In and Around the Cooler Master Cosmos II

Cooler Master's Cosmos II is a big, fairly attractive hunk of steel, aluminum, and plastic. The black finish with blue LED indicators isn't going to light the world on fire with its stunning originality, but the overall styling is actually just under being too gaudy. Gaming and enthusiast cases always run the risk of looking outlandish or ridiculous, but the Cosmos II is mostly able to avoid the same fate. Honestly, what you're really going to notice is the sheer size of the thing.

Unlike most cases, there's something happening on every side of the Cosmos II. The top has two heavy aluminum bars affixed to the case's steel frame, and those bars are designed pretty much exclusively to help you actually move the enclosure. Between them, to the rear is a giant vent made of tough plastic and metal that's designed to support up to a 360mm watercooling radiator. Towards the front is a control panel with four independent fan control channels, an LED toggle, and the power and reset buttons, masked with a sliding plastic hood.

This hood is where I first ran into trouble. Simply put, it's chintzy, and on my review unit it actually broke off. That hood is held in place with two plastic rails, but one of those was damaged when I received the case, and with a minimal amount of force (if I'm complaining about lifting a 50 pound case, trust me when I say "minimal") the whole thing snapped right off.

When we get to the front of the Cosmos II, under that hood there's a healthy amount of connectivity: four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA port, and the two audio jacks. The external drive bays are actually shielded by a cover that is held to the top of the case magnetically but slides down to reveal them. There are three 5.25" bays protected by plastic drive shields, and then two lockable (and removable) 3.5" hot-swap bays. The front vent is also removable by applying some force to the bottom and lifting upward, but the problem is that when moving the Cosmos II, this is going to be one of the places you'd want to grip it.

The sides are both covered with two hinged doors that have steel frames with aluminum finishes and ventilation at the bottom that lines up with six of the internal 3.5" drive bays; these doors open by pressing levers on the back of the case, but they're also easily removable by just lifting them off the hinges once they're open. Finally, the back is fairly mundane, sporting ten expansion slots plus an eleventh off-center one for extra ports or fan control, a single 140mm exhaust fan, and a removable power supply bracket.

The inside of the Cosmos II is just as spacious and copious as its exterior, and it's broken up into two chambers. The top chamber houses the motherboard (up to XL-ATX) along with a drive cage that holds five 2.5"/3.5" drives on sleds and the five 5.25" drive bays (two of which are occupied by Cooler Master's X-Dock 3.5" docking bay). There are a healthy number of rubber-grommeted routing holes in the motherboard tray, allowing for clean cabling for just about any configuration.

There are cut-outs in the metal divider between the top and bottom chambers, but you'll want to route most of the cable bundle back behind the tray. The bottom chamber has two 120mm fans mounted to an internal hinge that blow cool air across six additional 2.5"/3.5" drive sleds, and then the power supply is also mounted down here. Finally, the area behind the motherboard tray is spacious and easy to route cables in.

There's no real reason to expect assembling the Cosmos II to be difficult outside of its sheer mass, so if you're not a crybaby weakling like I am you'll probably have a much better time with it. Where I get concerned is with the use of chintzy plastic in parts of the assembly. The "fins" around the enclosure are easily bendable and I can see them breaking just like the control panel hood did (especially if you try and lift the case up by them), and while the aluminum finish on parts of the Cosmos II is nice, it's also prone to scratching.

In the reviewer's guide Cooler Master also tells us not to move the case by sliding it along the two bottom rails as it will damage the rails, but that seems ludicrous when the case is so heavy to begin with. I know it's counterintuitive to complain about both the weight and the use of plastic in this enclosure when the plastic is helping keep the weight down, but I feel that speaks to larger issues with the overall design. If you're not planning on moving the Cosmos II very often (and who would?) I can see where this won't be as much of a problem, but keep in mind that the dimensions of the case itself are enormous in the first place.

Introducing the Cooler Master Cosmos II Assembling the Cooler Master Cosmos II
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  • JarredWalton - Monday, January 23, 2012 - link

    I assumed Dustin meant something more like a steel frame for the doors and hinges, with aluminum sheeting for the main side cover. But perhaps he can clarify. :-) Reply
  • Death666Angel - Monday, January 23, 2012 - link

    Ah, so that would mean everything that has a functional purpose is steel while the outside is an aluminum sheet. Not as I assumed just all steel with an aluminum textured surface. :-) I wouldn't mind a clarification. :D Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, January 23, 2012 - link

    Chatting with Dustin, it sounds like the above is correct -- except some of the exterior is plastic as well, and the bars around the main body are steel. Actually, I think the main body is steel, the frame/inside of the doors is steel, and only the outside of the side panels is aluminum. Reply
  • Rick83 - Monday, January 23, 2012 - link

    I have an original Stacker, and while it has its weaknesses, it's still one of the best cases when it comes to keeping a lot of HDDs installed with decent cooling or hot-plugging.
    While 5.25" bays are dying out, so has the Stacker died a few years ago - something that I am a bit sad about, as it's a simple, efficient, large case made from top materials. Also it comes with wheels :D

    I think the Cosmos is in some way supposed to be a modern replacement for it, and while its price point is slightly elevated compared to what a stacker sold for back in the day, you do seem to get some very nice features, and decent stock fans.

