Need advice for a compact mATX case

Enclosures and acoustic damping to help quiet them.

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Lucien
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Need advice for a compact mATX case

Post by Lucien » Mon Mar 23, 2015 6:05 am

I need some help in looking for a compact mATX case. Looking around it seems like there's not all that much in the way of good options. The mini P280 never made it to market, and while Fractal has some nice cases in the Define range, they're all massive. Their mATX Define mini rivals my old ATX Antec Solo in size!

I've done some poking around to see what my options are, and the shortlist (plus dimensions in mm, W x H x D):

Antec VSK-3000 (173 x 365 x 393)
Couldn't find much information on this, but what I did find was not encouraging.

Antec NSK3180 (180 x 360 x 411)
I heard this was the successor to the NSK-3480 (which looked interesting), but from what I've read the build quality is a bit lacking: Screw holes for the rear fan not completely punched out and sharp edges. Also, I'm not a fan of the front panel or the large ventilation holes in the side.

Fractal Core 1100 (175 x 358 x 410)
One of the frontrunners in my search. Compact, seemingly well built, and lacking the top vent found in the Core 1300 & 1500. The PSU on top design works better for me as my place can get rather dusty, so vent holes on top would let dust in when not in use, and the PSU on the bottom could suck dust in, even with a filter. The mounting for 3.5" drives doesn't seem ideal, but I'd probably suspend a single drive in the unused 5.25" bays at the top. Looks OK, the "brushed aluminium" front panel finish isn't entirely to my taste, but it's not bad.

Fractal Core 1300 & 1500 (both 195 x 370 x 450)
Both basically the same case, except for the way they mount 3.5" drives. Slightly larger than the Core 1100, and has the design details I mentioned above which makes me prefer the 1100.

Silverstone TJ08-E (210 x 375 x 385)
Having read the SPCR review for this I guess there's not much to say. Again not really a fan of the front panel, and I doubt I could find any alternatives for the 180 mm fan where I live. Noise from the front panel might not be too bad though as I'm hoping it'll fit somewhat behind my monitor. The size is on par with the Fractal Core 1100 and among the smallest cases here. This and the PS07 are the other main options I'm looking at besides the Core 1100.

Silverstone PS07 (210 x 374 x 400)
Very similar to the TJ08-E but with dual 120 mm on the front, which is a plus. Like the front panel even less than the TJ08-E though.

Silverstone PS09 (170 x 360 x 407)
Fairly compact, but I'm mixed on the aesthetics. According to this review, it runs rather warm though.

Silverstone SG03 (200 x 360 x 312)
The smallest mATX case that I know of. Unfortunately I don't think it's available anymore. From what I can remember though, it wasn't all that good in the cooling department, despite the front panel design.

In terms of components, there wouldn't be anything special about my system. A core i5 with stock heatsink, a nicely quiet Asus Geforce 660 Ti, a SSD and a quiet Hitachi 1 TB 3.5" drive. There's sufficient ambient noise where I am so the system wouldn't need to be completely silent, and most of it would be blocked my my monitor.

Besides the options above, have I missed anything? The Corsair Obsidian 350D also caught my eye, but it seems a bit bigger than these options so I left it out.

quest_for_silence
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Re: Need advice for a compact mATX case

Post by quest_for_silence » Mon Mar 23, 2015 7:42 am

Where are you from?
Regards,
Luca

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ggumdol
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Re: Need advice for a compact mATX case

Post by ggumdol » Tue Mar 24, 2015 7:41 am

I reckon you will be struggling to find a compact mATX chassis, which is sort of a market sandwiched between mITX and ATX chasses. Since there are not so many "compact" options available, I would personally vote TJ08-E. It can be an idea to turn off the front fan of TJ08-E if you are planning to use i5 (Haswell or later generations). I have turned it off for about a couple of years and I haven't experienced any heat issues whatsoever in my rig although I did notice that the CPU temperature rose about 2-3 celsius, which I don't find a big deal given the maximum temperature of about 50 celsius.

