Cooler Master Cosmos II Ultra Tower Review

formerstaff - 2011-12-31 10:23:15 in Cases
Category: Cases
Reviewed by: formerstaff   
Reviewed on: January 2, 2012
Price: $349.00

Introduction:

Who likes a good case? If you spend any amount of time lurking around these forums, then the answer is probably you. With all of the dire predictions of the desktop PC going the way of the Edsel and the Corvair, you would be hard pressed to explain that forecast by looking at the recent releases of the case manufacturers. If you’re like me (and I know I am) you see Computer cases as unmitigated potential. It’s a chance to put your stamp of personality and signature on your machine. You can also choose to advertise (or conceal) what nasty data pushing hardware is lurking within. Regardless of whether you choose loud and outrageous, or quiet and conservative. The computer case is usually one of the more fun and choice filled purchases of your build.

I was very pleased to hear that I would be getting the opportunity to review this case. As a boutique builder it has been my observation that owners of the original Cosmos and the slightly sexier Cosmos ‘S’ have been, and continue to be some of the most loyal and satisfied case owners I have spoken with. There has also been quite a buzz around the enthusiast forums regarding expectations about what form the update to the original 2007 version of this now iconic enclosure would take. Cooler Master has even seen fit to create the "Cosmos II Countdown Clock" in anticipation of its release. Well the clock has hit zero, let's see what Cooler Master has come up with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I happened to be walking out of the door at the same time a pair of burly, brown clad fellows were setting a box the size of a smart car on my front stoop. Once I wrestled the massive box into the house, I found a very travel weary and battered full retail box. Kudos to Cooler Master for the care they took in packaging this thing. They had reinforced every edge of the box with heavy duty cardboard cornering and stretch wrapped it within an inch of its life...and as it turned out, it was needed. Several of the cardboard edgings were broken, and three holes were punched clean through the retail box.

Closer look:

The retail box took the usual opportunities to extol the virtues of the case inside. The front of the box had a large, almost full size picture of the new design, while the back of the box pointed out things such as fan sizes and removable filters. All sides of the box however, made sure you knew that you were dealing with an "Ultra Tower Chassis"

 

 

 

The internal packaging was rather basic, but secure. Inside I found the case wrapped in what seemed to be a 6 mil poly bag, and form fitting Styrofoam at either end. It was actually rather easy to extract from the box for a change. I could have lifted it straight out of the box myself...if I was eleven feet tall. Once I extracted it from the box and pulled the poly bag off, I had the impression that I was looking at something special here. I spend a great deal of time at my local Micro-Center with a tape measure in hand scouting the right case for customer builds. I have noticed that more often than not, you can see the exact point where a manufacturer ran out of "price point budget".  As a result, certain features are missing or poorly executed. Shortly after the 'unboxing' of the Cosmos II, this appeared to not be the case

 

 

If you really like cases , or are looking for candidates for that next high end build. I think you will want to stick around for a few clicks while I attempt to paint a picture of what the new Cosmos II has to offer the enthusiast in you.

Closer Look:

The most obvious first impression of this case is the size of it. It is huge! It measures a whopping 344 x 704 x 664 mm. It does have a strong resemblance to the original Cosmos design with its signature tubular handles that run from the front of the case to the back. One of the first things that caught my eye was the attention to detail in all aspects of this case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving to the doors we find beautiful black brushed aluminum finish with stylish filtered vents in both doors. The vents follow the overall style theme of the case which has various sizes of layered polygons

 

 

You may have noticed I did not use the word "panels" in the last paragraph. that is because this case does not have panels, it has doors. full fledged three dimensional, 1" thick doors. As such, they have what I like to refer to as 'architectural depth'. The assembly procedure for the doors is such that I could not disassemble them to have a peek inside, however, a rap on the inside of them is met with a completely deadened thud. My guess is that sandwiched in-between the black brushed aluminum exterior and the very nicely done textured plastic interior panel, is a piece of acoustic foam like the material adhered to the inside of the original Cosmos side panels.

 

 

The doors are really beautifully done and flow with the design of the case. They are fully filtered (more on that in a bit) here is a left , right, rear, and front shot for your enjoyment.

 

 

 

Let's have a look at some more exterior features...

