Favorite mid-ATX case under $150? PSU under $100?

Enclosures and acoustic damping to help quiet them.

Moderators: NeilBlanchard, Ralf Hutter, sthayashi, Devonavar

Post Reply
Posts: 100
Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2004 11:13 pm

Favorite mid-ATX case under $150? PSU under $100?

Post by KnightRT » Sun Sep 09, 2012 2:26 pm

I'm attempting to build a silent (or very quiet) system with the following parts:

Intel 3770
2 x 1TB WD 7200 RPM drives
AMD FirePro V4900
Rosewill Capstone-450W 'Gold' PSU

The first attempt involved these components:

Stock Intel HSF
NZXT Source 210 Elite

The HSF is next to silent at idle, but audibly changes speed under load. I'll be replacing it with a Mugen 3. The PSU has moderately noisy broadband noise characteristic. For a unit with this efficiency, the fan is simply spinning too fast. I'm tempted to swap it with another even at the expense of the warranty. The NZXT case was light and has no capacity or room to suspend hard disks. With a single 5400 RPM disk, it hummed audibly and amplified very loud seek noises.

What I'd like is:

* A subdued, heavy case
* With either an incredibly good drive mounting system, or the space for me to put in a disk suspension system. I can't believe how few case designers prioritize this, it's far and away the most significant noise source in any system with otherwise decent components.
* 2 or more 5.25" bays
* Ideally, a bottom-mounted PSU
* Cable routing that allows USB 3 cables out the back
* USB 3 ports (or can these be added to any case?)

My existing cases are Antec Solos and a Proto. The Solos have excellent build quality, drive suspension, and silence, but are generally a PITA to build. Top-mounted PSU, no holes for USB cables out the back, cramped drive installations, no hole in the motherboard section to allow for back-mounted heatsinks. The Proto is my minimum build quality standard, but doesn't have a removable rear panel.

A couple I see:

* Antec Solo II - still top-mounted PSU, no cutout for USB cables (?), no expansion past 2 3.5" drives + 2 5.25" devices, BUT the right size, build, and has integrated suspension
* Corsair 550D - huge, flimsy drive trays (room to suspend?), BUT great capable management, build(?), USB 3 cutouts, expansion
* Fractal Design R4 - drive trays (room to suspend?), no grommets for USB 3 (but a weird vertical PCI-style cutout?), only 2 5.25" devices, BUT nice build
* Cooler Master Silencio 550 - ?

I don't see the perfect case. Is drive suspension still necessary with the Corsair and the Fractal? What else ought I consider?

Also, if you're aware of a quiet PSU under $100 in the 350W-550W range, I'd love to hear that. Idle load for this system is 65W. Max load is 220W. Two potential alternatives:

* PC Power and Cooling Silencer MK III 500W Modular (Bronze)
* Seasonic S12II 430B

No idea which is preferable. Thanks!

*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 2269
Joined: Sun May 21, 2006 9:09 am
Location: Northern California.

Re: Favorite mid-ATX case under $150? PSU under $100?

Post by xan_user » Sun Sep 09, 2012 5:37 pm

prolly not what you want to hear, as you are already 'looking for a new case', but that NZXT has plenty of room for suspension of 2 drives...just suspend the drives on their edge, one above the other, between the normal drive bay rails. and or in one/two of the 5.25 bays. add a little insulation to the side panels, if you still need any deadening and replace the feet with softer (and maybe a bit taller) feet.

Posts: 100
Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2004 11:13 pm

Re: Favorite mid-ATX case under $150? PSU under $100?

Post by KnightRT » Sun Sep 09, 2012 6:38 pm

I was musing about that, but couldn't mentally picture the best way to do it. I also wondered about running the drive on an edge. Thanks though, I'll keep that in mind.

Posts: 726
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 11:23 am
Location: Germany

Re: Favorite mid-ATX case under $150? PSU under $100?

Post by Pappnaas » Sun Sep 09, 2012 9:22 pm

KnightRT wrote:Antec Solo II - still top-mounted PSU
Hm..who did spread the fact that top mounted PSU are inferior? It didn't matter back then, because you picked the quietest PSU and it equally didn't matter because we didn't rely on the PSU fan to cool our rig/conribute to desired air stream.

So i'm wondering, how come that top mounted PSU is "bad"?

Posts: 100
Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2004 11:13 pm

Re: Favorite mid-ATX case under $150? PSU under $100?

Post by KnightRT » Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:24 pm

Clutter. It makes cable management a pain because the unused power supply leads hang down unless you can find a place to cram them. The bottom of the PSU ends up very close to larger CPU heatsinks. With the first Solo/P150, there was no way to remove the power supply without removing that first. Then there's the question of airflow management; do we want the PSU contributing? It's not terribly efficient to have one fan blowing hot CPU air to the back of the case, only to be sucked up the power supply before it reaches the rear fan.

I though the 210 case was light and cheap, but there's no question the cable management was leagues ahead of my Solo and Proto.

Posts: 100
Joined: Sun Nov 21, 2004 11:13 pm

Re: Favorite mid-ATX case under $150? PSU under $100?

Post by KnightRT » Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:07 am

I've gone ahead and ordered the R4. For reasons of expansion, the case design seems preferable to the Solo II. Perhaps a grommet hole can be custom-drilled.

I've heard too many conflicting reports about the PCP&C Silencer III series, so I'm falling back on the Seasonic. I think if I were building this system for myself, I'd spend the extra and buy the fanless 400W Seasonic.

Post Reply