- Packaging and Specification
- External Impressions Part 1
- External Impressions Part 2
- Internal Impressions
- Installation Experience
Bitfenix sent us a Micro-ATX version of their Colossus case. Seeing that mATX and miniITX cases are designed y to accommodate as many hardware components with as little space as possible, I am curious to know how good this case really is! This is the first smaller-than-ATX case that I am reviewing, so I curious to know how good these case designs really are!! It’s not really a secret that I am a fan of inverted motherboard case design, especially with low-cost case like BitFenix Outlaw.
Like many brands, Bitfenix has a straight-forward packaging- logo and case name at the front, features mentioned in the rear and the specifications on the side.
The unit that I received was with a torn box and couple of cartons from another case filled in. But despite that there is not damage to the case, aside from the slightly bent PCIe cover.
The specifications are as follows:
|Model||BitFenix Colossus mATX|
|Materials||Steel, Plastic, SofTouch™|
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||250 x 330 x 374mm|
|5.25″ Drive Bays||x 1|
|3.5” Drive Bays||x 4|
|2.5” Drive Bays||x 3|
|Cooling Top||120mm x 2 (optional)|
|Cooling Bottom||120mm x 2 (1 included) or 200mm x 1(optional) or 230mm x 1 (optional)120mm x 1 (included) or 140mm x 1 (optional)|
|PCI Slots||x 5|
|I/O||USB 3.0 x 2, HD Audio|
|Power Supply||PS2 ATX (bottom, multi-direction)|
|Extras||LiteTrak™ lighting system, SofTouch™ surface treatment, magnetic heat shield|
The case’s frame is of steel and BitFenix uses its signature sofTouch coat for the front and the top.
The Colossus mATX has LED all the way from right to the left side panel, but the actual source of the LED is on the front. The light simply gets reflected on both sides of the case.
The front panel buttons and connectors are on the left sidepanel and the PSU mount can be seen on the underbelly of the case. As one can clearly notice in the rear section, the case is an inverted form-factor design. Seeing that some BitFenix cases have few differences from your typical case designs.
There’ is a switch at the edge of the front panel towards the right that toggles the LED light between red, green, blue, breathing effects with light changes and off.
The front panel is a door with a with couple of magnets that keeps it in place. Once you open it, there is a mesh for the 5.25” drive and the 120mm front fan. The rear section has a long strip of vents towards the side the vented PCIe slots to provide passive airflow for the power supply.
BitFenix also uses the ‘other’ PCIe mounting design, but unlike the ones where I found it inconvenient with BitFenix Outlaw, this one side has a thumbscrew where you can slide the support bracket in and out. The case has a pre-installed 120mm fan and also a PSU power socket pre-installed in the case to re-route the cable to the bottom PSU mount.
The airflow in the front is routed via the top air vents on the door and it gets in through more vents that are present on the inner side of the door. The top panel has 2x 120mm mounts and a removable dust filter. The fans can only be installed from the inside, same for the radiators.
BitFenix has a ‘heatshield’ that shields the vents in case you use the 2x 3.5″ HDD mounts on the base of the case. The shield secures itself against the case using magnets on all four corners. However, should you choose to use the bottom for installing fan/fans, there is no air filter. BitFenix could have provided an air filter, or even use the shield with an air filter attachment.
BitFenix implemented four very sturdy case feet. Screws are used to secure the case feet. We’ve seen few cases with plastic push pins and even with double sided adhesives. As said before, you access the power supply’s rocker switch from the underbelly of the case. The pre-installed power cable hooks on to the power supply socket. The only inconvenience is that you cannot access the rocker switch unless you tilt the case to do so.
Starting off with the sidepanels:
The source of the LED light is on the front panel, the light expands through the left and right side panels.
The right panel is where the front panel USB 3.0 ports, Power/Activity indicator, audio ports and power/reset buttons are present.
The front panel’s LED takes power via the SATA power connector. The colour modes are red, blue green and breathing effects that switch colours after few seconds.
The front panel meshed areas, however, uses a thin sponge-like material as a choice of air filter material. I am not fond of this, especially when it collect a thick layer of dust and the only way to remove it is to un-clip the mesh from the inside.
With inverted form factor cases, most of the work is done towards the right sidepanel. Once you remove it, you first see the removable 2x 3.5” and 3x 2.5” mounting bracket.
Just like the case’s frame, the HDD mount is made of steel. The outer section allows you to install the SSD, where the inner section allows you to install 2x 3.5” mechanical drives.
The inner side of the front panel does not have any pre-installed fans but has mounting holes for series of combinations, including 1x 200/230mm fans. It seems strange that BitFenix didn’t mention this in their specifications. However due to the base mount for the power supply, its fan faces the front once it’s installed.
The top panel panels will need to be installed from the inside, and this is where you can start seeing certain restrictions due to limited space.
The 5.25” support is removable. You’ll need to remove it if you want to install 240mm radiators. You don’t need to remove the 5.25” bay if you plan to use the second fan mount, but the bay will be unusable. You’ll either have to stick with a single fan setup or ditch the plans to have a 5.25” drive.
Once the bay is removed, you’re getting a lot of space. However, you’ll need to install the front panel headers first and then the 240mm radiators. There would be some space constraint that would require you to install in a particular sequence.
You can either install fans or 3.5” mechanical HDDs on the base of the case.A size of 230mm is the largest fan you can install it with. You’ll need to use the heat shield should you decide to use the HDD mounts.
