The Quiet Gaming Quest Continues
Our quest began as a debate between the merits of internally- and externally-vented graphics cards. While nobody likes noise, I'm equally concerned about heat when I overclock. The perfect case, in my mind, contains noise while effectively exhausting thermal energy. There's just one problem: I don't think the perfect case exists. And packing a chassis with enough dampers to provide the optimal cooling-to-noise ratio would just be inelegant.
That leaves us in search of cases that employ simpler noise-reducing measures, such as drive cages that act as a partial noise barrier between the front panel and graphics card, thicker materials that dampen vibration, acoustic foam that minimizes noise reflection, and high-density acoustic mat that reduces both of those unwanted artifacts.
Happily, the latter two materials are found in the first pair of cases in today’s three-way round-up.
|Corsair Obsidian 550D||Fractal Design Define R4||Gigabyte Luxo M10|
|Space Above Motherboard||1.1"||1.2"||0.3"|
|Weight||20.9 Pounds||26.5 Pounds||13.0 Pounds|
|Front Fans (alternatives)||2 x 120 mm (None)||1 x 140 mm (2 x 140 mm)||1 x 120 mm (None)|
|Rear Fans (alternatives)||1 x 120 mm (1 x 140 mm)||1 x 140 mm (1 x 140/120 mm)||1 x 120 mm (1 x 92/80 mm)|
|Top Fans (alternatives)||None (2 x 140/120 mm)||None (2 x 140/120 mm)||2 x 120 mm (None)|
|Left Side (alternatives)||None (2 x 140/120 mm, 1 x 200 mm)||None (1 x 140/120 mm)||None (None)|
|Right Side (alternatives)||None (None)||None (None)||2 x 120 mm (None)|
|*Shared on 3.5" tray**w/o Center Cage***By Adapter on 3.5" External Backplane^Slots 1-6|
The third case, from Gigabyte, uses none of the aforementioned noise-dampening features. Instead, the company hopes that a low price point will help secure a value-oriented victory. At the very least, we expect that it'll give us a point of comparison between more conventional gaming-oriented cases and the ones optimized for acoustics, though we doubt it'll stay within the noise limits established in Part 1.
We’ll find out soon enough, but first, let’s kick off Part 2 with a close examination of Corsair's entry.