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  • RobertR13 - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    How can anyone choose to post noise levels, with no frame of reference? We have a bunch of pretty graphs and lot of nice numbers, but what are we supposed to compare them to? And what is the noise floor of the test area? And who on earth measures exclusively at one foot and exclusively on the side of the case? That would be like wanting to know how loud it is driving a car, and measuring sound a foot from the exhaust. You don't drive from behind the car and you don't watch movies from a foot away from the side of your computer.

    The writing itself isn't terrible, but a bit obviously amateurish, and the whole article is just a subjective analysis.
  • RobertR13 - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    Oh, and I nearly forgot, you can put some VERY long power supplies in this case, you just have to swap out the side fan. The side of the case is drilled for both 120mm fans(as included) and 80mm fans for those with longer power supplies who would still like some ventilation on that side of the case. Reply
  • 8steve8 - Monday, December 27, 2010 - link

    agreed, noisy compared to what? Reply
  • RobertR13 - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    I'm forced to continue making observations about this article in re-reading it.

    In the first paragraph the author states that he chose not to go with another case because it didn't have any vibration dampening for the optical drive bay, so he chose this case, which has no vibration dampening for the optical drive bay. Wait, what?

    Also, Silverstone pretty plainly has stated in the past that the extra expansion slot above the power supply was designed for expansion cards to high end audio devices like the Emu-1212m or the Asus Xonar HDAV series with daughter cards, but that it would work with any other expansion items, like SATA or USB or what-not.

    What research was one before purchasing this case?

    Finally, I noticed that there is no sound measurement given with just the case fans powered up and not the CPU or GPU fans powered up, like that's not going to make a HUGE difference in the sound levels and types produced.
  • Hrel - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    he said he didn't want to have to put tape on the led on the cd drive, which is why he chose this case, read more carefully. Reply
  • RobertR13 - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    Maybe you should re-read the article, he said he chose this case over the GD-05 because he wanted to hide the LED on the ODD, but that his whole reason for looking for a new case was because his LG BD\HD-DVD drive was getting too noisy so he wanted a case with some sound dampening on the ODD bay, which this doesn't have. Reply
  • Stuka87 - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    They always measure from the same distance, this is so that all reviews that have sound levels are measured in the same way.

    As for frame of reference, a deciBell is a deciBell. What frame of reference do you need?

    As for noise floor, any half decent tester allows you to calibrate out the ambient noise level.
  • RobertR13 - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    1: Who is they, there are no other people or cases in this article

    2: I'm fine with measuring from a fixed distance, but measuring from 1 foot away, from the side is rediculous.

    3: dB are a standard frame of measurement, sure, but if you have a purpose built theater with a noise floor of 11dB and the case makes 36dB it is going to seem a lot louder than if you are just putting it in your family room with a noise floor of 25+dB.

    4: That would invalidate the experiment all together because if you wipe out the noise floor, then you have to say so, and state what the noise floor is so that people can actually use the number for something, and two, if it screens out tones, that you are telling it to consider ambient noise, then you might be missing a specific sound frequency the fans are making.
  • MeanBruce - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    You know my floor is pretty noisy, of course that could be my neighbors downstairs. Reply
  • C'DaleRider - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    To answer your petulant, childish nitpciking, which is making you look like the 12 year old you seem to want to be noticed as,

    1. They are the testers at Anandtech. They have a standard set of testing requirements, such as noise checked at 1 ft. distance, to make the different testers' findings be comparable to other findings from other testers.

    2. Why? If anything, it presents a worst case scenario.....the noise perception will only get better as distance increases.

    3. Why worry about the floor/ambient noise? It'd only be worth noting if the ambient noise was too high to hear the noise the fans in the case generated....and then it'd be worth noting. Otherwise, once the generated noise overcomes ambient noise, the ambient noise becomes irrelevant. Noise, in this case, isn't additive.....such as adding ambient to case generated noise. Doesn't work like that.

    4. Just too stupid an argument to respond to.
  • Alexvrb - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    Actually I thought he brought up some valid concerns. If you're going to bother testing an HTPC setup, do it right. Maybe he went a little overboard, but he still makes some good points. For one, I'd rather know how loud and what pitch it makes from the front. It's an HTPC, it's gonna sit on a shelf and directly face you. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    I understand what some of you are getting at, but I think you're missing the point here. We are reviewing a case, and we are not trying to make a silent system. That might be something for another article, but this is a review of a case as-is, which means using what they provided. The noise levels were bad enough that Dustin bought a fan control unit, but the goal wasn't to create the ultimate silent PC.

    I've asked Dustin to update the article with additional details on the testing environment and equipment, so that will probably happen after the Christmas weekend. Again, however, we're starting out with some new case reviews and Dustin has a testbed he'll be using. I'm not sure an anechoic chamber with higher sensitivity equipment is all that useful considering I've had plenty of PSUs that apparently rate "20dB" where I can easily hear them in a normal system. Anyway, give Dustin a chance to put together a few reviews and we'll hopefully establish the testing environment so that the comparison point is clear.
  • RobertR13 - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    Can we get him to either use the same internals or test the cases without any internals with just the power supply being jumped, and with the same power supply for every test, so we can at least compare results from one test to another?

