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Computer Case Cooling, Silence, and Ease of Installation.

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July 17, 2008 2:10:12 AM

Hey, I thought it would be a good idea to make a tiered list of computer cases' cooling, silence, and ease of installation. Now I believe myself to be some what of an expert on certain aspects of computer cases, since I have not been able to decide on one for months! Anyway here are my personal opinions, please add some comments or suggestions so I can edit this and make it more accurate. I admit I know very little about water cooling except the basic theories of it so please share with me your opinions on that. Also the average prices in pounds would be great for these cases.

Judging:
-Cooling/ Negative air pressure (more exhaust than intake) creates better cooling, however positive air pressure (more intake than exhaust) limits dust. Cooling design is also important with such ideas as heat rises so the exhaust should be up higher than the intake and aluminum cools better than steel. I base all air cooling from my reference case, the Antec 900 (since it is most likely the most popular case on the market). For water cooling size is everything, the larger the radiator the better the water cooling.
-Silence/ Steel deadens sound much more effectively than plastic or aluminum. Of course the thickness of the materials is also very important. Fan amount, location, and exposure are very important for a silent case.
-Ease of Installation/ A removable motherboard tray is very nice. Tool-less design can really make installation easy and you wont need to potentially buy as many tools. Room is also very important for your hands and for cables.



Coo
ling:

Air:

Note: These rankings are taken with the highest amount of fans able to be installed and not the stock configuration.

Tier 1: Higher cooling performance than the reference, the Antec 900, this tier is great for overclockers or computer users in warm climates.

-Antec Twelve Hundred ~ $210
-Silverstone TJ07 ~ $300
-Lian Li PC-A70 ~ $210
-Lian Li PC-A7010 ~ $290
-Lian Li PC-P80 ~ $360
-NZXT Tempest ~ $120
-NZXT Khaos ~ $400
-XCLIO Windtunnel Advanced ~ $140
-Cooler Master 830/832 ~ $240
-Cooler Master 690 ~ $90
-Spotswood L-24 ~ $465
-Spotswood C-24 ~ $465

Tier 2: Similar cooling performance to the Antec 900 and are still, mostly, great choices for overclockers and those near the equator.

-Antec 900 (reference case) ~ $100
-Antec P190* ~ $400
-Antec P182 ~ $150
-Raidmax Iceberg ~ $160
-Raidmax Smilodon ~ $100
-NZXT Zero ~ $150
-NZXT Adamas ~ $150
-Lian Li PC-V2000 ~ $240
-Lian Li PC-V1200 ~ $200
-Lian Li PC-V1010 ~ $250
-Lian Li PC-V2010 ~ $280
-Lian Li PC-A77 ~ $270
-Lian Li PC-65 PLUS II ~ $140
-Lian Li PC-A20 ~ $390
-Lian Li PC-A6010 ~ $180
-Lian Li PC-P60 ~ $240
-Lian Li PC-A10 ~ $210
-Lian Li PC-A17 ~ $180
-Lian Li PC-A71 ~ $230
-Lian Li PC-V2110 ~ $380
-Lian Li PC-A7110 ~ $300
-Silverstone TJ09 ~ $250
-Silverstone TJ10 ~ $270
-Silverstone KL03 ~ $180
-Cooler Master 810 ~ $160
-Cooler Master Cosmos S 1100 ~ $210
-Cooler Master 590 ~ $70
-Thermaltake Armor+ ~ $200
-Thermaltake Armor+ ~ $180
-Thermaltake Xaser VI ~ $240
-Thermaltake SwordM ~ $500
-Thermaltake Mozart ~ $200
-Zalman GT900 ~ $350
-Zalman GT1000 ~ $400
-Enermax Uber Chakra ~ $110
-XCLIO 380 ~ $110
* Antec P190 comes with 2 PSUs, a 650w and a 550w. I do not recommend these power supplies and there for this case.

Tier 3: These cases offer acceptable cooling performance because they are very near Tier 2.
-Hiper Anubis ~ $180
-Cooler Master Centurion 5 ~ $50
-Cooler Master Elite ~ $50
-Cooler Master Cosmos 1000 ~ $180
-Sunbeam Transformer ~ $90
-Tagan Aplus Black Pearl ~ $250

Tier 4 This is for anything not already mentioned. I do not recommend any of these unless you are building a low end system with integrated graphics. If you believe I have missed any cases or that any of my rankings have been wrong then feel free to post a comment or suggestion, I need them, :lol:  .

