Review Index:

BitFenix Colossus Micro-ATX Case Review

Manufacturer: BitFenix

Introduction, Packaging, and Specifications

The BitFenix Colossus has grown into a family of enclosures, from the massive E-ATX original all the way down to their diminutive mini-ITX version. But somewhere in between there lies a case offering some impressive flexibility, while still retaining a small footprint.

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As the PC industry has evolved over the last decade, the days of high-performance rigs requiring large towers and full-size ATX and E-ATX motherboards are gone. Of course there is still a market (and need) for full tower systems, and the majority of enthusiast motherboards available are still full ATX. But the evolution in process technology and platforms has allowed for more and more to be done within a smaller footprint, and the micro-ATX form factor has emerged as a solid option for anything from budget systems to extreme multi-GPU gaming powerhouses. Regardless of the path you choose, all of those sweet components need a home, and finding the right computer case has long been a very personal odyssey.

BitFenix entered the PC enclosure market in 2010 with the original Colossus, and since then they have grown into a respected brand with a large and differentiated product offering. From that first massive Colossus to the popular Prodigy mini-ITX, they have created an enclosure for just about any build. And while many cases specialize in one or two particular areas, once in a while you will find an enclosure that just begs for experimentation. The micro-ATX variant of the Colossus from BitFenix is just such a case. Every aspect of this small enclosure has been given a close look by BitFenix, and there are options galore for a variety of builds.

Continue reading our review of the BitFenix Colossus Micro-ATX Case Review!!

Micro Machines

One of the questions for anyone considering a small form factor (SFF) build has to be whether to opt for mini-ITX, or stick with the mature micro-ATX standard. Obviously there are advantages to both form factors, but in years past mini-ITX had been a more specialized option, likely chosen more for low power/low noise applications such as a home theater PC (HTPC), than seriously considered for a gaming rig. The present market is very different. Mini-ITX boards, still the smallest mainstream motherboard form factor, are available at reasonable prices and often at feature parity with larger boards. For a single-GPU system a mini-ITX computer can be built today that could rival any larger rig in performance. Far beyond "concessions" to size, there are elite-level motherboard options at the mini-ITX form factor available, such as the ASUS Maximus VI Impact which Morry reviewed recently.

Why all of this talk of mini-ITX in a micro-ATX case review? It is the evolution of smaller system components - such as mini-ITX motherboards - that has created a situation where micro-ATX could almost be viewed as the "full-size" option by comparison. There just aren't really any compromises with a micro-ATX build compared to ATX anymore, other than the limitations on expansion slots. There are few if any missed features between the best micro and full-size ATX boards, and no loss of performance to consider if the board design is correctly implemented. Simply put, micro-ATX is a mature standard, and any cost or performance drawbacks to building around this smaller form factor have diminished tremendously over the last few years.

With performance no longer a consideration, the choice in form factor for a smaller system often comes down to budget, particularly with regard to initial investment. But what if you could build up either platform with the same common group of components, and use the same enclosure? The BitFenix Colossus Micro-ATX is actually a very good mini-ITX case as well, and has the added benefit of supporting a full-size ATX power supply and standard optical drive. In fact, for this build I decided to try both motherboard form factors out, as the ability to swap between them created a number of interesting build options. And even with the versatility and features of this case, BitFenix has priced it very competitively. The Colossus Micro-ATX is currently selling for around $120 shipped, putting it in the same price range as popular micro-ATX cases like the Corsair Obsidion D350 and SilverStone Temjin TJ08-E.

After we check out the specs it's time to take this case out of the box!

From BitFenix:

"Styled after the legendary BitFenix Colossus, Colossus Micro-ATX brings a futuristic yet refined design to the micro-ATX form factor. The top and sides feature our signature SofTouch™ Surface Treatment for an undeniably quality finish, and exclusive LiteTrak™ Technology forms a virtually unbroken line of light across the front and sides of the case that can not only switch color, but also pulsate at the touch of a button. On the inside, users will be treated to an epically flexible interior that can accommodate multiple expansion cards and storage options."

Specs from BitFenix:
Materials Steel, Plastic, SofTouch™
Colors (Int/Ext) Black/Black
Dimensions (WxHxD) 250 x 330 x 374 mm
Form Factor Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
Drive Bays 1x 5.25",   4x 3.5",   3x 2.5"
Cooling (Top) 120mm x2
Cooling (Bottom) 120mm x2,  140mm x1,  200mm x1,  230mm x1
Expansion Slots x5
I/O USB 3.0 x2,  HD Audio
Power Supply ATX
Extras LiteTrak™ lighting system, SofTouch™ surface treatment, magnetic heat shield

Our thanks to BitFenix for supplying the Colossus Micro-ATX case for review.

The Colossus Micro-ATX is modestly packaged in a brown box with some basic information on the outside. The shipper was kind to this one, and there is minimal damage to the carton.

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Inside, the case is sandwiched between layers of dense Styrofoam. Judging by the thickness of the padding it looks to be protected against even rough treatment in transit.

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Armored to survive the perils of domestic ground shipping

There's a 'quick installation guide' included, which provides some basic information about setup. A small box inside the enclosure contains the hardware packet, which includes a USB 3.0 to 2.0 motheboard header adapter, some zip ties, and the necessary screws and washers.