    I would be perfectly happy without a sound box, so long as the noise floor is listed at the time of testing.

    Thanks Jarred.
  • Belard - Tuesday, December 28, 2010 - link

    When it comes to PSUs, they could use a fanless PSU model for noise testing alone.

    The review with the stock FANs are valid, but it should be shown that using better fans/controls can fix it. For $100 - its a rather high end case at a low-cost price so Silverstone went with crap fans... when they might as well gone with none.
  • micksh - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    The article title has "not quiet" in it.
    It will never be quiet until you choose right components.
    The title looks like it's the case to blame but in fact it was selection of components. No HTPC case will silence vacuum cleaners or airplane jet engines you put in it.

    "this is a review of a case as-is, which means using what they provided"

    Case fans as they provided as-is were quieter or louder than power supply, for example? The article doesn't tell even that. Why?

    "We are reviewing a case, and we are not trying to make a silent system"

    Not even trying to make it silent?
    What is the point of loud system in living room when someone wants to watch movies?

    "but the goal wasn't to create the ultimate silent PC."

    Understood, but it has to be reasonably quiet in order to be used as HTPC.
    Otherwise, what's the point?
    You can just turn on head dryer in background and see what effect it has on viewers.
    Was your system louder or quieter than head dryer? Need comparison measurements.

    Practical value of this review is what? This case works, here are photos, it can be done, we proved it, it's like your any other HTPC case, but we don't know anything else. Did I miss anything?
  • JarredWalton - Monday, December 27, 2010 - link

    Obviously the case fans are a major noise contributor, considering that adding a fan control unit to slow them down dropped total noise from 41.6dB down to 36.3dB. The question is how much of the remaining noise is from the PSU, GPU, CPU, etc. Fanless components would be ideal for the other areas, but fanless generally means slower (or exotic cooling) so you can't always go that route without becoming a skewed look at cooling, noise, and performance.

    The Athlon II X4 640 certainly isn't the lowest power CPU on the market, but it also doesn't draw a ton of power. The GTS 450 is in the same boat. These are mainstream parts good for a look at the "typical" experience.

    The fact of the matter is that this is an HTPC case, and a major source of noise is the fans. However, I'd also say that running three 120mm fans in most cases is overkill. I'll discuss some ideas with Anand and Dustin to improve the overall approach; the major issue right now I think is that while AnandTech in general has a ton of hardware at our disposal, Dustin doesn't have all that much.

    Perhaps what will be best is a two-pronged review approach where we have a "lower power/noise" testbed as well as a higher end configuration, and using both we can provide a look at a range of performance options with each case... but putting together two systems for each case review can be a pain. I think Robert's suggestion above about testing with no hardware other than the case fans also has merit, though we'd need some sort of PSU to do that. There are hybrid models where the fans don't spin until at least a ~300W load that we could use for such testing.

    Anyway, we'll be looking at feedback and working to improve the case reviews, but I'm not sure how long it will take to sort things out. Stay tuned....
  • RobertR13 - Monday, December 27, 2010 - link

    While most of those points are vague and refutable at best, they're all completely besides the point. If you're going to advertise an article as a case review based on the case, "as-is" you can't stuff it with a bunch of random hardware, publish a bunch of pretty numbers that you can't compare to anything, and call it objective. That is my entire point.

    For PSU, there are a LOT of completely fanless options, and passive means essentially no noise. Grab a PicoPSU, up to 150W, jump the ATX connector with the fans attached and you will have an idea of what the case sounds like empty.

    Or if he can wire a little bit, grab a $5 12v inverter from Walmart or Radioshack, cut off the end, wire on a molex plug and use a Y adapter to power just the fans. I even have one here, I could clean up, heatshrink and send out, I found it at Fry's electronics and allows you to manually set the voltage at about six different levels, four of them up to 12V, so you can even test the stock fan sound levels at different voltages as though they were on a switched fan controller.
  • micksh - Monday, December 27, 2010 - link

    I think they at Anandtech understand it now.

    No need to go completely fanless as this would limit your PC too much. There is a lot of stuff that you can't do with 150W PicoPSU.

    This is HTPC. For good HD image quality you need some image enchancement that video card does. Low powered video cards just can't do that.
    See this:
    There are also video quality reviews from other sites like They show that realistically, around 70W or more TDP video card is required for better video quality. Then there is 65-73W for CPU for smooth experience, then chipset, storage, etc... Then if you think of future proof design 150W PicoPSU should be out of question.

    It may change when/if Sandy Bridge graphics proves that it's good enough for HTPC but we are not there yet.
    Yes, there are passive PSUs with 400 and more watts of power. But they don't dominate on the market for some reasons. I think it should be a subject for a different discussion.
    My opinion is why limit yourself when you can have quiet system with lots of power and quiet fans?
  • micksh - Monday, December 27, 2010 - link

    "Obviously the case fans are a major noise contributor, considering that adding a fan control unit to slow them down dropped total noise from 41.6dB down to 36.3dB."

