The Colossus from BitFenix has drawn much praise in its time, and now we have this new Venom edition to consider. The blurb speaks of a "vicious lighting style" and "sinister and menacing looks", but is it a fierce performer?

Well, it's certainly no shrinking violet, being an imposing tower that stands a little under two feet. It's also reassuringly heavy and black.

Set into the case's side and front are translucent strips, behind which lurk green and red LEDs. The 'Venom' tag turns out to mean the option to switch between the two colours.

The case also has a rubberised finish (which marks easily) and presents wonderfully clean lines with the full height front door shut. It's pretty much the opposite approach to the LanBoy Air, where everything is put on show.

Constructed of heavy-gauge metal, the Colossus has an air of real solidity, which is fitting since it certainly weighs enough. Open up the sides and the capacious interior (capable of taking an E-ATX board) reveals that the Venom is not all looks.

Bitfenix colossus venom internal

The stack of screw-free drive bays run down the front, totalling 12 in number: seven internal 3.5-inch bays and five 5.25-inch options with external access, plus an adapter to turn one of these into a 3.5-incher if you need it. There are also good-quality screw-free fittings for your expansion cards.

Cooling is provided by two big fans front and top, and there are mounting holes and grills to add extra 120mm or 140mm fans to the top and bottom. With the door shut, the front fan has to suck in air through a pretty small opening under the front, which isn't ideal.

Still, big grills on the top and bottom help counter the fact the sides are closed and the PSU can breathe through its own mesh.

Port passion

Bitfenix colossus venom top

The top of the case has a lift-up plastic flap, which reveals the buttons for the LEDs, a fan speed control, and a comprehensive set of I/O ports, including two USB 3.0 slots and an eSATA port. Unlike the rest of the case this door isn't as tough as it could be, but there's enough room inside here to leave flash drives and the like connected.

There are also cable guides to take wires from the panel out and down the sides of the case to exit from one of the openings on each side. The guides keep things neat, but can be tiresome if you're often moving your headphones, for example.

In an odd touch, the top panel has a moderately secure lock. BitFenix reckons this is useful for locking valuables away, but it'll only deter casual thieves. Its best real use is stopping family members from borrowing your flash drives.

Water-cooling's catered for with holes to run cables under the motherboard and to the outside, all with rubber grommets. Other features include a removable mesh filter and a system to strap down graphics cards. It even comes with a set of high-quality green cables.

Bitfenix colossus venom rear

It's hard not be mightily impressed by the Colossus Venom, since it's big, bold and awash with neat touches, but that's not to say it's perfect. If you're the type who's constantly changing hardware, for instance, you'll find the whole look is spoiled if it isn't running closed-up.

The design also precludes side fans for graphics cards. And yes, it's fairly expensive, but you don't half get a lot of case for your money.

Follow TechRadar Reviews on Twitter: http://twitter.com/techradarreview