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Triple-Fan Water Cooling Cases, Evaluated

Four ATX Cases For High-Capacity Water Cooling, Reviewed
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Hands-on experience can tell a tester as much about a case as its performance numbers. For example, Cooler Master’s Cosmos II had the heavy structure needed to provide superior noise dampening. It’s unfortunate that the radiator we told everyone we were using didn’t actually fit the Cosmos II, though we were able to verify that it holds traditional triple-fan radiators up to 1.8” thick.

Next in line for quality and features, Azza’s Hurrican 2000 is the least expensive unit in our round-up. Far smaller than the other cases in this review, it was still able to hold our cooling system once we tracked down a couple of metal tabs to secure it in place. We loved the super-value front-access hard drive backplane, were disappointed that the backplane didn’t support 2.5” drives natively, and lamented 2.5” adapters that required part of the backplane to be removed. Were Azza to slightly redesign the Hurrican 2000’s drive trays to hold both form factors natively, the company would certainly be in line to claim value supremacy.

Falling between those two in price, Aerocool’s Strike-X ST actually topped our cooling-versus-noise charts when it was running at full fan speed. It was still the noisiest, however, and didn’t have many of the features one might expect from a $200 enclosure. At this price, the presence of three fan controllers doesn’t offset the lack of any hard drive backplane. Furthermore, the combination of medium-gauge metal and slide-tab attachment should never be used on side panels that are this large.

NZXT’s Switch 810 sets a perfect example of how excellent design and manufacturing can assure proper panel fit—even when using metal that feels too thin for a case of its size. Advanced features, such as push-to-release latches on most access panels and dust filters, are certain to attract many buyers. Its use of a front-panel USB 3.0 internal connector also gets our stamp of approval. And though its “backplane” consists of only a single low-end bay adapter, we believe the balance of features brings it to value par with Azza’s similarly-priced, but smaller Hurrican 2000.

The Switch 810 is also the only case in the review to fit our cooling system and motherboard combination perfectly, rather than haphazardly. Yet, because most builders will install a different motherboard or radiator, that fitment doesn't qualify it for a universal recommendation. Instead of giving a generalized award to a product that didn’t top any of our performance charts and admittedly feels a little flimsy, we specifically recommend the NZXT Switch 810 to builders interested in copying our motherboard and cooling selection.

Editor's Note: We have some extra hardware on-hand, compliments of NZXT. For your chance to win one of three Phantom 410 chassis or one of three NZXT power supplies, enter our sweepstakes!

Update: Following up, our winners have been chosen, and their prizes shipped out. The lucky six are listed below, with their prizes. Congratulations all!

  1. One (1) HALE82 850 W PSU: approximate retail value: $140 – Justin Rexroad of Winston Salem, NC
  2. One (1) HALE82 750 W PSU: approximate retail value: $120 – Josh Steele of Kalamazoo, MI
  3. One (1) HALE82 650 W PSU: approximate retail value: $110 – Christopher Ellis of Fisher, IN
  4. One (1) Phantom 410 case: approximate retail value: $100 – Christopher Hailey of Mount Vernon, OH
  5. One (1) Phantom 410 case: approximate retail value: $100 – Jeffrey Lopez of Chicago, IL
  6. One (1) Phantom 410 case: approximate retail value: $100 – Sean Thompson of Grand Ledge, MI
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  • 1 Hide
    EzioAs , March 14, 2012 4:33 AM
    Too bad we can't see the full build on the cosmos II. Maybe cooler master should have sent the storm trooper instead
  • 0 Hide
    wolfram23 , March 14, 2012 4:39 AM
    Should have put the rad in the bottom of the Cosmos II by removing the HDD trays. Seems like it should fit there.

    Also, Swiftech makes a sweet kit although I can't imagine the size of the triple rad. Using the Edge 220 myself, love it. Fits in my Antec 900 II.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 14, 2012 5:00 AM
    wolfram23Should have put the rad in the bottom of the Cosmos II by removing the HDD trays. Seems like it should fit there.Also, Swiftech makes a sweet kit although I can't imagine the size of the triple rad. Using the Edge 220 myself, love it. Fits in my Antec 900 II.

    The Cosmos II only accepts a 2 X 120 rad in the HDD compartment. Its too bad that toms wasn't able to complete the build in the cosmos II. Maybe within the end of the year, Cooler Master will introduce the Cosmos S II and fix all those enthusiast complains that i read.
  • 0 Hide
    hellfire24 , March 14, 2012 6:44 AM
    i would take Switch!it's a personal choice no offence to others they are great too.
  • 3 Hide
    theuniquegamer , March 14, 2012 6:53 AM
    The Nzxt switch 810 is a good overall case. Too bad they can't fit the rad to cosmos ii . May be they should try the svgtech h80 triple rad air cooler .
  • -2 Hide
    theuniquegamer , March 14, 2012 6:54 AM
    The Nzxt switch 810 is a good overall case. Too bad they can't fit the rad to cosmos ii . May be they should try the svgtech h80 triple rad air cooler .
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , March 14, 2012 7:36 AM
    theuniquegamerThe Nzxt switch 810 is a good overall case. Too bad they can't fit the rad to cosmos ii . May be they should try the svgtech h80 triple rad air cooler .
    Guys, I'm collecting suggestions for future uses of the left-over Cosmos II.
    1.) Yes it supports STANDARD 3-fan radiators. It just couldn't be compared to other cases if it had a different cooling system.
    2.) It can probably also be MODIFIED to fit the radiator used in the article.

