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BitFenix Colossus Computer Case Revisited

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BitFenix Colossus Computer Case Revisited

By Tom Jaskulka

Manufacturer: BitFenix
Product Name: Colossus
Model Number: BFC-CLS-600-KKLG1-RP
UPC: 886027006658
Price As Tested: $159.99 (Newegg | Amazon)

Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by BitFenix.

August 2010. A new company releases a massive enclosure aptly named the Colossus. The original Colossus was BitFenix’s first product as a company, and it captured the attention of the enthusiast crowd at the time with its various added features and performance capabilities. While Benchmark Reviews has taken a look at the Colossus before, the recent release of the micro-ATX (and mini-ITX) Colossus M got us thinking: how much performance was retained in the Colossus’ spiritual successor? The SofTouch finishes, LiteTrak systems and bold styling are all there, but how do the two compare when filled with similar hardware? Is the monolithic Colossus ancient history by now, or can BitFenix’s first product still hold its own? Courtesy of BitFenix, let’s see how the latest micro Colossus stacks up against the original version (model BFC-CLS-600-KKLG1-RP).

We’ll start by taking another look at the Colossus to see how hardware has changed over the past three years. Remember, this was a time when AMD just announced the ATI graphics brand would be retiring in favor of AMD labeling (the Radeon HD 5800 series was winding down before the upcoming launch of the 6850/6870 in October, while Nvidia wouldn’t refresh their current Fermi-based GTX 480 with the 580 until November 2010). Deus Ex: Human Revolution was released on PC, the Call of Duty franchise was rapidly approaching its Black Ops debut, and Socket 1155 was a few months away (The LGA1366-based Core i7-970 had just been released; Sandy Bridge won’t make an appearance for another six months with AMD’s AM3+ Bulldozer cores almost another year away.).

To be fair, these two Colossi were designed for two different times. The GTX 480 was notoriously hot and loud (the architecture for the more recent R9 290 reference card didn’t even exist yet!), and Intel’s microprocessor lineup was transitioning from the 45nm to the 32nm process. Mini-ITX wouldn’t really take off for another year or so – full towers were necessary to keep hot and loud components at bay.

Colossus_VsLit

Features & Specifications

BitFenix Colossus

Materials SECC, ABS
Color (Int/Ext) Black/Black or White/White
Dimensions (WxHxD) 245 x 558 x 582 mm (ATX Full Tower)
Motherboard Sizes Mini-ITX, mATX, ATX, E-ATX
5.25″ Drive Bays x 5 (1 x external 3.5″; tool-free)
3.5″ Drive Bays x 7
2.5″ Drive Bays x 7 (using standard 3.5″ drive bays)
Cooling Front 1 x 230mm
Cooling Rear 1 x 140/120mm (optional)
Cooling Side Panel n/a
Cooling Top 1 x 230mm (or 1 x 140 or 2 x 120mm optional)
Cooling Bottom 1 x 140/120mm (optional)
PCI Slots 8 (tool-free)
I/O 2 x USB3.0, 2 x USB2.0, eSATA, Audio
Power Supply PS2 ATX (bottom, multi direction)
Models
Colossus Black BFC-CLS-600-KKLB1-RP
Colossus White BFC-CLS-600-WWLB1-RP

BitFenix Colossus M

Materials Steel, Plastic, SofTouch™
Colors (Int/Ext) Black/Black
Dimensions (WxHxD) 250 x 330 x 374mm
Dimensions (WxHxD) Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
5.25″ Drive Bays x 1
3.5” Drive Bays x 4
2.5” Drive Bays x 3
Cooling Top 120mm x 2 (optional)
Cooling Bottom 120mm x 2 (1 included) or 200mm x 1(optional) or 230mm x 1 (optional)
120mm x 1 (included) or 140mm x 1 (optional)
PCI Slots x 5
I/O USB 3.0 x 2, HD Audio
Power Supply PS2 ATX (bottom, multi direction)
Extras LiteTrak™ lighting system, SofTouch™ surface treatment, magnetic heat shield


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4 comments

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  1. Rich Paul

    Thanks for another very thorough review Tom. Personally, I think you put this one about 1.5 points too high but that’s me.

    I think the case is overpriced and has that “teenager”/racing stripe” look to it that I stopped seeing as “cool” 40 years ago, (unfortunately).

    My biggest concern and disappointment was the cooling config availability. I have to select my 5Ghz profile for my CPU whenever I want to ‘fly’, (long-time FSX hobbyist), because the FSX program is notoriously CPU intensive. That means I need it to keep cool, (under 73C in my case), and to do that, it takes a 120 x 240 CLS liquid-cooled radiator system or bigger.

    This is probably where this case truly falls by the wayside for me. I saw no place to install the 120mm x 240mm radiator let alone the (4) 120mm fans that the radiator would be sandwiched in for a push/pull config.

    I won’t go into the entire reasoning about radiator configurations and why it’s so important to take-in the coolest available air at the highest cubic foot rate per minute, (not the time or place).

