Three Giants: Cooler Master Cosmos 1000, Corsair Obsidian 800D and Lian Li PC-X2000

Today we are going to talk about three extremely large system cases that demonstrate dramatically different approaches to internal components organization. The interesting thing is that all three of them are targeted for the most demanding and sophisticated computer users.

by Aleksey Meyev
01/25/2010 | 05:02 PM

Large system cases – and we are going to talk about such really huge ones today that you may even have a difficulty fitting some of them under your desk – are an exciting market sector. Despite their various applications such as gaming computers, high-end workstations for processing data or graphics, and even servers, they share one common trait: users demand more from them than from ordinary products. Such system cases often cost a lot of money; there are almost no affordable models among them. And when you buy an expensive product, you don’t want to put up with any shortcomings in it. Most buyers of such system cases have clearly defined requirements that must be met or they just won’t be interested in the particular product. The requirements vary from user to user. Some people buy a large system case to build a silent computer. Others need easy access to the components, the opportunity to install a liquid cooling system, or a lot of bays for hard disk drives. These requirements cannot all be satisfied by a single system case. Therefore, most such products, seemingly versatile, are more or less optimized for a specific application. So, it is important to buy what system case will prove to be the most suitable for your particular needs.

 

Three products will be covered in this review: Cooler Master Cosmos 1000, Corsair Obsidian and Lian-Li PC-X2000. All of them are premium-class computer enclosures for the most fastidious user, yet we wouldn’t view them as direct market opponents. They differ too much in their interior design for that. 


Click to enlarge

Cooler Master Cosmos 1000

Cooler Master’s products enjoy a good reputation and the company’s senior models are often chosen for assembling expensive top-end computers. We have recently tested the company’s very good Elite 100 model for mini-ITX/micro-ATX mainboards and are going to review several of its products more in near future. Today, we will talk about the ambitious Cosmos 1000. Cooler Master positions it as a basis for building fast, yet very quiet, computers.

 

The Cosmos 1000 has a queer appearance with two pairs of metallic arcs at the top and bottom. The bottom arcs support the chassis, protruding below the bottom panel and being wider than the latter. The top pair can serve as carry handles. The case is not very heavy for its size (it is longer than most same-class products and just a little lower than standard Big Tower enclosures), yet it is not easy to carry it by the handles. The front door is coated with dark and glossy plastic which is only contrasted by a shiny Cooler Master logo below and a product series name above.

The door is a thick sheet of aluminum. It opens access to the external 5.25-inch bays. Although the front panel behind the door is meshed, this section of the case is no part of its ventilation because there is a blank metallic wall behind the mesh. To avoid scratches and loud claps, the chassis and the door are equipped with soft pads. You can swap them with the metallic hinges of the door to change the way the latter opens up.

The top panel of the case is populated with lots of various elements such as buttons and connectors. Behind them there is a ledge where you can place some small things. At the back of the top panel you can see a large vent grid.

Below that grid there are two of the four 120mm Cooler Master fans (A12025-12CB-3BN-F1) that are responsible for ventilation in this enclosure. One fan is placed exactly opposite the grid while the other, which is closer to the center of the chassis, can only get some air from the narrow tunnel between the metallic top panel and the plastic cover above. The good side of this solution is that dust cannot easily come into the system case from above but the cooling efficiency may suffer.

All of the case’s buttons and connectors are in the front part of the top panel. The Power button is separated from the Reset one with two activity indicators. These buttons are different size, so you cannot confuse them.

There is a rich selection of connectors here: four USB ports, two audio connectors, one FireWire and one eSATA port. All modern interfaces for external devices are present. The only disappointment is that the USB ports are placed in two pairs and you cannot plug two thick devices into the ports of one pair simultaneously.

The back panel is typical enough for a system case with a bottom position of the power supply. Two things must be noted here. First, you can see two levers to the sides of the rubberized openings for the pipes of a liquid cooling system. By lifting these levers up, you release the hitches at the top of the side panels and then you can just pull those panels up. It is easy to put them back: just put the panels into their places and press them to the chassis. This fastening system is simple and easy but not very reliable. If you don’t lay the cables neatly enough, they might prevent you from closing the right panel.

