Accoustic Efficiency Wins?
A cool case is only nice when the noise that comes out of it is tolerable. While everyone has a slightly different definition of tolerance, we know that the easiest way to make a system cooler is to significantly increase its fan speed. It's a game of give and take, and the vendor able to play it best, wins.
The best way to compare performance levels is by first comparing cooling to noise. Dividing our temperature results from our noise results gives us an acoustic efficiency chart with a 100% efficiency baseline. Since nothing in this industry is really 100% efficient, we subtracted one from each of the above calculations to create a realistic 0% baseline, where zero represents the average.
With a tied-for-third place finish in temperature and a second-place finish in noise, the Raven RV03 easily walks away with the best cooling-to-noise ratio. This is most easily explained by SilverStone’s unusual design that faces fans inwards from the floor, rather than the front panel.
Buyers with smaller budgets should be happy to see Rosewill take second place in acoustic efficiency. Cooler Master takes third place, while Thermaltake and In Win fall below the class average.
The top case, SilverStone’s Raven RV03, has all of the cooling, quietness, and quality required for our recommendation, but that recommendation comes with an caveat: the face panel is held in place with eight screws, in addition to snaps, and each of the bay adapter trios is also secured by eight screws. While most users can get away with a single 5.25" drive and the five bays behind the motherboard tray, access to remaining front bays is unusually cumbersome.
At the lower end of the price scale, Rosewill’s Blackhawk provides top cooling performance, middle-of-the-road acoustic performance, and a low price that could make it a great choice for buyers who’d rather spend their money on internal hardware. It does not, however, provide an internal connector for its front-panel USB 3.0 ports, and that's a feature enthusiasts building modern systems should expect. Rosewill says it plans to offer that feature soon, but it's not available today as we consider the case we'd most like to have hosting our own three- or four-graphics card gaming setup.