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Quality And Value: Part 3 Cases, Analyzed

Quiet Gaming Cases, Part 3: Lian Li, Nanoxia, And SilverStone
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While price-to-performance is often a top priority in our reviews, the quest for quiet gaming compels us to rebel against our value-seeking norms. Before we discuss build quality, here’s how today’s three cases stack up when it comes to relative efficiency over relative price.

The extensive use of steel and plastic allows Nanoxia to produce a relatively high-performance noise-dampening case for only $120. The lower cost of steel doesn’t necessarily imply a lower-quality case, and this is especially true for the Deep Silence 1. This case employs extra-thick steel to dampen noise, and the application of asphalt mat to many of its internal surfaces furthers that effort. However, that combination of heavy construction and heavy dampening materials weigh equally on the Deep Silence 1’s portability, with a finished product tipping the scales at 25.5 pounds!

Nearly half as hefty, the $170 Lian Li PC-B12 uses even thicker aluminum panels to provide lightweight rigidity. Medium-density acoustic foam provides similarly lightweight noise dampening. Aside from its lower weight, the main benefit of anodized aluminum is that most people think it looks better. It’s also chip-proof and scratch resistant. But we’re just not sure if many of our readers would willingly pay an extra $50 for a lighter-weight, better-looking case.

SilverStone’s FT02S-USB3.0 tops our performance chart, even if most of our graphics card's exhaust noise reaches our ears. But remember that we test our cases from 45° from the front panel, and that this case is designed to sit on the floor. The expense of a wraparound aluminum design combines with the weight of a thick steel body, resulting in a $260 product that everybody wants, but many cannot afford. Ironically, the folks who do have the money for this case often have even more demanding performance expectations, and it's possible that they simply won't accept the amount of noise that escapes from its top panel.

Nanoxia’s Deep Silence 1 looks like the value, performance, and quality pick in today’s comparison. On the next page we'll compare it to the other six cases in this series.

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  • 1 Hide
    jrayx , December 28, 2012 4:07 AM
    Where to buy the Silencio 650 or the Nanoxia Deep Silence ?
  • 2 Hide
    e56imfg , December 28, 2012 4:38 AM
    Quote:
    Where to buy the Silencio 650 or the Nanoxia Deep Silence ?
    Newegg e-mailed me saying that the Nanoxia DS1 ETA is 1/30
  • 4 Hide
    abbadon_34 , December 28, 2012 5:02 AM
    I never ceased to amazed by these beastly cases from Silverstone. Before I die I hope to toss down $300 for some monster.
  • 0 Hide
    johnsonjohnson , December 28, 2012 5:09 AM
    e56imfgNewegg e-mailed me saying that the Nanoxia DS1 ETA is 1/30


    Thanks for that; I was wondering when it would arrive.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 28, 2012 9:29 AM
    My brother has the older FT02B with the red inside and I have the P280. I'm super happy to see how these cases performed
    He is running dual AMD 5850's with axial fans and a Corsair H50 water cooler cooling an AMD 8150, it's very quiet even at full fan.
    In my P280 I have a OC Intel i7-3770k with an Antec 920 water cooler and 2 scythe 2k rpm fans, with the scythe at full power and the 920 on aggressive thermal settings it keeps he 4.7ghz oc under 50 deg c under almost all loads while not being excessively loud.
  • 2 Hide
    Onus , December 28, 2012 10:59 AM
    The Define R4 appears to be lacking a HDD activity LED; baffling. Those who don't like it wouldn't have to use it, but what about those who do?
    It would be interesting to repeat the tests with an axially-cooled graphics card. After all, that style of cooler would be the choice of someone building for low noise. Of particular interest would be the resulting temperature differences, especially of the Silverstone.
  • 4 Hide
    1369ic , December 28, 2012 11:29 AM
    I ordered an R4 yesterday before finding these articles and was happy to see it get the approved award. Now it wins a recommended buy award and UPS tells me it's on the truck to be delivered today. First time in my life I've had such luck. I am replacing an aging Antec P180, and almost got the 280, but went with the R4 because I liked the look better -- and it's currently $80 with free shipping on Newegg.
  • 3 Hide
    cknobman , December 28, 2012 12:21 PM
    As nice as the Fractal R4 is I still would go with my Antec P280 case especially considering after discounts I picked it up for only $80.

    Toms, thanks for doing this series it was really nice to see the time and in depth detail put into this. I will be bookmarking these for reference on my future builds.
  • 3 Hide
    Au_equus , December 28, 2012 12:38 PM
    1369icI ordered an R4 yesterday before finding these articles and was happy to see it get the approved award. Now it wins a recommended buy award and UPS tells me it's on the truck to be delivered today. First time in my life I've had such luck. I am replacing an aging Antec P180, and almost got the 280, but went with the R4 because I liked the look better -- and it's currently $80 with free shipping on Newegg.