The second noteworthy thing is the inconspicuous dust filter at the bottom. It can be easily taken off for cleaning.

To be exact, there are not one but two filters in the bottom panel. One is at the back, under the power supply. And the other is at the front, near the HDD rack. Thus, the airflows in this system case go from the bottom upwards rather than from the front backwards. With such supports as the Cosmos 1000 has, there is a large clearance between the bottom panel and the floor, so this structure of airflows is going to be effective, especially as it is further facilitated by the natural convection inside the chassis.

We like the above-mentioned fine dust filters. They prevent dust from the floor to get into the chassis and can be easily taken out for cleaning.

The side panels have no vent openings and are lined on the inside with a wave-shaped sound-absorbing material. This lining will absorb high-frequency noise more effectively than low-frequency one, but you can indeed expect the system case to be quiet overall.

The interior design is quite interesting. We can note a few characteristic features. First, there is a plastic casing that directs the flow of air around the graphics card. Cables can be hidden behind the right panel, and there is no partition separating the power supply from the rest of the components. The HDD racks are oriented across the case. We will discuss all these features in more detail below.

Talking about the chassis in general, the manufacturer tried to reduce its weight by making it composite. Both aluminum and steel elements are present here. The frame itself is 0.7mm steel, which is not thick. We had expected a thickness of 1 millimeter in a chassis of that size. Still, the rigidity of the case is high, thanks to the massive lengthwise tube-like elements and the additional bracing rod at the top.

The internal flat elements such as the side panels of the HDD rack or the area below the mainboard are not rigid enough, however, especially compared to the side panel made of a thick sheet of aluminum.

Inside the chassis you will find a piece of paper with mainboard’s mounting holes marked out. You can refer to it to make out what holes are used for a particular form-factor of mainboards. You have to take it off before installing your mainboard and it may be difficult then to match the numerous holes in the chassis with the marks on the paper. Anyway, it is going to help you a little.

The packing of the joint between the side panels and the chassis is good. There is a rubber pad going all around the joint with the addition of a strip of silicone at the bottom.

We can also see a small vibration-absorbing pad on the power supply support. This support is only meant for short power supplies and the vent opening underneath is not as large as might be possible. Anyway, you shouldn’t have any problems with long PSUs. There is enough of space at the bottom of the case behind the intake fan. The fan is installed into a plastic box whose top is designed like a turning grid for you to adjust the direction of the air flow to some extent.

As we have said already, there are two fans on the interior of the top panel. You can replace the default 120mm with 140mm ones if you want. These and other system fans use a 4-pin Molex connector like PATA drives and have a constant rotation speed of 1000rpm.

Like in many other products of this class, expansion-slot brackets are reusable and fastened with thumbscrews. What is rather unusual, the small vent opening nearby is covered with a small dust filter on a plastic grid. Unfortunately, the grid is secured on the chassis with one side only and swings loosely.

The drives rack consists of two parts. The top one is comprised of five 5.25-inch bays and the bottom one is a closed box with vent holes in which up to six hard drives can be accommodated in two tiers.

It is all easy with optical drives. There is an excellent screw-less fastening system for them that works when you press a button. There is no need to take off the front panel to install a drive: the faceplates are designed in such a way that you can take one out and insert your drive into the bay with ease. The bottom bay has special guides and its faceplate has a window for you to install an external 3.5-inch device.

It is the ventilation of the HDD rack that we have worries about. There is no fan near it; the HDDs are only cooled by exchanging heat with the rack itself as well as by means of convectional air flows. You can remove the 3.5-inch device guides (by undoing the inconspicuous screws near the screw-less fastening mechanism) and install a fan there: there are mounting holes in the top part of the drives rack for a second plastic box included with the system case (it is the same as the box preinstalled at the bottom). But since the developer of the chassis considers passive cooling sufficient, we are going to test this system case in its default state, without installing an additional fan.

