In Pictures: Six Low-Noise Performance-Oriented Cases

Antec’s Latest Sonata

Released early last winter, Antec’s Sonata IV adds a single USB 3.0 port to the classic design of its predecessors. A keyed lock hinders unwanted access to power and reset buttons.

Sonata IV Front Bays

Besides the power and reset buttons, the Sonata IV’s front door covers drive three 5.25” drive bays. Anyone who needs a 3.5” external bay will find the appropriate adapter in the case’s installation kit.

Sonata IV Ventilation

A top-mounted power supply supplements the 120 mm exhaust fan in the Sonata IV’s pull-only ventilation design. Air is drawn through a removable mesh side panel, placed specifically to stop direct noise from CPU and graphics coolers.

Sonata IV Drive Dampening

Nothing would be more annoying than a case that muffles fans, yet buzzes from drives. Antec handles that problem by including silicon grommets on four sets of 3.5” drive rails. Factory-installed shoulder screws prevent over-tightening.

A single set of 2.5” drive stands on the side of the cage lack this feature, since the intended SSDs have no moving parts anyway.

Sonata IV Motherboard And Card Space

The Sonata IV supports motherboards up to full ATX and even some slightly-oversized versions, with 11.2” of card space. Egress holes ease cable management.

Bitfenix Colossus: A Quiet Giant?

Though Bitfenix did not specifically target the quiet-PC crowd with its Colossus, double-layer panels are employed extensively. When paired with adjustable-speed oversized fans, the company feels it might just win a cooling-to-noise comparison.

Colossal Liquid Cooling Support

Four large grommets support the hoses for two separate external liquid coolers. The Colossus is not equipped with a rear fan, though 120 mm and 140 mm models are supported.

Colossus Front Cable Management

What at first appear to be strangely-designed side vents are actually part of the Colossus front-panel cable management system, which also features cable groves down the face panel’s full length.

A double-panel door reduces direct noise from the case’ intake fan. The unusual right-swing implies that the case will sit to the right of its user, reducing the amount of exposed cable length from a right-hand user’s mouse. Lefties will love to know that the door is also reversible.

Behind Door Number 2

Hiding cables behind the front door was the easy part, as even more space would be required to hide cable ends. What appears to be a top-panel storage box opens to reveal USB 3.0, USB 2.0, microphone, headphone, and (opposite side) eSATA ports.

Also revealed are reset, system power, LED lighting mode, and LED power buttons, plus an analog fan controller.

Internal Cable Management

While many cases include space behind the motherboard to stuff cables, the Colossus expands that space to around an inch. Clean cabling could be even more important to owners of the cheaper, windowed version of this case.

Colossal Ventilation

The Bitfenix Colossus features 230 mm fans in both its front (intake) and top (exhaust) locations, cheapening its appearance only through the use of break-away EMI shields. A mesh dust filter resides on the back of the front panel, while foam inserts block dust in bay covers.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • Assmar
    There are some beautiful cases in this article. The Colossus and Raven are not two of them :P
  • I couldn't have asked for more.
  • ta152h
    All different shades of ugly.

    It's surprising case makers don't understand these ugly boxes don't inspire, and something a bit different, and attractive would sell very well.

    This is all junkyard material. Unimaginative rubbish.
  • red1776
    Lian-Li reminds me an awful lot of Apple...and the Porsche design team.
  • These cases aren't the best solutions for low-noise performance at all... ok maybe 2 of them are ok but not the best choices. Where are the specs by the way?
  • kinggremlin
    SHARCRASHThese cases aren't the best solutions for low-noise performance at all... ok maybe 2 of them are ok but not the best choices. Where are the specs by the way?

    This isn't a review of the cases, that is forthcoming. This is just a bunch of pictures of the cases that will be in the review.

    I'm guessing the Raven was picked because it is a new release, not necessarily because it is a top performer. The FT-02, also by silverstone, is a much better looking case, and does have acoustic foam on the side panels. Cooling is outstanding. As far as cooling to noise ratio goes, the FT-02 should be quite near the top.
  • JohnnyLucky
    I was not impressed with this batch of cases. Doors on the front panel? Gimme a break.
  • Destroysall
    The Fractal Design XL is a great case! Good cable management, great airflow, and good noise reduction. That would be my first choice out of this list. The Antec Sonata IV wasn't a bad case at all. Looks very good for a small "budget" oriented case. Second choice for me.
  • Crashman
    JohnnyLuckyI was not impressed with this batch of cases. Doors on the front panel? Gimme a break.SilverStone and Lian-Li didn't have them...
  • mattmock
    I recently got the RV02-E. The 180mm intake fans are very noisy at full speed. At the reduced speed they are still audible but much quieter and still provide enough airflow for my 2x GTX 570s. The hard drive dampening cage isn't so hot. I had to permanently remove one of my 7200 rpm drives to stop a very annoying resonance between two of the drives.
    I am currently building a wooden case holder that will go around my case and provide room to install thick sound damping foam. My hope is that I can get a very very quiet computer while still getting enough cooling.