Four ATX Cases For High-Capacity Water Cooling, Reviewed

Temperature, Noise, And Acoustic Efficiency

We tested the thermal properties of each case at maximum CPU and near-maximum GPU loads, using 11 threads of Prime95 and looping 3DMark 11's first test simultaneously. We locked the fans of our graphics cards at maximum speed to gauge the peak cooling performance without any added variability.

A well-placed intake fan and wide open side panel allow Aerocool’s Strike-X ST to lead at its highest fan speed. Azza takes second, place while NZXT follows close behind. Note that the Hurrican 2000’s fan controls are hard-wired to its top panel fans, which were replaced as part of our cooler installation.

We continued to use the fastest GPU fan speed through our full-load noise-level tests, but let those fans spin down completely for our idle tests. Mesh side panels usually fare poorly in this test at full GPU fan speed.

Remembering that low-speed fan mode gave Aerocool’s Strike-X ST a last-place finish in our temperature charts, we weren’t surprised to see a low noise level at idle. The noise under a full load is a completely different matter, as the same unit’s mesh side panel allows nearly 100% of the GPU cooler noise to pass through.

NZXT edges out Azza, and users who want the best of both cooling and noise can even try connecting their fans to thermally-controlled motherboard headers.

A comparison of temperature to noise should be a matter of simple division, except that we want the case with the lowest temperature to have the highest score. To achieve this inverse scale, we first divide the average temperature of all cases/all tests (52° C over ambient) by the average temperature of each individual case. We then divide the average noise level of each case by the average noise level of all cases (43 dB). Finally, we divide temperature (inverse scale) by noise (direct scale).

The resulting relative efficiency chart relates each case’s performance to the average of all tested cases. For example, at 105.4% of average, Aerocool’s full-fan-speed Strike-X ST performs 5.4% better than average.

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  • EzioAs
    Too bad we can't see the full build on the cosmos II. Maybe cooler master should have sent the storm trooper instead
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • hellfire24
    i would take Switch!it's a personal choice no offence to others they are great too.
  • 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 .
  • 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 .
  • 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!
  • 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
  • acekombatkiwi1
    If you want to stick with Swiftech gear use the 240 edge kit down the bottom with a Swiftech 360 QP up top.
  • 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.
  • slicedtoad
    i hope there are more lc articles to come and this is sort of a test run for toms because it was overwhelmingly mediocre. Watercooling is about customization, its supposed to take more time, effort and creativity than air cooling. This swiftech kit is an oversized and slightly more complicated closed loop all-in-one. It's not "high-capacity watercooling".
    I don't mind articles like this but it should be called "entry-level watercooling" or "watercooling simplified". Kinda got my hopes up and then dropped them. But if there's more to come, i can wait.
  • re-play-
    where is the Corsair 600T white?
  • theuniquegamer
    Why my post is showed two times but i posted it one time. The CM cosmos ii should have modular bays for different size radiator of LCs. Because if someone invests >350$ on a cabbi he wants it to be ultimate than other cabinets both in performance,design and also compatibily to any kind of cpu cooler(large size cpu air coolers)
  • hellfire24
    Why my post is showed two times but i posted it one time. The CM cosmos ii should have modular bays for different size radiator of LCs. Because if someone invests >350$ on a cabbi he wants it to be ultimate than other cabinets both in performance,design and also compatibily to any kind of cpu cooler(large size cpu air coolers)


    if you don't like than don't buy....no one is forcing you...
  • greenrider02
    stefpatsyou quit your testing cause your radiator didn't fit? what kind of crap is that? are you even aware how many options are out there for buyers?i m sure anyone who s modding a cosmos 2 would fit almost anything in it.i don't uderstand why you posting this crap instead of giving us a full test.pure fail.


    I don't know if you've had to have testing legitimized, but in the real world the fact that something doesn't work to qualify it for testing doesn't mean you come out with some other solution for it. It gets neglected for this test, and gets a zero for the results. Maybe another test will vindicate it, but you can't adjust midway through, that would be a testing fail.
  • pacioli
    I am impressed by the NZXT. Great functionality and certainly a unique look.
  • koogco
    pacioliI am impressed by the NZXT. Great functionality and certainly a unique look.

    It is quite nice. Not warming to white cases yet though.
    It has one oddity by the way, the entire front (and bottom I think) is dust filteret, except for one corner, with the sloped design in the front, which is not dustfiltered at all.
  • andywork78
    I just love with this case.

    I purchase it 3/11/2012 from Fry's.

    After tax it was $377.

    However...

    I saw many user install fan at side door.

    How to install a fan??

    Do i have to remove dust filter?
  • re-play-
    pacioliI am impressed by the NZXT. Great functionality and certainly a unique look.


    lol that case is ugly as hell
  • Crashman
    slicedtoadi hope there are more lc articles to come and this is sort of a test run for toms because it was overwhelmingly mediocre. Watercooling is about customization, its supposed to take more time, effort and creativity than air cooling. This swiftech kit is an oversized and slightly more complicated closed loop all-in-one. It's not "high-capacity watercooling".I don't mind articles like this but it should be called "entry-level watercooling" or "watercooling simplified". Kinda got my hopes up and then dropped them. But if there's more to come, i can wait.
    This was a case comparison, not a cooling article. Test consistency was the major objective. And you'll have to prove that there's a performance problem with Swiftech's pump if you're going to claim it has entry-level performance.
    re-play-where is the Corsair 600T white?

    Here?
    http://www.corsair.com/pc-cases/graphite-series-pc-case/special-edition-white-graphite-series-600t-mid-tower-case.html
    Too bad it doesn't qualify for the article!
  • A Bad Day
    It would be very nice if manufacturers of WC cases and pre-fab WC kits could agree on universal standards.
  • buzznut
    Again?
  • Device Unknown
    Didn't we just see this article like 2 weeks ago? i still maintain that the Fusion 4000 is the best water cooling chassis at the best price. Take a look at it here http://deviceunknown.com/?p=1300
    It's $250.00 for the chassis.
    We're modding the hell out of this thing with 3 loops 480 rads, 2 PC's and a lot more. Then again I have not had the chance to review the Cosmos II though. Going to take a lot to dethrone the azza at $350.00
  • Any of these support HPTX boards? (Evga Sli X2)