Nanoxia Deep Silence 1

The Nanoxia Deep Silence 1 is sturdily built and has an appealing feature set, including a dual channel fan controller and a unique adjustable “chimney cover”. Does this ATX tower case live up to the promise of its name?

December 31, 2012 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Nanoxia Deep Silence 1
ATX Tower Case
Manufacturer
Street Price
£74.99 (excluding VAT)

Nanoxia is a German company launched in 2006 to offer cooling computer fans. It made the jump into the PC case business this year with the Deep Silence 1, an ATX tower obviously meant to be quieter than others. Like the Corsair
Obsidian 550D
, Fractal
Design Define R
series, and countless others, it shares basic design
elements that Antec pioneered with the P180 and its successors. However, it
does have a few unique features that may help differentiate it in the sprawling
enthusiast case marketplace.


The box.


The Deep Silence 1.

Our DS1 sample is the black model, also available in white, silver, and anthracite.
The exterior has a matte finish except for the doors at the front which are
mildly glossy. Its appearance is understated with clean lines and a notable
lack of adornment, a style that has become synonymous with this type of case.
It’s a bit on the large side, with a volume of about 61 L which puts it more
or less on par with the Corsair Obsidian 550D. The DS1 is equipped noise dampening
sheets, a dual channel fan controller, three case fans, and the most interesting
feature, an “air chimney,” a panel at the top of the case that can
be raised for added ventilation.


Accessories.

Aside from a nice full-size, color assembly manual, the DS1 ships with a big
bag of screws and manuals, rubber seals for watercooling tubing, a 5.25″
to 3.5″ external drive cover adapter, and an EPS12V/AUX12V extension cable.
The latter is a welcome edition as some power supplies don’t have the required
cable length to reach the connector if routed behind the motherboard tray.

Specifications: Nanoxia Deep Silence 1
(from the
product web page
)
EAN 4260285291005
Case Type Midi Tower
Form Factor ATX, XL-ATX, Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX
Motherboard SSI-CEB, ATX (up to 12” x 10.9”), Micro-ATX
5.25 inch drive bay external 3 x
3.5 inch drive bay external 1 x (optional)
2.5/3.5 inch drive bay external 8 x
Case Fan (Front) 2 x 120 mm
Case Fan (Rear) 1 x 140 mm
Case Fan (Top) optional 2 x (120/140 mm)
Case Fan (Bottom) optional 1 x (120/140 mm)
Case Fan (Left Side panel) optional 1 x (120/140 mm)
Height (Approx.) 517 mm
Width (Approx.) 220 mm
Depth (Approx.) 532 mm
Material steel, plastic
Weight (Approx.) 11.34 kg
Maximum installation height of CPU coolers 185 mm
Maximum VGA Card Length 315 (445) mm

EXTERIOR

The Nanoxia Deep Silence 1 is constructed of plastic and steel and weighs 11.34
kg or 24.9 lb. The overall dimensions are 51.7 x 22.0 x 53.2 cm or 20.4 x 8.7
x 20.9 inches (H x W x D) for a total case volume of 60.5 L. The exterior has
a matte finish that doesn’t pick up smudges as easily as others, but if the
paint is scratched, you’ll end up with some grey powdery streaks.


The front bezel has a pair of doors, one for accessing the 5.25
inch bays and fan controller, the other for the dual 120 mm front fan
assembly. Both are lined with soft sheets of foam and secured using
small magnets. They don’t feel particularly strong, wiggly up and down
noticeably. A single push on the left side ejects the fan holders which
grip the fans using simple plastic clips. Easily removable fine mesh
dust filters are also included. Intake ventilation comes from slits
in the side and a slot at the bottom.


The front ports (2 x USB 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0, mic, and headphone) are
in a bar on the top panel, and it can be pushed down flush against the
case when not in use. The power button is positioned at the top of the
bezel while the less often used reset button shares a 5.25 inch bay
with the fan controller. This avoid the problem of accidental system
reboots when the reset button is too openly accessible. Nanoxia has
opted for a two channel fan controller with sliding controls rather
than knobs or switches.


The Deep Silence 1 has unique chimney vent that extends upward
via a slider at the side. Perhaps for added ventilation during extensive
gaming? It may be preferable to exposed fan grills.


A long rectangular dust filter services the power supply and an optional 120/140 mm fan mount on the bottom of the case.


Visible at the back is the handhold for removing the top cover, a 140 mm exhaust fan, and two sets of watercooling holes. The side panels are secured at the rear in the traditional way, with a pair of thumbscrews a piece.


According to Nanoxia, the panels are lined with a combination of foam to help with noise, and bitumen to reduce vibration. The sheets are about 2 mm thick and very stiff, reinforcing the thin side panels considerably.