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April 1, 2014 | 01:55 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Any chance you could append the heat results of the SLI configuration? As someone currently looking into building with this case, SLI/Crossfire thermals would have been nice to see.

April 1, 2014 | 02:09 PM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

That's a good question, and I attempted to provide GPU thermals but discarded the test data since I couldn't get anything over 80 C with the GTX 770's, single GPU or SLI. The fan just compensated to keep the temps stable right at 80 C, and I never saw anything over 82 C. It would be a different story with a less efficient blower-style cooler, and of course with any card that vents into the case - but I don't have a different pair to test right now.

April 7, 2014 | 02:22 PM - Posted by Des (not verified)

Hello, great review!

I want to buy the BitFenix Colossus Micro-ATX case but I think my motherboard will not fit in the case. I have a Acer dao61078lam3 mainboard (Acer Aspire X5400), they say its a Micro-ATX but as you can see on this picture below my PCI-Express slot is way up, do you think it will fit?

April 8, 2014 | 12:25 PM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

Your motherboard is using a custom design, but as long as it's within the 9.6" x 9.6" standard for mATX it will fit. Your PCI-E slot looks to be in the right place, it's just a shorter board design so you'd have a little extra space up above here.  My only concern would be with the standoffs in the case, as the screw holes are in the standard locations for mITX and mATX, and you have a proprietary OEM board... My guess is that it would be fine, but I'd still buy the case from a retailer that allows returns (like Amazon) just to be on the safe side!

April 10, 2014 | 10:21 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I am curious, did you look into mounting a 240mm radiator on the bottom, pulling air from the bottom, fit a 120mm fan on the exhaust in the rear and a fan pulling air in from the top directly onto the gpu? Thanks I cannot figure out the most optimal air flow.

April 17, 2014 | 09:19 AM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

I did, and you're right about the best airflow plan - but the CPU is too close to the bottom of the case due to the flipped layout to allow an easy bottom AIO mount (motherboard layout dependent, really). It's possible with mATX, but you start running out of room quickly. I felt that the upper just made sense for a 240mm, plus there's the removable screen up there (no filters on bottom mounts).
I think a key takeaway might be to use a blower-style GPU in this case if you're using an AIO on the upper mount - don't want to push the GPU heat into the rad!

April 10, 2014 | 10:23 PM - Posted by Dustin Fickert (not verified)

Sorry I forgot to add my name for the previous comment. Hope you can get back to me. Thanks

April 12, 2014 | 06:36 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

What about a Front fan that is an exhaust fan?
You state with mini itx and the top mounted AIO cooler but that looks to me like it would foul the graphics card.(Hoses)
And the side mounted controls could be better moved to the front, to the very edge, possibly? The lighting strip?? uh-oh, very personal choice..Finally storage.. would it really be possible;e to fit all the drives they say? 2x 3.5 and 3x 2.5? cable mgmt would be impossible wouldn't it? I suspect 2x3.5 and one middle mounted 2.5 is all that's practical.
Also route, rout. And Tourture, a trip on a coach to Lourdes perhaps. I use 2x Ps07 cases, looking at mini-itx next time, in perhaps 2 years.

April 17, 2014 | 09:31 AM - Posted by Sebastian Peak

I'll try to answer in order here -
1.) A front fan was my biggest concern when I was installing a system, since there's no way to avoid blocking the front fan mounts when installing the PSU. It makes a lot of sense to use a front fan for exhaust or intake, but it's not possible here unless you can mod a different PSU location.
2. Upper AIO mount isn't a problem with the GPU because there's enough space to go over it (big gap between GPU and side panel). Wouldn't do upper AIO with dual-GPU though, myself.
3.) It's possible to have 2x 3.5" and 3x 2.5" drives installed simultaneously, if you can use flat cables like the ones on the CX750M I installed. But even then it gets really, really messy! There was enough space to make it work up front but it looks terrible and its very hard to get to anything afterwards!

May 18, 2014 | 06:02 PM - Posted by Blue Jay (not verified)

Would it be possible to install a Corsair H90 on the rear and still do a dual GPU Setup? Also, the Gigabyte Sniper M5 has slot spacing between the GPU's. Other than the 5 expansion slots the case has, would the GPU's still fit with the slot spacing in between?

June 26, 2014 | 02:02 AM - Posted by ottoncarlos

I have the same question. Because the H90 has a 140mm fan but the radiator has 170mm. That isn't going to make it impossible to use dual GPU if we mount the water cooler on the rear?

July 1, 2014 | 05:38 AM - Posted by NewbieBuilder (not verified)

i still can't seem to find anything that breaks down the optimum air flow with this case :\
can anyone let me know their thoughts on optimum airflow for this case while using the EVGA GTX 780 with an ACX cooler ?
other specs -
i5 4670k
Crosair H90 CPU cooler
Gigabyte G1 sniper M5 mobo
g skills ripjaws X 16 GB ram(2*8gb)
Corsair RM Series RM650 650W 80+ Gold Certified Fully Modular Power Supply
Bitfenix Spectre Pro LED Green 120mm Case Fan * 2 for the top
another Bitfenix spectre pro(probably LED Green only :P ) 200 mm case fan for the bottom

also any thoughts about the MSI N780 Lightning in comparison to the EVGA ?
or throw in the extra to get the EVGA 780ti ?
im not looking to add another card for a while anyway... so thats not an issue.

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