The guides for HDDs are almost completely blank and have impressively large side panels. An HDD is fastened with four screws via vibration-absorbing pads. It is nice that there is special film on the sides of the guide, so it slides easily into the cage. The guides have handles that can be locked in place to avoid rattling.

The plastic casing for graphics cards is nothing extraordinary. It can be removed easily and is wide enough for not one but even two graphics cards simultaneously. If the PCI Express x16 slots are at the very top and bottom of your mainboard, chances are two graphics cards won’t fit under it. You will just have to remove this thing altogether then.

The characteristic openings in the right panel suggest that you should hide some cables in the space behind it. However, it is also here that the drives’ cables are and you have to lay out the power cables around them, which is inconvenient. There is also an opening at the top, near the CPU, but the edging around it that the side panel is pressed against make it difficult to put any power cable into that opening.

There is a nice box included with the system case for storing various screws and straps. By the way, the case comes with lots of straps including thin single-use straps and reusable ones with a gluey base. You will also find a special extension cord for an 8-pin CPU power connector. It is no secret that if a PSU is installed at the bottom of a system case, its CPU cable often proves to be too short.

 

There were no problems assembling our test configuration in this system case. It is long enough to accommodate any graphics cards (even a huge ATI Radeon HD 5970 would leave some free space). And it can easily take in CPU fans up to 17 centimeters tall. Alas, laying the cables neatly and prettily is difficult due to the above-mentioned problem with the space behind the right panel. Anyway, whatever cables we have not managed to hide look nearly invisible anyway inside such a roomy interior.

Corsair Obsidian 800D

Corsair’s brand is well-known to computer enthusiasts as the company offers a wide range of products including solid state drives, fast memory modules, power supplies and cooling systems. All of this has been already tested in our labs, but we have not yet had a look at Corsair’s system cases. This is a new field for the company, actually. The Obsidian 800D we are going to discuss now is the first model released under the Corsair brand. The company follows its policy of offering enthusiasts-targeted products here, too: the Obsidian 800D is a roomy and functional product.

 

Huge is the first word that comes to one’s mind when looking at this thing. The Obsidian 800D is very large and, being made from 1mm steel, very heavy. The name of Obsidian suits nicely this piece of black steel which hardly has a single smooth line. A huge plastic window in the side panel offers a view of its innards for a curious eye.

Interestingly, there are no vent holes anywhere near the front panel. It looks like we’ve got yet another nonstandard ventilation solution.

The grave appearance of the front panel is only enlivened by a Power button and a LED indicator. The I/O connectors and Reset button are hidden under a flip-back cover at the top of the case. There are four USB ports, placed widely apart, two audio connectors, a FireWire port, and no eSATA. The lack of eSATA is a pity especially as might have been fitted under the cover easily.

In the center of the front panel, under the five 5.25-inch bays, there is a door that gives you access to a rack for four HDDs.

The back panel does not seem to show us anything particular exciting. It is a standard enough layout with a bottom position of the power supply. Take note of the fan grids: the 140mm fan grid allows installing a 120mm fan, too. The grid at the top of the case above the holes for a liquid cooling system’s pipes suggests some free space in there. But the most intriguing thing is the grid that goes along the right panel. It looks like the space behind it takes an active part in driving airflows inside the chassis.

The case stands on three massive transverse feet each of which has two small vibration-absorbing pads. It is the bottom panel that allows the air into the chassis. That’s why the feet are so tall and more than half of the bottom panel is perforated. The vent holes are covered with a large removable dust filter which can be taken out through the back panel for cleaning.

We like the way the side panels are released: you only have to press a button on the back panel which moves a hitching bar inside the case. This is easy and practical.

The interior is extremely roomy! It is partitioned into a few compartments. For example, the bottom part of the case is separated from the main part with a blank partition. The HDD rack is almost completely separate from the rest of the chassis.

There are a lot of openings in the mainboard’s mounting plate. Whatever mainboard you may take, from micro-ATX to EATX, you will be able to put your cables through the openings into the space behind the right panel of the case. If there are no cables, these openings may be sealed by rubber covers.

