Our testing methods
Here's the configuration of our test system:
|Processor||Intel Core i7-6700K|
|Motherboard||ASRock Z170 Extreme7+|
|Memory||16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200|
|Graphics card||Gigabyte GeForce GTX 980 Ti G1 Gaming|
|Storage||OCZ Vector 180 480GB
Samsung Spinpoint F1 750GB HDD
|Power supply||be quiet! Dark Power Pro 850W|
|CPU cooler||Cooler Master MasterAir Maker 8|
|OS||Windows 10 Pro|
Our thanks to be quiet! for the Silent Base 800 and the Dark Power Pro power supply, and to ASRock, Corsair, Gigabyte, and Cooler Master for their contributions to our test system.
The Silent Base 800 will face off against Cooler Master’s MasterCase Pro 5 in our tests today. For more information, see our review here.
I used the following applications in my tests:
- AIDA64 Engineer, version 5.2
- Unigine Heaven benchmark, version 4.0
- Prime95, version 28.5
Our case test cycle consists of the following phases:
- 10 minutes idling at the Windows desktop
- 10 minutes running the Prime95 Small FFTs CPU torture test
- 10 minutes running Prime95 and the Unigine Heaven GPU benchmark
- 10 minutes of cooldown time at the Windows desktop
Here are the results of our cooling tests, plotted over time:
And here are the minimum and maximum temperatures from each testing phase:
It appears some background process was running during the Silent Base 800 test, causing some minute temperature spikes during the idle phases of our testing. While it makes the graph look strange, we don't think it unfairly affected the outcome of our test. At idle, the cases kept the components near the minimum temperatures we recorded for most of the 10-minute phase. During the most demanding phase of our testing, however, the MasterCase Pro 5 kept our GTX 980 Ti a full 5° C cooler than the Silent Base 800, registering a peak temperature of 71° C compared to the Silent Base's 76° C. While 76° C is well within the safe temperature range for our card, I expected better performance from the Silent Base 800 to the front fan positioning, especially with hard drive cage removed.
My guess is that the major delta in GPU temperatures comes from insufficient airflow to the Silent Base 800's front fans. The mesh-covered openings on the front of the case become mostly blocked when the fan door is closed. This forces most of the air to come from the much smaller opening at the bottom of the front panel. I ran the Silent Base 800 through an informal test with the front door open. In that configuration, the case kept the temperature of the graphics card to 71° C, putting it on par with the MasterCase Pro 5.
Other components inside the Silent Base 800 got pretty toasty, too. The motherboard registered a maximum temperature of 8° C hotter in the Silent Base 800, although the be quiet! case kept our CPU 2° C cooler than the MasterCase Pro 5 did. All told, the Silent Base seems to prioritize noise suppression over absolute cooling performance, but hotter components also tend to make more noise. Let's see whether that tendency revealed itself in our noise testing.
Here are the noise levels for idle and load for the Silent Base 800 and the MasterCase5:
Despite its extensive use of noise-suppression material, the Silent Base 800 didn't turn out to be any quieter in our tests than the more open MasterCase Pro 5. That said, the Pure Wings 2 fans that came with the Silent Base 800 stunned me. These case fans are practically inaudible at idle, and they have an exceptionally pleasant noise character under load.
Even if the Silent Base 800 wasn't quieter than the MasterCase Pro 5 in absolute terms, its noise-suppression material helped hush the high-pitched whine of our GTX 980 Ti better than that case did. We'd be curious whether the Silent Base would sound even better if it was keeping the graphics card cooler, though. The heatsinks on hotter components have to work harder under load, and considering that the Silent Base 800's noise results are largely a wash with the more open MasterCase 5, we have to wonder whether all the extra silencing material is really worth it.
As far as storage noise goes, the rubber drive rails kept the 3.5’’ hard drive impressively quiet except for seek noise. During the idle phase of the test, the hard drive responded to some demand or another, and its seek noise was about as prominent as shoes in a dryer. I haven't heard such prominent seek noise from any other case. It's possible this result could be chalked up to the age of the hard drive in our test system, though. A newer drive would likely produce less noise than our decade-old Samsung Spinpoint F1.