    Yes, that sounds obvious but then during load noise levels quickly jumped to 39.4 dB with low fans. Noise contribution from different components can be quite complex. And it depends on position where you measure noise. Yes, case fans seem to be the worst guys. But next obvious step to me would be to stop them one by one with fingers and to verify where the noise is coming from.

    "The GTS 450 is in the same boat"

    I think you are oversimplifying here. There is no just GTS 450 card. There are different GTS 450 models from different vendors. The amount of noise these models produce may vary from inaudible to intolerable. With price difference like $10 between them. I don't know about your EVGA card.

    Thanks, I see that you are on the right track. Will stay tuned.

    Besides, Anand himself didn't show pictures of his home theater setup for a while. What HTPC is he using? From the pictures that I saw I don't think he had to make compromises that would result suffering from loud HTPC.
  • RobertR13 - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    I don't see why you have to result to insults and name-calling, but so be it. I don't see why being annoyed that a test being presented as fact, while being completely subjective is petulant or childish, but sure, whatever makes your christmas better.

    1: There are no other Case testers at Anandtech anymore. The last series of case tests we saw ended in February of 2009, using different internals and at a different location, without any testing methodologies being reported. This is the second article by this author, and while his testing methodology is similar, the internal components are completely different, making the results completely non-comparable.

    2: Fair enough. It's completely non-real world, but sure, it would be fine if it were just being used as a reference point to compare cases, but we can't compare results between this and any other article.

    3: Noise is additive actually, both in frequency and decibels, that's why other testers here at anandtech use a soundbox for testing power supplies.

    4: Again with the insults, you couldn't just refute the point or skip over it?
  • cweinheimer - Tuesday, December 28, 2010 - link

    Wow, really? I expect flame wars between competitors for attention, but for the writer to flame his readers? That certainly cant go on forever if you expect to keep readers. Oh, wait I see what you are doing, creating controversy so people will tune in. Definitely lame. Reply
  • SlyNine - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    They are obviously Anandtech, Your half cocked ways of pointing out weasel words and fallacies, While completely ignoring the context are baffling to me.

    You whip the noise floor so you can compare other unites to each other without any interference from out side sources, after all you're going to choose on based on how it performs vs. other units. Why do you want other metrics in there( Keep this in context now, you have a lousy track record) ?The noise floor should be considered in YOUR place/theatre. How will including theirs help you decide what unit is the best?
  • RobertR13 - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    I genuinely struggled to understand your question, so please let me know if I missed it all together. I understand this is anandtech, however there haven't been other case reviews here for almost 2 years, and done by another person entirely, so I was attempting to establish that these results were not comparable to anything else, which makes them of little to no value.

    Also, I brought up the noise floor issue, as well as the issue of the other components in the case, because without knowing these values, we don't actually know how much noise the case and fans actually generated. For all we know, the GPU fan could have been responsible for almost all of the sound measured, or the 36db measured at the side of the case could have been coming from his girlfriends blow drier in the next room. You see where I'm coming from?
  • MeanBruce - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    Robert is right dudes, if you are gonna compare, you first have to standardize! Reply
  • ZRohlfs - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    There are a differences among the term deciBell. There are several measuring standards among the units. Two of the most synonymous are dBA and dBB. It is all how the different frequencies are factored into the measurement with typical emphasis on the mid level frequencies and a reduced empahsis on the upper and low range frequencies.

    still as long as we are comparing dBA to dBA results yes they are the same but really the best thing is to have the individual frequency ranges and representative sound pressure.

    Just a thought.
  • Arneh - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    Great review. I'm personally a big fan of the SilverStone GD02. It's also an mATX case but you can squeeze in 3x3.5" (2 of them with vibration dampening), 1x5.25" ODD and an SSD above the ODD if you really wanted to (this isn't part of the specs but there's a gap in the tray above the ODD that allows you to squeeze in a 2.5" drive). The design is also more aesthetic in my opinion and suited for an HTPC. The two 80mm fans are also extremely quiet. Reply
  • mingus - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    I use this case and replaced the loud fans with what I thought would be quiet ones (800rpm Scythe), and it was still very audible. Tonight i unplugged all the case fans and it's doable, can hear very slightly from the sofa. I was very careful to select all quiet parts on this also.

    May not be right long term, will keep an eye on temps. most likely will rebuild the whole thing. Looking for case ideas, maybe gd02 who knows..
  • Belard - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    Okay, its a $100 case - so Silverstone included cheap fans.

    They should have done what others do, include a fan-controller that allows the user to choose how fast his fans run. With 3 HUGE 120mm fans, they simply don't need to run that fast - especially with todays cooler running CPUs.

    There are low-cost solutions to fix this case.

    1 - Buy an aftermarket fan controller ($10~30)
    2 - Buy Antec Fans ($15~19 each) which include a 3-way switch (L / M / H).

    My Antec P150 case has a single 120mm fan that runs on Medium - very little noise for a quad-core desktop system. For a HTPC... it should be even more quiet than what I have.
  • micksh - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    What is Extech SL10 sound meter? Can't find it in google. What is the minimum dBA level it can measure?
    At what distance from HTPC did you measure noise? Or, you think it's not important to write about? Like noise is at the same level regardless of how far you are from the source of noise?