Closer Look:

The Cosmos II has two sliding panels that stealth things up for you. Besides the value of covering up the drive bays and the power/reset buttons when not in use. They are also very elegantly done. Here is where the "painting a picture for you' I mentioned earlier comes into play. With a case that is at this price point and high end of the spectrum, a portion of what you are paying for is a certain amount of ergonomics. A good example of this is the front aluminum panel that covers the three 5.25" & two 3.5" hot swap bays. I found myself repeatedly opening and closing it just because of the quality feel of it. Recall, if you will, that very expensive weighty pen that you once had that you couldn't keep from clicking because it had that great smooth resistance feel to it. Such are the two panels on the Cosmos II.  If you put your finger in the cutout fingerpull at the top of the front panel and turn your digit 90 degrees, the panel begins to fall in a dramatic super slo-mo fashion until it reveals the bays behind it. Finish changing out that CD or DVD, and its just as smooth pushing the panel closed again with the magnets that hold it closed giving you a confirming soft click at the top. This is just another example of the attention to detail that has been designed into this case. Every aspect of it feels and looks crafted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behind the top sliding panel are the power,reset, and fan controller buttons for the system. The touch sensitive power button of the original Cosmos is gone, but they have been replaced by short throw pressure sensitive switches that give you a small bump as feedback to let you know that it has been activated, or the setting changed. From the top power panel you can control the fan speeds via the power leads to the fans in the areas of the GPU,HDD,Top fans, and Front fans. There are three speeds each corresponding to a change in LED color ( low-med-high = blue-purple-red). There are an equal number of leads included for fans that include an LED on/off feature. the Cosmos's front 200mm fan (included) does have this feature, and can be turned off if you don't care for the blue glow of the fans' LEDs.

 

 

Behind the front sliding panel you will find three 5.25" bays and two 3.5" dock-X hot swaps that are lockable with four included keys. The locks are not anything that will keep out anyone who really wants your HDD, but they are good for those with kids and enough to discourage nosey brother-in-laws.

 

 

Front panel connectivity is good with 4x USB 2.0 ports, 2x USB 3.0 ports, 1x e-SATA, 1x audio in, and 1x Audio out.

 

 

Let's have a look at the inside of the Cosmos II

Closer Look:

The Cosmos II as you have already surmised is a large format enclosure. It will accommodate all motherboards up to the XL-ATX. The interior is divided into two chambers. The upper approximatly 3/4 of the interior is the motherboard area, and the bottom 1/4 is a separate compartment. This ostensibly is done for two reasons. 1) to isolate the Power supply and the heat it generates, and 2)To create a cooling chamber for the second radiator for those who choose to make use of it. (more on that in a bit)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wire management opportunities in the Cosmos II are excellent with no less than 9 very large grommeted openings. The interior is also finished in a very polished manner. The finish is first rate, and there is not a sharp edge to be found or felt. The Cosmos II has what seems like an obvious need and requirement in a high end case but is so often not afforded in many high end  cases, an inch of clearance behind the motherboard tray for all those wires. This is particularly important with the Cosmos as 'bulging' these doors is not an option. A very large 6" x 8" cutout for the mounting of the CPU cooler is nicely placed and should allow access to the cooling solution mounting systems of most motherboards. Clearance behind the HDD trays is not a problem either, with a very comfortable 1-1/2" for power and data cables.

 

 

 

 

As I spoke of earlier, the doors on the Cosmos are very impressive. the way they are mounted is equally impressive and a feature I would like to see on other cases. the hinges used are extremely sturdy, so much so that while opening them to a full 90 degrees, the sag is negligible. The doors have a terrific 4-pin gravity system. To remove them, all you do is simply lift up on the hinge side, and they come off. To re-mount them, simply line up the 4 pins in keyhole like holes, and let them fall into place. The opening mechanism for the doors is simply a spring loaded lever that activates a three point sliding locking system.  Push down and they spring open. The hinges have a small amount of friction built into them, so they stay put at any where you place them between 1-90 degrees.

 

 

The three 5.25" bays make use of Cooler Masters tool-less locking system and are among the most effective I have used. I have in the past needed to open the other side of the case and throw a screw in, however, I mounted my two additional power supplies and an optical drive using them and none of the three would budge after being locked in.

 

The PSU is mounted in the bottom of the unit in the lower chamber. The power supply is mounted fan side down on a base that has vibration dampening foam, and has its own slide out filter below the PSU fan. The Power supply unit is mounted into a bracket enclosure that protrudes an inch and a half from the back of the case affording the use of the largest of the power supplies on the market.

 

 

On the next page we'll have a look at filtering and the water-cooling capabilities of the Cosmos II

Closer Look:

The entire Cosmos II case is filtered with high quality effective , and removable filters. Cooler Master has made them very easy to service. As you can see, all filters are easily removed for a quick blast of air, or to be sprayed out in the sink occasionally. The filters for the side doors are one piece and removed with three screws.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cosmos II is equipped to facilitate dual radiator watercooled systems as well. The top of the unit accommodates up to a 360mm radiator.

 

 

For those that require more cooling capacity, Coolermaster had added this into the design with the ability to add a second radiator into the area that houses the lower hard drive cages. This requires the removal of the lower set of HDD cages. I did not have a 240mm radiator laying around my shop, so with the use of Photoshop I illustrated how this would work.

 

 

 

The fan assembly is removed by tilting it out and setting it aside. The bottom two sets of three HDD cages are removed via thumb screws and slide out. This creates a mounting for the optional 240mm radiator and the fan assembly is replaced. I did a bit of measuring and it appears that a pair of 3" pumps will fit side by side between the 240mm radiator and the PSU. leaving a nice amount of room for internal reservoirs.

