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BitFenix Colossus M MicroATX Computer Case Review

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Colossus M Final Thoughts

I enjoyed building a system in the Colossus M.  Even though it was the most frustrating out of the three (Phenom/Prodigy/Colossus) for me as a compulsive tinkerer, the end result was absolutely worth it.  It isn’t a chassis I would experiment a lot with, but it’s a perfect fit for having a nice compact system that looks great powered on.  It’s a little anemic in stock trim, but I think that’s the point: with the various BitFenix accessories available, the Colossus M becomes more of a “canvas” to design your own system – which is the fun part anyway!  Seeing a chassis for what it could be is one of the greatest advantages of an open ecosystem; imagining, planning, shopping and assembling a system that is reflects you is what makes building your own PC such a unique hobby.

Placed into a lineup alongside its brethren (the Phenom and Prodigy), you can’t help but get the feeling the Colossus M was the culmination of the Prodigy design.  While the sleek, subdued lines of the Phenom and the signature flexible curved handles of the original Prodigy help give each case a distinctive character and purpose, the Colossus M comes pretty close to “having it all.”  Still, there’s enough trade-offs here to prevent the Phenom or Prodigy from becoming obsolete – each chassis does its own thing pretty well.

ColossusM_26

Colossus M Conclusion

I never really view “performance” of a case purely as a function of its cooling performance.  It’s definitely a factor, but since very few enthusiasts leave anything stock (otherwise they’d just buy a pre-built system) I also try to consider the types of potential cooling a case accommodates.  Depending on your components, the stock configuration won’t be enough.  With enough room for five 120mm fans, or a 240mm radiator and 230mm fan (don’t forget the 140mm exhaust!) though, I think you’ll be able to find a configuration that suits you in the Colossus M.  I still think the Colossus M would have been the perfect candidate to introduce a color-shifting 230mm LED fan, which would have drastically helped the stock performance of this case – any other option though is best left to the customer, since I’m sure most of them would rather start with a less expensive case and add their own fans.

Again, I’m not sure if stock performance is really the point though.  Just look at it – the Colossus M begs for a matching suite of LED fans in red, green or blue.  Speaking of looks, I personally like the edgier appearance of the Colossus M.  The geometric styling compliments the diffused LED lighting design, and I love the use of that soft-touch coating on the front and top panels.  I think what I appreciate the most about the Colossus M’s appearance is BitFenix’s willingness to iterate on the Prodigy and Phenom to create something unique.  They weren’t content to just place some multi-color LEDs in a corner and call it good – they developed a diffused lighting system that results in a really unique effect.  It’s too bad a wider spectrum of colors isn’t available – I can’t help but think the LiteTrack™ system would be a perfect home for a 256-color (16.8 million?) LED controller…

The almost-cube cases like the Colossus M have an advantage: their sturdy, square construction result in a very solid enclosure.  Although the handles from the Prodigy are useful for transport, their rounded shape gave the chassis a tendency to rock; the Colossus M stays firmly planted.  I remember being surprised at how sturdy the Prodigy felt while working with it and the Colossus M is no different.  Every panel fits together precisely, and the front door is smooth and sturdy.  Just like the others, the Colossus M is constructed well.

A discussion on “functionality” is always interesting.  I usually define functionality with respect to computer cases as “how well does it accomplish what it set out to do?”  For the Colossus M, that means aesthetics took priority, but not a lot was ultimately sacrificed to do so.  Losing two 2.5″ drive mounting points and some wiring flexibility isn’t that much of a hit, and for those that prefer such things the lighting system is more than an acceptable trade.  The rest of the Colossus M can accommodate a high-end build just like the Prodigy, and you get a door to help block some noise (but not airflow!) along with a smaller stature overall.  You could even argue that the Colossus M is the most functional of the three, since it can accommodate 5.25″ bay devices/drives (unlike the Phenom), additional airflow, and still block more noise in a smaller overall package than the Prodigy.

The Colossus M (micro ATX version) is available now at a price of $109.00 (Amazon NewEgg).  That places it right in front of its Phenom and Prodigy brethren, and it’s in the price bracket where you start to get a little more than just a box to hold your components.  Only you can decide what you value in a computer case, but the premium coatings, solid construction and unique features of the Colossus M make that a fair entry price for a stylish enclosure capable of cooling a high-end micro-ATX system.

The thing is, there really isn’t anything wrong with the Colossus M.  It isn’t a tinkerer’s case (and it doesn’t pretend to be) so the small quirks I encountered aren’t deal breakers.  Just look at it – the purpose of the Colossus M should be pretty clear, and it fills its role in the Prodigy/Phenom lineup very well.   Whatever you’re looking for in a smaller case, chances are you’ll find it among the three – but the Colossus M makes me very glad BitFenix didn’t stop with the Prodigy.

