I'm aware there are about 100 case threads and I've read them all so many times. That may have worked against me in this case. So perhaps asking straight up may yield an answer to my question.
I need a case that fits the following requirements (Which thankfully I've gotten down to being very specific):
I need a mid tower case that measures no bigger than:
22 (L) X 14 (W) X 24 (H)
It needs to be quiet. I'm aware that a case is only as quiet as the components in it, and I suppose what I'm looking for is a starting point that's fairly solid. For example, I run a E8400 OC'd to 4.0 Ghz ATM, using a Xigamtek Dark Knight, with about 4-5 Yate Loon Case Fans and an XDX 4870 (that is way too loud). All of this in an old P180B. The graphics card is probably the loudest part but the P180B helps minimize that a lot.
I suspect the components for my new system will be quieter to start with (XFX 6870 Black Ed, HSF TBD based on case, but probably CM 212+ or Noctuca DH14). I'm looking for a case that has an equal starting point in terms of quietness as the P180B. I loved the P180B but it's old and has virtually no cable management. It's cooling is somewhat lacking too. I idle in the low to mid 40's ATM, and hit loads pushing the mid 50's.
So I'm looking for a case that is on par with being as quiet as what I have, that offers comparable cooling, if not better, and fits the dimensions above. I really wanted an RV02 or FT02 but they are just too big.
I suspect my options are going to come down to:
P183B (So damn expensive)
CM 690 II (Not experience with CM cases)
Antec 300 (Been an Antec user for 10+ year)
Fractal R3 (The limit of 2 5 1/4 bays might be the killed for me on this one. Tough call)
Any other choices? I guess I'm looking to ensure what I get is not going to be any louder, but will cool better. I'm planning on pushing a 2600K to between 4.2 - 4.4 ghz.
Any insight or suggestions are welcome.
The new system will have (to be exact)
XFX Black Ed. 850 W PSU
16 GB Gskill Sniper (So no RAM clearance issues)
XFX 6870 Black Ed.
Crucial Real SSD300
Caviar Black 640 & 1 TB
1 Blu-Ray Drive
1 (Maybe 2?) CD-RW's
Possibly a fan controller
I have no intentions of going CF now but I may down the road with how nice the 6000 series scale in CF.
I've been agonizing over a case choice for weeks now and when I get close to a decision, I find a reason to fall back. Perhaps the community here can swing me one way or another.
Buy an inexpensive but good case like the CoolerMaster HAF 912 and put your own super-quiet fans in it. The 912 has six places to put fans, so you can make it as loud or as quiet as you wish. That's what I did, but I did it so I could make it worthy of the HAF (High Air Flow) name. I chose six Scythe S-FLEX SFF21F fans, so it's a bit noisy.
All you have to do is choose quiet fans and put them in (taking the two standard fans that come installed out, of course), and you're golden.
I have a CM690II and it's a very good case i'd buy one again but it's not quiet.
I have 5 fans in it and two are 140mm and it's louder then my 902 which has 8 fans going.
I see you have done some research because the P183 and Fractal are indeed quiet.
Obviously you're not interested in the gaming look from your list.
Antec 902/1200 are quiet cases.
The only other case i know of that's quiet is the Raven RV2 but like the P183 it cost more.
The Fractal's are quiet but i've read alot of users end up replacing the fans .
The fans are very quiet but don't cool worth a crap apparently.
Here's Mike Chin's list the guy who helped design the Antec P183. http://www.silentpcreview.com/article75-page5.html