It has been around four years since Cooler Master first introduced their gigantic Stacker case. This was by no means the first full-tower case on the market, since companies like Chieftec (and plenty of others) have been selling them for ages, but it did spark the beginning of enthusiast hype for such cases. I lived in Taiwan at the time and provided a review of the case; from the professional perspective, there were some features and problems that needed additional tuning. A week later, I met with reps from Cooler Master at their Taipei headquarters to discuss the matter. One thing that became abundantly clear is that it takes more than just a bunch of engineers to build a high-quality, high-performance computer chassis. You can do all the calculations you want on paper, but it's not until your project is in the hands of enthusiasts pushing the limits that you can truly call it a finished product. Later, Cooler Master provided what we would almost call a "secret" update that tweaked the design.

Flash forward to today, and it seems like forever since Cooler Master introduced the Cosmos S chassis. We wanted to provide a few pictures showing the details of this design and discuss the ever-evolving cooling systems manufacturers come up with. As you might expect with a modern chassis, the Cosmos S has the ability to mount numerous 120mm fans -- up to six 120mm fans. The majority of these fans blow air out of the chassis; only one front fan and the bottom fan serve as intake fans; however, there is also a 200mm fan on the side blowing air into the case. The one large 200mm fan should provide roughly the same amount of airflow as the two 120mm exhaust fans, so the interior of the case should maintain good airflow and avoid the creation of a low pressure or high pressure interior. As you might expect with the number of fans, there is the potential for a tremendous amount of airflow and the result is that dust accumulates quite quickly. The case comes equipped with three 120mm fans (including the 120mm fan on the hard drive cage), plus the 200mm side fan. The whole front of the case is perforated to provide for airflow, and after just one week there was already a significant amount of dust. Cooler Master uses air filters on the openings to catch the dust, and these are typically easy to clean, but you will definitely want to do so on a regular basis.

Cooler Master is promoting the Cosmos S as their flagship product in their case portfolio, which is immediately apparent when you begin unpacking your case. Of course we have a large box, but when you remove the case from the box you find a large brown bag with a Cooler Master logo. There's no real purpose to the bag other than protecting it from the usual dust and Styrofoam bits during shipping, but it does help to convey the feeling that you purchased a high-end product. The majority of the internal chassis structure is composed of aluminum, with a predominantly plastic exterior. The case has a futuristic vibe, and it sort of looks like a Cylon from the Battlestar Galactica TV series when viewed from the front.

Opening the case does not require the removal of screws or even thumbscrews; just pull up the lever at the back and the side door swings open, at which point it can be removed. The hinge and locking mechanism on the side door are very well constructed, so despite the ease of internal access there's no additional vibration when the system is running. At the front of the case are seven 5.25" optical drive bays, assuming you use the hard drive cage as Cooler Master suggests. The drive cage can hold four hard drives and has a single 120mm fan at the front that blows air across the hard drives. Most users should find four hard drives sufficient, but if you prefer you can add additional hard drive cages. Each cage uses three 5.25" bays to provide four 3.5" mounts, so if you go with a single optical drive and three hard drive cages you could mount up to 12 hard drives -- and you would also be adding two more intake fans. This modular approach is good in some ways, but it would have been better if Cooler Master had shipped at least two hard drive cages. We can't imagine many people will need four let alone seven 5.25" bays, whereas additional hard drives seem a more likely use. Another complaint with the drive cages is that they are made of aluminum, and the drive bays are also composed of aluminum, so the two parts don't slide against each other very easily. It can be quite difficult to remove the drive cages from the chassis, and a minor tweak using plastic slides would have improved the situation.

Following the recent trend in full-tower cases, the power supply mounts at the bottom of the chassis. A nice feature is that there's an opening directly below the power supply equipped with a dust filter, which will work perfectly with power supplies that have a 120mm fan on the bottom -- although PSUs that have a fan at the rear won't benefit. The positioning of the opening is also designed for "normal" ATX power supplies, so larger power supplies may not align properly with the opening. Should you choose, you can also mount power supplies with the fan facing upward, so that it would serve as an additional exhaust point for the interior of the chassis. Considering the chassis already has plenty of airflow, however, this shouldn't be necessary, whereas giving the PSU direct access to cooler air from below can be beneficial. In short, we would recommend purchasing a power supply that matches well with the positioning of the bottom air intake.

The case comes equipped with one 120mm fan on the top, and you can add up to two additional fans by removing the top cover, which is done by loosening one screw on the upper-rear of the chassis. The three 120mm fan mounts at the top of the chassis are all adjacent to each other, providing an ideal location for water-cooling radiators; two or three fan models should work. There's enough space between the motherboard and the top of the chassis to fit such a radiator, and at the back of the case Cooler Master even includes two ports that can be used for tubing for external water reservoirs. This case definitely appears to target water-cooling, and Cooler Master explicitly mentions on their website that CPU coolers taller than 4.7" will not fit into the chassis. It's possible to install larger coolers, but first you would need to remove the large 200mm fan on the side, and why would you want to purchase this case if you're just going to remove one of the major features?