Water Cooling:

Tier 1 The absolute recommended cases for Water Cooling.
-Silverstone TJ07 (the WC king!) ~ $300
-Lian Li PC-V2000 ~ $240
-Lian Li PC-A70 with 2/3 120mm fan top panel ~ $270
-Lian Li PC-A7010 with 2/3 120mm fan top panel ~ $340
-Spotswood L-24 ~ $465
-Spotswood C-24 ~ $465

Tier 2 Decent cases that will work for a decent Water Cooling system.
-NZXT Tempest ~ $120
-Silverstone TJ09 ~ $250
-Silverstone TJ10 ~ $270
-NZXT Khaos ~ $400
-Raidmax Iceberg ~ $160
-Cooler Master Cosmos S 1100 ~ $210
-Cooler Master 690 ~ $90
-Cooler Master 810 ~ $160
-NZXT Zero ~ $150
-Gigabyte 3D Aurora 570 ~ $160

Tier M This is where I list the cases that can be modded for some extreme water cooling setups should you be so bold.
-Silverstone TJ03* ~ $270
-Cooler Master Cosmos S 1100 ~ $210
-Lian Li PC-A77 ~ $270
-Ultra Exo ~ $400
-Tagan Aplus Black Pearl ~ $250
* This is the case that Falcon NW uses for their entirely water cooled custom computer cases.

Tier S
These are cases that come with stock water cooling.
-Thermaltake Kandalf ~ $280
-Gigabyte 3D Mercury ~ $370

Silence:

Tier 1: These are quiet cases that also cools well.
-Antec P182 ~ $150
-Cooler Master Cosmos 1000
-Lian Li PC-A20 ~ $390
-Lian Li PC-V2000 ~ $240
-Lian Li PC-A10 ~ $210
-Lian Li PC-V1100 ~ $230
-Lian Li PC-V2110 ~ $380
-Lian Li PC-A71 ~ $230
-Lian Li PC-A7110 ~ $380

Tier 2: Silent case, but lack really adequate cooling.
-NZXT Hush ~ $90
-Lian Li PC-7 ~ $90
-Lian Li PC-A07 ~ $120
-Lian Li PC-A12 ~ $140
-Lian Li PC-B20 ~ $180
-Lian Li PC-B25 ~ $200
-Silverstone TJ03 ~ $270

Ease of Installation:


Tier 1:
Great for first time builders or for people who tend to change out parts weekly.
-Silverstone TJ 09 ~ $250
-Silverstone TJ10 ~ $270
-Silverstone TJ07 ~ $300
-Lian Li PC-A70 ~ $210
-Lian Li PC-A71 ~ $230
-Lian Li PC-A7010 ~ $290
-Lian Li PC-A7110 ~ $300

Tier 2: Cheap cases that are good for first time builders.
-Cooler Master 690 ~ $90
-Cooler Master Centurion 5 ~ $50
-Cooler Master 590 ~ $70

Cooling Fans:

One of the absolute first things an enthusiast does to a case they purchase is change out the fans. Too often stock fans are loud yet they push absolutely no real air, which can be very frustrating. I find there are 3 things about case fans that are important: Bearing type, CFM rating, and DBA rating. Bearing type is very important to note, because it gives a strong indication about the noise level and the life expectancy of the fans. CFM rating is important because it gives you a comparable number for the amount of air the fan pushes. DBA rating is important because it gives you an approximation of how loud the fans are, this is usually where the companies lie the most.

Bearing type:

note: Look for the initials posted in the model number to help you figure out what is used if it is not listed.

-Sleeve (S/SL): Sleeve fans tend to have low life spans and are generally loud. They also can only be mounted horizontally. These tend to cost the least and for goo reason. Not my favorite.

-Ball Bearing (B/BB/DB): Extremely high life span, but noisy and expensive. These are fine in my opinion.

-Rifle Bearing (R/RF): High life span that is almost as good as ball bearings, very quiet, and inexpensive. My personal favorite.

-Fluid Bearing (F/L/W): Longest life span, quietest, most expensive. Get them if you can.

