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Heat, Noise, And Heat Versus Noise

Quiet Gaming Cases, Part 1: Antec, Azza, And Cooler Master

Antec has a two-speed fan controller, while Cooler Master has an analog controller plus a closeable top-panel vent. We tested the P280 at both fan speeds and the Silencio 650 at maximum and minimum fan speed. We then opened the vent on the Silencio 650 to see if it would help or hinder CPU temperature.

Primarily a gaming case, but with added noise-reducing features, the P280 has the lowest internal temperatures of the first three cases in today’s test. Cooler Master’s Silencio 650 takes second place in this test, though opening the vent without adding a fan there has little effect on overall temperature.

Antec’s P280 also has an open top with two noise-generating fans. Although we measure noise from 45° off of the front panel, noises that emanate from elsewhere still affect the measurement via dispersion. Azza scores best here, with Cooler Master in second place, so long as its top vent is closed.

The first step in comparing temperature to noise is to make a lower temperature result in a higher score. We averaged the temperature reading of all cases, and divided that number by each case’s average temperature to produce an inverse, percentage-based thermal performance scale. Each case’s average noise level is then divided by the average for all cases, creating a direct percentage-based acoustic performance scale.

The term “Relative” in the Acoustic Efficiency chart refers to how each case relates, on a percentage scale, to the class average of 100%. Efficiencies greater than 100% are impossible, so we simply move the average to 0% by subtracting the integer one from each result.

Antec’s P280 has a maximum 9.1% greater-than-average cooling-to-noise ratio, but is its noise level even low enough to qualify for a quiet computing article? While it's far from silent, the noise level at full load is below the 42 dB(A) cited by New York City as the minimum to qualify as noise pollution, while its idle (not gaming) noise level is below the 35 dB(A) constant noise cited by the WHO as a general annoyance for humans. In other words, the P280 is barely quiet enough to make our test configuration acceptable to ordinary folks.

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