    Clearly, the test program is not suited to really differentiate between high end enclosures, and I'd like to see a multi-card setup, ideally of silent, open circulation cards. Radial fans are so noisy, that the noise performance of the case is directly correlated with the RPM of the GPU-fan.

    Additionally, if you want to run that big radiator, the cosmos 2 becomes more of a value proposition, and it keeps the mostly restrained looks of the CM case family (with the exception of many things HAF). The lack of wheels is disturbing, as with a full complement of drives and heat sinks, you could easily hit 40 kg for the entire machine. Lugging that about is quite a chore. And the Stacker faces the same issue as the Cosmos: there's nowhere really to grab a good hold of it, especially as all the weight is where you can't grab it.

    Finally, bringing a µATX-comparison isn't really apt. Firstly, SB-E is all about PCIe-lanes, which µATX negates completely. So a Gene-Z is a reasonable proposition, but X79 is what XL-ATX is made for. With X79 you want multiple graphics cards, which is where big cases come in, as usually the need arises to water cool these things, as otherwises the kW of heat coming out of four cards can't be managed - enter the 360mm radiator mounting capability.
    This case has a market, and that market clearly does not comprise the reviewer - it would have been interesting to see more aspects that actually interest the targeted users, such as actually mounting that radiator, and whether the case offers rooms for pumps and reservoirs, etc. A 350$ case would never appeal to a mainstream audience.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Monday, January 23, 2012 - link

    We had the radiator discussion already, but if you want to cool multiple GPUs and a high end 6 core CPU quietly, you need more than this case offers. Offering one 360mm radiator space is not that impressive.
    For a quick reference on what cases provide that minimal kind of water cooling functionality see here: http://www.aquatuning.de/download/Gehaeuse-Radiato...
    And if you talk about water cooling, the TJ07 can easily fit a 420mm radiator in the lower part of the case, it is really a common sight. :D Also, in this price range, you start bumping against caselabs cases: http://www.caselabs-store.com/cases/ which has all the radiator space you need without modding. Or you just go external solution. :D

    But this case will find it's buyers.
    Reply
  • Kristie - Thursday, January 26, 2012 - link

    The Cosmos II comes with the brackets needed to take out the 6 HDD bays and install a 240mm radiator in the bottom area. There's people who've installed two 240mm radiators in there too and I don't think that'll take much modding work. The only downside is that for the 360mm radiator space at the top, there isn't enough clearance for a radiator thicker than 5cm. Reply
  • Risforrocket - Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - link

    "I have an original Stacker...

    I think the Cosmos is in some way supposed to be a modern replacement for it...

    Clearly, the test program is not suited to really differentiate between high end enclosures, and I'd like to see a multi-card setup, ideally of silent, open circulation cards. Radial fans are so noisy, that the noise performance of the case is directly correlated with the RPM of the GPU-fan.

    Additionally, if you want to run that big radiator, the cosmos 2 becomes more of a value proposition, and it keeps the mostly restrained looks of the CM case family (with the exception of many things HAF)...

    Finally, bringing a µATX-comparison isn't really apt. Firstly, SB-E is all about PCIe-lanes, which µATX negates completely. So a Gene-Z is a reasonable proposition, but X79 is what XL-ATX is made for. With X79 you want multiple graphics cards, which is where big cases come in, as usually the need arises to water cool these things, as otherwises the kW of heat coming out of four cards can't be managed - enter the 360mm radiator mounting capability.
    This case has a market, and that market clearly does not comprise the reviewer - it would have been interesting to see more aspects that actually interest the targeted users, such as actually mounting that radiator, and whether the case offers rooms for pumps and reservoirs, etc. A 350$ case would never appeal to a mainstream audience."

    What he said.
    There is a market for this case and it's not for the smaller motherboards.
    Good try, Mr. Sklavos, but not everyone want's everything small.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Monday, January 23, 2012 - link

    I recommend "expensive" cases like the Corsairs and Silverstones, but even I have a hard time swallowing $350 for this. I'd recommend a Raven, Fortress, 800D, or 600T over this. All are great in the same ways that the Cosmos II is, but with lower price tags. Reply
  • ggathagan - Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - link

    While I certainly agree that it's overpriced, you do have admire the sheer over-size of it.

    The cases you list are good cases, but none of them have have more than 8 expansion slots.

    I really like my FT02, but consider it a major design flaw that they not only limited it to 7 expansion slots, but placed the 5.25" bays so close to the motherboard that you are severely restricted in your choice of optic drives.
    Reply
  • Juddog - Monday, January 23, 2012 - link

    It would be awesome to see an extended test of this case to see how it performs with the top setup with a 360mm radiator and a 240mm radiator at the bottom (with the hard drive brackets removed). Reply

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