Best Case Stategy: holes + airflow OR sealed + dampening?

Enclosures and acoustic damping to help quiet them.

Moderators: NeilBlanchard, Ralf Hutter, sthayashi, Devonavar

Post Reply
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2009 12:40 pm
Location: Canada

Best Case Stategy: holes + airflow OR sealed + dampening?

Post by signaltonoise » Tue Dec 08, 2009 1:21 pm

Hello, I'm new to building a silent PC and I'm finding that the hardest part of my build is selecting a case.

There seems to be two main routes to take:

1) lots of holes and airflow, with large slow (and quiet) fans. Cases like the Antec 300 or the coolermaster Centurion 590

2) a sealed case that keeps the noise inside and uses dampening material - ie Antec Sonata Designer 500. But the inside will run hotter and the fans will run higher.

I'm building a system with an i5 750, probably a Noctua heatsink. Without having done this before it's hard to decide which approach will lead to a quieter PC.

Anyone have any suggestions / recommendations?

Posts: 822
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 10:31 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Post by JamieG » Tue Dec 08, 2009 2:10 pm

Is it going to be a gaming PC or non-gaming PC? What's the main use(s) you plan for this PC?

What are the rest of the components you plan on using? An i5 750 + a Noctua heatsink should keep the CPU reasonably cool and be quiet enough.

Basically, less heat-producing components make it easier to use large passive or low airflow heatsinks on the CPU and graphics cards, which means more sealed cases, like the Solo family, can be better and keeping noise down.

Hotter components need more airflow to keep them cool, hence larger cases with a bit more airflow from slow 120mm or 140mm fans is needed to keep them cool. Larger open cases like the 300 will give you enough airflow, but will let some noise out too.

Essentially, the best approach depends on the planned system specs.

Oh, and Antec's P18x series cases are a reasonable compromise between the two extremes.

Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2009 12:40 pm
Location: Canada

Post by signaltonoise » Tue Dec 08, 2009 4:24 pm

I would say the system is multipurpose: light gaming, audio, movies. I have a HD4890 video card that I plan on quieting the cooling on. ASUS P7P55D mobo. Everything else will be pretty much standard (haven't really specced them out yet as I think the case needs to be next).

The big contenders for cases that I have dug up are:
- Antec P183
- Antec 300
- coolermaster Centurion 590
- cooler master sileo 500 (comes with sound dampening material)

So I am aiming for middle of the road - I'm not overclocking, but I can't go totally passive either.

Olle P
Posts: 711
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:03 am
Location: Sweden

Post by Olle P » Thu Dec 17, 2009 12:17 am

I agree that the path chosen for the case should be based on what's inside, but from a different perspective:
- Quiet components inside favour the open approach, while noisy components will require external dampening.

I used to use the latter approach, with cheap (and noisy) components inside a dampening case of my own design and build. I wasn't very successful though, from a noise point of view.
Now I've replaced most components to more quiet ones and placed them in the by comparison very open P183, and the result is lower temperatures and less noise.


Posts: 214
Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2005 2:17 pm

Post by Steve_Y » Thu Dec 17, 2009 8:21 am

When I used a relatively hot system I used a very well ventilated case. This worked pretty well, keep it cool enough without the fans running too fast.

After building a low power system with onboard graphics I've found it much better to go the other route. With hardware that's easily cooled the main sources of noise are the hard drives and electical buzz from the motherboard/PSU. An enclosed case, lined with a thick layer of Acoustipack, renders the drives silent and the electrical noise a lot less annoying.

If your system isn't already very quiet, the benefits of a noise blocking case is pretty small compared with slowing down or replacing noisy fans. And of course there's no point in silencing you computer if the thing's just going to overheat.

Post Reply