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BitFenix Colossus Micro Build

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philip Aug. 20, 2014

The BitFenix Colossus Micro is a perfectly practical case. However, the components we chose to put in it are not what you'd expect to see in a Micro ATX form factor. It was the perfect storm - we had both an Intel i7-4790K CPU and a Sapphire Radeon R9 295X2 video card on hand. That's right - the dual R9 290X video card with the attached closed loop cooler. The question was - can it fit? Yes! Barely.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

Type Item Price
CPU Intel Core i7-4790K 4.0GHz Quad-Core Processor $338.99 @ NCIX US
CPU Cooler Corsair H80i 77.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler $89.99 @ Newegg
Motherboard Asus MAXIMUS VII GENE Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard $199.99 @ NCIX US
Memory Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory $79.99 @ Newegg
Memory Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory $79.99 @ Newegg
Storage Plextor M6S 256GB 2.5" Solid State Drive $135.98 @ Newegg
Video Card Sapphire Radeon R9 295X2 8GB Video Card $1499.99 @ Newegg
Case BitFenix Colossus Micro MicroATX Mid Tower Case $109.00 @ Amazon
Power Supply Corsair 860W 80+ Platinum Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply $199.99 @ Amazon
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available $2733.91
Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-08-20 15:09 EDT-0400


We knew from the start we'd likely run into some fit issues. Putting two CLC radiators in such a small case was going to be problematic. Just fitting the 295X2 in the case when it also used a vertical mount power supply was tricky. Most power supplies that have enough wattage for the 295X2 are too long. Fortunately the Corsair AX860i had sufficient wattage and left roughly 1/2" of clearance for the video card. Like I mentioned - this build was not about being practical. It was all about what we could manage to squeeze into the case. I had the 295X2 on hand, so it begged to be used. For science!

BitFenix had warned me beforehand that the cable management on the Micro ATX version of the Colossus would be trickier than the mini-ITX version due to the more compact internal layout. I took that as a challenge. With custom cables it would certainly be possible to make it look cleaner, but all in all I'm happy with how it turned out.

Before anyone comments that we should have used part X instead of Y, or Q instead of Z, know that this part selection was not aimed at practicality. Different use cases prefer different part selections. Maybe you don't need an i7. Maybe you don't need 16GB of RAM. Or maybe the 295X2 is a tad more horsepower than you need to play Minecraft. I chose these parts for a couple reasons:

  • I enjoy smaller form factor builds and the associated cable management challenges.
  • The i7-4790K and Radeon R9 295X2 were already on hand (for benchmarking, the results of which hopefully everyone will see soon).
  • Because we could.

That being said, it was a challenging, but very fun build. When I have a chance to benchmark it and check the thermal performance, I'll be sure to provide a follow-up post.

Comments Sorted by:

Hakumisoso 2 Builds 7 points 56 months ago

If I click on the video on this website it says the video is unavailable, but it plays fine on youtube.

philip staff submitter 10 Builds 7 points 56 months ago

Should be up now. Youtube error'ed out on processing the first upload, but succeeded on the second attempt.

RyneSmith 7 Builds 5 points 56 months ago

Very nice small form factor! Thanks for the post philip!

nada190 3 Builds 4 points 56 months ago

No voting system for this build? WAY too cool for that anyways and besides it will just be constant up votes.

philip staff submitter 10 Builds 1 point 56 months ago

Appreciate the kind words! I did add it as a completed build but forgot to link it. It's here: http://pcpartpicker.com/b/gFgLrH

Norm101 3 Builds 3 points 56 months ago

That is one awesome little monster...

TheEthernet 6 Builds 3 points 56 months ago

Core i70? Dang son, lol.

philip staff submitter 10 Builds 3 points 56 months ago

ugh. facepalm. I could have sworn I fixed that typo in the final version. sigh

Growliff1234 1 point 46 months ago


Hazarded 2 points 56 months ago

Little beast

archonhero 1 Build 1 point 56 months ago

Hell yeah the video's up! What a monster.

swimmer1929 1 Build 1 point 56 months ago

Tiny but tuff.