Installing optical drives is easy; you simply slide them in through the front of the chassis and they lock into place by pressing the corresponding blue button. This is simplicity at its best. There's also room behind the motherboard tray where you can route cables, allowing you to keep a clean interior. There are openings all around the motherboard area to facilitate this, so cable management is very good. With the entire case assembled, the system turns on with a touch of your finger, rather than the normal tactile mechanical switch. Unfortunately, the case doesn't include a reset button, which most enthusiasts continue to use.

Clearly, this case is designed with the enthusiast in mind, specifically the high-end enthusiast that will need plenty of cooling. The case ships with three 120mm fans and a large 200mm fan on the side, which should provide ample cooling for all but the most extreme systems. Water-cooling would definitely be the way to go for such extreme setups, of course, and the chassis accommodates such configurations with aplomb. The power supply also gets ample cooling, since it gets direct access to outside air through the bottom of the case. Hard drives are also cooled via direct air from the outside, which then flows towards the graphics card area. Perhaps more importantly, the large 200mm fan blows directly at the expansion card area, which modern dual-slot GPUs can then expel out the rear of the system through their mounting brackets. Despite the number of case fans, they did not get very noisy during actual use -- fans from graphics cards, motherboards, and the CPU are often louder. If you don't plan to run a top-end configuration, you could even disable many of the fans as we didn't measure significantly higher temperatures without the extra cooling. The hard drives showed the greatest difference, with temperatures increasing by 6°C when we disabled the front fan.

Overall, the build quality is very good and it's clear that Cooler Master has spent a lot of time and effort in the design of the Cosmos S. It's quite easy to make a really large chassis and call it quits, but the result is often poor airflow caused by turbulence. In fact, sometimes you get worse cooling and airflow in a large chassis because of the amount of empty space, since a smaller case allows the manufacturer to better direct airflow. This is definitely not a case that will cater to every user, but enthusiasts and particularly those that are interested in water-cooling will find a lot to like with the Cosmos S (RC-1100-KKN1-GP). Pricing is currently €190 including 19% tax, or around $210 in the US. That's a lot of money for a computer case, but the overall design quality is extremely competitive with other offerings in this price range.

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  • SilentWOLF9 - Wednesday, April 15, 2009 - link

    I just built my latest setup in this case and the install was a breeze. It would have been handy for a motherboard tray but oh well. The overall craftsmanship and feel of the build felt very high as I was working in it. CM did include many ties/stickies/mounts for cable management, in addition to the several motherboard panel cutouts it has been AMAZING! Best looking cable management in any build of mine yet, and with great ease.
    Took it to the last LAN party and it was the talk of the place (room full of Stackers, Raven, Sniper, etc.). Very sleek looks, and easy to carry using the top handles (as far as full towers go).
    Lighting accents are subtle and attractive. (granted my last case had neon blue that would shroud out LV)
    Great airflow and very quiet. I've added 3 Yate Loon fan's to the case as well.
    Plenty of space inside//No GTX200 series hitting your hard drives.

    Qualms about the case: -Slide cover over front usb/1334 can be hard to slide back and forth, I feel like I'm going to bump the touch sensitive powerbutton as I do so.
    -No reset button up top? blah.
    -Again the motherboard tray would have been nice.
    -I also have had a problem with aftermarket cpu coolers. Silly me I just went by case dimensions and figured the 2" listed would be safe to install Prolimatech's Megalems. The side fan hits on it, and until I figure out how to mod it (ideas appreciated) side door is off. Even so, temps of all components are lower than a clone build of friend's hardware (920,260gtx,x58) in Raven case.
    -Removing psu filter is blocked when a case fan is mounted next to it.
    Reply
  • gamer4ever - Thursday, April 02, 2009 - link

    the case looks good, it has a lot of room, it collects dust very nicely no matter how clean is your room, the negative side is that it has problems with aftermarket coolers i have a XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 and the huge side case cooler interferes with my cpu cooler and i cant close the side door unless i remove it, the other bad thing is that it doesnt have a motherboard plate or whatever is called and because of it you have to do all your work inside the case, it comes with small amount of coolers, you have to use screws to secure your hdd. no matter what this case is very good Reply
  • gonks - Thursday, September 04, 2008 - link

    you'll need to have the floor very clean, or your vga will suffer XD Reply
  • Zstream - Friday, September 05, 2008 - link

    Not really clean, all I did was place a piece of cardboard from each foot next to the airflow so the carpet does not get in the way. Either way it is not that dusty in my house and vacuum on a weekly basis. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, September 03, 2008 - link

    Cable management - Is really going to be terrible with this case, unless they include 'sticky ties' or something similar. Another option would be to buy a power supply with cables that are longer than you need, and clip them to length. Personally, I would rather mod the case by cutting holes in it, or fabricating something into the case rather than mess with the power supply cable lengths. Either way, it would be a lot of effort.