The following system components were used for this case:
|Test Setup for:||BitFenix Colossus mATX PC Case|
|MB+Processor||Gigabyte Z97N-WiFi+ Intel Pentium 20th Anniversary G3258|
|SSD||SanDisk Extreme II 240GB+ Kingston V90|
|Primary OS drive||2x WD Red 3TB|
|Power Supply||Coolermaster G450M|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-U12S Push-pull|
Before building the entire system, I wanted to figure how the entire rig needs to be setup.
As said before, the front side of the HDD mount allows you to install three 2.5″ drives and two 3.5″ HDDs on the other side. Do note that if you plan to use the one in the middle, it’s best if you install the SSD first and then the HDDs. BitFenix provides screws and thick washers for the 3.5” HDDs. For both sides of the SSD mounts, one of the sides has a mounting pin where you slide one side of the SSD in and secure the other side of the SSD by installing the screws from the other side of the tray.
There’s no problem when you’ll be installing the cables on the 3.5” HDD, but it will be a tight fit. BitFenix could have kept more space between the plate and the SSD to ensure that the cables can be connected properly.
Inside the case, there’s a removable bracket for the power supply. You’ll need to install that on the power supply and then mount it inside the case.
Once you install the bracket, you need to secure it against the case which is held by couple of pins on one side, and a thumbscrew on the other.
Installation with the mini-ITX board from this point onwards was pretty smooth. Most of the power supply’s cables can be easily hidden towards the side of it. BitFenix provided cable tie loops on top and bottom of the case. After installing the power supply and the motherboard, it’s best if the sidepanel connectors are installed first. For me, it’s convenient because of the miniITX board. With an mATX board, its best if you install all the headers and cables. Once it’s done, install the storage drive tray and you’re done!
There would be some cable clutter because of the SATA drives and the front panel cables. So I’ve removed the HDD plate first.
With the miniITX motherboard, I had a problem to install the bottom right screw and the 4 pin ATX power cable. If you’re using a 120mm type cooler like the Noctua NH-U12S pre-installed, you will end up removed it. An mATX layout would most likely provide you with more space, but if you plan to build this system with a miniITX motherboard, first install the power supply and do the necessary cable management for the ATX cable and the fan headers. Once it’s done, install the bolt thru kit for the CPU cooler, install the screws and the ATX power connector, then install the CPU cooler. This wouldn’t be an issue with a water block.
After doing that, install the SATA cables, then connect the front panel connectors. The headers and USB 3.0 cable is long enough to install it in the manner shown above, but since the front panel audio header on the motherboard is in an awkward position, the cable was short. After doing all the cable work once the HDD plate was installed, I tied the SATA and front panel cables. You can install the graphic card easily before installing the HDD tray. Do note that I’ve installed couple of 3.5” HDDs on the other side, and I’ve used a 158mm tall Noctua NH-U12S Cooler with dual fans tower cooler.
Though having a water cooling setup would have helped a lot, the case allows you to install such a CPU cooler- hands down. Of course, if you’re not overclocking and you’re running a low-TDP processor but want a better than the stock cooler, you could check out the Noctua L9i. Once you turn it up and press the LED buttons, you have a choice of red/ green/ blue/ breathing light effects or simply switch it off. But the LED strip lights look brilliant!
Once you install fans with LED lights and the top air filter, this is the effect that you’re going to get!
The only main concern I have is the space to connect the SATA connectors for the SSDs. BitFenix should provide a bit more space to ensure proper connection. There is no alternate mounting for the 2.5” drives, so that’s all the more reason BitFenix should fix that. An airfilter for the base will be helpful. Thanks to generic awkward positioning, BitFenix could help by providing a longer front panel audio cables. Accessing the rocker switch on the power supply will require you to tilt it, but having the power supply on the front is a brilliant idea.
There are some minor inconveniences that would affect some people to a point that they’ll eventually get around the issue. Unplugging the right angled power supply cable was bit tough and took some time. Again, a minor inconvenience. Small cases will have limitations. How the limitations are handled is something that’s important. With a modular power supply that uses flat cables and a water cooling setup, you’ll solve a lot of problems. But most of the problems can be handled if you do it in a particular order. I can say a lot of things- “should provide space between the base and the motherboard”, “should provide space between the top panel and the PCIe slots” and “should allow installation of fans from the top”, you’re going to end making this case taller. At the end of the day, you can build a good gaming system that you can keep on your desk. You can install a lot of components provided you do it in a particular order and you’re set! Thanks to BitFenix for not using a push-pin plastic case feet. I am really curious to know how it’s like to put together a system with BitFenix Colossus M, the miniITX version of the case with a radical difference in internal layout.
I rarely nitpick about the price difference, but this would be an exception. In the U.S., this case costs $109 (which translates to 6,668 INR) but in India its sold for a USD equivalent of about $130. Usually, price differences between cases in India and United States reflect minor differences, with an exception to full tower cases, especially the aluminum makes. With the older distributor, BitFenix cases were sold at a reasonable price, and it was something that one can purchase online via Flipkart. Except the fans, you do not see any BitFenix cases listed like how I used to see. It’s something that one should reconsider and re-evaluate the pricing in India. I did manage to find the case listed in eBAY India.
- Lot of space for an mATX case
- Cable tie loops in the right place,
- Provides a space to install 120mm tower-type air coolers
- 240mm radiator mounting option
- SofTouch coat on the front and top panel
- Metal Case feet
- 4 LED light options
- Requires more space for connecting SATA connectors on the SSD
- No air filter option for the base
- Front panel audio cable is too short for motherboards with header next to the PCIe slot
- Installation of WC radiator will few PCIe slots and the 5.25” bay