    If the noise is 36 dBA at 1 meter from HTPC it is ridiculously loud already. It should be around 20 dBA or less in order to comfortably watch movies.

    Where is the analysis on what components contribute more noise? Was that case fans, CPU cooler or video card? How are we judging HTPC case without such analysis?

    "These aren't loud components to begin with"

    I'm sure they are.

    1. I don't think EVGA was ever known for making quiet video cards. Get MSI Cyclone version and use MSI Afterburner to slow down fans. Edit BIOS if fan is too loud at minimum speed. Read reviews to find quiet video card.

    2. What is PC Power & Cooling? How is that supposed to be quiet? Get Enermax Modu/Pro or Seasonic X or Nexus or some comparable PSU in terms of noise.

    3. Get SSD for main drive and use quiet laptop 5400 rpm HDD in enclosure as a media drive. Mounted with ribbon washers, of course. Scythe SQD2.5-1000 is back on sale in US.

    4. Replace case fans. Scythe Slipstreams, few Zalman resistors and you don't need to care about motherboard or fan controller. Even Antec provides horrible fans with their P desktop line targeted to quiet PC enthusiasts.

    5. It may be to difficult to quietly cool 95W AMD quad core. Get lower powered CPU. And better CPU cooler maybe.

    6. Read about basics of quiet PCs.

    These 6 items will drive you closer to quiet HTPC. HTPC case itself can't protect your ears from loud components.
  • Belard - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    My P150 case is over 2 years old - it about 2-3 feet from me I can barely hear it (air noise)... barely a rumble from the drive & fan.

    (1) MSI, Gigabyte and H.I.S. make some pretty quiet video cards. I've seen a 6850 being used in normal desktop mode and it was fairly silent. I can't hear my *OLD* 4670 HIS card with its extra large dual-slot cooler.

    (2) PC Power & Cooling is one of the BEST PSU companies in the world. But they don't usually make the quietest ones. Corsair or Seasonic PSUs would be a better choice IMHO.... you can't hear them.

    (3) Yes... on the SSD (if possible). But 2.5" drives are not as reliable as a 3.5" drive. I have a Seagate 1TB 7200 RPM drive... I just put my head by my case - closest to the HD, I can't hear it... but more air noise. :)

    (4) Agreed... many options. So much that Silver Stone should *USE* better fans or include a list of fans to use, rather than waste someone's time with useless fans.

    (5) AMD stock CPU coolers generally do a fine job. 95w is typical for their performance CPUs, X3 & X4s. They do have some 45w X2~X4 CPUs which costs 20~40% more. And of course, theres after market coolers. Overall, the AMD coolers I've used in the past 4 years have been pretty good.
  • micksh - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    I use Antec P182 case for my desktop. It is a great case for quiet PC, their sound dampering panels do a good job. Something that can't be found in any HTPC case. P150 has similar design, except it doesn't have a front door and it's a bit smaller.
    But I could not tolerate Antec fans even at minimum settings. P150 has the same Antec 3-speed fans, AFAIK. Just check forum, everybody is replacing them.

    PC Power & Cooling may make very good PSUs, I don't know. It is just whether PSU makes 12 or 18 dBA of noise it becomes very important for quiet PC. These brands that I listed are known to be very quiet. They would produce less than 15 dBA of noise for that PC. Not ridiculous 36 dBA that was measured in the article.
    Nexus Value 430W PSU would be ideal for that kind of PC if CPU was not too power hungry.

    I don't think 2.5" HDDs are less reliable. I had one in laptop that was 5 years old and it was still alive when I replaced it.
    I use 2.5" HDDs in Scyche enclosures in 2 HTPCs just for silence. Because 3.5" drives can't normally fit in HTPC being put inside silencing enclosure.

    SSD is not a necessity if you have 4GB of RAM. 7200 rpm laptop drive is good enough for a system drive. It is just that they are a bit louder than 5400 rpm drives and 5400 rpm drives are a bit slow for a boot drive.
    Although, most people would be OK with 7200 rpm laptop HDD noise, I think.

    AMD CPU idle power usage can't compete even with Intel Core 2 line. They require more cooling and more speedy fans = more noise. Especially quad core model that article author chose.
  • MeanBruce - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    Micksh, you have some great information and I wish AnandTech would present more articles for us silent enthusiasts. At first I did what you did, I shopped for quiet, quality PSUs Nexus, Zalman, etc. But this last time around I went a step further, I bought the most efficient PSU I could find(at the time) a Corsair HX-850, and I didn't consider any db noise fan specs because I planned on replacing the fan after the first few days of use. It's not the most economical way to put together a silent pc, breaking the amazing 7-year Corsair warranty, by opening the PSU, and another $25 for a Noctua fan, but you end up with an amazingly quiet pc. Not everyone wants to get inside a power supply, but the extra effort pays off! Reply
  • micksh - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    Yes, replacing PSU fan is also a way to get quieter PC. If you already have good PSU and are ready to void warranty. Even $10 Scythe Slipstream would probably do the job, maybe with some $3 resistor. $25 Noctua is surely a safer bet.
    But if new fan is not adequate it may eventually break PSU.

