Recommend silent PC casing for HTPC/casual gaming rig

Got a shopping cart of parts that you want opinions on? Get advice from members on your planned or existing system (or upgrade).

Moderators: NeilBlanchard, Ralf Hutter, sthayashi, Lawrence Lee

Post Reply
Quest
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2011 4:31 pm

Recommend silent PC casing for HTPC/casual gaming rig

Post by Quest » Sun Jan 23, 2011 4:49 pm

I have been inspired by the latest bout of articles on SPCR to upgrade my PC but am stuck on the choice of casing.
Currently using an Antec NSK2400 (core2duo with ATI5450) but wish to upgrade, while getting something a little quieter if possible.

Requirements:
- Sandybridge i5 or i7 CPU
- 1 SSD drive + 1 HDD (will be using icydock separately)
- Space for at least 2 card slots, 3 or more preferred (1 graphic card, and 1 firewire card or sound card)
- Optical drive to be installed (preference for standard but slim is also fine)
- Graphic card to be passively cooled (no mid/high-end gaming), think something along lines of a ATI 5450 or equivalent.
- Likely to go for a Seasonic PSU as that has served me well (e.g. X650 even though it is overkill?)
- Form factor flexible - HTPC, shuttle, or mid tower is acceptable.

Casings I have considered:
- Silverstone SG07: Very nice casing and well reviewed by SPCR, but unsure if it is any quieter than NSK2400 if using similar components?
- Silverstone FT03: Am also liking this case due to possibility for big CPU cooler, but unsure of its cooling and noise capabilities.
- Silverstone Grandia GD05: Nicely reviewed by SPCR, only thing holding me back is the CPU cooler space.. seems quieter than Antec NSK2400.
- Lian-Li PC-C50: 2x 120mm fans, similar layout as NSK2400 or Grandia. Unsure about issue about CPU cooler installation.
- Antec NSK2400: re-using my old case and upgrading the fans..
- Windy Soldam: also considering some windy soldam cases but current batch looks abit ugly..

There is no budget for this casing (well maybe $1k) so any after-market mods to make performance better is appreciated. I do not live in US, else I might have gotten something from Puget!

Any recommendation would be most welcome!

To give an idea of the layout and air-flow, here is a pic. Space is ample either in my hifi rack (Antec is on lower right corner in pic), or else I will just do a little reshuffling and put the PC in the middle or on left of my speakers.

Image

quest_for_silence
Posts: 5275
Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:12 am
Location: ITALY

Re: Recommend silent PC casing for HTPC/casual gaming rig

Post by quest_for_silence » Mon Jan 24, 2011 3:04 am

Quest wrote:- Silverstone FT03: Am also liking this case due to possibility for big CPU cooler, but unsure of its cooling and noise capabilities.

Give a look at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiJzo89eayg

And if you like the GD05, take also a look to its sleeky brother GD06, already seen at last COMPUTEX: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAOrtBwQgRo

Personally I would upgrade your current case (fan, rheobus, CPU cooler, a Noctua NH-C14 if it did fit, et c.): but for gaming I won't use a passive card, as something like a MSI Hawk 5770 is really quiet, while won't heat up as a fanless one.
Regards,
Luca

Support SPCR, use these links when you buy: NCIX, Amazon and Newegg

Quest
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2011 4:31 pm

Re: Recommend silent PC casing for HTPC/casual gaming rig

Post by Quest » Mon Jan 24, 2011 6:19 am

quest_for_silence wrote:Give a look at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DiJzo89eayg

And if you like the GD05, take also a look to its sleeky brother GD06, already seen at last COMPUTEX: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAOrtBwQgRo

Personally I would upgrade your current case (fan, rheobus, CPU cooler, a Noctua NH-C14 if it did fit, et c.): but for gaming I won't use a passive card, as something like a MSI Hawk 5770 is really quiet, while won't heat up as a fanless one.
I had already seen that youtube on the FT03. :) Looks promising, hence I put it into my shortlist.
The only potential issue is if it is in that layout, I would hear more direct fan noise from the top of the casing (versus a HTPC style in my rack).

Thanks for the input. You might be right on the money - for me to just upgrade the parts in my existing casing.
I guess having lived with it for 4 years, I thought I'd be able to find something more suitable, given it's a little worn out now!

As for the card, I am really a very casual gamer and currently only play Starcraft 2 - which incidently runs fine on my 4 yr old PC (though everything is on low setting)! As I noted majority of the guides show much of the noise comes from the card, I'm fine to take a lower performance on this.

MikeC
Site Admin
Posts: 12283
Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Contact:

Re: Recommend silent PC casing for HTPC/casual gaming rig

Post by MikeC » Mon Jan 24, 2011 1:04 pm

As long as your new GPU does not exceed ~100W, you can probably go for a passive model. HD5570 is an obvious choice. Personally, I'd stick w/ the existing case, swap out for quieter fans. (Not sure how a case gets worn out just sitting there holding your components... :?: )
Mike Chin, SPCR Editor/Publisher
Support SPCR by buying your gear through this link: Amazon

Quest
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2011 4:31 pm

Re: Recommend silent PC casing for HTPC/casual gaming rig

Post by Quest » Mon Jan 24, 2011 3:58 pm

MikeC wrote:As long as your new GPU does not exceed ~100W, you can probably go for a passive model. HD5570 is an obvious choice. Personally, I'd stick w/ the existing case, swap out for quieter fans. (Not sure how a case gets worn out just sitting there holding your components... :?: )
Thanks Mike, I value your input greatly since you probably have seen all the cases I am talking about and would be able to make the best judgement. I guess there is a good reason why the NSK2400 remains on your recommended list! btw incidently, I had built this PC based on your old write-up all those years ago.

