Best silent case for a beginning builder?

So, I'm finally taking the leap and building my own computer. I have experience changing memory, graphics/sound/ethernet cards, hard disks, and optical drives (and installing OSes), but I have never installed a cpu or heatsink, worked with aftermarket heatsinks/fans, replaced a PSU, or even attached a motherboard to a case. I plan to use set up grub on my new system, and dual-boot Windows 8 and Ubuntu 12.04. (I'll keep my old system for games that only like XP.) I don't know the difference between thermal paste and toothpaste. Consider me an utter beginner.

I already know most of the components I want, but I'm stuck on the very first component I plan to buy: the case!

My priorities, in order, are this:

1. Silent operation. If I have to sacrifice some airflow or cooling options in order to get something with nice sound-proofing, I'll do it. I don't plan to overclock anything, but I may consider installing water at some point if I think it will make a big difference in sound management. I understand fan tech has come a long way, however. Maybe I'll install a few oversized fans for a higher airflow/noise ratio? Sound-proofed walls would be nice, too.

2. It must be big enough to accommodate an ASUS GTX 680 (those monsters take up three slots!) and the requisite motherboard, of course. Yes, I do realize that creating a gaming system and a quiet system aren't goals that go hand-in-glove, but I want to do my best at this performance level. I'm guessing a mid-tower or larger? Plenty of space should make it more beginner-friendly as well, right?

3. The case must be under $300 (this part is easy). I can't order from Newegg (I live in Japan), but feel free to use those links if it makes giving advice easier. I can price-hunt on my own using parts sites here.

I care about function more than form, but not too ugly, if possible. Any ideas?

Thanks so much!

tl;dr: Utter beginner wants a big case that is as quiet as possible. Recommendations?
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  1. Best answer
    Have a look at the Fractal Design R4 and give me any questions about it. :) (I have it myself)
    Fractal Design listed distributor for japan, you might find them somewhere else too I guess.

    It might not be the best case for a water cooling setup though, but is otherwise extremely functional.

    I sent you some extra pictures showing the "ModuVent" plates.
  2. I'd second the Fractal designs R4. I have the R3 (the predecessor) and it's easy to install the parts in to it and the noise dampening is good too.
  3. You guys are awesome. I make a post, go to bed, and wake up to three excellent suggestions. I'll take a closer look at each, and post back if I have questions.
  4. Another plus one for the fractal define cases. They are not the strongest(After having an Antec Sonata 1 and 2), but with some quiet fans and a quiet power supply that thing is VERY quiet.

    I have the R2 version with some Thermalright fans(140mm @ 500 rpm maybe 800 at load).

    One thing to watch about is the floor fan grille can make some strange noise with some fans(I had it blocked off with the modu-vent from the roof for a while). A SilverStone Air Penetrator was very loud(hard to explain) in that case, but much more quiet in my other case without that kind of close fan grille.

    Overall a case with LOTS of different ways to configure it.

    While I have not used the Corsair, they make very good hardware as well.
  5. Antec has a great case, in my opinion, the p280, or even if you wait an upgraded version should come out soon. The p280 will soon come out with new colors, also there are some versions with windows(which may, I'm no expert, slightly bup up noise).
  6. Best answer selected by gibbousmoon100.
  7. I've decided on the Fractal Design R4. It will be my first purchase for my new computer. Thank you all for your help and advice!
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