In order to test each case, we built the exact same PC within each one. The specifications are as follows:
|CPU||Intel Core i7-920|
|CPU Cooling Fan||Scythe Katana 3|
|Memory||6GB OCZ PC3 12800|
|Graphics Card||Asus Radeon HD 4870 X2|
|Sound Card||Creative Labs SoundBlaster Titanium|
|Hard Drive||Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA 3Gb/s|
|Optical Drive||Lite-On 22X DVD+/-RW SATA|
We hooked up a monitor, mouse, and keyboard, and powered the system up, and then used CPUID Hardware Monitor to nab temperatures of the four CPU cores (we took an average of the four readings to report below), the GPU core temperature, and the ambient system temperature.
We used the default, built-in sensors on the Gigabyte EX58-UD3R and the Asus Radeon HD 4870 X2 equipment. Thus, we measured the ambient, CPU, and GPU temperatures with the probes already provided on the parts listed above, taking readings with CPUID's Hardware Monitor.
Because CPUID's Hardware Monitor measures four CPU core temperatures, we averaged them for our results.
For the record, the ambient temperature in the room in which we tested was 23.9 degrees Celsius.
The best-performing case, both under load and idle, was the NZXT Panzerbox. The taller, more elegant cases, the ABS Canyon 595 and the Lian Li PC-X1000, were warmer throughout the tests. The Panzerbox, however, was also among the louder cases (measured through observation), and the loudest was the Thermaltake Element G. The Antec P193, even with its huge side fan, was the quietest.
The ABS Canyon 595, at $400, is hard to swallow; the smaller and cheaper two cases were also the loudest. If we were to recommend a case based on thermal and audio observations, we'd go with the Antec P193.
However, going with ease of build, we really liked the monolithic Lian Li PC-X1000. Furthermore, we loved the big, black wall of sheer computing power it imparts. Sitting on a desk, it truly does resemble the monolith from the film 2001, and we're just as excited simply to touch it as the missing-link monkey men were in that movie.