CFM: This is not the most accurate representation of airflow, but it is easily comparable so it works. This is how it goes:
1-19 - terrible at any size
20-30 - only ok with small fans
30-40 - decent but not great
40-50 - Fine
50-60 - Recommended for quiet fans
60-70 - Good
70-80 - Recommended for overclockers, my personal favorite
80-90 - Great, but rare
90+ - if you need intense cooling somewhere then this is great, a fan controller is recommended.

DBA: This is a very rough measurement of the amount of noise a fan makes. If you are worried about this then read some user reviews or ask questions about a particular fan, because the DBA rating tends to be wrong.

1-15 - Silent, but low airflow
16-20 - silent, decent airflow
21-25 - silent, recommended for a quiet PC
26-30 - quiet
31-35 - sweet spot for high CFM fans
36-40 - Tolerable for high CFM
41-50 - Not great but some people can manage it
50+ - Not good, not good at all

Size: When it comes to sizes of fans I recommend to just stick with the basic 4.
80mm - smallest recommended, not as common as it once was
92mm - slightly common
120mm - Sweet spot and is most common
140mm - quieter than 120mm but is only recently becoming popular

Brands: the companies that make these fans can be one of the most crucial aspects of fans.

Recommended:
-Antec
-Silverstone
-Scythe
-Yate Loon

Good:
-SILENX
-Delta
-Cooler Master
-Zalman
-Aero Cool
-Evercool
-Xigmatek

Average:
-Logisys
-Rosewill
-Vantec
-Arctic Cooling
-Rexus
-Apevia

Bad:
-Thermaltake
-Spire
-Atrix

My Recommended fans:

80mm - Scythe Kama Flex (Quiet) Antec Tricool (mid range) Silverstone RL-FM81 (mid range and extreme cooling)

92mm - Silverstone RL-FN91 (Quiet) Antec 92mm series (mid range) Delta 92mm (extreme cooling)

120mm - Yate Loon low speed 120mm (Quiet) Antec Tricool (mid range) Silverstone RL-FM121 (extreme cooling)

1400mm - Yate loon low speed 140mm (Quiet) Yate loon Medium speed 140mm (mid range) Yate Loon High speed (Extreme cooling)

Feel free to comment, suggest, or ask anything you want to, I hope this helps!
July 17, 2008 2:24:45 AM

Great guide. I'd recommend it for anyone looking to build a system who is worried about their case. Now take your own advice and decide on a case! :D 
a b ) Power supply
July 17, 2008 2:33:46 AM

I would add the cosmos to the ease of installation segment (tier 1). it's huge and just about entirely tooless. I would at least add the cosmos S to the water cooling segment (tier 1)..again it's huge and has room for a triple 120mm rad up top, a 120mm rad in the rear and plenty of space on the bottom for mounting pumps.
Related resources
July 17, 2008 2:37:12 AM

Your right about the ease of installation, thanks so much. The Cosmos S, being one of the few cases I've actually owned, is not really a tier 1 water cooling case without some mods, but I will add it to the Tier M as well.
July 17, 2008 2:48:32 AM

Very useful and informative guide. I will look it over better when I have time. Thanks. I own the Tier 2 Lian Li P65. It is the same case as the P60 with an added clear side panel. This is the worst case for cooling I own. I had to velcro an 80mm fan onto the floor to have ANY airflow in the bottom center near the video cards. There is no air flow because the 80 mm intake fan is blocked cooling the hard drive cage. There is no side panel fan (or side panel vent for CPU, chipset or video cards!) And no roof fan. Only an exhaust fan. These type cases with a solid side panel, no roof fan with HD cage taking the intake air flow and no side fan or air vent in the side panel are THE WORST cooling solutions you can buy. All aluminum and they mean all aluminum. The front Bezel is solid, no air flow to the upper part of the case. And the P65/60 series is almost impossible to install a DVD RW set in the upper most 5.25 drive bays. They are unreachable and the DVD ROMs must be installed in the bottom 5.25 bays even further cramping any airflow that might exist. Tier 2 is not where the P65/60 belong.



http://www.xoxide.com/lianlipc65.html
July 17, 2008 3:01:02 AM

Wow, thanks Badge you are quite right. Glad you will be looking over it, I'm sure I've made plenty of errors and most likely missed a good few cases. I'm toying with adding a section to help people buy computer cases for cheap by listing good websites for certain brands. I am also toying with adding a mod archive section as well. What do you guys think?

