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Quiet Gaming Cases, Part 2: Corsair, Fractal, And Gigabyte

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 550DFractal Design Define R4Gigabyte Luxo M10
Dimensions
Height19.6"18.3"18.6"
Width8.7"9.1"8.2"
Depth20.9"21.1"19.5"
Space Above Motherboard1.1"1.2"0.3"
Card Length13.0-17.9"**12.1-17.1"**^17.3"
Weight20.9 Pounds26.5 Pounds13.0 Pounds
Cooling
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)
Drive Bays
5.25" ExternalFourTwoThree
3.5" ExternalNoneNoneNone
3.5" InternalSixEightNine
2.5" InternalSix*Eight*None
Card SlotsEightSeven+1Seven
Noise Dampening
SidesFoamCloth/MatNone
TopNoneFoamNone
FrontFoamFoamNone
Price$122 $110 $86
*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.

  • EzioAs
    Nothing really surprising. Fractal has been doing silence cases for a while now.

    I'm sorry Gigabyte, but I don't see anyone buying the Luxo M10.
    Reply
  • Au_equus
    FD's R4 has been at $80 for the past week. Just picked one up last night :D
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811352020
    Reply
  • 6 more cases to review? That is great! I been eying an effective noise damping case for awhile to replace my old Antec Three Hundred (been disappointed with the noise dampening kit that i added).
    Reply
  • grokem
    I'd like to apologize for a previous post. I posted on the day 1 article that I hoped that in the following days something other than large ATX cases would be covered. I must have read the article too quickly in my excitement for more case reviews. I misunderstood this series of articles to be about silent gaming cases. I read day 2 a bit more careful after seeing that all the cases in it were full ATX and realized that this is a series for the best silent overclocked workstation case. It's hard to see what else it could be given that all the cases had to accommodate a $1k processor and all but require a $300-$400 ATX motherboards. I found two acceptable and one unacceptable micro-ATX option but they were all inferior to the ATX versions. I just built a gaming machine and from what I have read, I am WAY out of the norm for putting an i7 instead of i5 processor in my box as the i5 runs games almost as well as an i7 for much less money. It's almost always better to put more money into the GPU for pure gaming performance.

    The requirement for a USB 3.0 port on the front of the case is so odd that I almost don't believe I read that correctly. Did I? I've always been a bit dubious of USB on the front of a case for several reasons but I didn't car that much as I don't think they cause problems unless used. However, to ONLY review silent cases with this feature seems like a needless way to eliminate potentially good cases for no good reason. Why not eliminate cases without front panel card readers or audio jacks? Only cases with top mounted PSUs and transverse internal drive bays. While certainly a feature cared about by a lot of people other than me, it seems needlessly outside the scope of the article.
    Reply
  • ceeblueyonder
    i just built my first pc ever using the define r4 arctic white. it isn't as macintosh-y in person as i had envisioned it or seen in photos. but, i still love the case. one thing i had trouble with, though--out of everything else involved in first time pc building--was installing the mobo standoffs and then fitting the mobo in the i/o shield. screws were also the toughest part. anyway, i am nitpicking. but, i still wish i could have gotten that one standoff in there. as is, the case only has 8 of the 9 standoffs installed since the one standoff kept standing off and not screwed flush to the tray. i even used pliers but i just ended up stripping it. so, i did without it since the mobo would not fit in the i/o shield otherwise. do you guys think it is ok that my mobo is only supported by 8 standoffs of the 9 total? i know this isn't google or a pc forum but thought i'd ask anyway. thanks in advance.
    Reply
  • Mckertis
    I found two acceptable and one unacceptable micro-ATX option but they were all inferior to the ATX versions.
    Which would those be ? I found that generally mATX cases are superior in the same price range, but there arent that many options that support all modern standards, seeing how people love their huge fat useless ATX coffins. In regards to this very article, Define Mini is almost exactly the same as Define Normal, and, since it only has 1 fan outlet on top, you could argue Define Mini is even quieter and cooler as a result.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    grokemI'd like to apologize for a previous post. I posted on the day 1 article that I hoped that in the following days something other than large ATX cases would be covered. But anything smaller wouldn't hold the test platform.grokemI must have read the article too quickly in my excitement for more case reviews. I misunderstood this series of articles to be about silent gaming cases.Not silent, just quieted. Jumping back to Q1, that would be quieted cases that hold the test platform.grokemI read day 2 a bit more careful after seeing that all the cases in it were full ATX and realized that this is a series for the best silent overclocked workstation case.See response above.grokemIt's hard to see what else it could be given that all the cases had to accommodate a $1k processor and all but require a $300-$400 ATX motherboards.The processor was picked as a source of heat. The graphics card and CPU cooler were picked as sources of noise. If the tester had three GTX 580's, you might have gotten an SLI article with even more heat and noise.grokemI found two acceptable and one unacceptable micro-ATX option but they were all inferior to the ATX versions.Doesn't that make the test platform appear more sensible?grokemI just built a gaming machine and from what I have read, I am WAY out of the norm for putting an i7 instead of i5 processor in my box as the i5 runs games almost as well as an i7 for much less money. That's true, but there aren't any i5's that can produce this much heat without burning out quickly. The test processor was intended to be a little over-the-top concerning heat.grokemIt's almost always better to put more money into the GPU for pure gaming performance.Yes, and SLI would have been picked if the tester had matched cards. That is, in spite of the fact that most users don't have SLI. Again, all in the effort to create large thermal and noise maximums.grokemThe requirement for a USB 3.0 port on the front of the case is so odd that I almost don't believe I read that correctly. Did I? I've always been a bit dubious of USB on the front of a case for several reasons but I didn't car that much as I don't think they cause problems unless used. However, to ONLY review silent cases with this feature seems like a needless way to eliminate potentially good cases for no good reason.No good reason? USB 3.0 has been the current standard for 2 years, would you prefer to eliminate headset jacks as well?grokemWhy not eliminate cases without front panel card readersThey're not standard.grokemor audio jacks?No need, all qualifying cases have them.grokemOnly cases with top mounted PSUs and transverse internal drive bays.Those aren't standards.grokemWhile certainly a feature cared about by a lot of people other than me, it seems needlessly outside the scope of the article.Exactly.
    Reply
  • LauRoman
    At first i thought the Gigabyte is a BTX but it's just upside-down. Any reason for that?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    LauRomanAt first i thought the Gigabyte is a BTX but it's just upside-down. Any reason for that?It's just an old design that was popular around the same time as BTX. Back when this was popular, the chipsets of upside-down motherboards would often overheat due to the heat pipe also being upside-down. Chipsets have gotten cooler, chipset heatpipes have had wicking material added to make them work better in alternative configurations, but the cases never regained popularity.
    Reply
  • monu_08
    price is too high for best gaming case corsair 400 r its best at price no one can beat this one corsair 400 r rocks
    Reply