INTERIOR

The interior of the Deep Silence 1 has a traditional ATX layout with the usual
suspects, a cutout for CPU heatsink installation, cable routing holes with grommets
along the edges and tool-less optical drive mounting system. The most notable
feature is the three modular hard drive cage which fit very tightly together
(it takes quite a bit of force to remove) but the structure as a whole is still
susceptible to lateral vibration. The rest of the interior is well built.


The interior is spacious, especially if the top two hard drive
cages are pulled out.
The bottom cage also comes out, but requires
screws to be removed at the bottom and behind the front bezel.


3.5 and 2.5 inch drives are installed sideways with damped trays
that snap into place. A total of eight drives can be mounted.


If you’re willing to sacrifice the bottom fan placement, one of the drive cages can be moved next to the power supply.


Supplementing the larger routing holes are a moderate number of cable tie down points that are angled slightly. We’re not sure if this is an improvement over the usual vertical type.


Underneath the top we can see another piece of foam covering the underside of the chimney. A pair of 120/140 mm fans or a 240 mm radiator can be installed here.


The fan controller is powered via a 4-pin molex connector and supports
six 3-pin fans in total, three per channel.

ASSEMBLY

Assembling a system in the Deep Silence 1 is straightforward. The only difficulty
we ran into was removing the tightly fitted hard drive cages. We found it easier
if the top two cages were removed as a single unit, then separated outside the
case. We also experienced some tedium tying up the cables at the back as the
fan controller adds a few extra bunches of wires.


One issue with the Deep Silence 1 is its incredibly restrictive
hard drive cages. The sides of the cage have very small slots between
each bay, blocking most of the airflow from the front intake fans. If
you don’t need that much storage, it’s best to remove the unused cages
completely.


The case is quite spacious even with our CrossFireX configuration
installed. By our measurements, the maximum CPU cooler height is 17.1
cm, while video cards up to 31.6 cm long can be installed if you leave
the adjacent drive cages in place. We began testing the system with
the top hard drive cages in place but ended up removing them by the
end as they proved to be a hindrance.


We had no complaints regarding cable management. There are plenty of locations for tying up wires.


There’s 1.7 cm of clearance here but as the side panel has 2 mm
thick foam, you’re left with 1.5 cm which isn’t a lot if thicker cables
are bundled together.


The LED surrounding the power button is a delightful, non-invasive
shade of green. The button itself is a little wobbly and doesn’t sit
flush against the surface.

TESTING

System Configuration:

Measurement and Analysis Tools

System temperatures and noise levels were recorded with SpeedFan and GPU-Z
at idle and on load using CPUBurn (K7 setting) and FurMark, an OpenGL
benchmarking and stability testing utility.

Baseline Noise

Stock Fan Noise Level
Fan
SPL @1m (dBA)
5V
7V
9V
12V
Rear
<11
15
18
22~23
Front (upper)
<11
14~15
17
21~22
Front (lower)
<11
14
17
22
Combined
12~13
17
21~22
26~27
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle left/front
of case.

Cases often ship with fans that produce different levels of noise which makes
running them all off the same fan controller undesirable. The Deep Silence 1
doesn’t suffer from this problem; all its fans were well-matched. At various
voltages, the larger 140 mm rear fan generated a similar level of noise as the
120 mm models at the front. The combined noise level of the three was moderate,
26~27 dBA@1m at full speed. The fan controller’s minimum setting was approximately
equivalent to 5V, so the stock fans can be conveniently turned down to an almost
inaudible 12~13 dBA@1m.

The three fans also shared a similar pleasant acoustic character. They did
suffer from slight tonality but only at close proximity. Boxed up inside the
case, they sounded very smooth and unobtrusive.

TEST RESULTS: Radeon HD 4870 System

System Measurements (HD 4870)
System State
Idle
CPU + GPU Load
Fan Voltage
5V
7V
9V
12V
CPU Temp
33°C
54°C
53°C
51°C
50°C
SB Temp
51°C
60°C
59°C
59°C
57°C
HD Temp
33°C
33°C
33°C
32°C
31°C
GPU Temp
77°C
88°C
88°C
87°C
87°C
GPU Fan
890 RPM
2080 RPM
2010 RPM
1950 RPM
1880 RPM
System Power (AC)
121W
322W
322W
321W
320W
SPL@1m
19 dBA
29~30 dBA
29 dBA
29 dBA
30 dBA
CPU fan set to 100% speed.
Ambient temperature: 22°C.

