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be quiet!'s Silent Base 800 case reviewed

Enjoy the silence

Not all PC cases need to be flashy man-cave trophies. German company be quiet!’s philosophy for its Silent Base 800 case focuses on maximum airflow and minimum noise levels instead. While many builders are moving toward more compact cases, this full-tower case is made for builders seeking to house powerful systems without worrying about space constraints.

At 9" wide (10.5" with its legs), the Silent Base 800 falls on the slim side of full-tower ATX cases. The front of the case is divided into four areas. The top door conceals 3 optical drive bays, while the push-to-open bottom door lowers like a drawbridge.Two 140-mm fan mounts hide behind this door.

be quiet! populates these mounts with two of its Pure Wings 2 140-mm fans, and it covers them with a pop-out dust filter. Both doors are equipped with noise-suppressing material. The two mesh covers that border the main portion of the front panel conceal a small opening for the front fans to draw in air. Our Silent Base 800 has silver accents around its vents, but builders have the option to choose black, orange, or red accents, too. The rubber grommets and drive rails inside the case are color-matched to these accents, as well.

The left side of the case is dominated by a double-glazed polycarbonate window. be quiet! says these two sheets of plastic (with an air gap in between) help reduce the amount of system noise that can escape through this panel. The right-side panel has a pop-out air vent in its center that can be pulled out for extra airflow or left closed for more noise suppression. However, given the short distance between this vent and the back of the motherboard tray on the Silent Base 800, it’s not clear how much air might flow through this vent if it were opened.

The top cover of the Silent Base 800 extends a few inches above the metal frame of the case, creating an air duct. The top panel of the metal chassis has mounts for two 120-mm or 140-mm fans, or a 240-mm or 280-mm long radiator. Two slots on top of the plastic fascia and a grate at its rear allow for intake or exhaust airflow. The Silent Base 800’s top panel I/O includes a large backlit power button, headphone and microphone jacks, two USB 2.0 ports, and two USB 3.0 ports. There is no reset button.

The top panel is difficult to remove. In order to take it off, I had to remove both side panels and grope around under the ceiling of the case. I then had to fiddle with several push-release pegs before finally yanking the panel out of the frame. This procedure ended with a terrifying crack that made me think I broke something, but after doing it a few more times, I gradually realized this sound is just typical of the process. The 44 mm of room under this panel doesn't leave a lot of clearance for fans or radiators. A typical case fan is 25 mm thick, and a radiator stack is about 52-57 mm thick. Builders can fit two fans in this space, but those spinners won't have much room to move intake or exhaust air.

Turning the Silent Base 800 around reveals the rear I/O cutout and a 120-mm fan mount. This mount comes with a Pure Wings 2 120-mm fan preinstalled. be quiet! also includes rubber grommets at the rear for external liquid-cooling hardware, plus a pull-out dust filter for the power supply intake.

The bottom of the case mirrors its top half. A pair of U-shaped plastic feet snap into the bottom panel to elevate the case off floors or desks. Two small rubber pads on the bases of these feet could reduce vibration transfer into those surfaces, as well. The feet are removable, and the company says the case can be used without them, although the Silent Base’s narrow base and tapered sides would make us wary of doing so.

Here are the Silent Base 800's most important specifications in convenient tabular form:

  be quiet! Silent Base 800
Dimensions (W x H x D) 10.5" x 22" x 15.7"  (266 x 559 x 495 mm)
Supported motherboards ATX, microATX, Mini-ITX
3.5" drive mounts 7
2.5" drive mounts 2
5.25" drive bays 3
Fan mounts 2 140-mm front fans
2 120-mm or 140-mm top fans
1 120-mm or 140-mm bottom fan
1 120-mm rear fan
Radiator mounts 1 120-mm or 140-mm front radiator
1 240-mm or 280-mm top radiator
1 120-mm rear radiator
Included Fans 2x be quiet! Pure Wings 2 140-mm front fans
1x be quiet! Pure Wings 2 120-mm rear fan
Front panel I/O 2x USB 3.0
2x USB 2.0
Max. graphics card length 290 mm with top 3.5" drive cage installed
400 mm with top 3.5" drive cage removed
Max. CPU cooler height 170 mm (without window)
167 mm (with window)
Gap behind motherboard 2"

The windowed Silent Base 800 goes for $149.99 on Newegg right now. That lofty price tag puts this case in the company of some formidable competition, like Corsair's Carbide Series 600C and the Cooler Master MasterCase Pro 5. be quiet!'s case will have to clear a high bar to prove itself worthy of that price tag. Now that we've taken a look at the Silent Base's exterior, let's open it up and get to building.