At CES last year, Cougar turned heads by showcasing the Gemini X, a dual computer chassis geared towards content creators. Currently priced at $679, it’s quite an impressive case with quite an impressive price tag. We got our hands on this hearty case and put it through its paces. Is it worth that high cost of entry?
- MSRP: $699
- Form Factor: Dual Tower
- Dimension (WxHxD): 16.77 x 25 x 20.66in (426 x 635 x 525mm)
- Aluminum: 3mm thick
- Tempered glass cover: Yes, 3mm thick
- Motherboard Type: Mini ITX, Micro ATX, ATX, CEB
- I/O Panel: USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C x1 / USB 3.0 x2 / Mic x1 / Audio x1
- Cooling: 120mm x 5 (2 left, 2 right, 1 rear)
- Water Cooling Support: 240mm / 120mm
- Expansion Slots: 8
- Max GPU Length: 13.77in (350mm)
- Max CPU Cooler Height: 5.51in (140mm)
- Power Supply: Standard ATX PS2
- Motherboard Type: Mini ITX
- 3.5” Drive Bay: 4
- 2.5” Drive Bay: 4
- Expansion Slots: 2
- Cooling System: 120mm x 5 (2 left, 2 right, 1 rear)
- I/O Panel: USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C x1 / USB3.0 x 2 / Mic x1 / Audio x1
- Max GPU Length: 12.99in (330mm)
- Max CPU Cooler Height: 5.51in (140mm)
- Power Supply: SFX
Innovation is a word that gets thrown around a lot in the computer industry. When you get down to it, there’s really not a lot of true innovation that happens. A mouse is a mouse no matter how many lights you cram into it and keyboard is a keyboard. Monitors get some neat features but they aren’t doing anything truly different. Back in May, Corsair made waves with the Corsair 1000D - a gigantic case that could hold two computers in its massive belly. An interesting concept to say the least but the case was nothing short of Ice Giant scale.
At CES, Cougar turned heads by showcasing the Gemini X - a dual computer chassis that houses the computers in two separate chambers attached to each other in an X-like formation that’s much more manageable for the average streamer to locate on their desk. Because make no mistake, that’s who this chassis is geared towards - content creators that game on one computer and encode and stream on the other. I got my hands on the Gemini X in December and set to work dismantling my gaming and streaming computer and shoving them together in a gloriously RGB Frankenstein that my wife could do nothing but roll her eyes at.
But first a few hurdles…
While just about everyone will be able to plop their main gaming rig into the chassis with it’s standard ATX compatibility and respectable room for a GPU, concessions have to be made for the other side. The secondary side of the chassis houses the hard drives and power supply for the main PC so you’re limited to a mini-ITX board and an SFX power supply to power it. As someone who had never really built mini builds the SFX power supply came as a surprise to me that added a small delay to my start time. Luckily, I was able to get one shipped to me, complete with ugly ketchup and mustard cables, but since I didn’t really plan on showing off that side of the computer I didn’t mind too much. With all the gear collected, it was time to get to work.
Before the Gemini X arrived at my house the only things I had to go off were some videos and pictures from CES I found around the web. There wasn’t a lot in these shots to compare with to get a read on its size so I was initially quite surprised at how small it was. That’s not to say it’s a small case, however, just smaller than I was expecting. The entire frame was made of a nice black aluminum that felt thicker than other cases which, come to find out, is because it is. Cougar rightly says on their website that most chassis around about 1mm thick on their metal and the Gemini X is rocking 3mm - a difference that’s literally palpable when you handle the case. Given its aluminum, it doesn’t add too much weight but makes the entire case feel sturdy and premium.
The top and bottom of the ‘X’ shape have thick rubber feet (or shoulders?) which allow for a no-slip placement in any orientation. Whether you want the case in a portrait or landscape mode (ha!), you’ll have rubber feet to cover you. Also at the top are the fan areas for the “dual airflow” system being touted by Cougar, allowing a two-in and 2-out configuration for your fans but as I’ve never been a fan of neutral-pressure configurations I opted to set all mine as intake - which had the added benefit of having two intake fans blowing directly on to my GPU. Speaking of fans - don’t expect to get any. I actually got a little angry when I realized there were no fans included in the case as it’s a pretty basic commodity just about everyone has come to expect. Practically an industry standard I kept telling myself. I certainly expected some nice fans to come with a chassis that costs upwards of $700 and the lack of their inclusion is a huge oversight in my opinion.
Once you have your own fans at the ready, there are some nice dust filters included for you to attach. They come with holes pre-punched for the screws and you could choose to attach them either on the inside or outside of the case. I personally opted for the inside, sandwiched between the chassis and fans, which proved slightly frustrating to line up but once one screw was in it was smooth sailing.
Building the mini-ITX
When it came down to it I was excited to start building in this monster of a case - so excited that I didn’t spare any thought to which side I should start with first. Take a lesson from me if you plan on picking up a Gemini X: start with the ATX side. I went about setting up the mini-ITX side of the house first. It was fairly smooth sailing it and it wasn’t until I was almost done that I realized the nightmare I was about to get myself into. Something quickly became apparent to me - cable managing was going to be an absolute challenge.
When I first started building on the mini-ITX side of the house, the space I had was really deceptive. Just looking at the above image with that little motherboard in there it seems like I’d have all the room in the world to do my cable management. I have no doubt in my mind if I didn’t still rely on mechanical hard drives (I have a RAID 0 for gaming storage and a 2TB storage for the streaming computer) that I could cable manage a lot better. Removing that entire tray would easily solve the nightmare of that side but, alas, I don’t have high capacity M.2 or SSDs to ditch mechanical drives completely yet. I suppose having M.2 drives and not using 2.5” would be just as beneficial which is definitely a route to take if you’re doing a fresh build - you’ll need that space. Once you jam hard drives and SSDs from two computers into the bays, a full ATX power supply, and SFX power supply any hope of effective cable management vanished for me.
The issue of cable management was compounded by the fact that I don’t have a ‘behind the motherboard’ area in the the traditional sense. There is space between the two sides, and it should and is meant to be utilized as much as possible, but you’re really not able to use it in the same way. Also, even though you have these nice cutouts for cable management the only way I can see to possibly use them effectively is to tediously thread your cables behind and attempt to pull them out of others since you can’t directly access the back. It may be possible to disconnect the two halves from each other but it’s not something I dared to attempt.
For me, the good news for the mini-ITX side was with the fact that I could have it face down so no one could see it. Between the ketchup and mustard cables, the SSD and HDD cables, fan controllers, RGB controllers, etc. there was no feasible way to make it look good. So I bundled up cables the best I could to keep them out of the fans and turned my attention to making the ATX portion worth looking at.