18hockey 1 Build 1 point 56 months ago


CrazyCroak05 1 Build 1 point 56 months ago

You said you used 2 R9 295's but i only saw one in the video?

philip staff submitter 10 Builds 8 points 56 months ago

No - a 295X2 is a dual-GPU card. It has two 290X GPUs on a single card.

CrazyCroak05 1 Build 1 point 56 months ago

Ohhh thats pretty cool

Johnston12 1 point 56 months ago

It's the fastest GPU in the world.

CrazyCroak05 1 Build 1 point 56 months ago


Johnston12 4 points 56 months ago

If you buy the Sapphire version of the card you get a full metal briefcase with a combination lock.

Zedzer 2 Builds -3 points 56 months ago

The Titan Z is actually faster but like twice the price. I'd say around 15% faster. 12Gb of combined VRAM and dual titan blacks. And FYI R9290x<GTX 780ti<Titan Black. Not so much of a difference but the titan cards are tuned to be an upgrade in things like video editing or rendering, better than the 290x cards. I ain't fanboying-I'm stating facts (I'm getting an AMD card for my build). Just forget the prices.

elvenson 5 Builds 1 point 56 months ago

At that price, the 295x2 is better in games. At 4k it stomps the titans, dual 780ti, and dual 290x cards. (being on the same card has benefits over a dual card 290x build)

Eschaton 6 Builds 1 point 56 months ago

Yes I, for one, will be extremely interested in the thermal performance of this build. Your one saving grace is the two fans on top; otherwise everything is pulling over a fat rad. Granted, the 88W TDP on the i7 will also be a big help; can't imagine that H80i getting very hot due to that, unless you start overvolting it.

I'm gonna go ahead and guess, though, that when you're done testing the thermals you're going to reconfigure so that both rads breathe in, and the fans on top are exhaling.

Can you provide us with the specs on those two top fans when you put up the thermals?

philip staff submitter 10 Builds 3 points 56 months ago

I pondered the fan arrangement for a while on this one. The top-to-bottom cooling seemed opposite of how I'd prefer to arrange it, but here's why I kept it that way:

The power supply is the one component that you can't change airflow direction. Right now it takes in air from the front, and exhausts it out the bottom. If we configure the bottom as intake, we have two problems - it will pull in warm air from the power supply, and there's no dust filter on the bottom.

The other aspect is that the 295X2, in addition to the radiator, has a centrally mounted fan intake facing toward the top of the case. I suspect the 295X2 is the one that will get thermally limited, so making sure it is maximized for cooling is critical. If you change the top two fans to exhaust, it'll somewhat be starving the intake fan on the actual GPU card. I had read some one-off benchmarks regarding fan direction in similar situations where it had a fairly significant effect on cooling performance to do that. Also the top cover has the dust filter built in, so it seems like it was designed to be the intake and not the exhaust. If we really wanted it to be exhaust, we'd want to remove the dust filter (and then find some way to put a dust filter on the bottom).

If there's time though, I can iterate through some different fan arrangements to see what works better. I don't want to say the way I built it is best - especially without any hard data to back it up. I hypothesize it is, but the thermal camera and bench data won't lie... :)

On the fans - I'm honestly not sure. I'll see if there are any spec markings that give them away. The two fans on top are just the stock fans that came with the case. I removed them from the bottom and side for the rads, and then just moved them up top. BitFenix did send us some LED fans as well, but we opted not to include them in this build.

Eschaton 6 Builds 1 point 56 months ago

Thanks for the info. They look like they might be high-pressure fans, so that's in your favor for this build, I think.

2 additional thoughts, given what you told me:

  1. What if you configure the rads for intake, then build a little cardboard or tin baffle/barrier under the case that prevents PSU exhaust from mixing with rad intake airflow?

  2. What if you build a tinfoil (or perhaps something more professional) heat shroud that helps direct air from one of the top fans down into the video card's fan, but then configure the other fan to be a high-airflow fan to exhaust air for the two rads below?