    But the fact that the front closes over the fan grids and forces the incoming or outgoing air to snake around a panel, is definitely not good for maximizing serious closed-loop, liquid-cooling configurations w/o going into external systems.

    In fact, the 120mm x 360mm CLS radiators seem to be gaining some popularity and now many look for a case that has the potential to mount that type of system. In other words, Bitfenix may have even gone backwards here.

    (Full Tower Needs)
    I have a mid-tower, (Corsair Carbide 500R), that I have now filled with SSD’s and HDD’s and though the cable management is still clean, I’m going to have to face the fact that I really can’t put anymore in it.

    My point here is that I’m not so sure I agree with you when you say that the need for a full size tower case is dwindling, (paraphrasing).

    As I added several SSD’s over a period, the HDD’s they replaced were still very much needed in a ‘support role’. At this point, I have 5 internal drives, two of which are SSD’s and the other 3 are all 1TB in size. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be looking at a full-size tower of the “Obsidian” persuasion soon. ;)

    Well that’s probably more than you wanted to hear but nevertheless, your review has once again been incredibly insightful leaving me with no need to ‘guess’ at what I would get if I bought the case.

    Oh! The gif LED pics were GREAT! Really, I haven’t seen that technique used in quite some time and I thought it was a very clever inclusion. Very Good!
    Thanks, Rich Paul

    1. Tom Jaskulka

      Hello Rich, and thanks for reading! I appreciate that you took the time to throw in your perspective; one of the things I like most about PCs are the endless configurations that are possible. It’s almost impossible to consider every viewpoint, so I appreciate the readers that send a little feedback our way! Out of curiosity, which category would you have taken the 1.5 points from? From your comments, I would expect the appearance category would take a hit ;) Appearance is always the difficult/subjective one, and if you’ve read any of my other reviews you know I’m a sucker for LEDs, much as I wish I could grow out of it :) If you haven’t seen the Colossus in person though, I’d implore you to check it out before forming an opinion. I thought it would resemble my Thor V2, and while they’re similar in size and layout they make entirely different impressions visually.

      Comparing the Colossus next to the Colossus M is what generated my thoughts on dwindling full-tower usage. I generally build gaming-oriented systems, usually with a single SSD (at most, another HDD for storage). Since I’m constantly switching hardware and trying out different configurations, any personal/long-term data ends up in a NAS or cloud-based storage (to survive the fervent and constant hardware experimentation). I just don’t have the need for arrays of drives for the majority of my builds any more, and with ITX/mATX gaining in popularity it’s pretty simple to build comparable systems in much smaller chassis. Multiple GPUs end up as the last major reason (for me) to use a larger chassis, but as I found out in this article smaller cases are starting to perform similar there too. Of course, that’s my own experience – I’m always curious to hear about others’ configurations. As I mentioned before, that’s my favorite part of the PC ecosystem – options!

      I should reiterate, the Colossus does accommodate 240mm closed-loop coolers (check out the detailed features page); if I have time, I’ll try a few that I have on hand to double-check any clearances. If you needed the additional airflow, you could always leave the front door open – I didn’t have the time to test it, but I’m willing to bet airflow would be improved, however slight. Perhaps if BitFenix ever updates the Colossus, they’ll make some accommodations for radiators up front too. Out of curiosity, which CPU are you running at 5GHz? I’m going to assume a 2500K, but if it’s an FX CPU (the 73C limit?) you’ll have to let me know which board you’re using and the voltage you needed to get it stable – my i5-2500K will run at 5, but I’d love to reach 5GHz with the FX-8320 I have sitting around too :)

      And thanks for the feedback on the LED .gif! Glad to hear it was helpful!

  2. Tom Jaskulka

    I should add a little clarification – the BitFenix Colossus (the Venom Edition, anyway) does make a few provisions for watercooling in the front panel. The 3.5″ drive cage can be removed with a few screws (you can see them by the fan filters on the bottom), and the front 230mm fan can be replaced with two 120mm fans (or a 240mm radiator + fans).

    A Corsair H100i and SilverStone TD02 fit in this location, but the hoses wouldn’t be long enough to reach the CPU socket (each of those coolers would fit just fine up top as well). A Swiftech H220 would reach, but the extra reservoir attached to the radiator is a few millimeters too “tall” to fit underneath the 5.25″ bays. All three coolers would fit in place of the top 230mm fan, although the TD02’s thicker radiator might start to interfere with motherboard components, depending on your motherboard (in the system in the article, the 8-pin CPU power connector would definitely need to be plugged in first!).

  3. Rich

    Hey Tom, I Had just posted a reply to your first response a few moments ago and then I saw this one. I’m not sure if my post went through because I don’t see it. If I don’t see it when I return in a little while, I’ll repost it. I also need to steal a moment from some appointments to read this response more carefully, (I haven’t done that yet, I’m getting hammered by biz emails!).
    Rich

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