    Half finished building with it last night. Once you get th R4, you can tell that a lot of thought went into building this case. I'm still a novice when it comes to cable management, but FD makes it real easy. For $80, IMO, you're getting a steal.
  • 1 Hide
    tripkick , December 28, 2012 12:55 PM
    Is there any chance that you could review the NZXT H2 in the future? I was hoping to see it on your review list and how it compares to the R4. I am looking to upgrade my old Antec P180 and wondered how those two cases stack up against the P180 and its newer version P183.
  • 0 Hide
    JamesSneed , December 28, 2012 2:38 PM
    The PC-B12’s rear duct / fan situation. I found that if you remove the fan grill from the rear fan and leave the duct attached but take the back off(the part that you can adjust the angle on) that I get good cooling , better noise reduction and the fan duct sides help keep wires and fingers out of the fan.
  • 0 Hide
    laststop311 , December 28, 2012 3:49 PM
    1369icI ordered an R4 yesterday before finding these articles and was happy to see it get the approved award. Now it wins a recommended buy award and UPS tells me it's on the truck to be delivered today. First time in my life I've had such luck. I am replacing an aging Antec P180, and almost got the 280, but went with the R4 because I liked the look better -- and it's currently $80 with free shipping on Newegg.


    Yea this competition combined with the killer R4 price is a no brainer for me. I was going to get the corsair 550d but not now.
  • 0 Hide
    stratosrally , December 28, 2012 6:13 PM
    I'm assuming that if the Define R4 did so well that the new and revised Define XL R2 full tower should handle a dual-SLI GTX580 GPU very well. It's identical in design except for 9 expansion slots vs 7 and 4 ODD bays vs 2. With 2x front 140mm, 1 bottom 140mm, and 1 rear 140mm fan locations loaded with some top-notch quiet fans it should do nicely - especially for someone like me that needs the extra expansion slots to use the bottom PCIe mobo slot for a dual-slot GPU. Coming in 2013!

    I'm disappointed that the Corsair did so poorly with noise reduction, I thought from previous tests elsewhere that it did fine with that but had some cooling issues that could be resolved by removing the HDD cages and loading up all the fan postions. Unfortunately it seems that it would be louder still in that configuration.

    Nice review, guys. I appreciate it...
  • -1 Hide
    freedom4556 , December 28, 2012 7:15 PM
    Lord, italics much?
  • 0 Hide
    Crashman , December 28, 2012 7:26 PM
    tripkickIs there any chance that you could review the NZXT H2 in the future? I was hoping to see it on your review list and how it compares to the R4. I am looking to upgrade my old Antec P180 and wondered how those two cases stack up against the P180 and its newer version P183.
    Good news is that it got tested in last-year's version of this series. Bad news is, last year was a different platform:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/rv02-e-lian-li-sonata-iv,2946-6.html
  • 0 Hide
    tripkick , December 28, 2012 7:35 PM
    Man, I guess I am running a year or so behind then. Thanks for the link and follow-up, Crashman.
  • 0 Hide
    hannibal , December 28, 2012 7:51 PM
    tripkickIs there any chance that you could review the NZXT H2 in the future? I was hoping to see it on your review list and how it compares to the R4. I am looking to upgrade my old Antec P180 and wondered how those two cases stack up against the P180 and its newer version P183.


    P183 ould have been interesting alternative. It should be more silent than p280? but harder to build because of dual chamber solution. Still it would be nice to see it compared to P280, if there are any real differences. If I am building silent gaming machine the case can be even a little bit more expensive if it can achieve good results. You can get gaming casis really cheaply, but they are definitely not silent...
  • 0 Hide
    stratosrally , December 28, 2012 7:59 PM
    freedom4556Lord, italics much?


    What are you referring to?

    (just curious...)
  • 0 Hide
    bit_user , December 29, 2012 8:19 PM
    I wish they'd have tested a normal Lian-Li aluminum mid-tower, like the PC-9F. The design is very similar, but it's cheaper, more capable, and lacks most of the drawbacks they noted in the PC-B12. It's plenty quiet for me, and I'll bet a good bit cooler.
  • 3 Hide
    bit_user , December 29, 2012 8:27 PM
    freedom4556Lord, italics much?

    Maybe ask for your money back?

    Sorry, but it bugs me when people whine so much about such minutiae. You're getting a lot of informative content for free. How do you think they feel after doing all this testing and writing to see snarky comments like these?
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