I imagine it will come down to this - what is more important for the 295X - its board cooling, which I imagine is down to the fan on it - or the chip cooling, which has to be down to the water?

Like I said, I'm super-excited to see the thermal results on this rig; we stand to learn a lot!

Eschaton 6 Builds 1 point 56 months ago

Any updates?

philip staff submitter 10 Builds 1 point 56 months ago

Not yet. We had some fun DNS issues a few days ago that forced us to switch DNS providers. That in turn has had a ripple effect on some internals for spam prevention (long story). Anyhow, we're back to 100% as of this morning, so hopefully will be able to devote some time to that content.

Eschaton 6 Builds 1 point 56 months ago

otay! You guys run a very professional site; didn't even notice the issue.

Apach3 3 Builds 1 point 56 months ago

wow, coming from someone who recently jumped into small form-factor machines, this is incredible! i'm wondering if the 295X2 would fit inside an Elite 130...

appleroxinhouston 1 point 56 months ago

That's some pretty nice work there And now I know it's possibe to fill a PC

CrazyCroak05 1 Build 1 point 56 months ago

Hey Philip on your NZXT H440 / i5-4570 / GTX 770 build How did you install Windows 8.1? Considering the NZXT H440 doesn't have any 5.25 drive bays.

selftest 1 point 56 months ago

You can use the product key to download a version of win 8.1 and install it over usb

philip staff submitter 10 Builds 1 point 56 months ago

We created a video for that - installing via USB: http://youtube.com/watch?v=OLfypHr4ooI

CrazyCroak05 1 Build 1 point 56 months ago


CrazyCroak05 1 Build 1 point 56 months ago

Would you mind looking over and giving me any comments you have on my build in progress?


I'm probably going to order my parts by the end of the month.

Zedzer 2 Builds 1 point 56 months ago

It looks pretty good to me. I would just change the z87 board to the z97 board because it is around the same price and is a lot more future-proof with extra features added as well. The 750w PSU is also CRAZY OVERKILL. It will not allow you to crossfire and for a single GPU its around 200 watts of extra unnecessary power. If you are keen on overclocking and adding a few things later, save money and get a 650W PSU. This one from EVGA is very good. http://pcpartpicker.com/part/evga-power-supply-120g10650xr Good luck on your build!

elvenson 5 Builds 2 points 56 months ago

For a 280x and over clocking, 750w is not over kill. It's the recommendation from the gpu manufacturers

Zedzer 2 Builds 1 point 56 months ago


Now that I think of it, it might be. It allows for a lot more headroom and after all, PSU's decrease in wattage over time. With A higher wattage, you have a lot more "watts unused" (don't know how to say it), but it will keep efficiency higher at load. I still feel it is too much. It's the recommendation because not all PSU's have the better efficiency ratings and may mean that 750W PSUs will probably not get to even 650 watts with bad PSUs. But with a 650 watt Gold rated PSU you are getting around 590-610 watts of usable power. With a 750 watt bronze PSU you are only going to get as far as 690 watts or so due to heat output. I'm sorry I made that long, but IMO I would probably get the 650 watt PSU (Enough power, Gold-rated, fully modular, cheaper)but because 750 watts will last longer at only a bit higher, I guess you could. But you are just missing out on the gold-rating and modular cables. But who cares. I'm just saying that you can save 10-20 dollars-ish and get a more ideal PSU OR your can opt to get an 850watt PSU for a bit more so you can crossfire the 280x.

elvenson 5 Builds 1 point 56 months ago

Now THAT is an ideal steambox lol

sparklinskyz 1 point 56 months ago

Except that AMD doesn't really have good Linux drivers

elvenson 5 Builds 1 point 56 months ago

They didn't use to... Much better now

joonpear 1 Build 1 point 56 months ago

Great video. Inspired me to build something like this.

vikingXcore 4 Builds 1 point 56 months ago

I always wondered what it'd be like building in that case. You definitely took it to the extreme, haha. I'm really surprised you got two rads to fit especially so close to the RAM! how have temps been on the parts?