Pros:Benchmark Reviews Recommended Product Award Logo (Small)

+ The diffused lighting system is very well done
+ Mixes aspects of both Prodigy and Phenom with good results
+ Front door doesn’t block ventilation, usable 5.25″ bay
+ Compact enclosure that fits Crossfire/SLI
+ Substantial aftermarket options for customization

Cons:

- Needs additional fans to reach performance potential (depending on your build)
– LED color choice resets on power off
– LEDs restricted to only red, green or blue

Ratings:

  • Performance: 7.25
  • Appearance: 9.75
  • Construction: 9.00
  • Functionality: 9.00
  • Value: 8.00

Final Score: 8.60 out of 10.

Recommended: Benchmark Reviews Seal of Approval.

COMMENT QUESTION: What did you like most/least about the Colossus M case?

NewEgg.com

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11 comments

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  1. David Ramsey

    I’m personally a little disappointed in this case: it annoys me when cases advertise room for a 240mm radiator, but then you discover that in order to utilize this, you can have a 5.25″ device or two graphics cards. Sigh.

    1. Tom Jaskulka

      I think the Prodigy-based cases from BitFenix make more sense as mATX enclosures, but even with the additional space there are trade-offs. I would imagine those users that need space for two graphics cards would be fine without an optical drive (5.25″ bay devices should still fit – depending on the device of course…), but the 240mm radiator is much more of a tradeoff. It may be possible to fit both though (two GPUs and rad) – I don’t have one on hand to test, but it looks like an H100i *could* fit on the bottom of the case in place of that 230mm fan. If I get a chance to install one, I’ll have to update the article!

  2. Kharntiitar

    Just wondering what CPU cooler that you used?

    1. Tom Jaskulka

      It’s a Xigmatek Dark Knight II , a 120mm tower cooler similar in size and performance to most other 120mm coolers (like the Hyper/EVO 212+, Argon AR01, etc.). The ceramic coating is what gives it the black color! Any other 120mm cooler should fit in this case as well, depending on your motherboard of course (for GPU clearance, etc.).

  3. Neon

    So what is the best orientation of fans? Bottom exhaust and rear intake? Or both exhaust? Or… Something elese?)

    1. Neon

      *else.
      Btw nice review, thanks)

    2. Tom Jaskulka

      Glad you liked it! Fan orientations in the Prodigy-based chassis are numerous, so the unfortunate answer to your question is…it depends :) If I did have to pick one fan configuration though for a *typical* gaming build (one GPU), I had some of the best results with two 120mm fans up top as intakes, then the bottom 230mm fan as exhaust (along with a 140mm exhausting as well). That configuration kept the GPU’s fans (an XFX 270X, in this example, a little more heat than the 7850 in the article) from having to spin up too high, keeping overall noise down. SLI or Crossfire configurations in the mATX cases would almost have to use blower-style coolers (or water cooling), unless you’re willing to deal with the extra noise.

      If you want to overclock the CPU too, that 230mm fan does a decent job of getting rid of the heat – still, you’ll probably have better results with a 120/140mm AIO cooler set as an intake on the rear 140mm fan location (then let the 230mm dump the heat out of the bottom).

      I realize that most users would say “well, heat rises” so the above configuration would run contrary to common sense, but with a GPU installed you run the risk of hot pockets (of air, not the “magma in a croissant” variety) getting trapped. With fans up top directing cool air to the GPU’s fans, and those dumping heat into the case, that 230mm fan spot on the bottom seems best put to use by getting rid of the heated air. You can then adjust CPU temps with the rear fan by flipping it to intake (improve CPU temps slightly at the expense of overall system temps) or exhaust as needed.

      Sorry for the long reply – incidentally, I’d be interested to know how many more users out there would like to see the effect of different fan configurations…but I hope this helps for now!

      1. Neon

        Wow, thank you for such detailed reply) I’m planning to use a little bit overclocked intel core i5 4690k and nvidia gtx780 or gtx780ti in this case. And i’m afraid there will be too hot in there. noise doesn’t scare me, but temps do) So, what do u think? Your opinion is really important to me =)

        1. Tom Jaskulka

          That’s a pretty similar build to what I have running in a Prodigy M right now, and I’m even using the stock Intel cooler for now with a slight overclock (4.2 GHz i5-4670K) – runs very quiet, even with the case fans undervolted to 5V. You should be just fine! Do you know if you’ll be getting the reference cooler for the GTX780/ti? Or will you use one of the open-air custom coolers (like the EVGA ACX model, etc.)?

          1. Neon

            I’m pretty sure I’m gonna use non-reference cooler for the GPU. I suppose the temps will be fine and some overclocking too

  4. Tom

    I can understand why you’d take air in from the top, makes perfect sense but i still have the nagging feeling that it feels just…wrong. I know the fans will completely ignore the ‘heat rises’ science due to their RPM but still gets me a little edgy.

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