We started testing our HD 4870 test configuration with the three case fans
all running at 5V which produced a noise level of a very reasonable 19 dBA@1m
when idle. At load, the extra thermal output heated up the interior by +21°C
for the CPU and +9°C for the Southbridge. The GPU temperature also increased
by 11°C, stabilizing at 88°C with the GPU fan spinning at 2080 RPM.
In this state, the noise level was a loud 29~30 dBA@1m.

Increasing the speed of the stock fans improved overall cooling, taking some
of the pressure off the loudest component, the GPU fan. At 7V and 9V, the GPU
fan slowed down somewhat resulting in a slight reduction in overall noise production,
while at 12V, the end result was noisier. The sweet spot for cooling/noise appeared
to be around 9V for the case fans.

System Measurements (HD 4870): Load
Adjustments
Stock
Chimney raised
HDD cages removed
CPU Temp
51°C
51°C
51°C
SB Temp
59°C
59°C
57°C
HD Temp
32°C
32°C
31°C
GPU Temp
87°C
87°C
86°C
GPU Fan
1950 RPM
1950 RPM
1850 RPM
SPL@1m
29 dBA
29~30 dBA
28 dBA
System Power (AC)
321W
321W
322W
CPU fan set to 100% speed.
System fans set to 9V.
Ambient temperature: 22°C.

Staying at 9V, we then tested the effectiveness of raising the case’s chimney
vent. Surprisingly, it had absolute no effect on cooling. What it did do was
allow extra noise to escape out the top, about 1 dB’s worth. The feature could
be more helpful in a more thermally demanding environment (like the dual video
card setup tested later).

As we noted earlier, the drive cages are extremely restrictive, so the top
two cages were removed, leaving our test hard drive in the bottom cage. It’s
the most structurally stable of the three being secured at the bottom and the
side, and it is the coolest position, as heat rises. This move was quite beneficial
— without the impedance of the drive cage, the upper intake fan aided in
GPU cooling, allowing the video card fan to slow by 100 RPM for a 1 dB drop
in noise.

HD 4870 Configuration Comparison (Load)
Case
Fractal Define R2
Corsair 550D
NZXT H2
Deep Silence 1
BitFenix Ghost
Fan Voltage
rear, front, side @12V
rear, fronts @9V
rear, fronts @med
rear, fronts @9v
rear, front @12V
CPU Temp
48°C
44°C
53°C
51°C
48°C
SB Temp
45°C
54°C
52°C
57°C
55°C
HD Temp
34°C
32°C
33°C
31°C
34°C
GPU Temp
84°C
86°C
87°C
86°C
87°C
GPU Fan
Speed
1710 RPM
1890 RPM
2110 RPM
1850 RPM
2020 RPM
SPL@1m
26~27 dBA
27 dBA
27~28 dBA
28 dBA
29~30 dBA
CPU fan set to 100% speed
All temperature results adjusted to 22°C ambient.

The Deep Silence 1 most closely matches up to the Corsair
Obsidian 550D
in size and features, but wasn’t up to snuff in performance.
The 550D had a sizable advantage in CPU cooling and a slight edge in noise as
well. Pitted against the NZXT
H2
, it was more or less neck-and-neck. The case only fared favorably
against the BitFenix
Ghost
, which we found to be seriously flawed with panels that are too
acoustically transparent for a silent chassis.

TEST RESULTS: 2 x Radeon HD 4870 (CrossFireX)

System Measurements (2 x HD 4870)
System State
Idle
CPU + GPU Load
System Fan Speeds
5V
9V
12V
12V (chimney raised)
CPU Temp
35°C
56°C
54°C
52°C
SB Temp
62°C
68°C
68°C
68°C
HD Temp
34°C
31°C
31°C
31°C
GPU #1 Temp
80°C
92°C
92°C
91°C
GPU #1
Fan
Speed
1090 RPM
2390 RPM
2360 RPM
2350 RPM
GPU #2 Temp
74°C
86°C
85°C
85°C
GPU #2
Fan Speed
990 RPM
1860 RPM
1790 RPM
1750 RPM
SPL@1m
20 dBA
32~33 dBA
33 dBA
33 dBA
System Power (AC)
194W
533W
532W
531W
Top hard drive cages removed.
CPU fan set to 100% speed.
Ambient temperature: 22°C.

Doubling up in graphics cards created higher temperatures across board with the Southbridge taking much of the brunt due to its proximity to the GPUs. Despite the extra heat, the system was still fairly quiet when idle, measuring 20 dBA@1m with the fans at 5V, only 1 dB higher than our single card configuration. On load, the interior got quite toasty with first GPU (in the higher slot) passing the 90°C mark due to the heat rising off the second graphics card below it. As you’d expect, the noise level was very loud, measuring 32~33 dBA@1m with the stock fans at 9V, and just a tad higher at 12V. This time around, raising the chimney had a positive impact, albeit a minute one — the CPU cooled down by 2°C without any additional noise.