    If you want to spend more you can't go wrong with Seasonic X650 Gold PSU. Its fan is not spinning at low loads, it's essentially passive when you watch movies (if your system consumes 150W or less during that, which should be the case).
    The fan will start only during gaming when silence is not that important and it still will be quiet.

    I think the most difficult part in building quiet PC is silencing hard drive (if you need it).
    I have a server in garage that I can stream media from but having some local storage seems comfortable for me.
    These days boot SSD are relatively cheap so the need in that is diminished for some.

    There are components that generally produce much more noise but you can get very quiet parts for a bit more money.

    Power supplies, video cards (up to GTX460 or HD6850 level), CPU coolers, case fans, all can be gotten very quiet if you do some research.

    Then at some point HDD becomes the noisiest part. If you reach the stage when soft-mounted 2.5" 5400 rpm HDD is the loudest part of your build and you can silence it (or ditch it) - then you get a quiet computer.

    PS. I missed phrase in article that says the distance was 1 foot when measuring noise. I think noise would be 30 dB or more at one meter, still way too loud.
  • micksh - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    Another point of the article - loud blu-ray drive. That will be too difficult to silence even in well shielded case with soft mounts.

    Try software solutions, something like Nero DriveSpeed. There are others. These would limit disk spinning speed and reduce the noise. They work but the effect may or may not be sufficient depending on you drive and noise requirements.
    I play movies from HDD only right now so this is not relevant to me.
  • Freeco - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    I have this case since September and am very happy with it.
    I did replace the 3 stock fans with 2 Nexus 120mm fans and a Zalman FanMate 2 controller. I didn't even try those stock fans. I replaced them right away because of my good experience with them in my desktop.
    Combine that with a Scythe Big Shuriken CPU cooler and a Nexus Value PSU and the result is a dead silent HTPC. I can only hear it if I put my ear right next to it.
    Building a silent HTPC is all about choosing the right components...
  • mingus - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    With the Big Shuriken, is there enough room for sound and video cards?

    I used and Enermax ECO80+ 400w PSU, not sure why, usually use Seasonic. seems quiet, hard to tell.

    CPU cooler was some sort of Nexus thing.
  • Freeco - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    off coarse. The Big Shuriken might be big, but not huge ;-)
    It doesn't overhang the PCIe slots.
    See picture on my site (in Dutch, but pics & specs don't have a language ;-)):
  • maxfisher05 - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    I have a similar build as Freeco. I bought this case in July, paired it with 2 nexus 120mm fans (the 3 stock fans are loud, but 3 fans is overkill anyway). I have a scythe big shuriken cooler on a i-530 and a 5770 video card, both of which are low power and fairly quiet components.

    Bottom line, I never hear any noise out of this case when doing normal HTPC tasks and I love my build. I'm guessing if I ran prime and maxed out the fans it would make noise...
  • Oscarcharliezulu - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    Thx for the review, but I'd have to agree that the choice of components needed more research if you wanted a quiet PC, and even then some advertised so called quiet components aren't. A htpc can be real trial and error and I think the readers are looking for reviews that provide more than pure observation, or at least I am. Thanks to the posters who write in with what works for them. Personally I have found the low power Athlons and boards with built in gpu's excellent for htpc work. Big fans set to low speed also critical as are green drives. SSD for boot disk will be my next must have upgrade firstly for quicker boots secondly for low noise. I plan to set my recordings or download to a spinning disk then copy once complete to the ssd to run fast and quiet ( I don't have a NAS or server). Reply
  • MeanBruce - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    Oscar is right, it really depends on your personal definition of quiet. Most so called silent fans produce around 18 to 20db, which is fine for most people, htpc or if your pc is on the floor. But if like me you prefer your desktop to be on your desktop then the really sweet noise levels are below 10db. The Cooler Master 200mm fans are way too loud out of the box, yet attenuate down to a wonderful 8db with a Noctua blue inline resistor, and still move a great deal of air. Noctua also makes the uln series of fans which are rated at 6db. Also replacing the stock psu fan with a 10db 140mm Noctua and using SSDs for all internal storage and you will be in silent heaven. Reply
  • asgallant - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    I recently built an HTPC based on the GD05, and with a low-power CPU (the Athlon II X3 415e, stock cooling) at it's center, the system is barely audible from ~1 meter away, nevermind sitting ~15 feet away from the couch. The only noise issue the system has is the Blu-Ray drive, which makes a racket when it spins up to full speed. Vibration dampers would help here, but even with them, it would still be an unpleasantly loud noise source. Aside from the lack of vibration dampers on the ODD tray, the only problem I have with this case is that it doesn't have a built in infrared port for remote controls. Reply
  • mcveigh - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    I agree with some of the other posters. The sound testing should have identified what components were noisy...not just this particular configuration is loud.
    maybe try other video cards, and power supply's. I'd love to see testing with fanless video cards and power supply's so we can compare the changes.

