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Be Quiet! Silent Base 800 ATX Tower

Be Quiet!’s first entry into the PC case market is a tall tower that like many others, attempts to combine elements of both quiet and performance chassis design into one.

April 9, 2015 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Be Quiet! Silent Base 800
ATX Tower Case
Manufacturer
Price
US$130

Be Quiet!, the German outfit with the unusually commanding name, is known mostly for producing silence-oriented aftermarket desktop computer gear like case fans, CPU coolers, and power supplies — the last category being the base of their strong reputation, particularly in Germany and the EU. The Silent Base 800 represents their entry into a new category, the PC case. It’s a natural step for Be Quiet!.


The Silent Base 800 (orange).

The Silent Base 800 is a large, black ATX tower with three different options for front bezel trim colors: black, silver, and orange to match its logo. The top, bottom, and front of the case are made of plastic, as are the stands which help keep its hexagonal form from being accidentally tipped over. Like many cases geared toward silence, it presents a strong, mostly solid exterior that presumably contains noise better than more open models. It features acoustic damping sheets, rubber drive rails, and fans with padded corners, but no fan controller.

Like most models these days, the Silent Base 800 doesn’t pigeonhole itself. It’s a jack-of-all-trades that attempts to give all users everything in one shot — features, performance, and noise reduction, all rolled into one bulky package. Inside, you’ll also find a dedicated compartment for large radiators, numerous hidden fan placements (even on the sides), dust filters, and removable hard drive cages.


Packaging.


Accessories.

The Silent Base 800 is packed very well with large polystyrene inserts protecting the case’s corners. The stands are tucked away on the opposite side of one of these inserts to be installed after the fact. Included with the chassis is a multi-language user manual, all the necessary screws and standoffs, a set of orange rubber/silicon drive hard drive rails, and a few zip-ties and a single solitary adhesive hook for managing cables.

Relevant Specifications: Be Quiet! Silent Base 800
(from the
product web page
)
Model Silent Base 800
Form Factor ATX
Motherboard Compatibility ATX, Micro-ATX, mini-ITX
Case Size incl. Stands
(W x H x D)
266 x 559 x 495 mm
Case Size excl. Stands
(W x H x D)
230 x 542 x 495 mm
Color Options Orange, Black, Silver
Weight (kg) 9.31
USB 2.0 Ports 2
USB 3.0 Ports 2
HD Audio I/O 1
Expansion Slots 7
Material Covers: ABS Plastic
Side Panel: 0.7 mm Steel
Front Panel: ABS Plastic
Stands: Nylon, Fiber
Drive Bay Capacity 5.25-inch: 3
3.5-inch: 7
2.5-inch: 4
Fan Mounts Top: 2 x 140/120 mm
Bottom: 1 x 140/120 mm
Side Panel: 1 x 120 mm
Front: 2 x 140/120 mm
Rear: 1 x 120 mm
Pre-installed Fans Front: 2 x Pure Wings 2 |140 mm 1,000 RPM
Rear: 1 x Pure Wings 2 | 120 mm 1,500 RPM
Removable Dust Filters Front: 1
Bottom: 1
Side Panel: 2
Water Cooling System
(Radiator)
Front: 120/140 mm
Rear: 120 mm
Top: 120/140/240/280 mm
CPU Cooler Height
(without side panel fan)
Up to 170 mm
PSU Length Incl. Bottom Fan: 160 mm
Excl. Bottom Fan : 290 mm
Graphics Card Length Standard: 290 mm
Without Middle HDD Cage: 400 mm
Warranty 3 Years

EXTERIOR

The Silent Base 800 weighs 9.3 kg or 20.5 lb and measures 26.6 x 55.9 x 49.5 cm or 8.7 x 22.0 x 19.5.0 inches (W x H x D) so the case occupies a sizable 73.6 Liters. If you exclude the stand, which accounts for an extra 2.6 cm of width and 1.7 cm of height, the volume shrinks to 61.7 Liters. While much of the exterior is plastic, it feels sturdy as nothing creaks or rattles when prodded.


The door hiding the 5.25-inch drive bays is secured with a pair of small magnets while the door covering the intake fans latches onto the the dust filter. Both have a fine dimpled foam lining the interior. The sides of the front bezel are angled and dotted with ventilation holes running from top to bottom.


The vents are partially impeded on the inside, with only four large gaps on each side allowing air in to the included 140 mm fans. The fine mesh filter has a thick plastic edge which blocks off a sizable portion of these holes as well.


The sides of the top cover are angled as well giving the chassis a refreshing though not necessarily improved look over a boring rectangular tower. A pleasantly large power button and activity lighting is located toward the front edge while a standard assortment of USB 2.0/3.0 and audio ports are lined up on the right side. Toward the rear are small series of ventilation slits.


