Does buying a "silent" case actually work

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Does buying a "silent" case actually work

Postposted on Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:44 pm

Got an easy question for you computer experts:

Does buying a "silent" case actually work? Right now I have a Cooler Master Centurion 5, Zalman heatsink, Radeon 4850, and two loud WD harddrives. I don't really play much PC games (probably 2-3 games a year) and It's nice to have a decent computer when I need to but I cannot deal with the noise! If I just throw everything I have into one of those Antecs silent towers will I actually notice a difference in a silent room, or will it still be noisy? Also what silent towers would you suggest? Thanks.
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Re: Does buying a "silent" case actually work

Postposted on Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:12 pm

I suggest you take a look at recommended case articles on silentpcreview.com .
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Re: Does buying a "silent" case actually work

Postposted on Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:30 pm

It hasn't been updated since 2007. Anything better come out between then and now?
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Re: Does buying a "silent" case actually work

Postposted on Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:38 pm

Quite a few of the "silent" cases out there actually do cut down on noise levels quite a bit. Keep in mind, though, that most of them employ things like foam to insulate the case, thus preventing sound from escaping, but retaining some of the heat. Antec's P180, 183, and Sonata Elite do a wonderful job keeping things quiet without it getting too hot (in most cases) (pun intended). The Sonata III isn't as quiet as the Sonata Elite, I'd imagine, but it should still be pretty low on the sound front, not to mention that it's a very clean looking case. If price and size aren't an issue, you could even splurge on the likes of Cooler Master's Cosmos 1000.
With the exception of the Sonata III, those are really the only quiet cases I've actually had the pleasure of working with. I must say, they are very quiet.
The alternative is to looking into alternative cooling solutions (liquid-cooling). Most LC setups are pretty quiet. I have a Corsair H50 on my processor (Phenom II X3 720 Black OC @ 3.4 GHz) that's whisper quiet. Heck, the first couple times I fired up the systems after installing it, I had to stick my hand behind my computer to make sure the fan was working.
The only other option I can think of in your situation would be to replace the hard drives from something quieter. I suggest Western Digital's 6401AALS (the 640GB Caviar Black). They're spacious, fast, and most importantly, quiet.

Bare in mind, "silent" cases aren't going to be absolutely noiseless. There will always be the faint whisper of large fans slowly spinning to move air in and out of the case. They really should be marketed as Quiet cases.
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Re: Does buying a "silent" case actually work

Postposted on Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:44 pm

It really boils down to quiet fans, rubber/silicone isolated hard drives, and (to a lesser extent) case side panels with noise-isolation foam applied on them. Most "silent" cases provide these. However, really any case can be made "silent" with proper after-market purchases. And, most noise concerns can be avoided simply by purchasing the "right" hardware, fans, and heatsinks to begin with. For example, a SSD is silent compared to a normal hard drive, and a video card with a custom Zalman-style heatsink/fan is going to be much quieter than something with a stock "dust buster" on it.

I would guess, for you, having a quiet video cooler and some rubber/silicone mounted hard drives would make your system very, very quiet.

I own a Sonata III, and am very happy with it. It is impossible to hear from across the room, and barely audible right next to it. The included power supply fan and "tri cool" 120mm fan are both very quiet. There is no noise foam, but I always felt that stuff was not worth the investment.
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Re: Does buying a "silent" case actually work

Postposted on Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:54 pm

If you're goal is to build a silent PC, then you have to take a look at all the components, not just the case. This is all just personal opinion, but what a "silent" PC case provides over a "regular" case:
  • Reduced case fan noise (large, low RPM fans)
  • Reduced airflow turbulence noise (optimized airflow patterns)
  • Reduced HDD vibration noise (rubberized mounting)

However, the things a silent PC case won't protect you from:
  • Hard drive seek noise
  • CPU fan noise
  • GPU fan noise
  • PSU fan noise
  • CD/DVD drive noise
  • "Piercing" noises (high pitched whining, etc.)

To get that "silent" pc, it involves a whole set of careful component selection, ensuring that each component presents a minimized noise footprint, sometimes at the cost of performance and/or power. And as tikrjee said, building a truly silent, but effective, system is near impossible. You're really just going to end up with a quieter system.
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Re: Does buying a "silent" case actually work

Postposted on Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:05 pm

I've been using two Antec P180's for several years and am very happy with their performance w/r/t noise.