    Interior design - After taking one look at the outside, then afterwards looking at the inside it is obvious that cooler master does not care about the interior. It may be functional on some level sure the interior looks very similar to a $5 usd case . . . and that drive cage with fan . . . are you sure the person who designed that was not a kindergarten student using construction paper, scissors, elmers glue, and tape ? Perhaps their engineers should spend less time on the outside, making pretty shapes, and instead spend some time on decently designed interior items(so that $210 usd does not feel like a waste).

    Lots of other things like the 'fan grill' on the back could have been improved by simply cutting a hole for the fan there, and buying a $.50 fan grill cover, and placing it on the outside. Water block holes ? How about still cutting the holes, putting the rubber bushing in a bag, and screwing a plate over the holes for those who do not wish to use them. Same for the bottom facing power supply 'inlet' cover it with a plate, and let the user decide if they want to use it. Maybe they could even supply a fan guard. Power supply may be on the bottom, but it is not partitioned. Motherboard tray ? Or how about just putting enough space behind the motherboard area that allows you to cleanly wire your system (Cue the Antec p182)? I could go on all day.

    In the past if I wanted a no frills case I would have bought a MaPower case. Now days you can buy the cheapest Lian Li case that looks very nice/professional on the outside, pop the side door off, and still be equally impressed. Maybe these cases do not have the 'bling' the younger generation likes (gah!), but at least they look professional, and are very functional. Without having to worry about taking a finger off for whatever reason. Need I mention that even the small things sold as expansion accessories by Lian Li like bay conversion are also very nice/professional looking?
    Reply
  • Dianoda - Thursday, September 04, 2008 - link

    I figured that I'd follow your windy rant with a possibly windier rant of my own. So if you skipped yyrkoon's post, do yourself a favor and skip this one, too. To start, CoolerMaster does include 'sticky ties' with this case, quite a few of them, too. Not that I needed them for my build, because there was adequate space for the cables I was using (such as sata data and power cables and nearly all the front panel cables) to travel between the motherboard and the right side of the case.

    Oh, and your comment on the HD cage has got to be the shoddiest attempt at a put-down I've read in a while. I don't understand the point of it. It's an HD cage, it's sturdy, provides airflow to the HDs, has vibration damping and is otherwise perfectly functional, I don't really know what more you could want from the thing. Unless you actually have more than 4 HDs, in which case, buy another HD cage from CM, problem solved. Sure, it sucks that you would have to buy it, but if you don't need it, you're probably glad you didn't have to pay for it. And why should the power supply be partitioned? With the mounting method the case uses the PSU is effectively isolated with regards to heat anyways (air intakes through dust filter on bottom of case and flows out through the back). The P182 is a completely different case designed for a different purpose, mainly low acoustics. The reason why the PSU is so isolated in that case is so the heat and noise from it don't escape into the rest of the case or into your room. A PSU at bottom of case equals less noise in the vast majority of situations because it's farther away from your ears.

    It's also pretty hard to do Mid-tower, low noise, fair price, and low temperatures at the same time. The P182 is somewhat of a jack of all trades in this respect. Whereas the Cosmos S is clearly a champion of airflow, and heat doesn't have the potential to build up in the case quite like a Mid-tower design might, even one as excellent as the P182. And good luck trying to fit an extended PSU in the P182, it won't happen without removing/modding that lower chamber fan. I've tried and it could work better, its a great case, but it's no full tower.

    I won't argue that a MB tray would be sweet, but this thing is already plenty heavy and plenty big (at nearly 40 pounds). And with regards to Lian Li, their cheapest Full-Tower case is still more money than this CM case at $240.
    Reply
  • icingdeath88 - Tuesday, September 02, 2008 - link

    'nuff said. Reply
  • teohhanhui - Tuesday, September 02, 2008 - link

    Were you sleepy when you were writing this article? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, September 03, 2008 - link

    He may not have been, but apparently I was. Christoph speaks English relatively well, but his native tongue is German (and probably fluent in French too). I read through his text and dictated corrections using Dragon NaturallySpeaking, but as advertised it's only about 97-98% accurate. I didn't pay close enough attention and some errors slipped in, but they've now been squashed. Reply
  • R4F43LZiN - Tuesday, September 02, 2008 - link

    I like it. Good looking and if I had the money to build my dream system I would be probably using a case like this. I liked the 3 slots for fans on the top (to use as a radiator mount). Reply

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