About the wearing out - good question. It's small things that start to show up - like the screw at the back of my case unable to be fitted back in anymore (maybe the casing warped?), and some discoloration and/or nicks in the plastic, etc. Totally liveable, but I'm sure you would understand the feeling of wanting something new. :)

Latest tool-less casings with vibration control and dust filters look good on a feature aspect to be honest, but of course silence is the main criteria here.

tim851
Posts: 543
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2008 11:45 am
Location: 128.0.0.1

Re: Recommend silent PC casing for HTPC/casual gaming rig

Post by tim851 » Mon Jan 24, 2011 11:40 pm

If it's a non-gaming HTPC, is there a reason you want to go with an i5 or even i7 over a Core i3? Is there a reason to abandon the Core 2 Duo altogether? Just wondering.

And why not use the integrated graphics?

Quest
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2011 4:31 pm

Re: Recommend silent PC casing for HTPC/casual gaming rig

Post by Quest » Tue Jan 25, 2011 4:21 am

tim851 wrote:If it's a non-gaming HTPC, is there a reason you want to go with an i5 or even i7 over a Core i3? Is there a reason to abandon the Core 2 Duo altogether? Just wondering.

And why not use the integrated graphics?
Valid question. I want this to be the main PC so it would be used for more intensive applications if ever the need arises. I know it sounds weird, but I also presume higher cpu speed = better sound quality. Don't ask!

Why not continue with the c2d? My PC actually stutters on 1080p mkv files if I plug it to the wall power socket rather than on my power regenerator (totally separate discussion and something many people can't believe). With the power regenerator and a good 'audiophile' power cord on, it runs everything fine with higher benchmark scores, but the experience makes me realise it's pretty maxed out.

As we are moving into 3D and slowly higher res, I'm afraid the PC might not be able to keep up much longer. With sandybridge offering good stock temps, I figured it would be a good time to shift.

Also, maybe finally I can play Starcraft 2 on something other than the lowest settings!

Quest
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Jan 23, 2011 4:31 pm

Re: Recommend silent PC casing for HTPC/casual gaming rig

Post by Quest » Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:57 pm

I actually completed my fanless PC several months ago but never updated here. Just posting incase someone else is interested.

Quick summary:
- hfx classic casing is decently built but lacks some thought out ideas. rather costly for those on a budget.
- can operate totally fanless with hardly any noise (my monitor is now more noisy than it).
- big for a HTPC, but it has decent space inside for putting in more cards, etc. careful thinking of layout of heatpipes a necessity for this though.
- relatively easy to install, but needs choice selection of parts. else some slight improvision is needed. buy a heatpipe bender if you like nicer looking interior (i made a mistake and didn't so my pipes are bent out of shape though it works!)
- can take more heat than what i thought, without needing to add more heatpipes (this is an option).

Image

Generic build:
- hfx classic casing with heatpipes for cpu and gpu. totally fanless.
- intel i5-2400S
- asus p67 m-pro motherboard
- 8gb gskill ram
- nvidia GT 520 graphics
- seasonic x400 fanless psu
- 160gb intel ssd hdd for main
- 2tb hdd for secondary, encased in hfx vertical silence. as a result, hardly any vibration and no noise
- lite-on bluray read/writer
- SOTM sata filters

I did some mistakes on choosing motherboard and PSU on this casing, and had to 'float' my PSU as the PSU was too large and motherboard sata slots interfered with it as well. No impact to the fanless design, just got to be careful when carrying it about and 1 less slot for a large harddisk. The ideal build is for a Silverstone NT30, with motherboard with upward facing SATA slots.

Temps taken from CPU: 35-40 stable. Full loads max about 45-50. Casing feels slightly warm but never hot. Ambient temperature is about 25 degs in the room.

Usage of system is good. I can play Starcraft 2 with no issues, and played Dragonage 2 on low/medium settings. On high settings for Dragonage, I feel the graphics card is straining - personally should have gone with a higher spec one because my experience now tells me that the casing can take more heat! This will be an upgrade later on.

Needless to say, it is very silent. There is a slight 'psshh' sound when you turn on the PC due to the spin up of the bluray drive, but otherwise no other noticeable sound. Gf was pressing the PC on button a few times yesterday because she couldn't tell it was already on (my monitor is 5m+ away from the PC and there is no light on my PC on purpose). :P If you pop the casing, there is a slight buzzing from the PSU or motherboard if you put your ear to it, but with the lid on, you can't really hear it.

Overall look fits into my hifi/HT setup, and sounds better as a audio PC than my last. Am thinking of taking out the normal harddisk to see if that improves things, and put in a USB isolator card from SOTM.

If heat proves to be an issue for graphic performance, will build a second PC (maybe based on FT03 with a fan) for gaming.

Image

Post Reply