Most people look at a case and think of it in terms of noise containment, but what you really should be thinking about is energy damping. For example, you can take a hard drive that's practically silent in free space, but mount it to a case and suddenly the case starts humming. Same thing with fans and optical media - take something that's relatively quiet on it's own (but with a fair amount of vibrational energy) and mount it to a large, resonant radiating surface and you've got a lot of racket. Think tuba.

The Antec P18x series does an outstanding job of damping energy. All i hear from my case is the faint whoosh of moving air from the fans. The case doesn't re-radiate anything.

Try mounting your hard drives without screws. Use the twisted bungee cords as shown at SPCR and see if that doesn't quiet things down a bit.
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Re: Does buying a "silent" case actually work

Postposted on Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:16 pm

wow, thanks for all these great answers! I'm looking at the antecs now. I could get a Sonata Elite because I already have a power supply. Also there is the Antec 180 mini, I wonder if my large radeon 4850 will fit into that.
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Re: Does buying a "silent" case actually work

Postposted on Wed Feb 24, 2010 3:34 pm

they do help but they do sacrifice some cooling as well, here are some tips
a top fan adds cooling but it also adds some noise, depending on where the computer is, but it is not a deal breaker. a good case will have a top fan
a side fan will be very noisy depending on your GPU, so avoid this
also, placement of the computer is very important
most desks are going to be near a wall, that is just the way it is
but having the computer vents in the back facing a large open area cuts down the noise considerably
having an aftermarket CPU heatsink also reduces noise
I use an antec P182

if you plan to buy an antec, just make SURE you do not get the number series, 900, 1200 etc.

coolermaster makes some great cases, you happen to have the budget model that mainly adds cooling
your hard drives really make more noise than your 4850? :x
what you might try first is
are your hard drives in the lowest bays of the computer?
block that lower side fan with a piece of plastic

normally, I would say the loudest thing in an OEM computer is a cheap PSU that has a noisy fan
then, the CPU fan reving up constantly
then it would be a hard drive, though, you can always hear a hard drive spool up, but that only lasts a few seconds
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Re: Does buying a "silent" case actually work

Postposted on Wed Feb 24, 2010 4:21 pm

I'm very pleased with the (lack of) noise from my Antec P183. CPU is a AMD Phenom II X4 955, stock cooler (ie, noisier than one of those fancy ones), ATI 5750 video, reasonably quiet hard drive.
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Re: Does buying a "silent" case actually work

Postposted on Wed Feb 24, 2010 4:31 pm

Coldsnap wrote:wow, thanks for all these great answers! I'm looking at the antecs now. I could get a Sonata Elite because I already have a power supply. Also there is the Antec 180 mini, I wonder if my large radeon 4850 will fit into that.

I wouldn't try to squeeze that card into the 180 mini. I'd recommend take the Sonata route (or get a full sized 180/183). Even if it CAN physically fit in that case, getting in there is going to be one of the most aggravating, painstaking, and horrible moments in your system-building life. Go at least Mid-tower.
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Re: Does buying a "silent" case actually work

Postposted on Wed Feb 24, 2010 4:44 pm

You know that the 180 mini is only micro-atx right? You don't list your motherboard...standard ATX will not fit. :(

That said, your 4850 will fit if you remove one of the HD cages. This of course limits the number of HD you can use.

$20 case fans grind my gears, (someone once said that many mainstream CPU cost less than the fans people put in their cases) however, it really is the only way to get the case sound down significantly once you have a good set-up. Look at Nocturne, and Enermax Magna. :wink:
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Re: Does buying a "silent" case actually work

Postposted on Wed Feb 24, 2010 5:41 pm

Another satisfied Antec customer. Even with the original Tri-cool fans, my P182 was pretty quiet with the most noticeable noise coming from the fans ramping up on the 4850s while gaming. I changed the graphics card coolers for Arctic Cooling Accereo S1s (with an Akasa Apache fan blowing air along them from the back of the drive cage), achieving even less noise and lower temperatures. Finally I swapped out the rear and top Tri-cools for some Scythe S-Flex fans controlled by a Zalman fanmate, so now I can turn it down to barely audible for day-to-day use, and just a slight wooshing while turned up for gaming. I don't think I've ever been able to hear the PSU or CPU fans in this system, despite it sitting next to me on top of the desk.
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Re: Does buying a "silent" case actually work