D42RAW 1 point 56 months ago

I see builds like this and i need $150 to finish my $400 build:/ Anyways, great build Philip!

captainslapattack 1 point 56 months ago

you should add a game pad to the Peripherals

Macattack 1 point 56 months ago

No need for a thermal paste? Btw, sorry if I don't know but do you have to separately separately separately the sound card or is it included with the motherboard?

ZorPr1m3 1 point 56 months ago

Just order everything cant wait for all the parts to get here...... Love the small case and power behind it. I am excited and will send some updates when its built.


emeraldweapon911 1 point 56 months ago

How long in length are the tubes connecting the card to the cooler?

jkkavan 3 Builds 1 point 56 months ago

where would you put a hard drive? Or did I miss that?

Czymborjeff 1 point 55 months ago

I'm guessing this is the hard drive: Plextor M6S 256GB 2.5" Solid State Drive

Not sure though, new to this.

jkkavan 3 Builds 1 point 55 months ago

It's an Intel 520 Series 120 Gb SSD. I pulled it from a previous build and wanted to get working on this one. The Samsung hadn't arrived yet. I was impatient.

Pcgamer20001 1 point 56 months ago

WOW just WOW

lachlan5654 1 point 56 months ago

Awesome build, a little expensive for what i was looking at. Could i get a less expensive GPU and put in a hard drive in?

Zeroxdude0 1 Build 1 point 56 months ago

Cable management looks so clean!! To be able to do cable management in a small case is incredible.

sentliu 5 Builds 1 point 56 months ago

banding cables too much, not recommend

Dabombj23 1 point 55 months ago

this build is gorgeous!

JackHack26 1 point 55 months ago

Is a AMD FX-9590 4.7 ghz better than Intel Core i7-4790K in terms of speed and gaming?

Demonite99 1 point 55 months ago

According to this http://cpu.userbenchmark.com/Compare/Intel-Core-i7-4790K-vs-AMD-FX-9590/2384vs1812 the i7 is faster however if your only going to game I would suggest an i5 or fx 8350. As both the i7 and fx 9590 are overkill (unless that's what your going for) and will hardly run games better than an i5. Also just a side note I've heard the fx 9590 gets really hot.

JackHack26 1 point 55 months ago

Thanks man I still have one more question. I am building a PC with a limited budget of a 1000 dollars. And this is the list that i have chosen, CPU AMD FX-9590 4.7GHz 8-Core OEM/Tray $233.99 CPU Cooler Corsair H55 57.0 CFM Liquid $49.99 Motherboard Asus M5A99FX PRO R2.0 ATX AM3+ $114.98 Storage Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM $53.98 Video Card Asus Radeon R9 290 4GB DirectCU II $404.99 Case Rosewill Galaxy-02 ATX Mid Tower $49.99 Power Supply Corsair 600W ATX12V $44.99 Is it alright?

Demonite99 1 point 55 months ago

Everything looks good. Parts are balanced and this will play pretty much any game you want so I think your good. Just be sure to monitor your temps with that CPU.

JackHack26 1 point 55 months ago

Thanks mate that really helped me :)

Demonite99 1 point 55 months ago

No problem! Good luck!

Czymborjeff 1 point 55 months ago

Is it possible to get a higher storage in here like 500 gb - 1 tb? if so what would you recomment?

Also one more thing, I don't want to pay this much for a graphics card and noticed it has a built in one, am I correct? my budget is about $200-250, should I just keep the built in one or upgrade?

I didn't add a video card, not sure if I should.

Here is what I got so far: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/zKctkL Would like to lower it if possible. What do you think I should change?

iNoob 1 point 55 months ago

Hi, what other case could you replace this with, with the same components?

TGK_Gaming 1 point 50 months ago

If the computer in the build was hooked up and turned on right there, would the liquid cooling be ready to go?

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