    I'd love to see more HTPC case testing! Well Done!
  • Drizzt321 - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    I don't mean to nitpick...but I am. Last page, 2nd paragraph, 1st sentence, the word 'confern' I think was meant to be 'concern'. Reply
  • Beenthere - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    Silverstone products are considered mainstream not high end quality. You generally get what you pay for in life. I'd skip Silverstone products if I was looking for quality. Reply
  • micksh - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    They are generally better than Thermalfake or Moneual for example. Zalman, Lian-Li are too overpriced, I think. Lian-Li cases also look like soulless boxes with no identity.
    In fact, I believe Silverstone makes well designed products.
    So, what do you typically buy for your HTPC, that $1200 OrigenAE S21T case?
  • MeanBruce - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    Again agreeing with Micksh, the Lian-Li’s although very well built all look alike to me and there are so many of them, it’s like going to a paint store and deciding over 85 shades of blue, how could you possibly choose? Don’t know why they have to produce 200 different black boxes that are mostly indistinguishable. My last build I could have spent up to $700 on a case as I even considered that Thermaltake Level 11/BMW design thing, but I didn’t want a 40pound case or a full tower since I only run one video card, I needed the smallest case that could still house a full ATX mainboard, and this new size that many companies are producing the “midi” tower is perfect. Bitfenix Survivor, Fractal Design’s new Arc case, Lian Li also makes a midi LanCool brand, and Cooler Master 912 Advanced. I settled on the Cooler Master, it really is the most complete and feature laden case of the four. Bitfenix is not selling in the US yet but next year they will have a Survivor with full mesh panels, which will make a great silent pc. There seems to be two approaches to a silent build, noisy components, closed case design and soundproofing, Or the one I like, ultra quiet components, and open case design with lots of ventilation and moving large amounts of air quietly. I don’t agree with this mainstream vs high- end argument, it really should be the case that is perfect for your needs, at $99dollars the 912 Advanced may seem mainstream or even budget to some, but the design and quality are amazing, so whether its mainstream or high-end who cares as long as it’s just right for the build. Also I went through that Zalman phase, didn’t we all, CPU cooler, VPU cooler, PSU, they were the quietest at the time, but now it’s Noctua, I run the extra-large NH-D14 CPU heatsink with no fans at all, it’s that good. VPU heatsink, the Prolimatech MK-13 is the current silent leader, but it’s also Huge, taking up 4slots with a fan attached, so not for a multicard set-up. Micksh seems to know what he is doing, let me know if you need any info I have.

    This may not have been an article on creating a silent pc, but the discussion definitely turned into one, and that’s why we all come here, to find out what works, what doesn’t, and what works extremely well. There are a few products out there that fall into the latter category and they truly should not be missed.
  • Jhatfie - Saturday, December 25, 2010 - link

    I have the GD04 as my HTPC with a Phenom II X2 555 unlocked to a 955 @ 3.6Ghz and a XFX 5850 using and you can barely hear the thing even when under heavy load gaming. My xbox 360S is easily twice as loud.

    For $99 this is a excellent case. Clean design, plenty of room for full size graphics cards, good cooling that blows away other HTPC cases I tried. CPU dropped 10C alone under load over the prior case I was using. Layout is good, only real negative I have is the lack of cable management.
  • londiste - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    i have not seen a built-for-purpose htpc case (not even an extremely expensive one) that was easy to build a computer in. reviewer says almost the same thing at the top of the page and at the end of page complain about the complexity?

    complaints about long power supplies seem a bit arbitrary, i can't imagine an htpc that would warrant a 700+w power supply while being even remotely silent enough to fill the role.

    sorry but the components of your choice are loud. i understand that you picked what was laying around but if you put silence as paramount as you say, you should know better than to use components like that. if you need/want amd, at least go for energy efficient models (605e/615e work wonders with power usage/heat and thus, noise).

    getting as little heat as possible is even more important in a case like this - while there is a general scheme for airflow, it is far from optimal and i would not count on heat getting out of this case easily. a delta of 40c (cpu/gpu) for idle/load seems to confirm that.

    as already commented, noise number do not say much in this way. how much was contributed by case fans and how much by cpu/video cooler, psu fan? was what the noise floor? you did mention a fan controller in the article - did you have/get one and try to slow down the fans, did it help, were the temperatures still reasonable?

    i see from comments that the noise questions have been downplayed as not that important but i do not believe that is the case. reviewer clearly states silence as a goal and htpc as an entire category has low noise as one key aspect.

    while it is not new and it has been said in this article's comments as well - tolerable noise level is a very subjective thing. just an example - i had to replace zalman cnps9500 (at minimum rpm with fanmate) as it was much noisier than anything else in my computer. now i can hear the corsair hx520 fan at idle (using 100-120w, psu stats state ~16dba).
  • justaviking - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link


    Writing for Anandtech might be like going to the Olympics. The standards of excellence are extremely high. You are not judged against average writers, but the against very best.

    Some of the comments are, I think, very valid feedback. Use it to make your next article stronger. Not only are the Anandtech writers the best, so are their readers. Reader feedback here is often better than other people's articles.

    My $0.02 is I would like to see and apples-to-apples comparison. Use the same components in two cases. Then you could compare the audio levels, and adding some subjective comments would put the numbers into context. (You should include your background noise levels too.)

    Thanks again. Hang in there. Use the feedback to get stronger. And lastly, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
  • micksh - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    Yes, that's what I tried to achieve with my comments - make next articles stronger.
    Finding information about quiet HTPC build is difficult and I would appreciate if Anandtech becomes a good source of information in this area (as excellent as it is in other areas).