Take note of the free space at the top of the case. There is a generous 10 centimeters of free area between the top panel and the mainboard’s top edge. It can be occupied by the radiator of a liquid-cooling system, for example.

Of course, the radiator would need a stream of air for cooling, so there are vent grids and seats for three 120mm fans on the top panel. Unfortunately, the basic configuration of this system case has no fans here. Moreover, there are no dust filters on those vents. An interesting fact: the top panel is designed in such a way that you can place the radiator not only inside but even on the chassis.

The partition inside the chassis is almost completely blank except for a vent grid in the center where a 140mm fan is installed to drive the air from the bottom compartment to the top one. There are also two small rubberized openings nearby. They will come in handy if you need to put some slim cables into the bottom compartment. We guess they are intended for the pipes that may lead to a pump of a liquid cooling system installed on the bottom of the case.

The bottom compartment is occupied by a power supply. The mounting panel is obviously meant for a long PSU model, but there is still plenty of space left. Take note of the vent openings in the bottom panel: they go from the back all the way to the drives rack.

The front part of the bottom compartment, separated from the rest of the chassis with a detachable partition, can take in two hard disk drives. They don’t have any cooling fans in the basic configuration of the system case but you can install a 120mm fan on the side panel if necessary.

To install your HDDs into the bottom bays, you have to use special guides and remove the front panel. As you can guess, this place is meant for system disks that do not need to be accessed frequently and quickly.

By the way, the front panel is impressively thick. It is alone as heavy as to be comparable to some cheap small system cases.

And now we’ve reached the second HDD rack which is something this system case can truly be proud of. Besides offering quick access to hard disks when the system case is closed (remember the door in the front panel?), it supports the hot swap feature, which is very handy if you are going to build a fault-tolerant array like RAID5. Take note of the cable attached to the power connectors. It allows powering all four HDDs from one connector, making it easier to lay the cables and permitting to cover the interior of the rack with a plastic casing. Interface cables with an L-shaped SATA connector should be used here (four such cables are included with the Obsidian 800D) because ordinary flat connectors are going to get in the way of the casing. If handled not carefully enough, they may even tear the fragile SATA plugs off the HDD rack. Everything seems to be calculated properly, yet one thing has not been accounted for by the developer: the included cables won’t be long enough to connect HDDs in the rack to a standalone rather than a mainboard-integrated disk controller.

HDDs are cooled by a 140mm fan located on the side panel of the rack. Like the other two fans in this system case, it uses a 3-pin connection for the mainboard. It takes the air from below (the other sides are covered with a casing) and drives it through the rack towards the right panel. Now the purpose of the holes near the right panel at the back of the case becomes clear. The air will be exhausted through them. That’s an interesting cooling solution and we will check its efficiency out during our tests. So far we can only say that it’s unclear which direction the fan installed on the bottom rack should blow at. If from the left panel to the right one, it will be competing for the air with the fan above it. If otherwise, the hot air will be running in a circle formed by the two HDD racks. Well, we solved this dilemma by just not installing any fan on the bottom rack and testing the system case’s cooling capabilities in the hardest (for the HDDs) mode.

Thus, the Obsidian 800D has a ventilation system with vertical airflows. Additionally, it has individual cooling for HDDs.

The guides for installing HDDs into the top rack are handy, rigid and reliable. They are held within the rack by means of spring-loaded tabs. What we don’t like is that the HDDs are rather too close to each other and there are too few vent holes in the rack’s side panel. This may have a negative effect on their temperature.

It is simple with 5.25-inch drives. They are fastened in a screw-less way using moving latches. This chassis has no guides for 3.5-inch devices or external 3.5-inch bays. So, if you need a card-reader or other such peripheral, you will have to connect it externally.

The expansion slot brackets are reusable and fastened with thumbscrews.

The mainboard’s mounting plate has a lot of openings to hide cables behind it. There is a lot of space in there, so you can hide even a very large heap of thick sleeved cables.

