I'm new to building silent PCs, but have worked 40 years in IT, supported PCs and Macs (hardware and software) for 20, owned 2 Mac Cubes for 15, and built 1 PC from scratch 5 years ago. My den is as nearly silent as a room in a house can get without special work. We live in a rural area, the house was built with plaster and lath, the floor is covered in shag carpet and the windows are covered with heavy drapes. Any ambient noise, except when the refrigerator or furnace is running, is below my level of hearing. It's low enough that I could hear the Apple 20MB disks in the Cubes spinning even though they were quieter than any drives I've worked with. The room is certainly quiet enough that any power supply cooling fan, even a laptop one, is annoying.
Anyway, I love the sleek, silent Mac Cubes, but they're getting pretty “long in the tooth”, even with an SSD installed, so I set out to build a modern, completely fan-less, all solid-state machine, such that any sound other than the DVD drive would be inaudible to me.The case choice
After some reading on SPCR and some research elsewhere, I settled on the No-fan CS 60. This upright style microATX case takes a sort of non-technical approach to cooling...it's nearly 50% open grill work. The front, most of one side and 1/3 of the top panel are grills. The back has 2 more comprising the spaces around the connector area. And, the right side panel has a decorative pattern of holes at the bottom. This case isn't sleek and clean like the Mac Cube, but it sure lets the air circulate.Working with it
No tools are required except a screwdriver for mounting the motherboard. The side panels come off with thumb screws, the front grills where drives mount snap in and out, drives are held in place with clever plastic locks, and expansion cards are locked down with strong plastic latches. Even the power supply slides into rails built into the case and snaps in place. (Apparently power supply dimensions have been standardized since I last built a machine.)Organization
In keeping with the no fan theme, the power supply mounts in the bottom so it doesn't have to contend with heat from other components. There is a grill where it mounts, though, so a fan cooled PSU could be used. The motherboard mounts on the right side panel (as viewed from the front). The grill in the top panel is toward the back, so it's above the expansion card slots. The motherboard I used has the CPU toward the back, as well, so the main heat sources, PSU, CPU and GPU, are all under that top grill. In a fan-less set up, that's where the heat will go.Issues
Two minor issues came up during the build. First, there's a drive bay in the bottom front that backs up onto the PSU, making for cramped space where the power cables connect. Second, the cable from the front panel USB ports has a male USB A connector rather than a motherboard header, so I had to buy an adapter that turns the header on the motherboard into 2 female USB A sockets. Nothing major, but it seemed odd to me.Conclusion
The CS 60 is highly functional and easy to work on. Fit and finish are good, and the various parts line up the way they should. Soundproofing the case is out of the question with all that grill work, so quiet/silent parts are a must. I'm very satisfied with it ( as long as I don't look at it.