Quiet Gaming Case Quest, Series Conclusion
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.