Testing Methodology

For testing Micro-ATX and full ATX cases, we use the following standardized testbed in stock and overclocked configurations to get a feel for how well the case handles heat and noise.

ATX Test Configuration
CPU Intel Core i7-2700K
(95W TDP, tested at stock speed and overclocked to 4.3GHz @ 1.38V)
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z68MX-UD2H-B3
Graphics Card ASUS GeForce GTX 560 Ti DCII TOP
(tested at stock speed and overclocked to 1GHz/overvolted to 1.13V)
Memory 2x2GB Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer DDR3-1600
Drives Kingston SSDNow V+ 100 64GB SSD
Samsung 5.25" BD-ROM/DVDRW Drive
Accessories Corsair Link
CPU Cooler Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo with Cooler Master ThermalFusion 400
Power Supply SilverStone Strider Plus 750W 80 Plus Silver

Each case is tested in a stock configuration and an overclocked configuration that generates substantially more heat (and thus may produce more noise). The system is powered on and left idle for fifteen minutes, the thermal and acoustic results recorded, and then stressed by running seven threads in Prime95 (in-place large FFTs) on the CPU and OC Scanner (maximum load) on the GPU. At the end of fiteen minutes, thermal and acoustic results are recorded. This is done for the stock settings and for the overclock, and if the enclosure has a fan controller, these tests are repeated for each setting. Ambient temperature is also measured after the fifteen idle minutes but before the stress test and used to calculate the final reported results.

Thank You!

Before moving on, we'd like to thank the following vendors for providing us with the hardware used in our testbed.

Assembling the NZXT Phantom 630 Noise and Thermal Testing, Stock
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  • praeses - Friday, January 25, 2013 - link

    Like Dustin pointed out, it would be nice to see fewer 5.25" drive bays and shed the side panel fan but I would like to see it one step further yet. I would like to see all 5.25" bays removed and just fans at the front.

    I am sure there are many others that would agree that in their high performance system (gaming, workstation, etc) there isn't a need for either 5.25" or 3.5" drive bays, only a couple 2.5" ones that this conveniently already has. The optical drive is nicely served externally up on the desk near the monitor/keyboard/mouse. The front could then sport another large (200 or 140mm) quiet fan directly in line with the CPU.

    Also, a front fan filter and having the air redirected like the fractal design refine series (although their thermals aren't the best) would help muffle the sound.

    Aesthetics I'm not a fan of but it wouldn't prevent me from buying one, the rest of the design I am quite fond of.
  • Magichands8 - Sunday, January 27, 2013 - link

    What they should do is move the drives all up ABOVE the motherboard in a separate compartment a la Lian Li's Tyr PCX-2000 cases. You could pack them pretty tight too and still have room for nice amount of storage AND an optical drive. Then, you could place 2 200mm fans in the front, remove the top fan(s), remove the side fan and have a solid panel there instead. Thermals should be AT LEAST as good and the case would be much quieter to boot. Sure the case would be taller but I'd rather have something better designed from an engineering and performance standpoint than something that sucked but looked prettier. Besides, no one looking for a compact, small case should even be thinking about this one in the first place so I don't get all the talk about it being x millimeters taller or wider than the other case.

    I just don't get why so many companies these days stick to this silly and outdated approach of placing the drives directly in front of the motherboard. Cooling HDDs TOO well can actually reduce their life-span and it makes no sense to pre-warm the incoming air before sending it to the CPU. Why is it that we are starting to see all these removable and modular drive cages anyway? It's because people keep trying to find a way to get the damn drives away from the front of the case.
  • Targon - Monday, February 6, 2017 - link

    I personally have a need for the four 5.25 inch drive bays. I went with a Icy Dock Fatcage, converts 3 5.25 inch drive bays into 5 3.5 inch hot swap bays(useful for RAID 1 and 5). For the rest, others may not care about having external hot swap bays, so having the drive bays can come in handy for those who use a lot of drives.
  • LS& - Friday, November 22, 2013 - link

    I just want to say thank you for your case reviews with temps as a solid focus. I have not built a pc in 7 years and am now just starting to do my research to find the best parts. Overclocking is going to be a goal in this build and at least for me low noise and great thermal is the key. Does anyone else know of any other cases well under $200 I should be looking at for this mix of sound and performance?

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