Edit: I found my mistake when I put PC-65 I meant the PC-65 PLUSS II which seems to have fixed the problem with a side fan.
July 17, 2008 3:05:09 AM

Having a tierd reference list is a good idea. It's always difficult to make a comprehensive list (all inclusive sort of thing). Great start with it. You can always go toa Tier 1 (a) (b) format if needed. 8)
July 17, 2008 3:07:24 AM

Hmm very true, I will think about that, looks like more computer case review reading for me lol.
July 17, 2008 4:34:27 AM

Hey what do you guys think about me adding a recommended case fan section? Now THAT would really help some people!
July 17, 2008 9:01:52 PM

ya add a case fan section and then lets get this sticky'd and don't forget yate loon
July 17, 2008 9:02:41 PM

oh and all of this is for stock cooling right so whatever fans come with it
July 18, 2008 12:29:02 AM

jpbg said:
oh and all of this is for stock cooling right so whatever fans come with it


\/ \/ \/ \/ \/

Note: These rankings are taken with the highest amount of fans able to be installed and not the stock configuration. said:
Note: These rankings are taken with the highest amount of fans able to be installed and not the stock configuration.


I personally can not stand computer case reviews where they review the stock configuration. First off, those fans are usually replaced, and secondly if you have 3 fans in a case that holds 8 then you can not say that is cools worse than a case with 5 fans that holds 5 fans as well. If you disagree with my method I could add notes about the stock configuration, though they are under the basic specifications of all cases.

This thread getting stickied would be great, I never even thought of that. I will do as many improvements as possible then!
July 18, 2008 3:54:26 PM

The case fan section has been added, hope you enjoy and please post comments or suggestions!
July 18, 2008 7:20:02 PM

ok cool because i hate it when they do stock cooling because most of the people who actually read the reviews add fans to the cases like right now im trying to figure out which two fans to add to the p182
July 18, 2008 8:06:07 PM

Where are the fans in question located? What are you going for?
July 18, 2008 9:39:47 PM

the ones in the upper hard drive cage im looking for 30 or under decibles and whatever has the max performance i might jsut stick with the
YATE LOON 120mm Case Fan - D12SM-12 33db 70.5cfm because i think they will be quieter in my p182 versus my antec 300 but if not then im looking for the 30db range fans probably scythe slip stream the one that pushes 68cfm
July 19, 2008 2:53:22 AM

Both of them are great choices. The Yate Loon series and the Scythe Slipstream series are great for getting a good amount of airflow quietly. Both will most likely be about the same when it comes to noise and airflow so choice the one that is cheapest.
July 20, 2008 1:28:33 AM

well then on jab-tech the yate loons are only $3.35 each so compared to like $9 with scythe
July 20, 2008 4:27:59 PM

The case cooling section has been updated with Spotswood's Custom cases.
July 20, 2008 9:17:57 PM

wow the spotswood cases look cool but it's too expensive
July 20, 2008 9:53:43 PM

For a custom hard wood case, that's not too bad. After all they do not have machines to build these.
July 21, 2008 2:27:53 PM

I have a Cosmos 1000 case and it is virtually silent. I can't tell if it's on until I see the blue HDD light flicker. It has plenty of room inside, leading to easy air flow. It has 2 top fans, one back fan, and a bottom fan that keep the case very cool. You can also mount a radiator to the top for water cooling. The individual removable hdd trays are great, and even though you still need the good 'ole screwdriver to swap them out, they don't rattle at all. I give this case an A+
July 21, 2008 4:08:56 PM

Thanks vnderachiever I did forget the Cosmos 1000 in the silence section. Please this is what I need, check over my list and give me feedback, I am positive there are atleast a few more mistakes!
July 23, 2008 3:43:09 AM

Hey I am setting to add a recommended online retailer list for cases and fans. I know FRY's, PerformancePCs, SilverPCs, and newegg are decent websites, but I need some more info on these and other sites before I can post it. Please add your opinion and add other websites to the list!
July 23, 2008 6:13:02 AM

jab-tech.com
they are good they have a lot of stuff that others don't have and thats where you can get good cheap medium speed yate loons
July 23, 2008 6:50:03 PM

Thanks jpbg I never heard of them before, I'll definitely check them out!
December 15, 2013 1:36:21 PM

Dude update this. Like seriously. Now. Almost all the silent section of cases are discontinued! Not just those but like at least 15-25 more are discontinued too.
!