The main exhaust point for the top portion is at the back but it appears insufficient for use with a dual fan radiator. The same amount of ventilation is provided in the bottom section but it acts like an intake for both the power supply and the optional floor fan. A dust filter servicing both position pulls out through the back.


The stands are easy to install, simply push them into to the holes on the bottom and a clip inside grasps onto them. The side panels are identical and thus interchangeable, so 120 mm fan mounts are pointlessly available on both sides.


Like the front bezel, the side panels are lined with an acoustic damping foam, but the type used here is thinner and stiffer. The cover for fan position uses four clips to grasp the panel, but they’re long enough to interfere with components on the interior. The clip closest to the top of the case would almost certainly bump into a tall, dual tower CPU heatsink.

INTERIOR

While the side panels are relatively thin and the top/bottom panels are hollow, the bones of the case are fairly well constructed. All the various panels fit well and are held securely, especially the sides. The side panels are attached with thumbscrews while plastic tabs hold the top compartment and front bezel firmly in place.


The power switch and LEDs are connected via extension cables, so the top can be removed completely without tugging on the wires.


The interior features a lot of rolled-edges and a layout similar to most tower designs. The power supply is at the bottom, 5.25-inch drive bays at the top/front, and removable 3.5-inch drive cages reside underneath. The cable routing holes are wider than usual and the ATX motherboard mounting points are raised so standoffs are only necessary for microATX models.


While there are two 140 mm fans at the front, a smaller 120 mm variant is included at the back. Two 120/140 fans can be positioned at the top of the case, and the cutouts allow for radiators to be mounted in the top compartment. The include fans are from Be Quiet’s Pure Wings 2 line and while they have soft corners, they are secured with screws rather than the rubber mounts included with the retail version of the fan.


On the floor of the case is a padded placement for the power supply and a 120/140 mm fan mount right next to it. The latter can’t be very effective as airflow is limited in the bottom compartment, especially if the included dust filter is left in place, and it would have to fight the PSU fan for the same air supply.


The front fans provide airflow over the entire hard drive area and the triangular holes in the rails lowers air resistance when drives aren’t present.


Thumbscrews at the front are used to secure the cages to the floor and the 5.25-inch bays. Each cage has a single standoff/thumbscrew on the other side to brace it further. The thumbscrew on the side is used to loosen/tighten a sliding locking mechanism for the drives.


While the metal comprising the cages is thin, the rails that interconnect them form a nice snug fit, making the assembly more stable than average.


Behind the motherboard are a pair of 2.5-inch mounting spots. This area is relatively spacious with 21 mm of clearance (19 mm after accounting for the side panel foam) but the only spots to tie down cables are along the edge, near the drive bays.

ASSEMBLY

The assembly process is more or less the same as most tower cases. As our board is a microATX variant, some standoffs have to be added but for ATX models, it’s not needed. Other than that, the only notable aspect is using rubber rather than steel drive rails.


3.5-inch drives are mounted using orange rubber rails. Two 2.5-inch models can be attached to metal frames behind the motherboard and two more can be hung upside-down from the ceiling of each drive cage.


3.5-inch drives slide in place and the locking mechanism immobilizes it.


Our test system fully assembled in the Silent Base 800. The center drive cage is removed as our Asus GTX 980 Strix video card’s 28.8 cm length is about 8 mm too long. The case actually has an option to reposition the drive cage into the 5.25-inch bays but I wouldn’t recommend it as it would lack structural support.


There are a few cables that can’t be tied down but obviously they can be tied to one another.


While there is sufficient room to get the side panel on, it is odd to have cables dangling free rather than pinned down tight against the motherboard tray. Still, this allows some leeway in case the side fan clips happen to snag onto something when the panel is being slid into place.


The power and drive actively lights are an unobtrusive orange color.

TESTING

System Configuration:


Test system device listing.

Measurement and Analysis Tools

  • Prime95
    processor stress software.
  • FurMark
    stability test to stress the integrated GPU.
  • Asus GPU Tweak to monitor GPU temperatures and adjust fan speeds.
  • SpeedFan
    to monitor system temperatures and adjust system fan speeds.
  • Extech 380803 AC power analyzer / data logger for measuring AC system
    power.
  • PC-based spectrum analyzer:
    SpectraPlus with ACO Pacific mic and M-Audio digitalaudio interfaces.
  • Anechoic chamber
    with ambient level of 11 dBA or lower

Testing Procedures

The system is placed in two states: idle, and load using Prime95 (large FFTs setting) and FurMark, an OpenGL
benchmarking and stability testing utility. This puts more demand on the CPU and GPU than any real life application. Throughout testing, system temperatures, noise levels, and power consumption are recorded. During the load test, the system and GPU fans speeds are adjusted to various levels in an attempt to find an optimal balance between cooling and noise while maintaining a GPU temperature of 80°C (assuming an ambient temperature of 22°C).