The window behind the CPU socket makes it possible to replace the CPU cooler without taking the mainboard out even if the cooler has a back-plate. The window is large enough to provide access to the back of the CPU socket on most mainboards (some developers of system cases do not account for the fact that the position of the CPU socket is not strictly defined).

The window has a cover, although we doubt there is a strong airflow under the mainboard.

The system case comes with a large selection of various accessories some of which have been named above. Of course, there is plenty of various screws, etc. This is what you can expect from products of that class. A CPU power extension cable is included, too. There is also one pad like those that are already placed under the fans installed in the case.

 

There is only one problem you may encounter when assembling a computer in this system case. It is so large and heavy that you may find it easier to step around it rather than to turn it around. Like with the Cooler Master Cosmos 1000, you can install any available graphics card into this giant and there will be 17 centimeters of free space for a CPU cooler. The Obsidian 800D is perhaps the most convenient system case in terms of assembly that we have ever tested in our labs. You can lay out all cables neatly and easily. The cables just have to be long enough to stretch from one corner to the other.

Lian-Li PC-X2000

The third product to be discussed in this review is produced by the famous Lian-Li. This Chinese company has earned a good reputation turning out nonstandard, functionally rich and expensive computer enclosures. And we are going to take a look at Lian-Li’s flagship product called PC-X2000.

 

While the previous two products were large, this one is tall. It is 15 or 20 centimeters shorter than its opponents but stands a whole 7 centimeters above the huge Corsair Obsidian. Looking at this skyscraper of black polished aluminum, you can indeed catch yourself thinking if your desk is tall enough for the PC-X2000 to fit under. The design of the case makes it look even slimmer: the front panel is smooth, its black surface being only disturbed by a white vertical line and a logo at its very bottom.

Power and Reset buttons can be found in the front part of the top panel. They are close to each other but differ in size. If you place this system case on your desk, you will find it difficult to press these buttons without standing up. A flip-back cover nearby conceals four USB ports, two audio connectors, one FireWire and one eSATA port. Unfortunately, the USB ports are set in two pairs and you can’t plug two thick devices into the ports of one pair simultaneously.

 

The front panel is in fact a huge cover behind which you can see three 140mm fans with a removable dust filter. These fans get their air from the vent openings in the front part of the side panels which are covered with more dust filters.

Behind the same filter there is an inconspicuous three-way switch that controls the speed of the system fans (it is the small thing in the center between the fan and the grid above). The maximum, medium and minimum speeds are 1200, 1000 and 800rpm, respectively.

 

As for external bays, Lian-Li has implemented its exclusive solution here: these bays go out to both side panels rather than to the front panel as usual. Alas, there are not very many of them: only two 5.25-inch bays and one 3.5-inch bay.

The back panel has a nonstandard layout, too. There are two 80mm fans at the bottom. Above them you can see expansion slots and I/O connectors. Then, there are also four openings for the pipes of a liquid cooling system and one more 140mm fan. Higher still is the power supply, and above it there is a rather large vent grid.

The fasteners of side panels are located at the sides of the top vent grid. We’ve seen the same mechanism in other products, for example in the A+ Black Pearl. Each side panel is fixed with a large moving bar that lies along its top edge.

The system case stands on four cylinders with vibration-absorbing pads. Frankly speaking, we would feel safer if such a tall case as this one had more reliable unfolding feet like those of Chieftec’s server cases.

Like in the Cooler Master Cosmos 1000, the interior of the side panels has a soft sound-absorbing lining but with a smooth rather than wavy surface.

The PC-X2000 is divided into three parts inside: the top compartment is for external bays and a power supply. The central section is for a mainboard and components. And the bottom compartment is for HDDs.

Although this system case is large and all aluminum, it is also very rigid because the aluminum panels are thick. Most of the chassis and the exterior panels are 2.4 millimeters thick and only some of the interior elements are 1.2 millimeters thick, which is actually quite decent, too.