 

If the option of a radiator is not used in the place of the lower HDD cages, the dual fan cage makes an excellent choice to keep those 15,000 RPM Cheetah hard drives cool.

Test system Installed:

This may have been about the smoothest and easy going time I have ever had installing a large multi GPU and complex system into a case. This is the part of enclosures that I prefer a bit of mundane actually. With plenty of room to work with and the liberal use of large thumb screws and tooless fasteners, everything went off without incident or angst. The full 1" of room behind the motherboard, and 1-1/2" behind the HDD cages for power and data cables are always a joy to have at your disposal. I now wish I had timed the installation as it seemed to go much faster than any of the other cases I have had this configuration in. I realize this is usually the angst ridden, verge of profanity, portion of the review...sorry folks, nothing to report here but an accomplished smile.

 

Specifications:

 

I/O Panel

USB 3.0 x 2, USB 2.0 x 4, e-SATA x 1, Audio in and out

Material

Appearance: Aluminum, Mesh, Plastic; Case body: Steel

Dimension (W x H x D)

344 x 704 x 664 mm / 13.5 x 27.7 x 26.1 in

Net Weight

22 kg / 47.4 lbs

M/B

Micro-ATX/ ATX / E-ATX / XL-ATX / SSI CEB / SSI-EEB

5.25” Drive Bay

3

3.5” Drive Bay

13 (2 from X-Docking, mid cage for 5 HDD’s, Bottom cage for 6 HDDs)

2.5 Drive Bay

11 (Converted from 3.5” bay)

Expansion Slot

10+1

Cooling System

1) Front 200mm LED fan x 1,700 RPM,19dBA

   (converted from 140mm fan x 1)

2)Top: 120mm black fan x 1, 1200 RPM, 17dBA

    (Converted from 200mm fan x 1 /140mm fan x 2 /120mm fan x 3)

3) Rear: 140mm fan x 1, 1200 RPM, 19dBA

    (Converted from 120mm fan x 1)

4) Side: 120mm fan x 2 (optional)

5) HDD: Mid. HDD: 120 x 25mm fan x 1 (optional)

              Bottom HDD: 120mm fan x 2, 1200 RPM, 17 dBA

Maximum Compatibility

CPU Cooler Height 190mm / 7.48 in

GPU card length : 385mm / 15.15 in

Power Supply Type

Standard ATX PS2/ EPS 12v (optional)

 

Features:




All information courtesy of Coolermaster @ http://www.coolermaster-usa.com/category.php?category_id=18

Testing:

To test the cooling prowess of this mass of case. I decided that rather than install a more conventional system. I would use it to house my quad GPU gaming system to see how it deals with lots of heated up graphics cards and the dreaded "heat stack effect". All cases, including the comparison cases were tested under the same conditions and with stock fan placement only.  All temperatures readings are taken with HW Monitor, CPU and Chipset temperatures were taken after 30 minutes of OCCT's standard CPU stress test. For Hard drive temperatures I opted for a real life scenario of taking the highest temperature after 30 minutes of downloading an identical large file. Idle temperatures were all taken after 30 minutes idling after the specific task or load testing. The ambient room temperature during the testing was a constant 22C

Test System:

 

Comparison Cases:

 

Results:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion:

As you may have been able to tell throughout the review, I found this to be an extremely impressive case. As a matter of fact it's the the best production case I have ever had my hands on, and I have been through a lot of them. Installation went smooth as silk. Machining is spot on and there is plenty of room to work with even loading the Cosmos up with an E-ATX motherboard, quad GPU's, and three power supplies. I am looking forward to going watercooled with dual radiators and pumps. At the beginning of the review I said that you can usually tell on most cases when they ran out of price point features and had to start cutting corners on things be it materials or the execution of features. What I like so very much about this case besides how wonderfully it functions is that they decided what they wanted this enclosure to be, and then crafted all of the aspects of it. The feel, fit, and finish of this case is phenomenal. It will not be everything to everyone, but if it has the features you are looking for you will be hard pressed to find a case that is of higher quality.

If i might take the subjectivity of looks on myself for a moment, this thing is drop dead gorgeous!  While it does not sit in the corner and demand your attention...it certainly does command it. Cooler Master has said that the Cosmos II is "Supercar inspired"  I am not sure which one they used for inspiration, but I am going to guess it was the Mercedes SLR. It seems that the word "elegant" has been hijacked in recent years to mean square aluminum box. The Cosmos II does elegant in a different way. It has a lot of style, but not in a screaming "look at me" fashion. I noted that the signature Cosmos handles are reminiscent of studio grade rack audio equipment as soon as I got it out of the box. I think the best description for the Cosmos is elegant and professional. As Nigel Tufnel said: "this one goes to eleven"

 

Pros:

 

Cons: