Cooling and Noise, Lighting, and Final Thoughts
I used the micro-ATX build for noise and thermal testing, as this is the advertised form factor for the case.
|Processor||Intel Core i7 4770K|
|Motherboard||ASUS Maximus VI GENE|
|Memory||G.Skill Sniper 8GB 2133MHz (2 x 4GB)|
|Graphics Card||NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 (OEM)|
|Storage||OCZ Vertex 460 120GB SSD|
|Case||BitFenix Colossus Micro-ATX|
|Power Supply||Corsair CX 750 Watt Modular PSU|
|OS||Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-bit|
For temperature testing I ran prime95 across all 8 threads, for a minimum of 10 minutes. The ambient temperature in the room was 17 C. Sound was measured with a digital sound level meter positioned 12" from the front of the case. Noise floor was 33.7db in the room at time of testing.
The case performed quite well in noise testing, with the complete system only adding 2db to the room at idle. The Corsair H75 is a very quiet cooler with PWM fan control, and the included BitFenix 1000rpm 120mm fans are nearly silent. Under load the sound moved up only slightly, and the character of the noise was not unpleasant. Given my experience with these components on the open test bench I can say that the case does slightly diminish audible noise, even with the quieter components in use here.
During testing CPU temps were within the normal range for this small enclosure, even with a less than ideal airflow of my mATX build. With an ambient room temp at 17 C, I ran the Prime95 tourture test at the max stress/heat level and came up with 68 C on the hottest core at full load (3.9 GHz turbo on all cores). Considering Prime95 is creating a worst-case scenario for the CPU thermals, I was satisfied with the results.
GPU testing was not so productive, since the GTX 770 in this test system uses the TITAN cooler, which is overkill for this card to begin with. Even during long runs the fan controller just ramped up to keep the temp at a steady 80 C.
Last but not least, BitFenix has given this enclosure a deluxe lighting treatment, which further differentiates it from other cases in this form factor and price range. "LiteTrak" is a selectable red/green/blue color option with an easy control switch located on the side of the front panel.
The desired color effect can be chosen manually (or disabled) by pressing the button a few times to cycle through the modes, and there is a fourth option to set all three colors to pulse automatically. The colors are vibrant, and did not show up particularly well with my camera. I have borrowed images from BitFenix here to demonstrate the color more accurately:
Case lighting images courtesy of BitFenix
Some of the smaller features are among the strongest points of the BitFenix Colossus Micro-ATX case. Attention was paid to details like the magnetic front door closure, the rubber mounts for hard drives, and even the design of the thumbscrews. The lighting system is a nice touch, and the black soft-touch plastic gives the case a unique feel. The build quality is very high overall, so extras like the customizable lighting are icing on the cake.
The case is easy to work with, and has some very nice touches. Along with these are a few drawbacks, such as the issue with the side panel I/O, which honestly seems like an oversight given its placement on what would not traditionally be the access side of the case. The placement of the PSU in the front of the enclosure prevents setting up a "postive" airflow system, although this is not a concern if you are mounting your liquid cooler above the motherboard, and the PSU's location is understandable given the shape and height of the case. I would like to have seen the drive mounting bracket adopt a quick-release mechanism of some kind, but this is a minor complaint.
- Solid construction, very good fit and finish
- Excellent attention to detail
- Flexibility with build options, equally suited for mATX and mITX form factors
- Room for a variety of cooling solutions with 240mm AIO support, multiple fan mounts
- Ideal implementation of a front door!
- Selectable lighting is a nice touch
- Side I/O connections on the access door inconvenient, but not a dealbreaker
- Limited cable routing
- No dust screen for rear or lower fans
Overall BitFenix has produced an great looking and well made enclosure. The flexibility in such a small footprint is rare and welcome, and there is a distinct style to the enclosure that creates a lasting impression. At the current price of around $120 shipped, I wouldn't hesitate to suggest this case to anyone looking for a solid and distinctive smaller build. Recommended!