Today's enthusiast systems look quite a bit different from the old-school rigs I cut my teeth on back in the day. Years ago, it seemed like everyone was running full tower cases loaded with enough fans for lift-off. These systems were as loud as they were imposing, and they were probably a little bit vulgar. Looking back on them now, it's a wonder no one ever accused us of overcompensating. Or maybe they did, and we just couldn't hear them over the drone of system fans and the piercing whine of the classic Alpha.
Way back when, we tuned for performance and little else. Our priorities have shifted over the years, though. These days, noise levels and power consumption are just as important as frames per second, part of a larger and more mature measure of overall goodness. We still want to blow your doors off, of course, but now we don't want you to hear it coming. And we'd prefer not to burn through a tank of gas in the process.
I've seen this trend play out with my own personal systems. They used to live in monolithic towers that proudly trumpeted their presence with a turbine-like howl, but today they sit quietly in the corner and blend in with the furniture. Perhaps that's why I was so taken aback by Cooler Master's new Cosmos 1000 enclosure. This is a full-tower case that harkens back to the days of old, offering plenty of room for Extended ATX motherboards, loads of drive bays, and enough fans to power a small wind tunnel. Unlike the enclosures of my misspent youth, though, the Cosmos has an air of sophistication. It's all grown up, and more importantly, nearly silent.
Has Cooler Master created the ultimate full-tower enclosure for the evolved sensibilities of seasoned enthusiasts? Read on to find out.
Full tower enclosures tend to be rather large, and the Cosmos is no exception. The case may only be about 10 inches wide, but it's nearly two feet tall and extends just beyond two feet deep. Those gargantuan proportions cut an imposing profile, allowing the Cosmos to lord its size over mere mid towers like a big Mercedes SUV peering down on a puny hatchback. Next to it, my Sonata feels more than just a little inadequate. And to be honest, so do I.
Fortunately, Cooler Master has been wise enough to include firmly-anchored handles that run along the top and bottom of the case. The case actually sits on its bottom rails, so there are no little rubber feet to fall off eventually and get lost. Rails make it easy to slide the case aroundmore specifically, under a deskon carpeted surfaces, but you'll want to be careful with hardwood or other fine finishes.
Speaking of finishes, Cooler Master has done a good job with the Cosmos' exterior. Brushed metal side panels add a touch of industrial class, and the glossy black strip that runs up the middle of the enclosure's face is polished to a near-mirror finish. Those contrasting materials look particularly good set against each other; however, there's also a lot of silver plastic filler between them. The silver plastic cheapens the aesthetic a little for me, in part because it looks so dull next to the mirrored gloss and textured metal. There's no accounting for taste, though.Cooler Master has been able to keep dull plastics away from the case's drive bay door. The door itself has an oddly satisfying action, swinging its ample weight smoothly and closing with a satisfying thud. Magnets hold the door in place when it's closed, and it can easily be configured to swing left-to-right or right-to-left, depending on your preference.
Lurking behind the drive bay door are five external 5.25" drive bays faced with black metal mesh. One of the 5.25" bays can also be converted to accommodate external 3.5" drives, should you wish to install a memory card reader or floppy drive.Integrating a memory card reader directly into the case would've been a nice touch. It might have fit well on the case's top panel, which includes all the goodies you'd expect to find on the front. Just above the requisite power and reset buttons you'll find a flurry of connectivity, including HD-compatible analog audio jacks, a whopping four USB ports, and even an external Serial ATA interface. Just beyond the port cluster lies a recessed tray that's perfect for holding an MP3 player, cell phone, digital camera, or other gadgets you might have plugged into the system.
I tend to stuff my PCs under my desk, so having the Cosmos' expansion ports and buttons on the top of the case is perfect. However, this arrangement is obviously less than ideal if you prefer to have a full tower looking down on you from atop your desk.Moving aft, and scrolling past what is possibly the tallest picture we've ever had on TR, we get a good view of the Cosmos' rear panel. At the top, you can see a couple of small holes designed to allow the tubing used in water-cooled systems to enter and exit the case cleanly. Flanking those holes on either side are a couple of latches that, when lifted, release the case's side panels.
At the bottom of the rear panel, you can see a gaping hole meant for the system's power supply. The Cosmos is one of those new-fangled upside-down cases, and putting the PSU at the bottom makes a lot of sense. First, it gives the Cosmos a lower center of gravity, which is, um, essential for something that'll sit under a desk and probably never move. More importantly, putting the PSU at the bottom moves it away from a hot spot around the processor.Moving the power supply to the bottom of the case also allows it to draw cooler air from directly below. The Cosmos features venting along its bottom panel to facilitate airflow, with a filter ensuring that dust, crumbs, and the unsuspecting insects feeding on them aren't sucked up into the case.
This lower vent should be particularly effective with newer power supplies that feature bottom-facing cooling fans. Traditional PSU designs that use fans mounted at the rear aren't likely to benefit as much.