Postposted on Wed Feb 24, 2010 5:58 pm

mdk77777 wrote:You know that the 180 mini is only micro-atx right? You don't list your motherboard...standard ATX will not fit. :(

That said, your 4850 will fit if you remove one of the HD cages. This of course limits the number of HD you can use.
Radeon HD4850 is only 9" long. I believe that it will fit into the mini P180 with all of the hard-drive cages installed. I'll put the tape measure on it again tonight to verify.
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Re: Does buying a "silent" case actually work

Postposted on Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:39 pm


mdk77777 wrote:You know that the 180 mini is only micro-atx right? You don't list your motherboard...standard ATX will not fit. :(

That said, your 4850 will fit if you remove one of the HD cages. This of course limits the number of HD you can use.

Radeon HD4850 is only 9" long. I believe that it will fit into the mini P180 with all of the hard-drive cages installed. I'll put the tape measure on it again tonight to verify.
mdk77777 wrote:You know that the 180 mini is only micro-atx right? You don't list your motherboard...standard ATX will not fit. :(

That said, your 4850 will fit if you remove one of the HD cages. This of course limits the number of HD you can use.
Radeon HD4850 is only 9" long. I believe that it will fit into the mini P180 with all of the hard-drive cages installed. I'll put the tape measure on it again tonight to verify.


Perhaps I should have said "fit easily". I was responding to the previous post that said "getting in there is going to be one of the most aggravating, painstaking, and horrible moments in your system-building life." While it might fit, it will not be pleasant unless you pull a HD cage, and then it will be "easy". Just pointing out the option, as some cases have fixed supports in the way, and a long card conflicts regardless of the HD installed. At least with the ANTEC, you have a pretty simple option for gaining more clearance.
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Re: Does buying a "silent" case actually work

Postposted on Fri Feb 26, 2010 11:19 am

I purchased a Sonata and some high quality fans. I'm going to make sure I mount my hard drives right like described in this thread. Thank you for all the help!
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Re: Does buying a "silent" case actually work

Postposted on Sat Mar 13, 2010 7:16 am

One thing to keep in-mind if you ever do decide to later on to to the P18x series is that they do have filters included. This helps to keep your CPU and GPU from getting to dusty, which in-turn can be a noise creater in itself (the fans have to work harder). This is also something to be considered when you are attempting to create a long-term quite environment.

My current rig uses 800RPM Fans for everything, GPU spool down to 800RPMS and so does my CPU cooler. With the P180 you literally can't hear them unless you put your ear right next to it (we are talking 1-2 inches away). It is the best thing in the world, I love having a silent computer. Though during gaming, both GPU's spool up and needless to say it is not so silent anymore....but the P18x series are layed out that if the CPU or GPU does need more air, this is still enough holes/intake to keep them properly cooled. In Crossfire my cards never break 88C, and my GPU never breaks 55C (which for a silent low RPM intake/exhaust situation, that is doing really well).

Cheers, and goodluck!
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Re: Does buying a "silent" case actually work

Postposted on Wed Apr 07, 2010 10:19 pm

I have a Sonata III case with an Arctic Cooling cpu cooler, a center fan and a Sapphire HD4850. It's pretty quiet. I originally had a Gigabyte HD4850, though, and it was too long to put in my case with a standard thickness center fan. I had to buy a thinner fan in order for that card to fit. The Gigabyte card seemed to be a lot noisier than the Sapphire one I replaced it with.
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Re: Does buying a "silent" case actually work

Postposted on Wed Apr 14, 2010 11:56 am

The most noise is generally from the PSU and the GPU . GPU fans you can basically turn off when idle without ill effect, but the PSU you have no control over. You can try buying a silent PSU, but many of them have annoying qualities to their low fans. I dunno...the best thing you can do for a silent build is buy a fan contoller and a seasonic psu. The fan controller is obvious. The seasonic isn't nearly as obvious. Its the only PSU out there that does not spin until signficant load is placed on it. That is fabulous as most of the time your psu will be not placing much load onyour PSU at all. If you want true silence, start with thos etwo things.
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