    I hope authors disregard parts of comments that sound too emotional (I know I could have been more polite, I'm sorry if I sounded inappropriate). But I also hope they will use information parts of the feedback for next articles. Looking forward to see follow up, Dustin.
  • tno - Monday, December 27, 2010 - link

    I'm gonna second your suggestions. There seems to be a lot of emotion flying around and I think that's great. I love that everyone here is so passionate about these things. And I've been in your spot in the past RobertR, and about Jarred (my apologies), who is clearly good enough, my complaints not withstanding, to warrant a supervisory position. So let's take all this in perspective.

    RobertR, they get it, you don't like the job they did. If you would like acknowledgment, then consider all the replies you've received all the acknowledgment you should reasonable need.

    McKish, perhaps shooting Dustin an e-mail with a review of his review would help in future articles.

    Jarred, Dustin might not have the hardware resources that AT does, but he does have the hivemind. Perhaps the next article should get a preview in the case section of the forum. Before I chose my case (P150) I scoured the old articles and soon after turned to the forums and found so much information that my choice was made easy and once bought all the information I needed to pick the right sound components for the case. That said, it's easy for a comment or paragraph to spark all sorts of reactions (see everything in these comments for proof) but once you've gotten through all the nonsense, there's often some good points to be made.

    So keep on going Dustin. Your writing is great, and your methods will get there. For a look at good methods and iffy writing, see anything on that isn't written by Mike Chin. Find something between there methods and yours and you'll have it all together. And keep up the case reviews; to get you going, start posting on all the forums you can find, get involved in the online community that obsesses over this stuff, and get your name known by the community reps that control the equipment. My favorite part of your review, realistic components. And yes, they are realistic, most people putting together an HTPC just put together a quicky job that will do the work. They don't obsess over every single component to find the coolest running, quietest component possible. Indeed, most probably take spare parts they have lying around. SPCR's habit of using outdated overkill components with silent cooling components is above and beyond what any of us would roll. I would definitely recommend having on hand whatever the "BEST" component for the category your testing per AT. For instance the quieter ATI cards seem to be a favorite for HTPC's on AT, perhaps having one of those available would quiet the beasts.

    Alright, that's my wall of text. Flame on!

  • khaakon - Sunday, December 26, 2010 - link

    Is it only me, or have I missed any comments about this case short depth? It is very few HTPC cases with this form factor and it really makes a difference when you're putting the box in place and fitting all the goddam cables ;)

    Anymore depth in the approach when testing wouldn't be amiss also, (environment and adaption) but nice try anyway - just no spliff.. I mean Cigar.. for Dustin.
  • juzz86 - Monday, December 27, 2010 - link

    I would just like to say that it's been a while since I've seen a case review here, and I love them. Let's see a few more! Reply
  • marc1000 - Monday, December 27, 2010 - link

    it's good to see a review of a case that works with positive air pressure.

    ignoring all the flames about noise, the temperature of components seemed pretty good. they show a big difference regarding slow/fast fan RPM, yet even on lowest speed it seems very cool to me. I would like to ask that positive air pressure is tested on other cases (it could be a quick test, just to compare with the default configuration, and done simply reversing any output fans to make then intake ones - except GPU/PSU of course).

    thanks for the review,
  • combust3r - Monday, December 27, 2010 - link

    I belive that Dustin mentioning possible collision with left 120mm fan and long PSU's is a valuable info for those who want to use this case as a gaming rig. I bought Grandia GD05 for my Sandy Bridge build and I've already ordered GTX 460 wich is relatively short comparing to many high end 10.5"/11" cards that this case supports. My Seasonic M12II 520W will fit with no problems at all but PSU's longer than 180mm will force you to replace 120mm with 80mm fan (left fan mounts are predrilled for 80mm fan). Airflow (as seen in the review) is very good and it's worthy to mention that graphic cards with external exhausts are preffered.

    Regarding db measurement, if this is standard procedure in noise testing in all anandtech case reviews then I'm fine with it. They must be comparable.

    I really like your review Dustin, keep up the good work.
  • orenlevy - Monday, December 27, 2010 - link

    there is a simple way to reach silence in those areas
    1 you need mobo with 2 or 3 headers that u can control threw software
    planty of those mobo are there(u can Google it to find)
    2 find the right fan configure mostly to make a side to side air flow in the case
    normally you should covers the places where air can go in the other sides.
    3 make rules in speedfan give minimum and maximum speeds of the fans.
    discover what are the temperature u reading and start to make the logic
    if CPU then fan n01 will ramp and so on
    one fan normally on the hard drive so it will controlled also buy hard-drive temp
    after a bit of experience today it takes me no more then 5 min.
    the fans actually can rest in idle and small surfing playing music and in a bit of stress the fans gos around 600 rpm in full 1000 rpm then it is important choose the wright power supply
    ,the only thing u can hear
  • ClagMaster - Monday, December 27, 2010 - link

    I am surprised no mention was made of the fans that came with the case. Who made the fans and what are their rated speed, air flow and noise.

    I never had a complaint about a Silverstone case. These are well made though a little on the pricey side.

