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BitFenix Colossus Computer Case Revisited

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BitFenix Colossus Overview

The original BitFenix Colossus made quite an impression at the time. There wasn’t anything quite like it, and it still stands out as a behemoth of a case. Let’s start with a quick look around the outside, and then take a closer look at some of the detailed features of the Colossus.

Colossus_FrBk

The imposing, monolithic front profile of the Colossus is striking, even to this day. It has aged well, in my opinion – of course, I’ve always preferred matte finishes (and BitFenix’s SofTouch implementation is a very good example). The slightly recessed LED strips in the front panel add to the “monolith” feel of the door, as it gives a blocky impression to the entire thing. I’m almost a bit disappointed this exact design didn’t carry over to the smaller Colossus M given how great it looks in person (although perhaps it isn’t as suitable for a smaller area). The rear of the Colossus reveals nine PCI slots, and judging by the 120/140mm fan mount and space on either side of the ATX power supply location this is a pretty wide chassis (it would have to be, since it ships with two 230mm fans in stock configuration). It’s a bit strange we don’t see any additional mesh or venting on this back panel, especially above the PCI slots. The Colossus doesn’t really struggle with heat in the first place and it isn’t a “positive pressure” chassis like SilverStone’s Raven RV04, so perhaps it wouldn’t change much anyway.

Colossus_LSide

The Colossus can be found in windowed or non-windowed versions; if you opt for one without a window you’ll receive a panel with additional lighting instead. The entire effect is nicely done, although the more recent Colossus M’s LiteTrak system is definitely more efficient/advanced (it only uses two LEDs for the entire case! The diffusion is better on the Colossus M as well). Still, very few cases ship with built-in lighting (other than fans) of any sort, making the Colossus a bit of a rarity even today.

Colossus_L34

The non-window version of the BitFenix Colossus is identical on both sides so the wrap-around lighting continues around both panels. It doesn’t use light-pipes like the Colossus M, instead using a row of LEDs on the top and bottom for illumination.

Colossus_R34

Continuing with the symmetric design, the hinges for the front door can be swapped if desired. Doors can be a bit annoying if they open from the “wrong side” (depending on where you place your case); this avoids the issue entirely.

Colossus_Top

A mesh exhaust vent for the included 230mm Spectre fan adorns the top of the Colossus, with the “S3″ system in front (a secure storage container that can be locked, we’ll see this up close in a bit). It’s interesting looking at the Colossus after reviewing the Colossus M – while it’s a small detail, I found myself wishing some more of these design elements would have carried over to the smaller, newer Colossus. I know the Colossus M is very heavily based on the Prodigy chassis, but I would have loved to see this same mesh design on the Colossus M for the top two 120mm fan mounts (if only in a nod to the original). Hey, if you’re going to use the same name…

Colossus_Bottom

A sliding filter covers the power supply intake fan, with two more filtered fan mounts in the middle. You’ll need to take these off to install fans (and they’ll need to be removed again to clean them), but I’m sure if this case was released again today these would be updated with sliding filters as well. More importantly, the front door contains a large area to intake cool air through the front mesh even with the door closed (a design element the Colossus M uses as well).

That’s it for the outside, let’s take a closer look at some detailed features of the original Colossus.


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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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