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Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few months, you've no doubt seen the Cooler Master Cosmos II online or perhaps at your local hardware retailer or LAN party (although I pity the person responsible for lugging this heavyweight anywhere outside of their house). Cooler Master showcased what they call the 'Ultra Tower' at this year's CES and we've been anxious to get it on the test bench ever since to see if it lives up to the hype.
With support for up to 13 hard drives and a total weight of nearly 50 pounds without any hardware installed, this is probably the largest case I've ever worked with in over 10 years of reviewing computer hardware.
Starting at the front, we see that Cooler Master hides the front drive bays with a hydraulic-style door that slides up and down. The door locks in the top position but pushing it barely past the "breaking point" initiates a slow downward fall of the door. And when I say slow, that's exactly what I mean... if it drops at all. I've been using the Cosmos II for a few weeks now and even still, the door won't fall all the way down under its own power. This is likely to work itself loose over time as I recall the demo systems at CES not needing any assistance.
It's advised to leave the door in the closed position as to not impede the cooling vents and 200mm LED fan behind them. With the door down, you're greeted by three 5.25" drive bays and two 3.5" drive bays of the locking variety. These bay covers are very easy to remove and well designed as you don't run the risk of snapping or breaking any plastic tabs during removal or reinsertion.
The front I/O panel resides at the very top of the chassis and is partially hidden with yet another sliding door. With the panel pulled back we can see a headphone and microphone jack, an eSATA port, two USB 3.0 ports and four USB 2.0 ports. Further back is the advanced control panel which includes a full docket of fan controls, power button, reset button, power and HDD LEDs as well as a button that allows you to control fan LEDs independent of fan speed. This requires a special connector that must be built into your fan like the one on the front 200mm LED fan that comes installed in this case.
The fan control panel is split into four groups: front, top, HDD and GPU which should make it easier to keep track of which buttons control such fans. Fan speed is indicated by colored LEDs: red is high, purple is medium and blue is low.
On the top of the case are two large handles and a vented area near the rear that's removable. We'll cover that in more detail as we work our way inside the case.
Here we see both side panels of the Cosmos II - the one with the extra vents is the left side panel. No gawdy case windows or radical cuts here, but a more streamlined look.
A look at the rear of the Cosmos II hints at just how large this case is; 10 expansion slots, a 140mm exhaust fan, water cooling provisions that allow three tubes to pass through and a bottom-mounted power supply.
The PSU bracket is removable for easier installation while the top grill can also be taken off to install a radiator or cooling fans. Also note that the PSU mounting area has been extended to allow for extra-long units. There's a removable air filter just under the PSU to allow for easy cleaning.
Cooler Master utilizes the same handles from the top of the case to serve as feet to raise the chassis off the ground.
One of the coolest things about this case is how the side panels operate. Rather than unscrewing and lifting off like you'd find with most full tower systems, Cooler Master has implemented a neat hinge system that allows the door to open up backwards (think suicide doors on a car). While the feature is very convenient, I do wish that the doors hinged at the back and opened the other way. Having the door open towards you when the system in on a table is rather strange. But hey, it works and furthermore, the panels can be lifted up and off for 100% access.