    I would have invested in three 120mm Synthe Fans with the same air flow instead of the fan controllers. Its ridiculous to have two fan controllers in a HTPC.
  • combust3r - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    These are the fans used.

    The middle one in the chart, RL4ZS1202512LIW-3M 12V DC 0.26A

    34dBA, 2K rpm...
  • ClagMaster - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    Thank you Reply
  • ClagMaster - Wednesday, December 29, 2010 - link

    These fans are rated at 93 cfm each !!! And there are 3 of these !!!

    This is way, way too much for a home entertainment center.

    I would have replaced these with Scythe SY1225SL12M 120mm "Slipstream" Case Fan

    1200 RPM, 68 cfm, 24 dBA

    And there would still be plenty of air flow

    Again, thanks for answering my question.
  • Terzo - Monday, December 27, 2010 - link

    And they found the system quiet enough to warrant an editor's choice award. Considering that, I find it kind of funny that one of AT's qualms is with the noise. Reply
  • smokenjoe - Tuesday, December 28, 2010 - link

    You can not hear it from where you would sit. It is not notacqble even with a 4780x2 card in. The low tone was not audible at a distance unlike some that sound quiet up close but have a high pitch tone that carries.
    You can put a short cheap tower heatsink behind the optical drive. You need to have have one of the short optical drives that are common now. There are plenty of bulk DVD and blue ray players that fit with my motherboard.

    I was worried at first about the fan noise and decreased the voltage but returned to stock after I actually used it. I did need to replace the fan on my supposedly silent PSU even drawing air from the outside it made much more noise from a distance than everything else. You can use the 7 volt trick on the moles if you don't want to spend money if you sit less than 3 feet away.

    I wish they cloned it in a larger size for a full sized tower heat sink and a full ATX MB.
  • Zebo - Friday, December 31, 2010 - link

    Indeed fans are loud, worst part is they won't start at 7V so fan controllers dont even work - key was getting some LOW RPM fans I installed Scythe Gentle Typhoon - the lowest speed 500 rpm ones. Silent now.

    Awesome case.
  • digitalicecream - Sunday, January 02, 2011 - link

    I genuinely can't hear the noise of the fans over my 7.1 surround sound system and powered sub, when watching bluray movies on my HTPC using this case from 10 feet away.

    I guess it might be noisy if you have it turned on for no other reason other than to power it?
  • geordieinnyc - Sunday, January 02, 2011 - link

    I am disheartened to read the negative, critical comments that people are leaving for the reviewers. I am all for constructive criticism but what i have read as feedback on this review and the Digital Storm review only serves to demotivate the reviewer and tarnish the otherwise excellent reputation that has. Most of the reviewers do this as a hobby in their spare time getting no pay, just getting to keep the items they review as payment. Consequently, it takes some time for a reviewer to build up an arsenal of hardware to serve to compare things against. I think what many people fail to realize is how long it takes to put a review together - in fact, those people who are slating the reviewer should submit a sample to Anandtech and see how they get on...

    I have built many HTPC cases and have two Silverstone ones myself, and adapting the included equipment eg fans, sound insulation foam, fan controllers are all things I have done to reduce noise. What I would have liked to see in this review are:

    1. Max video card length - I game on mine, so what is the max video card length the case will take?

    2. noise levels when sitting say 8ft away, compared to ambient.
    Also adding the fan controller at its mid-way point and seeing what the noise and temperatures were.

    3. Since this seemed to a case that the reviewer was to use as his main set up, it would been interesting to see what effect of using a an integrated water cooling set up, such as with the Corsair H50, would have had on noise and temperature. Not many HTPC cases use 120mm fans so this would have been an ideal opportunity to include this.

    4. Photo of the case, in a room set up so we could see how it looks - both in the light and dark.
  • lukechip - Monday, January 24, 2011 - link

    I'm considering using the GD04 to build a SFF Gaming & HTPC. I'd like to use a AMD 6950 GPU, but I suspect that the GD04 is not tall enough to allow the PCIe power connectors to plug into the top of the GPU ?

    Anyone had any experience with this ?
  • guitarhead - Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - link

    Specs: Intel E8400 (low thermals), Fanless GPU card (HIS radeon 4670 from memory), two 80mm nexus fans (undervolted) at the back, one 92mm nexus fan in front of the HDD's, and a corsair low noise (500W) power supply. Stock intel fan over the CPU (have thought of upgrading this to another low-profile fan but primary use is HTPC thus not heating the CPU much...). Weighs a ton but its perfect. No noise !

    Point is: if you want a silent rig, dont blame the case... the case doesn't make any noise. Stupid to even mention this in the review imho.
  • douwe - Saturday, March 12, 2011 - link

    This a great case. The design is well thought out and it is one of the few cases with a shorter depth so it'll fit into a cabinet made for general AV equipment.

    Silencing the fans can be easily accomplished by moving one of the pins on the white, 4-pin molex connector that splits the power supply to the three fans. If the two pins that supply power to the fans are at the outer ends of the 4-pin connector, the fans will get only 7 VDC and they will be silent.

    This doesn't cost anything and resolves my only complaint about this case so far.

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