    So, do you have a custom system suggestion? or are you looking for a modification article? Like I said, I'm taking suggestions. Thanks!
  • 0 Hide
    EzioAs , March 14, 2012 8:08 AM
    For the Cosmos II, try doing a full build with a standard 360 rad in the top and a 240 rad in the bottom compartment with a 3960X cpu and 2 LCS 7970 from powercolor to show the lowest temps and highest overclock on custom watercooling build. Maybe do an extreme build guide or something like that with the cosmos II. Just a suggestion
  • 0 Hide
    acekombatkiwi1 , March 14, 2012 9:28 AM
    If you want to stick with Swiftech gear use the 240 edge kit down the bottom with a Swiftech 360 QP up top.
  • 0 Hide
    koogco , March 14, 2012 11:23 AM
    It seems a bit silly to use a rad with bits tagged on the end, since most good cases would be designed without those bits in mind. I can see the apeal of using something that is almost like closed loop, but using one of the optical-bay resevoirs with built in pump might have put you fairly close aswell.
    I would like to see what else you can do with the Cosmos II, perhaps a 240+360rad built with just that case as others suggested.
  • 0 Hide
    slicedtoad , March 14, 2012 12:56 PM
    i hope there are more lc articles to come and this is sort of a test run for toms because it was overwhelmingly mediocre. Watercooling is about customization, its supposed to take more time, effort and creativity than air cooling. This swiftech kit is an oversized and slightly more complicated closed loop all-in-one. It's not "high-capacity watercooling".
    I don't mind articles like this but it should be called "entry-level watercooling" or "watercooling simplified". Kinda got my hopes up and then dropped them. But if there's more to come, i can wait.
  • -1 Hide
    re-play- , March 14, 2012 2:19 PM
    where is the Corsair 600T white?
  • 0 Hide
    theuniquegamer , March 14, 2012 2:27 PM
    Why my post is showed two times but i posted it one time. The CM cosmos ii should have modular bays for different size radiator of LCs. Because if someone invests >350$ on a cabbi he wants it to be ultimate than other cabinets both in performance,design and also compatibily to any kind of cpu cooler(large size cpu air coolers)
  • -1 Hide
    hellfire24 , March 14, 2012 2:53 PM
    Quote:
    Why my post is showed two times but i posted it one time. The CM cosmos ii should have modular bays for different size radiator of LCs. Because if someone invests >350$ on a cabbi he wants it to be ultimate than other cabinets both in performance,design and also compatibily to any kind of cpu cooler(large size cpu air coolers)



    if you don't like than don't buy....no one is forcing you...
  • 2 Hide
    greenrider02 , March 14, 2012 3:43 PM
    stefpatsyou quit your testing cause your radiator didn't fit? what kind of crap is that? are you even aware how many options are out there for buyers?i m sure anyone who s modding a cosmos 2 would fit almost anything in it.i don't uderstand why you posting this crap instead of giving us a full test.pure fail.


    I don't know if you've had to have testing legitimized, but in the real world the fact that something doesn't work to qualify it for testing doesn't mean you come out with some other solution for it. It gets neglected for this test, and gets a zero for the results. Maybe another test will vindicate it, but you can't adjust midway through, that would be a testing fail.
  • 0 Hide
    pacioli , March 14, 2012 4:21 PM
    I am impressed by the NZXT. Great functionality and certainly a unique look.
  • 0 Hide
    koogco , March 14, 2012 4:53 PM
    pacioliI am impressed by the NZXT. Great functionality and certainly a unique look.

    It is quite nice. Not warming to white cases yet though.
    It has one oddity by the way, the entire front (and bottom I think) is dust filteret, except for one corner, with the sloped design in the front, which is not dustfiltered at all.
  • 0 Hide
    andywork78 , March 14, 2012 7:34 PM
    I just love with this case.

    I purchase it 3/11/2012 from Fry's.

    After tax it was $377.

    However...

    I saw many user install fan at side door.

    How to install a fan??

    Do i have to remove dust filter?
  • 1 Hide
    re-play- , March 14, 2012 8:34 PM
    pacioliI am impressed by the NZXT. Great functionality and certainly a unique look.


    lol that case is ugly as hell
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , March 14, 2012 9:06 PM
    slicedtoadi hope there are more lc articles to come and this is sort of a test run for toms because it was overwhelmingly mediocre. Watercooling is about customization, its supposed to take more time, effort and creativity than air cooling. This swiftech kit is an oversized and slightly more complicated closed loop all-in-one. It's not "high-capacity watercooling".I don't mind articles like this but it should be called "entry-level watercooling" or "watercooling simplified". Kinda got my hopes up and then dropped them. But if there's more to come, i can wait.
    This was a case comparison, not a cooling article. Test consistency was the major objective. And you'll have to prove that there's a performance problem with Swiftech's pump if you're going to claim it has entry-level performance.
    re-play-where is the Corsair 600T white?

    Here?
    http://www.corsair.com/pc-cases/graphite-series-pc-case/special-edition-white-graphite-series-600t-mid-tower-case.html
    Too bad it doesn't qualify for the article!


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