way to gain access to the bottom of the BH7 once you have everything built. It’s also the only way to have good access to the hard drive cage. The cage is mounted to the plate and has the three mounting points. It uses rubber mounts screwed onto your hard drive to cut down on the vibration.
The headphone connections and the two USB 3 ports are all one unit when looking from the back. The power button is a completely standard anti-vandal switch, even from the back. So the cabling for the power switch is all custom sleeved with a black sleeving and then the rest of the I/O connections are all a smooth black finish.
Installation and Performance
Before testing out the case I did have to get our build into it. Because the Bullet BH7 was going to be part of a project build, I didn’t go with our normal test components, so I had to get all of the new components in and that took a while. With everything ready, I pulled the top panel off and remember just how many screws hold it on. From there I pulled the motherboard tray and wire management plate out. I started by pre-installing our Gigabyte X99 Phoenix motherboard. To do that I did have to install the standoffs as not all of them came installed, but beyond that this was as simple as putting all of the screws in. I also installed our CPU into the board, the ram, and installed a heatsink.
The heatsink became an issue when I reinstalled the motherboard tray to test fit everything. The Noctua NH-C14S cleared the limited height of the case, but when I installed a video card in the top slot it was jammed up against it. Because of this, I ended up switching to the Noctua NH-U9S for its smaller footprint and low height.
After that, I pulled the motherboard tray out and went around getting the bottom portion of our build all ready. Remember I did things a little out of order while waiting on parts. So here I installed the Corsair HX850i and it was as simple as sliding it in and installing the four mounting screws. There weren’t rubber pads for vibration, but this power supply doesn’t turn the fan on until it is needed so it shouldn’t be an issue.
Next, I grabbed our hard drive to install it in the included drive cage. Because I was still considering water cooling options and I wanted as much room as possible for wiring I removed the hard drive cage and moved it to the optional right mounting location on the bottom plate. Then from there I slid the drive in place and screwed in the four mounting screws with the rubber dampeners installed. You can then slide the drive down to lock it in place. You can’t pre-install the mounting screws before putting the drive in the cage, so keep that in mind.
Now the right mounting holes for the hard drive cage ended up being less than ideal as you can see in the photo below. With the drive installed it pushed the connection side of the drive up against the power supply. I did get this to work though by removing the plate, installing the plugs then carefully reinstalling the plate. It was tight, but did fit. I would, however, recommend not moving the cage unless you need to do it or if you are using SSDs.
I hooked up all of the cables needed to our power supply then reinstalled the motherboard try, leaving the wiring plate off until I had each wire up to the top and hooked up. Caselabs gave the whole length of the wiring plate for wires to come up for things like SATA cables, video card power, and your 24 pin power. But for the 8 pin CPU power there is a smaller hole up at the top of the motherboard that allowed me to run our custom cables right up and over into the plug. The bottom connections were similar for things like the USB, HD Audio, and front panel I/O with two small holes down along that edge as well. All in all the Bullet BH7 was surprisingly good for clean wiring for a case that doesn't even have any grommeted holes. The split case design though hides everything up under the motherboard with more than enough room for everything.
Next, I had to get fans installed into the front of the case for airflow to keep the dual GPU setup cool and to bring in fresh air for the air cooler. I went with two Noctua NF-F12 iPPC-2000 PWM fans with black corner pads. I removed the fan mount plate by pulling the top two nuts off and went about mounting the two fans before dropping the mount back in. They fit well and because they were right above the wire management plate, the two fan cables could drop down into the bottom of the case and run under the motherboard tray to their plugs for a cleaner look.
From there I had to get our GTX 1080’s in and make sure they would still fit with the newly installed fans. There ended up being a little room, but I wouldn’t go with anything longer than a Founders Edition or reference cooler. As for the height, there is a little more room for taller video cards but the power plugs will be tight against the top as you get into the taller cards. For these two cards though the custom Cablemod cables had room to run directly up and loop into their plugs.
Lastly, I had to get the lighting installed. You could go with any single color setup but for this build, I went with an RGB strip from Cablemod and wired them up to the RGB header on the Gigabyte board to integrate them with the on-board lighting. The optional LED mounts were awesome and I wish I had them in every case of mine. You can mount them facing in, facing down, or at an angle. I went with the angled mount to give good coverage in the entire case.
So, of course, building your PC into the case is a good portion of the performance testing, but I have spent a lot of time gaming on the build and have a little experience using the case for a LAN rig as well. What I found was that even with our high-end dual GPU PC in the BH7, it only took the two fans to keep everything running cool. I was a little concerned that the hard drive would get warm with no fans down in the bottom for overall airflow, just the PSUs fan that is independent. It ended up running cool, but if I had two fans stacked down there I would be looking to add one or two 80mm fans down in the bottom section to help keep things cool. The idea when adding the two handles to this build was to be able to move it around the office, not to take it to LANs, but the first action it saw was at a small LAN. The two handles made it much easier to carry around, but the larger footprint of the BH7 doesn’t really make it an ideal LAN case. Now the ITX and mATX Bullet cases, on the other hand, are looking to be great LAN options. They have the same features as the BH7 but are even more portable.
Overall and Final Verdict
I came into this review blindly loving the bright orange color, but after having the chance to build in the case and live with it for a few weeks it’s the details that I really like. Like my last Caselabs case, the Bullet BH7 has its main exterior shell made out o 2.3mm aluminum. The thick aluminum and Caselabs attention to detail put Caselabs cases into a league of their own when it comes to build quality. When you buy a Caselabs case, you buy a case that could last a lifetime where most other cases are going to show their age after a few years. For me with my previous Fridge build and its giant Caselabs case, it was a problem because no one else has built an HPTX motherboard, so I had nothing to upgrade to in that case.
Anyhow, the new bullet design is a new direction for Caselabs, focusing on a more compact design that could be a little cheaper than past Caselabs cases. With an overall capacity of 30 liters, the BH7 ends up being one of if not the smallest full ATX case on the market. It takes up less overall space than a lot of the ITX cases. So for someone who is looking to still fun a multi-card configuration and have room for other PCIe devices in a small form factor you now have an option. The slip design was a little hard to work in, but it does do a good job of hiding all of the ugly things like hard drives, your power supply, and wiring all up under the sexy stuff. Caselabs has the Bullet line available in 6 different color options currently including a few colors that you aren’t going to see on other cases like the orange, the lime, and the purple.
As for downsides to the design. The main downside that you are going to have to deal with is the limited space when it comes to cooling options. They designed the case for air cooling and basic all in one watercoolers and they didn’t leave much room for those even. For air coolers, you can’t run full tower coolers unless they are shorter like the Noctua NH-U9S that I went with. You have a total height of 146mm available. You can fit an all in one cooler attached to the fan mount above the CPU but it's going to be tight and your cables are going to be really long. As for custom water cooling, it is also possible, but you will have to get creative. Fitting a radiator on the front can be done with a shorter video card and tucking in a tube reservoir can be done if you don’t run dual GPUs like I did. My other complaint was just a nit-pick really, the power button LEDs are bright blue. For the black, gunmetal, and white cases this is fine. But with the orange case it stands out a lot, a nice orange button or white would go much better with the case.
The other thing to consider is just how much the Bullet BH7 is going to run you. Caselab cases are a perfect example of you get what you pay for. They never skimp on quality and that shows, but their cases always cost more than the other cases on the market. So with the Bullet BH7, a base case is going to run you just under $230. There are a few options when picking out your case that can raise the costs a little more. For example, the tangerine orange finish of ours costs another $10. The second window is $10 as well. The carrying handles are $20 if you order them with your case or $22 separate. Then it's $15 for the lighting mounts. In total, the case tested here today was $284.90. Stock or with the bells and whistles, both prices aren’t exactly cheap. But the price starts to seem more reasonable if you remember that you will most likely use your Caselabs case in multiple builds where the cases that are half as much aren’t going to hold up as long. In other words, I wouldn’t consider the Bullet BH7 a value, but it is still a good buy. With the mATX and ITX options being much cheaper, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few popping up in the future as LAN rigs as well. I plan on running the BH7 as my main PC but have seriously been considering picking up another for my wife’s PC as well.
A small note and something we don’t have to consider typically. With their popularity, Caselabs has also been working on expanding production. Until then, though, buying a case directly from them has a long lead time. Ordering from one of their listed re-sellers can cut that down. Most have a few of the basic black and white options for quick shipping and Mod-One has a shorter lead time for all of the custom orders. So that is a con currently, but it could change in the future.