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BitFenix Colossus Computer Case Revisited

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BitFenix Colossus Detailed Features

Of course, the most prominent feature of the Colossus is the wrap-around LED lighting. This chassis is the Venom edition which can alternate between red, green or “breathing” modes.

Colossus_Lit34Final

The effect is stunning, especially for a “first edition” implementation. I’d imagine the team at BitFenix learned a few things from this Colossus, as the new Colossus M uses a better form of diffusion for more even illumination – and accomplishes a better effect with fewer LEDs (of course, it has much less area to light up). If there are ever plans to release an updated Colossus, I hope they can use the diffused/light pipe system from the Colossus M (along with a red/green/blue LED controller for more color options!); there were far fewer “hot spots” with the smaller Colossus M. I must say I really appreciate the engraved look on the original Colossus though – somehow it made the entire chassis look more menacing.

Colossus_Panel

The white backing on the side panels helps reflect some of the light for better distribution (the side panel LEDs are only located along the top and bottom of the panel so the center of the panel is noticeably dimmer), although using frosted acrylic would have been even better. Removing the panels gives us a look at the interior – while ATX towers haven’t changed too much in the past few years, you can definitely see that 5.25″ bays were of greater use in 2010. The rubber grommets could stand to be a bit bigger and the tool-less 3.5″ drive trays a bit less flimsy, but overall it’s a flexible and expandable interior. There’s even room to mount a 240mm radiator up top if you wanted to.

Colossus_Tray

Above is the S3-branded secure storage area. I can’t recall any other chassis right now that has such extensive cable management options for peripherals (although some of the Cooler Master cases have a PCI slot cover that can effectively secure a cord, and NZXT has their Bunker accessory) so this was a surprisingly useful addition for me. While the eSATA port has become a bit dated over the past few years, USB 3.0 ports are nice to see (there’s two USB 2.0 ports alongside the headphone/mic jacks too). There’s enough space for a portable hard drive to be locked away up here, and by using the cable management hooks you can secure your USB peripherals too. Power, reset, color mode and brightness settings (along with a fan controller) are all located here as well.

Colossus_TrayRoute

The power and HDD activity LEDs (blue and red) won’t shine through the front door, but I think the external lighting will do a pretty good job of letting you know if your system is powered on. The cord management channels won’t fit more than one cable at a time, but other cords can just drape across the front and use any of the cutouts along the side (five per side, two at the bottom). A keyboard and mouse would utilize these channels nicely. It’s a great feature, and surprisingly still pretty rare even among modern chassis.

Colossus_Door

Those channels continue all the way to the bottom of the case, so cords won’t need to be hanging off the side of the Colossus. There’s enough space behind the front door for cool air to find its way into the enclosure, but I could hear the included fan’s RPMs increase very slightly when opening the door (indicating that there is a bit of restriction). We’ll take a closer look at temperatures later, but it doesn’t seem to ultimately affect temperatures enough to make it an issue.

Colossus_InTop

The BitFenix Colossus (Venom Edition, anyway) ships with two 230mm BitFenix Spectre fans as standard.  It’s nice to see enough room up here for radiators too, even though all-in-one liquid coolers weren’t quite as commonplace then as they are now. A row of grommets up top are great to see since these are very useful if you add any additional fans, and the typical water-cooling holes in the back make an appearance too.

Colossus_LEDs

Finally, I think another look at the lighting systems of both Colossi are in order. It’s difficult to reproduce LEDs accurately in a photograph (at least for me!), but these three shots (combined in a .gif) turned out pretty good I think. Since this version of the Colossus doesn’t have tri-color LEDs like the Colossus M, the green washes out the blue on the Colossus M ever so slightly; otherwise these are pretty accurate to what each chassis will look like in a darkened room. The additional green light in back is from the green LED Spectre Pro fans BitFenix sent along to help test the performance capabilities of the two cases. Speaking of which, let’s see how they compare!


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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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