In the bottom compartment, separated from the central one with a blank partition that has small holes near the front fans and along the mainboard (obviously, for cables), there are two racks, each for three HDDs. Like in the Corsair Obsidian, these are full-features racks with the hot swap feature.

To install your HDDs, you should attach small frames to them. These frames are more like handles rather than guides. Then you insert your HDD into the rack, the specially shaped screws sliding in the grooves and fastening the HDDs in the rack. The HDD is fixed in place by means of a small plastic lock on the guide. It is all very simple and handy.

To install optical drives you must first take off the faceplates from the bays, preferably all of them. This will make it easier to lay the cables from the drives out. The faceplates would make the process more difficult. There should be no problems unless you want to position two drives facing the opposite directions. The chassis is wide enough for most models of optical drives.

A power supply is installed using a special frame that allows positioning it with the fan facing upwards or downwards (if you want to place something else above the PSU). The only thing we don’t like is that, although there is a special vibration-absorbing pad below the PSU, our PSU hung on its back-panel fasteners rather than lied on that pad.

Interestingly, the top compartment is not separated fully from the central one. The plate between them is all perforated for ventilation and cables.

The expansion-card brackets are reusable and fastened with thumbscrews.

There are more than two 140mm fans cooling the mainboard and its components. The air from the third, bottommost, fan is divided unequally between the central compartment and the HDD compartment. Although this ventilation system is not bad, we guess the developer might have instead put two 80mm intake fans into the bottom compartment and separated it completely with a blank partition.

There is no dedicated space for cables in this system case. You can only try to gather them in the top compartment, which is the emptiest of all. The mainboard’s mounting plate can be detached, which may come in handy.

There is a vertical support plate in the central compartment. Besides making the chassis more rigid, it may support the back of long expansion cards. When you assemble your system, you can install support frames into the holes opposite your long cards. These frames are available in two sizes. Then the frame is pressed against the edge of the expansion card, so that the corner of the textolite went into the frame’s groove. After that you just fix the whole arrangement by fastening a screw.

The accessories to this product include a special metallic plate that is needed to install dual-processor mainboards. A box for storing various screws is included, too.

 

We had no problems assembling our test configuration except that we could not hide the cables as in the other cases. The thick bunch of cables inside does not look pretty but is not as much of a problem as in smaller system cases. On the other hand, we use a short PSU with modular cables. So, if you have a long PSU with lots of cables, you will have to tuck them in every corner of the case to keep the cooling efficiency high.

Testbed and Methods

The assembled system case is tested at a constant ambient temperature of 23°C maintained by an air conditioner. As we assume that most users prefer low-noise system cases, we set the speed of the CPU and system fans (those connected to the mainboard’s 3-pin connector) into Silent mode (the quietest mode on ASUS mainboards). The fans connected to the system case’s own controller are set at minimum noise, too. We do not change the default configuration of airflows determined by system case design.

The following components are installed into the system case:

The CPU temperature is read with ASUS PC Probe included with the mainboard. The temperature of the HDDs is measured with HDD Thermometer. The graphics card’s temperature is reported by its control panel. The speed of the fans is measured with an optical tachometer Velleman DTO2234. There are the following test modes:

Every temperature is read after the system has worked for half an hour in the current test mode.

The following table shows the temperatures of the components if the system is assembled without an enclosure (“open testbed”).

Open Testbed

The noise level is evaluated subjectively.

Test Results

First, let’s view the results for each system case and check out the cooling of HDDs depending on their position.

The HDDs were positioned as follows in the Cooler Master Cosmos 1000: the first HDD was in the center of the top tier. The second, third and fourth HDDs were in the bottom tier, from left to right.

Cooler Master Cosmos 1000

So, the company’s engineers have been right: the case copes with our four HDDs which are themselves not of a cold variety. Their temperature is not exactly comfortable, yet it is not very high even under full disk load.

As for the noise factor, the thick front panel and the sound insulation do help keep the noise low. The rattling of the HDDs is quiet while the system fans and the blower of our graphics card were almost inaudible at all. We only heard a distinct low-frequency noise from the case when there was a high load on the HDDs. Perhaps the HDD rack is not rigid enough to cope with our HDDs although it is unclear why the noise is in low frequencies.

