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Four ATX Cases For High-Capacity Water Cooling, Reviewed

Bigger Than Your Biggest Fan

Editor's Note: Our Southern California lab recently signed for a big box from NZXT full of cases and power supplies to give away. If you'd like a chance to win one of three Phantom 410 chassis or one of three HALE82 power supplies, read through to the end of this piece and enter our sweepstakes!

CPU water cooling has been around since the early days of Tom’s Hardware. But enclosures specifically designed to hold large liquid cooling systems have always been scarce. And while the availability of mid-sized mainstream systems like Corsair's H100 pushes case manufacturers to at least support dual-fan radiators in their enthusiast-oriented models, high-end cooling support remains a rare feature, even in the highest-end chassis. Fortunately, the few solutions that do exist are fairly good.

If you missed our walk-through of these four enclosures last week, and you want a closer look inside each case before continuing, check out In Pictures: Four ATX Cases Perfect For High-Capacity Water Cooling.

Aerocool Strike-X STAzza Hurrican 2000Cooler Master Cosmos IINZXT Switch 810
Dimensions
Height25.2"21.9"27.9"23.9"
Width9.3"10.2"12.2"9.2"
Depth27.9"23.9"26.2"23.7"
Space Above Motherboard3.2"2.3"1.8"3.2"
Card Length16.8"13.6"**15.5"13.7"
Weight32.0 pounds24.5 pounds47.4 pounds31.4 pounds
Cooling
Front Fans (alternatives)1 x 200 mm (2 x 140/120 mm)2 x 120 mm (None)1 x 200 mm (1 x 140 mm)1 x 140 mm (2 x 140/120 mm)
Rear Fans (alternatives)1 x 140 mm (1 x 120 mm)1 x 120 mm (None)1 x 140 mm (1 x 120 mm)1 x 140 mm (1 x 120 mm)
Top Fans (alternatives)1 x 200 mm (2 x 200 mm, 3 x 140/120 mm)2 x 230 mm (1 x 120 mm)1 x 120 mm (1 x 200 mm, 2 x 140 mm, 3 x 120 mm)1 x 140 mm (3 x 140/120 mm)
Left Side (alternatives)None (1 x 180 mm, 9 x 120 mm)2 x 230 mm (None)2 x 120 mm (4 x 120 mm)None
Right Side (alternatives)None (1 x 120/92 mm)1 x 120 mm (None)NoneNone
Drive Bays
5.25" ExternalFourFourThreeFour
3.5" ExternalNone1 x AdapterNoneNone
3.5" InternalTenSixThirteenSix +One***
2.5" InternalTen*2x AdapterEleven*Seven*
Card SlotsTenSevenTenNine
Price$200$145$350$163
*shared on 3.5" tray **Without cables to backplane ***On 5.25" backplane

Cooler Master tops the list in features, price, and weight, while Azza targets mid-budget enthusiasts with a mid-sized solution. Between those two pricing extremes, NZXT and Aerocool attempt to offer the best value with nine- and 10-slot designs. Today, we find out how well each case fits our parts and performs.

Before we move on to our installation notes, let’s take a quick look at the cooling system that made all of this testing possible.

  • EzioAs
    Too bad we can't see the full build on the cosmos II. Maybe cooler master should have sent the storm trooper instead
    Reply
  • wolfram23
    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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • hellfire24
    i would take Switch!it's a personal choice no offence to others they are great too.
    Reply
  • theuniquegamer
    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 .
    Reply
  • theuniquegamer
    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 .
    Reply
  • Crashman
    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!
    Reply
  • EzioAs
    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
    Reply
  • acekombatkiwi1
    If you want to stick with Swiftech gear use the 240 edge kit down the bottom with a Swiftech 360 QP up top.
    Reply
  • koogco
    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.
    Reply