Testing & Results
First things first: I decided to ignore CPU temperatures for both of these chassis. While graphics cards have essentially maintained their power requirements over the past few years (they’ll still dissipate between 150-250+ watts of heat), most CPUs have moved into the sub-100W range. With the popularity of all-in-one liquid coolers it has become much easier to isolate the temperature of the CPU from the rest of the components anyway, so for this comparison I’ll focus on GPU temperatures. To make it easier to test the Colossi side by side, I’ll use a slightly different platform for each case – although there’ll be enough room in both cases and motherboards to leave one PCI-slot spacing between the crossfired Radeon R9 270Xs. I started with a full GPU compute test (100% load) to warm up the chassis – when temperatures plateaued, I recorded the temperatures of each card and ran the Heaven and 3D Mark 11 benchmarks once (recording the maximum temperature reached for each test). Ambient temperatures hovered around 17.3C. Results from these benchmarks will follow a picture of each configuration tested.
First up, the original Colossus running 270Xs in Crossfire:
|Colossus CrossFire||Heaven||3DMark 11||GPU Compute|
|XFX 270X (Top)||53||49||73|
|XFX 270X (Bottom)||n/a||48||66|
For some reason the Heaven benchmark refused to use the second R9 270X (it worked fine in 3DMark 11 and the GPU compute tests). I’ll update this figure once I determine why! Generally the Heaven temperatures are just a bit higher than 3DMark, so take that for what it’s worth.
Now for a similar configuration in the Colossus M:
|Colossus M CrossFire||Heaven||3D Mark 11||GPU Compute|
|XFX 270X (“Top”)||48||49||56|
|XFX 270X (“Bottom”)||64||59||77|
The smaller Colossus M does a remarkable job at keeping the 270X’s cool, especially for the card that sits at the top of the case (right next to the intakes up top). The original Colossus cooled both cards better overall, but the Colossus M still kept things manageable. The open-air cooler design of the 270X’s didn’t do the smaller Colossus M any favors, but that’s what tends to happen when the card design shifts the cooling responsibilities to the chassis.
Taking out the two R9 270X’s and using a single R9 290 (this one using XFX’s Double Dissipation cooler instead of the reference design) should give us an idea of how each chassis will handle a notoriously hot card.
|Colossus||Heaven||3D Mark 11||GPU Compute|
|XFX R9 290DD||67||63||73|
Not much to say yet, until we place the R9 290 in the Colossus M:
|Colossus M||Heaven||3D Mark 11||GPU Compute|
|XFX R9 290DD||64||64||69|
Again we see the benefit of having those intake fans pointing directly at a GPU (the Colossus M, with a single GPU, has the stock Spectre 120mm fans installed as top intakes). Really though, both chassis have enough airflow with the additional fans to keep the R9 290’s ~300W at bay (although the original Colossus’ stock 230mm configuration is far superior to the Colossus M stock fans).
The added 140 and 230mm fans in both chassis were run on their highest settings for each test, and the Colossus M had the original 120mm Spectre fans installed as top intakes for the R9 290 test. The results are actually pretty interesting – the smaller Colossus M more than holds its own against the massive Colossus. What these numbers don’t really tell you are the noises though – the larger Colossus did an incredible job of swallowing up some of the fan noise, where it was more apparent with the Colossus M. Still, the smaller Colossus M worked wonders with the Crossfired 270Xs and a synthetic 100% compute load – the peak temperature was 4C higher on the “top” card (bottom in the Colossus M), but the “bottom” card was a full 10C cooler than in the Colossus! Most of the difference probably comes from the fact that this card in the smaller Colossus M is sitting right up against the intake ports on top of the case – it essentially has its own isolated direct intake with cool, outside air, while the Colossus holds the two cards much deeper inside. There’s definitely enough airflow in both chassis to keep each configuration cool though, and for normal gaming situations the larger volume of the original Colossus helps keep temperatures more similar between the two cards.
The Colossus M stays surprisingly cool given how much smaller it is, but overall it’s tough to beat the larger volume of the original Colossus. It’s amazing to me that they’re even close – BitFenix did a great job packing a lot of performance potential into that Colossus M. You’ll need some extra fans to match the Colossus, but it’s certainly possible.