Hands-on with the futuristic looking Cooler Master Cosmos II Enclosure

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If you are like most of us, you would rather buy a PC pre-built off the shelf and save yourself the headache of having to deal with part incompatibilities and the other problems that arise from building your own system. But with this new Cooler Master case, you might just want to take the time to learn how to make your own system, because the Cosmos II really offers up a unique, and high quality design.

Products tend to come and go quickly in the world of PC hardware. Processors are replaced by new versions at least every two years, new hard drives arrive constantly, and video cards sometimes last no more than six months.

Enclosures are the exception. They hang around for years. The Cooler Master Cosmos, for example, was released in 2007 – but it was only recently discontinued. Which was a shame, because the smooth lines of the Cosmos made it one of the most attractive cases ever offered.

cooler-master-cosmos-II-enclosure-case-angleCooler Master hasn’t abandoned the line, however. The company has prepared a sequel, appropriately named the Cosmos II – and sent us one to look at before its release.

At first glance, it’d be easy to mistake this new case as a special, blacked-out version of the original. The design elements are nearly identical. The body of the case is sleek and entirely absent of hard corners. Large, curved metal bars, which serve as both the case’s feet and as handles, jut from the bottom and top.

Up front, the ports panel remains near the top of the case but has been moved forward to make room for a new function pad that allows for manual control of fan speed. The swing-out front cover on the old model has been replaced by a slide-down panel. Cooler Master made a good choice here – you have the same drive access, but you don’t need to hassle with swinging out an entire door.

Though the new case looks similar to the old one, everything has been super-sized. Width is up from 266mm to 344mm and height has increased from 598mm to 704mm. Only depth is slightly less, reducing from 664mm to 628mm. This means the Cosmos II is not only much larger than the older case, but also much larger than almost any other case currently available. It dwarves the Antec DF-85 I use for my own system and even giants like the Corsair Obsidian 800D are smaller. The Cosmos II is so large that it may not fit under some desks, though it clears mine with about an inch to spare.

Cooler Master didn’t make the case larger without reason. Increasing width has allowed the company to include a massive space behind the motherboard panel for cable management. System builders are sure to love this – while cable management isn’t unusual on today’s high end cases, the spaces provided are often cramped. No such problem exists here.

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As a sign of the times, space for 5.25-inch drives has decreased from five to three, but space for 3.5-inch hard drives has increased from seven to a jaw-dropping 13. Better still, eleven of those 3.5-inch bays can be converted to a 2.5-inch bays for solid-state drives. Rear expansion slots have also increased from seven to 10. Front port availability is similar to the original, but two USB 3.0 ports are now included while Firewire has gone away.

cooler-master-cosmos-II-enclosure-case-frontFor most potential buyers, however, it’s not the improvement in drive space that will be this case’s best feature. That honor goes to the tool-less design. Cases have been advertising this for years, but the actual implementation varies – with many in fact requiring thumbscrews or frequent use of the screwdriver. The Cosmos II doesn’t let you throw away your toolkit entirely, but most parts such as system fans, hard drives and the case’s side panels can be accessed by snapping, sliding or pressing a button, lever or plastic snap.

Build quality is equally impressive. While most computer cases have side panels that slide off haphazardly after screws are removed, those on the Cosmos II swing out on a massive double-hinge that allows for smooth, confident operation. Almost all exterior surfaces of the case are metal, and yes, the handles on the top of the case can in fact support the enclosure’s massive 47-pound weight. Hauling it around is much easier than the stats suggest thanks to these hand-holds.

While almost every panel of the case displays obsessive attention to detail, we did have an issue with the plastic sliding panel that hides the fan speed controls. One staffer, believing the panel was supposed to be lifted instead of pushed, tried to open it upwards. The plastic holding the panel to the case snapped.

MSRP will be $349.99. That’s a lot, to be sure – but only slightly more than other high-end cases like the Thermaltake Level 10 GT, Corsair Obsidian 800D and Silverstone Raven series.

While this is not a full review, I can say – having had hands-on experience with most cases in this price range besides the Level 10 – that the Cosmos II does seem set to raise the bar in build quality, design and features. Those looking for the ultimate enclosure should wait until the Cosmo II’s release later in January.

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