Corsair Obsidian 800D (min)

First we decided to test the Corsair case with four HDDs in its top rack and setting its fan speed to minimum. This produced good results. The HDDs were cooled properly although the temperature data suggest that the HDDs, especially the two in the center, would appreciate more ventilation.

It is all right about noise. The 140mm fans rotating at 650rpm cannot be heard at all. The thick front panel keeps the noise low: the HDDs’ rattle was softer than usual.

Next, we moved two HDDs (the third and fourth ones) into the bottom rack and set the remaining ones with a gap and increased the fan speed to maximum.

Corsair Obsidian 800D (max)

So, with the fan working at 1000rpm, the HDDs feel more comfortable. The HDDs in the bottom rack don’t have any dedicated fan but feel all right, too.

The noise remains within comfortable limits, especially from the thick front panel. If you bend down over the case, you can hear the fans through the vents, but this noise can only irritate the most fastidious of users.

Lian Li TYR PC-X2000 (min)

In the Lian-Li enclosure we placed two HDDs in adjacent bays of each rack. The HDDs are numbered from top to bottom and from right to left.

Even at the minimum speed of all system fans, this case delivers excellent cooling. The HDDs located in the separate compartment, right in the way of a stream of air, feel just excellent.

Unfortunately, we are not that pleased with the noisiness of this computer enclosure. While the 80mm fans at the back panel, rotating at 1200rpm, are silent, the 140mm fans, even at a low speed of 800rpm, produce a characteristic hiss of air that is passing through the intricate front panel. The HDDs were the main source of noise, though. It seems that the insufficiently rigid rack and the overall poor acoustics of the enclosure combine to amplify the sound of the moving read/write heads.

Lian Li TYR PC-X2000 (max)

The case becomes really audible at the maximum speed of its 140mm fans. It is not really noisy, but far from silent, too. Interestingly, the increased speed does not lead to a lower temperature: our configuration just doesn’t need that much air for cooling.

Now, let’s compare the products with each other and with an open testbed.

The Lian-Li looks better than the others in idle mode. The Corsair at the minimum fan speed is the worst case here due to the densely populated rack with HDDs that call for more cooling.

The standings do not change when there is a high load on the disk subsystem.

When there is a high CPU load, the Cooler Master Cosmos 1000 is the loser. It is inferior to its opponents in terms of CPU, mainboard and graphics card temperatures.

The three cases are similar when it comes to high gaming load. The Lian-Li looks somewhat better than the others, but its advantage is not considerable. Every case passes this test easily as all of them are obviously meant for hotter configurations.

Conclusion

As we said in the Introduction, system cases of this class rarely betray some serious defects. But if you want to shell out for one of them, you should approach the problem of choice responsibly as each of them is only good in its own way.

The Cooler Master Cosmos 1000 leaves the impression of a system case that allows building a top-performance but low-noise computer. It has everything for that. As for minor drawbacks, we guess this system case is not handy for tinkering with the components often.

Corsair gets our praise as its debut Obsidian 800D model will surely enjoy a warm welcome. It seems to be the most versatile product among the three and is one of the few that offers a 4-disk rack (with the hot swap feature) accessed from the front panel. It is also going to be good for users of liquid cooling systems. We guess the single notable downside of this system case is that it is too large and heavy. As for minor drawbacks, it lacks any kind of dust protection on the vent holes of its top panel. It does not have an eSATA interface and the ventilation of its HDD rack could have been better.

The Lian-Li appeals to the eye with its unusual exterior design more than the other models. Being shorter than its two opponents, it not only allows installing long expansion cards but also ensures excellent cooling for them. The biggest problem about this enclosure is that HDDs installed in it are going to produce too much noise. The nonstandard position of the 5.25-inch bays is a smaller drawback: it is not always handy to have your DVD drive’s tray extending sideways. Users of various kinds of control panels may also complain that there are only two external 5.25-inch bays available in it.