Six Low-Noise, Performance-Oriented Cases, Tested

Benchmark Results: Noise And Heat

The primary goal of a performance case is to reduce heat, while the primary goal of a quiet case is to minimize noise. The cases in this review were designed to deliver the best combination of both attributes, muffling the ruckus of extra-hot parts.

Of course, SilverStone’s gaming-oriented case presents us with the lowest temperatures. This is, after all, a chassis designed for enthusiast-class hardware that happens to have some noise-reducing features. More specifically designed for noise reduction, Fractal Design’s Define XL takes second place in thermal management.

The hottest configuration in our first chart, NZXT’s H2 Classic at low fan speeds, tops our noise-suppression chart. What happens when we compare noise to heat?

The average temperature of the CPU and GPU in our first chart was 62° Celsius over ambient, while the average noise level of our second card was 33.1 decibels. Dividing each case’s average temperature by the average of all cases gives us a relative temperature score, with the coolest case on top, while dividing the average noise of each case by the average of all cases gives us a relative noise score, with the noisiest case on the bottom. The resulting acoustic efficiency table below is also relative, since its class average refers only to the configurations in today’s test.

With bottom-mounted intake fans its only real noise-reducing feature, SilverStone’s non-insulated RV02-E takes a surprise win. Of course, that only happens when its fans are turned to the lowest setting. But that lowest setting also took second place in our thermal tests. In other words, we suggest the RV02-E owners maintain their sanity and use the lowest fan speed whenever possible.

Just as surprising is how Fractal Design’s noise-optimized design takes second place only when we add a side-intake fan and a second front-intake fan. Of course, the opened-up side hole made this the least-attractive option at full GPU load, so we’d probably choose the stock configuration instead.

Create a new thread in the US Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
56 comments
    Your comment
  • Tamz_msc
    i7 2600K at 34.5 GHz? o.O
    7
  • Anonymous
    the rv03 is out at less $$$ you guys should do a rv02-E vs rv03 round in the cooling side and thats because the rv03 has more fans
    4
  • dragonsqrrl
    Using a SilverStone Fortress Series FT02B-W here. Basically identical interior design, except in my opinion the exterior is more aesthetically pleasing. Glad to confirm the excellent cooling characteristics.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811163161&cm_re=ft02_b-_-11-163-161-_-Product

    Another big plus with the Fortress 2 is the inclusion of sound dampening foam on every panel, but to be entirely honest with you, due to the open nature of the case, I'm really not sure how much sound it's actually dampening.
    0
  • henryvalz
    34.5 Ghz...

    Hell, yes! About time, pushing those extreme overclocks!
    6
  • Gamer-girl
    I think there needs to be info on how much space there is for graphics cards.
    2
  • xmaswraith
    34.5 gigahertz? 34.5 gigahertz? Great Scott!

    Marty, I'm sorry. But the only power source capable of generating 34.5 gigahertz of electricity is a bolt of lightning... (begin back to the future theme song!)
    4
  • JOSHSKORN
    henryvalz34.5 Ghz...Hell, yes! About time, pushing those extreme overclocks!

    I bet they were overclocking from Pluto.
    2
  • killerclick
    JOSHSKORNI bet they were overclocking from Pluto.


    Didn't you watch the news? Astronomers sent a dwarf in a rocket to remove Pluto so it doesn't exist anymore.
    3
  • Luay
    RV-03 pushes more air and cools better than the 02, but it's also louder.
    0
  • madsbs
    Yet, as a gaming case, the Raven 2 Evolution may not fulfill the aesthetic or storage needs of some computing professionals
    0
  • madsbs
    "Yet, as a gaming case, the Raven 2 Evolution may not fulfill the aesthetic or storage needs of some computing professionals"

    This conclusion makes no sense. Why do "computing professional gamers" need storage.
    And further the case holds 5 HDDs. That's 1 SSD + 4x2TB of storage.
    2
  • srgess
    35.4ghz with silent operation ! Wondering if it can play crysis !
    0
  • Anonymous
    Sonata - top mounted PSU = no go, especially for semi passive ones.

    Fractal or Raven? This is harder one.
    0
  • VirtualMirage
    The specs on page one for the Fractal Design Define XL are wrong. The intake fan is 140mm, not 120mm. There is room for 2 140mm intake fans plus a 120mm intake fan. The specs list incorrectly shows it as one 120mm fan with an alternative for three 120mm fans.
    1
  • Petey1013
    madsbs"Yet, as a gaming case, the Raven 2 Evolution may not fulfill the aesthetic or storage needs of some computing professionals"This conclusion makes no sense. Why do "computing professional gamers" need storage. And further the case holds 5 HDDs. That's 1 SSD + 4x2TB of storage.



    You mean 5x2TB. It holds 5 HDDs and a SSD.

    Also, the FT02, although more expensive, should have been used due to the extra sound dampening material.
    0
  • randomstar
    Anyone remember the Silio case? is it still in production? Quiet, insulated, cools well.
    0
  • Anonymous
    This is unusual for Tom's...an inconclusive review on poorly chosen hardware.
    -2
  • verbalizer
    I do not particularly care for ANY of these cases, thanks anyways..
    -1
  • chesteracorgi
    I'd rate the Bitfinix, Lian Li and Silverstone for having the best aesthetics. Antec's design placing the PSU at the top is anachronistic: heating the top of the case. Silverstone's idiosyncratic design produces the best cooling at the price of more noise. None of these cases give me a second thought about going with the Corsair 600T.
    0
  • marraco
    I would love an article about how to "make it yourself".

    Do a case with good electromagnetic and noise insulation. With good cooling.

    What materials are better? Is electromagnetic insulation that important? (so, is necessary a conductive -metallic- case?)

    how do you solve the precise location of backward holes (for motherboard, and boards).

    how do you make the holes for different form factors (hint: there are standards)

    etc. there is a lot to talk. You can make a cheap case much better than the trademark garbage sold.
    2