Baseline Noise

For our baseline noise tests, the system is left idle, the GPU fans are off completely by default, and the CPU fan is set to its minimum speed while the system fans are set to a variety of speeds. This gives us a good idea of what the stock fans sound like at different speeds with minimal interference from other sources.

Baseline Noise Level
(Idle, CPU fan at 400 RPM, GPU fans off)
Fan Speed Setting
Rear Fan Speed
Avg. Front Fan Speed
SPL @1m
0%
N/A
N/A
14 dBA
40%
710 RPM
460 RPM
16~17 dBA
50%
870 RPM
560 RPM
19 dBA
60%
1030 RPM
650 RPM
20~21 dBA
70%
1160 RPM
730 RPM
23 dBA
80%
1260 RPM
790 RPM
25 dBA
100%
1500 RPM
930 RPM
29 dBA
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle left/front
of case.
Ambient noise level: 10~11 dBA@1m.

When the system fans are disabled, the system measures just 14 dBA@1m which is very low for this configuration. With most cases, hard drive vibration usually pushes the noise level higher, but the Silent Base 800’s soft drive rail system handles this issue quite nicely, even without the stabilizing presence of the upper drive cage. Only faint tremors are passed onto the side panels.

The included fans have a sufficient speed range to satisfy most users, whether they’re biased more towards silence or performance. The fans stay relatively quiet up to about 60% speed, which generates a noise level of 20~21 dBA@1m, while full speed drives that mark up to 29 dBA@1m, nearly double the subjective loudness. Interestingly, the smaller 120 mm rear fan has a much higher nominal speed than the 140 mm front fans, an odd choice that may be an attempt to make up for the intake/exhaust airflow imbalance.

The quality of the noise emitted by the stock fans neither impresses or disappoints. Both fan models have similar acoustics consisting of a light but dry underlying hum, and smooth turbulent noise up to about 70% speed for the front fans and 80% for the rear fan. Beyond these levels, they take on a rougher character and begin to drone. With the CPU and GPU fans going, these issues should be at least partially masked.

TEST RESULTS.

System Measurements (80°C Target GPU Temp)
System State
Idle
CPU + GPU Load
Avg. System Fan Speed
540 RPM
(40%)
780 RPM
(60%)
870 RPM
(70%)
950 RPM
(80%)
GPU Fan Speed*
Off
1400 RPM
(48%)
1320 RPM
(46%)
1230 RPM
(44%)
CPU Temp
28°C
62°C
60°C
59°C
MB Temp
33°C
49°C
48°C
47°C
SSHD Temp
32°C
35°C
34°C
34°C
GPU Temp
36°C
80°C
80°C
80°C
System Power (AC)
50W
354W
353W
353W
SPL@1m
19~20 dBA
26 dBA
25~26 dBA
27 dBA
*set as low as possible to maintain target GPU temperature on load.
CPU fan at 800 RPM.
Ambient temperature: 22°C.

At 40% system fan speed, the system measures 19~20 dBA@1m when sitting idle with cool internal temperatures across the board. On load, in order to achieve our target GPU temperature, GPU fan speeds of 1230~1400 RPM (44~48%) are required depending on how fast the system fans are running. The sweet spot seems to be 70% which produces a quieter result than both the 60% and 80% levels, while generating similar thermal performance.

The GPU fans add a good amount of low frequency noise to the mix but combined with the CPU, they somewhat soften the harsher qualities of the system fans. However, overall, the machine sounds more or less the same, just louder than during our baseline tests.

System Measurements: CPU + GPU Load (80°C Target GPU Temp)
Modification
Rear Fan Slowed
Stock
Front Filter Removed
Door Opened
Rear / Front System Fan Setting
60% / 80%
70% / 70%
GPU Fan Speed*
1320 RPM
(46%)
1320 RPM
(46%)
1320 RPM
(46%)
1030 RPM
(40%)
CPU Temp
61°C
60°C
59°C
56°C
MB Temp
48°C
48°C
48°C
45°C
SSHD Temp
34°C
34°C
33°C
32°C
GPU Temp
80°C
80°C
80°C
80°C
System Power (AC)
354W
353W
353W
353W
SPL@1m
25~26 dBA
25~26 dBA
25~26 dBA
24 dBA
*set as low as possible to maintain target GPU temperature on load.
CPU fan at 800 RPM.
Ambient temperature: 22°C.

Earlier I mentioned the fan speed discrepancy between the rear and front fans but this doesn’t have a major impact on overall performance. With the front fans going at 80% speed and the rear fan slowed to 60% to attain a better fan speed balance, the result is almost identical to all the fans running at 70%. The front dust filter, which blocks a sizable portion of the intake vents, also isn’t a game-breaker as its removal produces a very slight cooling effect on the CPU and SSHD. Even if it did make a big difference, the door covering the fans latches onto the filter, so if you pull the filter out, you might as well toss the door out as well.

