Test Results And Conclusion
How We Test
We continue to use our reference PC with its reference overclock for case testing, apart from replacing the X99S XPower AC with the X99S Gaming 7. That replacement has allowed us to compare tighter "Standard ATX" cases, since the XPower motherboard is oversized.
Noise is measured .5m from the case's front corner, on the side that opens. The numbers are corrected to the 1m industry standard—used by many loudspeaker and fan manufacturers—by subtracting six decibels.
Drivers And Settings
|Prime95 v27.9||64-bit executable, Small FFTs, 11 threads|
|3DMark 11||Version: 184.108.40.206, Extreme Preset: Graphics Test 1, Looped|
|Real Temp 3.40||Average of maximum core readings at full CPU load|
|Galaxy CM-140 SPL Meter||Tested at 1/2 m, corrected to 1 m (-6 dB), dBA weighting|
The Nighthawk 117 competes directly against the NZXT Noctis 450 in both size and price, but has far more features. Conversely, Azza's enormous GT1 gets included based on price alone. These are all considered to be true full-towers, with none of those "put taller feet on it" hijinks.
We've noticed that some cases require extended heat-soak periods of up to six hours, while others quit escalating temperatures after two. Rosewill's Nighthawk 117 gives us a clue to the reason, as it behaved normally (no long heat soak) with its fans set to full speed. That lets it match the Azza GT1, which doesn't have a fan controller. Meanwhile, its low-speed temperatures approach those of the Noctis 450, which was one of the first cases I tested on this platform to require extended heat-soak.
The Nighthawk 117 doesn't get much quieter at low speed than at medium speed, but the exhaust fans could be part of the problem. I had to leave those at full speed because they would shut off when slowed. I recommend connecting these two to the motherboard's controller in a real-world build, since those can read the fan speed and ramp the voltage up accordingly.
Because the noise difference was far less than the temperature difference between full fans and low fans, the Nighthawk 117 rates a far better temperature-to-noise ratio at full fans. Those low temperatures allowed it to blow way past the Noctis 450, which admittedly is designed to be used with the additional case fans that accompany an advanced liquid cooling configuration.
Better performance at the same price allows Rosewill's Nighthawk 117 to walk away with a top value score. Of course some readers will say that we used the wrong case for the comparison, and I have an answer for that. Check out what happens when we compare the top result for all tall cases that have been tested with this platform.
Only the Silent Base 800 can match Rosewill's Nighthawk 117 in cooling-to-noise ratio, and it costs more. I looked at even more cases and found that I have to get well into budget mid-towers before any manufacturer is able to reach the Nighthawk 117's price-to-performance ratio.