Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Quiet Gaming Case Quest, Series Conclusion

Quiet Gaming Cases, Part 3: Lian Li, Nanoxia, And SilverStone
By

Part three of our quest for quiet gaming brings us three final enclosures from Lian Li, Nanoxia, and SilverStone. Have we finally found the perfect product to silence a noisy graphics card? We’ll find out by comparing all nine contenders in today's piece.

We looked back at all three parts of our series and charted each case’s top-performing configuration to see if any stand out as a clear overall leader. The entries from Corsair and Gigabyte couldn't quite meet our maximum noise criteria, leaving just seven of the original nine contenders in the running.

The SilverStone Fortress 2 USB 3.0’s GPU cooling performance keeps it on top of our overall cooling chart, even with its fairly warm CPU temperature. With a reversal of lower CPU and higher GPU temperatures, Antec’s P280 takes second place.

The Azza Silentium 920’s well-dampened, low-cost enclosure tops our noise-reduction chart, in spite of our quality concerns. The higher-quality Lian Li PC-B12 takes second place for low noise.

The three noisiest cases in our round-up perform well enough to top our cooling-to-noise charts. The ideal combination of cooling performance and noise suppression appears to be elusive. Perhaps it’s time to take another look at value.

Azza’s Silentium 920 tops our price-per-performance chart, but, again, comes up a little short in quality. We might be tempted to buy it for $80, only if we couldn’t come up with the $110 for the number two value, Fractal Design’s Define R4.

At nearly the same price, Antec’s P280 and Nanoxia’s Deep Silence 1 are equally-attractive alternatives to the Define R4. Although, between these two I’d probably pick the Deep Silence 1 for its spit-door design.

Topping our performance chart, SilverStone’s USB 3.0-enhanced Fortress 2 falls to the bottom of the value chart. Though a high price is part of that calculation, its correspondingly high quality is undercut in today’s comparison by upward-facing expansion slots that blow graphics card noise towards the user. The goal of this series was to find a case that could stifle noisy blower-style graphics cards, so that the FT02S-USB3.0's improved airflow is better targeted towards users of the quieter axial-style graphics cards. Heat from axial-style coolers would not rise into the CPU cooler due to this case’s rotated motherboard tray. The Fortress 2’s otherwise good acoustic design appears to be best marketed towards silencing noisy hard drives. To say the least, the unique design of this high-end chassis practically begs us to perform expanded testing in a workstation-style build.

The bottom half of multiple charts is not a great place to see your product appear in a review, so we’ll spare Cooler Master the at-length value discussion of its modest-performing, yet well-appointed Silencio 650.

Lian Li finds itself in a similar position with the PC-B12, but with higher-quality materials and matching good looks. Lacking any price concerns, I might just be attracted enough to those materials to use this case for one of my own systems.

Having already won our Tom's Hardware Approved award yesterday in its own three-way comparison, Fractal Design’s value-oriented Define R4 graduates to a Tom's Hardware Recommended Buy award, officially concluding 2012’s nine-way quiet gaming case showdown.

Display all 32 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 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?
Display more comments