Leaving the filter on and opening the fan door causes a significant improvement thanks to a huge influx of cool air. The GPU fans can be slowed to the minimum 40% speed while the CPU, MB, and SSHD temperatures all drop noticeably. This is the only change that results in a positive noise outcome, with the machine running quieter by 1~2 dB.

Case Comparison: System Measurements
(CPU + GPU Load, 80°C Target GPU Temp)
Case
SilverStone Fortress FT05
Cooler Master Silencio 652S
NZXT H440
BQ! Silent Base 800
Avg. System Fan Speed
2 x 500 RPM
1120 RPM
(3 x 90%)
810 RPM
(3 x 60%)
870 RPM
(3 x 70%)
GPU Fan Speed*
1000 RPM
1120 RPM
1410 RPM
1320 RPM
CPU Temp
53°C
62°C
66°C
60°C
MB Temp
36°C
45°C
51°C
48°C
SSHD Temp
33°C
32°C
36°C
34°C
GPU Temp
80°C
80°C
80°C
80°C
System Power (AC)
348W
352W
358W
353W
SPL@1m
21~22 dBA
24 dBA
24 dBA
25~26 dBA
*set as low as possible to maintain target GPU temperature.
CPU fan at 800 RPM.
Ambient temperature: 22°C.

When compared to recently tested cases, the Silent Base 800’s best result (without major modification) is a bit of a let down. It runs cooler than the CM Silencio 652S and NZXT H440, but also 1~2 dB louder. My inability to coax the noise level down further suggests there is some X-factor at work, whether it be the fans being inefficient, or the bottom and top compartments amplifying/echoing the noise being produced inside.

AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording
system inside SPCR’s own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to
LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We’ve listened long and hard to ensure there is no
audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent
a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

Each recording starts with ambient noise, then 5~10 second segments of product
at various states. For the most realistic results,
set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then
don’t change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Be Quiet! Silent Base 800 hits most of check-boxes I look for in a >US$100 case. While not made of the thickest material, they somehow managed to make it feel better built than it is. The side panels are especially worthy of praise, fitting so well I never had to fiddle with the alignment when getting them on, which is rare. The interior is strong with all portions of the internal frame solidly connected to one another and rolled edges to keep nicks and scratches to a minimum. The drive cages allow a decent amount of air to pass through the unused bays, and while they on the thin side, they fit well and are remarkably stable as they are secured on three different sides. This, combined with the rubber drive rails, does a better job than most at limiting hard drive vibration.

The other features are pretty much standard for midrange cases such as the noise isolating foam lining much of the chassis, too much in fact as it’s of little use on the right side and behind the doors. The included dust filters that cover the bottom and front fan positions are of decent quality. Compatibility is fairly good as the drive cages are removable allowing for long graphics cards, and fan placements are available at the bottom, side, and top of the case. Radiators up to 280 mm size can be accommodated on the ceiling, but Be Quiet! takes the additional step of providing a separate compartment to ensure there’s a bit more clearance above the top edge of the motherboard. Cable management behind the motherboard tray is lacking from an organizational standpoint, but there’s enough space that it doesn’t really matter.

The Silent Base 800’s product page states that the “look of the case is based upon its intended function and purpose” but I found this counter to my findings. The hollow sections occupying the top and bottom of the case are prime examples. To maintain a more solid appearance, the ventilation of these compartments is restricted to a limited area at the rear of the chassis. The fan position on the case floor is further impeded by a dust filter and has to fight the PSU for airflow, while a radiator at the top would occupy an inch of space, making it difficult for its fans to direct hot exhaust air out the back. The top section is actually useful, though, while the bottom only provides physical symmetry, and along with the stands, makes the case much taller than it needs to be. The side panel fan placement on the right side is also pointless, and the covers hiding both side fan mounts use clips that can interfere with the innards of the case.

When originally unpacked and examined the Silent Base 800, I was impressed by how well put together it was despite some odd design elements. This first impression made me want the case to succeed but it ultimately fell short of expectations. Real-world testing produced disappointing results and a closer look at its various flaws revealed they were more problematic than I initially realized. The foundation of the case is great but it’s obscured, seemingly led astray by a misguided desire for a solid, symmetrical, hexagonal exterior. Sometimes it’s acceptable to lose some functionality to achieve a certain aesthetic but here the price seems too high.

Our thanks to Be Quiet!
for the Silent Base 800 case sample.

* * *

Articles of Related Interest
Cooler Master Silencio 652S Tower Case
SilverStone Kublai KL05 Budget ATX Case
NZXT H440 Mid Tower Case
NoFan CR-80EH & CS-60 Fanless Cooler & Case
Rosewill Legacy U3 Aluminum MicroATX Tower
SilverStone Raven RV05

* * *

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