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In Pictures: Four ATX Cases Perfect For High-Capacity Water Cooling

Tray-Free Backplane

A thick plastic cover slides down to reveal three 5.25” external drive bays and two 3.5” hard drive backplanes. They support 1”-tall drives without need of a tray, ejecting the drive when the cover is opened. This could be a big benefit to anyone who frequently removes or swaps high-capacity drives.

As with most backplanes, adapter trays for 2.5” to 3.5” form factors cause power and data connector misalignment. Offset trays occasionally included with 2.5” mechanical drives would suffice, if only they were available separately.

Cosmos II Fan Controls

A top-panel cover slides back to reveal four three-speed fan controls, lighting controls, power, and reset buttons. Forward-facing ports beneath those controls are only partially concealed by the closed cover, leaving extra room for large cable ends.

Breaking Away

Designed to support up to ten-slot motherboards, an eleventh slot bracket provides extra space for the breakout plates supplied with some motherboards. The Cosmos II rear panel also has three large, grometted holes for external liquid coolers and cable pass-through.

Swinging Panels

Side panels swing forward on the Cosmos II for easy access to internal components. Both can be slid off of their hinges with equal ease, and both have heavily-formed plastic interiors. Only the right panel has the ability to hold extra fans, though. Two 120 mm fans are supported there.

Inside The Cosmos II

Cooler Master equips the Cosmos II with three hard drive cages, in addition to the front-access two-drive backplane. Cooler Master doesn’t consider its internally-mounted drive cage fans to be side fans, though they do draw air through slots in the side panel.

A large support plate access hole eases cooler installation on most motherboards.

SSD Support

While the front-access backplane supports 3.5” drives exclusively, all eleven internal trays have mounts for both 3.5” and 2.5” drives. Pins on silicon dampeners help isolate vibration from 3.5” mechanical drives, but 2.5” drives are screwed directly to the tray.

Cooling Versus Storage

All of the cases we're featuring today support at least one triple-fan radiator, but the Cosmos II also supports a double-fan radiator in place of its lower drive cages. Brackets for the alternative configuration are even included in Cooler Master’s installation kit.

Slide-Out Power

A rear-mounted extended bracket eases power supply installation without requiring drive cages to be removed. The Cosmos II also includes a slide-out power supply dust filter, and users of extra-long PSUs can still remove remove the drive cages if they need to.

When 2.5 Makes Three

The Cosmos II’s top panel vent appears too small to hold a three-fan radiator, partly because it is. Cooler Master extends space for a third fan beyond the front edge of the vent, and makes the space beneath the solid portion 1.5” thick to allow air to flow around this obstruction.

NZXT Switch 810

White is a refreshing color in a world of black cases, and NZXT even makes sure you aren't left with mismatched colors by included a white optical drive cover in the Switch 810’s top drive bay.

The bottom bay cover hides an internal single-drive backplane.

Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • hellfire24
    Cosmos II is a dream case!but it's very expensive for me :(
    Azza Hurricane 2000 is an excellent case.a friend of mine runs a 965 EE and 6970 Xfire and it runs very cool.
    Star of the Show was NZXT Switch 810!!!:D
    plenty of features for a reasonable price!
    hell better than my armour+
    it's time to collect some bucks lolll!! ;)
    Reply
  • aliened
    With the exception of the NZXT, every single one of them is ugly as hell...
    Reply
  • hellfire24
    Cosmos II is a beauty!
    Reply
  • greenrider02
    What a teeeeaaaaaase show me the liquid systems! Want the NZXT
    Reply
  • I like how the Cosmos II has door hinges. It reminded me when i was young child thinking about how cars could fly by just flapping the doors.
    Reply
  • What about the Haf-X? That's one of the highest rated cases on the market! It's affordable, plenty of space, and it can fit a triple radiator!
    Reply
  • LongpastPNR
    Water Cooling = just another way to waste hard earned income but I will stick to air thank you it is all around us and abundant no need for scarscity LOL.
    Reply
  • CaedenV
    LongpastPNRWater Cooling = just another way to waste hard earned income but I will stick to air thank you it is all around us and abundant no need for scarscity LOL.Agreed! I use to want a water cooled system so badly, until I realized how effective mass amounts of copper can be! If done right it is just as quiet, just as heavy, just as effective, but much less cost!

    there is a little kid in me that still wants to do the mineral oil PC though... but maybe I will do it with my kid some day :)
    Reply
  • Crashman
    crabmanWhat about the Haf-X? That's one of the highest rated cases on the market! It's affordable, plenty of space, and it can fit a triple radiator!Cooler Master chose the Cosmos II instead, probably because there's more promotional value in new products :)
    Reply
  • hellfire24
    @LongPNR and caedenv-
    watercooling is not just a solution.it's a hobby!
    if you don'twant then don't do it.stay on air but don't call it a waste :non: .
    remember,i agree we can achieve overclocks on air but it can never match an enthusiast's liquid cooling setup! :sarcastic:
    Reply