Examining the hull
Lurking beneath the sliding cover is a frontal port cluster that comes equipped with no fewer than six USB ports—two of which boast SuperSpeed credentials. To the left of the USB ports are the obligatory 3.5-mm audio jacks for headphones and a microphone, as well as a single eSATA connector.
Below the front ports is a Motorola Razr-esque keypad containing buttons for power, reset, LED bling activation, and fan control. The fan controls are split between four zones—front, top, HDD, and GPU—with a corresponding button for each. The entire pad is etched with a concentric ring pattern that emanates from the central power button. The resulting surface is pleasing to the touch, but the buttons themselves feel flimsy and have many dead zones. I was able to eventually feel out the buttons' ideal pressure points, but as a mechanical keyboard enthusiast, I'm not impressed. Cooler Master need not use Cherry MX switches for these buttons, but their feel could use some improvement.
For each of the four fan zones, users can choose one of three speed settings. The speed of each zone can be set independently, and the corresponding buttons feature illuminated icons that change color from blue to purple to red as one cycles through the available speeds. Red indicates the maximum speed, while blue represents the slowest. The panel also emits a shrill beep when a button has been depressed. The visual and audible feedback are nice touches, but it would be good to have the option to disable the audio alert in certain situations.
Behind the button panel, a large mesh expanse hides a rather versatile fan mount. The mesh panel is held in place by a single thumbscrew; underneath, it's possible to install one 200-mm fan, three 120-mm units, or two 140-mm fans. This space can also accommodate a water-cooling radiator up to 360 mm long.
The Cosmos II retains its predecessor's trademark aluminum handles. Don't think it's all for show, though. The handles are attached directly to the frame and have been designed to withstand the stresses of transporting a fully built system. Attached to the bottom handles are four rubber feet, each affixed using a pair of recessed screws. The feet will protect hard surfaces from scuffs and scrapes, but they also hinder movement on carpeted floors. Officially, Cooler Master warns that sliding the case along the ground may damage the rails. It's nearly impossible to avoid sliding this behemoth in reality, and we found that the case scoots along carpeted surfaces much easier with the pads and screws removed.
Another sliding door can be found adorning the front of the Cosmos II. When closed, the door is held shut by two rare-earth magnets along the top edge. A slight tug will unlatch the panel, causing it to slide downward and reveal the external drive bays. The remainder of the case's face is covered by a large mesh grill that conceals a 200-mm intake fan.
Our only beef with the front door is its snail-like lack of urgency. The door takes about 12 seconds to open fully, which feels like an eternity when you just want to eject a disc. Even though it's designed to drop open smoothly under its own weight, we frequently got impatient and tried to speed up the process. Doing so only rewarded us with a chorus of grinding plastic gear noises. The Cosmos' sliding mechanisms definitely give the panels a feeling of refinement, but they need to be sped up for the highly caffeinated among us.