To test thermal performance, we installed the same hardware in each case in virtually the same way. We selected the Asrock 890FX Deluxe4 along with a Phenom II X6 1100T, which was accompanied by a Prolimatech Megahalems cooler in passive mode. We also installed an Inno3D GeForce GTX 580 OC, half a dozen Western Digital Scorpio Blue 500GB hard drives, a Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 1TB, and an OCZ ZX 1000w power supply.
At idle, we were surprised to find that there was quite a variance in temperature between the various enclosures. This test was conducted 20 minutes after a stress test, which should be plenty of time for the system to cool down.
The Cooler Master HAF X and Lancool PC-K63 were standouts, keeping the processor, motherboard and graphics card very cool. The Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 was a disappointment as we found even with the fans set to high, the graphics card would idle 30% hotter, the motherboard was 26% hotter, while the processor was 14% hotter.
The smaller Cooler Master Storm Enforcer provided very disappointing results when measuring processor temperature -- remember the Prolimatech Megahalems was passively cooled, thus relying heavily on the case's airflow. That said, the Enforcer did provide strong results when measuring the graphics card temperature.
Both BitFenix cases provided very poor results. The Colossus was particularly disappointing, providing alarmingly high processor and motherboard idle temperatures. The Shinobi suffered because it only ships with one fan, so you'll undoubtedly want to invest in some extra cooling for a high-end gaming rig.
Under full load, the Cooler Master HAF X was still the top performer. That said, when we removed its loud VGA duct fan the HAF X delivered results on par with the Lancool PC-K63 and Chaser MK-1.
The Cooler Master Storm Enforcer again struggled to keep the motherboard and processor temps in check (more than 20 degrees higher than the HAF X), but it did an excellent job cooling the GPU.
BitFenix's entries barely kept our hardware at safe temperatures. Again, that's not too surprising for the Shinobi given its single fan, but it's clear that the Colossus needs better airflow.