CrossFireX Configuration Comparison (Load)
Case
Raven RV03
Antec P280
LanCool PC-K59
Deep Silence 1
Temjin TJ04-E
System Fans Speeds
top @12V, bottoms @9V/low
top, rear, front @low
top, rear, front @9V
rear, fronts @12V
top, rear, front @9V
CPU Temp
41°C
45°C
46°C
52°C
51°C
SB Temp
66°C
64°C
63°C
68°C
67°C
HD Temp
34°C
28°C
28°C
31°C
30°C
GPU #1 Temp
87°C
89°C
89°C
91°C
90°C
GPU #1
Fan Speed
2140 RPM
2440 RPM
2300 RPM
2350 RPM
2280 RPM
GPU #2 Temp
81°C
84°C
83°C
85°C
85°C
GPU #2
Fan Speed
1820 RPM
1950 RPM
1810 RPM
1750 RPM
1950 RPM
SPL@1m
31~32°C
32~33 dBA
33 dBA
33 dBA
34 dBA
CPU fan set to 100% speed.
All temperature results adjusted to 22°C ambient.

The Deep Silence 1 doesn’t perform as well as most of the compared models.
It was competitive with the Antec
P280
and LanCool
PC-K59
for noise but its CPU, Southbridge, and hard drive temperatures
were all higher. It’s overall performance was most similar to the SilverStone
Temjin TJ04-E
, but keep in mind that model is only 51 L and has some
odd design elements.

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 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 Nanoxia Deep Silence 1 has all the hallmarks of a classic noise conscious
case as well as a few added features to distinguish itself. Smooth sounding
fans, limited/selective ventilation to prevent noise from escaping, and noise
dampening material lining the panels are par for the course for such cases.
What differentiates the DS1 most from its many competitors is extra features.

The included fan controller is more capable than most, powering up to three
fans on each of its two channels. It’s a wonderful complement to the stock fans
because they generate similar noise levels. Not having to worry about one fan
drowning out another, hooking them all up together perfect sense, leaving a
second channel free for a different set. In some “silent” cases, the
fans have very low maximum speeds, limiting their effectiveness with more demanding
system configurations. The DS1’s stock fans have more reasonable top speeds
and thus a more versatile fan speed range.

Like many enthusiast cases, the drive cages are removable, a feature that allows
users to install extra long video cards. In the DS1, doing so also greatly improves
airflow as the cages are very restrictive to airflow, choking the front intake
fans. The ability to move one of the cages to the bottom is nice when using
two long graphics cards. The cages fit snugly against one another but that doesn’t
make them completely stable as a whole. The outside material is thinner than
most modular drive compartments and without extra support, there’s some horizontal
wiggle room. It’s simply not as solid as having a fixed cage with riveted supports
along the sides.

The chimney vent is another compromise. It hides the top fan vents from view,
giving the case more aesthetic continuity and can be raised when the need arises
to increase ventilation. Unfortunately, we found it made just a slight difference
and only when under a heavy power load, at least without a top fan installed.
[Editor’s Note: Another use model is to add a couple of top
panel fans and turn them on with the extra channel in the fan controller only
when the chimney cover is up. At high loads, this should provide extra cooling,
while keeping noise down in normal use. It would mean more noise under load,
however, and the need to manually set the top panel fans as well as the chimney
cover.
]

The finish on the outer surface is a bit problematic as the paint streaks
when scratched with anything remotely abrasive, leaving grey marks behind. The
overall build quality is above average. The interior frame is especially sturdy
and the side panels feel solid, though this is more to do with the stiffness
of the material lining them.

The Deep Silence 1 is currently being sold at only one major retailer, QuietPC,
for £74.99 (excluding VAT) in Europe. We’re in the dark about what
the pricing will be when it lands on the other side of the Atlantic but based
on price comparisons of the rest of QuietPC’s catalog, we estimate it will cost
around US$120. This would be a decent value. It is an ambitious first
case attempt, but in the end, we have to conclude that the DS1 isn’t as quiet
as the quietest cases, nor as cool as the coolest ones.

Our thanks to Nanoxia for the Deep Silence 1 case sample.

* * *

Articles of Related Interest
BitFenix Ghost: Quiet ATX Chassis
SilverStone Temjin TJ04-E Evolution Case
Corsair Obsidian 550D Quiet Mid-Tower Case
Silverstone Fortress FT02 Revisited
SilverStone Raven RV03
Cooler Master Silencio 450: Silence on a Budget?

* * *

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