As a digression, if you turn off the front fan of a chassis, you don't need to dust off your rig often due to the diminished airflow, which is indeed practical for lazy people like me.

Having said that, if I were you, I would go for a mITX chassis, for example, Raijintek Metis.

Lucien wrote:Silverstone TJ08-E (210 x 375 x 385)
Having read the SPCR review for this I guess there's not much to say. Again not really a fan of the front panel, and I doubt I could find any alternatives for the 180 mm fan where I live. Noise from the front panel might not be too bad though as I'm hoping it'll fit somewhat behind my monitor. The size is on par with the Fractal Core 1100 and among the smallest cases here. This and the PS07 are the other main options I'm looking at besides the Core 1100.
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N-K
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Re: Need advice for a compact mATX case

Post by N-K » Tue Mar 24, 2015 12:36 pm

PS07 is actually pretty good one. Should be quite easy to build a silent set with that. Build quality is solid and you can get good airflow with low rpm dual fans.

How about Cooler Master Silencio 352?
http://www.coolermaster.com/case/mini-t ... lencio352/
That's pretty small and should be quiet as it is.

Zenphic
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Re: Need advice for a compact mATX case

Post by Zenphic » Tue Mar 24, 2015 4:29 pm

From what you've listed, I'd go with either the Fractal Core 1300 & 1500.

The front panel should block sound from leaking out. The hard drive caddies should muffle out most of the vibration, which will be important if you're planning on using mechanical hard drives. Power supply is also bottom-mounted and will pull cold air from outside rather than from inside the case. Less fan noise from the PSU will leak out as well.

I wouldn't go with the Fractal Design 1100 since the power supply is top-mounted and will run hotter than needed because of the heat from the CPU/GPU.

Also, note that the SilverStone TJ08-E & PS07 and CM Silencio 352 have their 3.5" HDD screw-mounted.

Have you considered cube cases? I myself am looking at the Aerocool DS-Cube or the Xigmatek Aquila. Both have similar interior, but the Xigmatek has a more open design.

As N-K suggested, the CM Silencio 352 is pretty nifty. The CM N200 is the non-silent version of the case. The major drawback of the case is that 3.5" HDD are screw-mounted, which might cause vibration noise.
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Lucien
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Re: Need advice for a compact mATX case

Post by Lucien » Wed Mar 25, 2015 5:42 am

quest_for_silence wrote:Where are you from?
South-east Asia... But, why would that matter?

Thanks for all the suggestions. I'll definitely take a look at the Silencio 352, looks to be on par with the Core 1300 & 1500 sizewise. Will also take a closer look at the TJ08-E.

I really don't like a bottom mounted PSU though because needing to keep the underside clear of dust.

Cube cases? I haven't looked at them, but the width of the cases puts me off.

Zenphic
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Re: Need advice for a compact mATX case

Post by Zenphic » Wed Mar 25, 2015 5:46 am

Lucien wrote:I really don't like a bottom mounted PSU though because needing to keep the underside clear of dust.
I wouldn't worry too much about that - most cases (I believe all the ones you've listed) have a PSU dust filter installed that can be easily removed for cleaning.
Lucien wrote:Cube cases? I haven't looked at them, but the width of the cases puts me off.
Yeah, cube cases are short and stubby compared to their tower comrades :lol:
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quest_for_silence
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Re: Need advice for a compact mATX case

Post by quest_for_silence » Wed Mar 25, 2015 6:44 am

Lucien wrote:
quest_for_silence wrote:Where are you from?
South-east Asia... But, why would that matter?

It matters for products availability: in South-east Asia/Pacific region you may look for th freshly released Silverstone KL-06, it should be better priced than the TJ-08E or PS-07 and well workable in order to obtain a compact and quiet setup.
Regards,
Luca

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