For testing 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-Z77X-UD4H
Graphics Card ASUS GeForce GTX 560 Ti DCII TOP
(tested at stock speed and overclocked to 1GHz/overvolted to 1.13V)

2x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 in SLI
(full fat testing only)
Memory 2x2GB Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer DDR3-1600
Drives Kingston SSDNow V+ 100 64GB SSD

Samsung 5.25" BD-ROM/DVDRW Drive

3x HGST DeskStar 3TB 7200-RPM HDD
CPU Cooler Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo with Cooler Master ThermalFusion 400
Power Supply SilverStone Strider Plus 1000W 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.

For the "full fat" testbed, the GTX 560 Ti is swapped out for a pair of GTX 580s, and three hard disks are added to fill out the case.

Thank You!

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

Building in the Corsair Carbide 330R Noise and Thermal Testing


View All Comments

  • kmmatney - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    I think what matters is getting the airflow going across the motherboard, and low-high fans do that. Reply
  • Penti - Sunday, August 25, 2013 - link

    The traditional mid-tower even in the AT days actually has the PSU at the top and often the 5.25" drives above the motherboard, the negative about the drives in front of the board is actually that you need a very deep case, especially to fit say EATX and deep 5.25" drives such as optical drives or hot-swap drive bays, and even worse with SSI-EEB boards so to say. It's the same reason why there are removable hdd-cages in smaller cases, long cards – in these days graphics cards would not really fit in some cases otherwise. Traditionally you have the exhaust fan just behind the cooler in the back of the case rather than the failed BTX-design with air tunnels that didn't work for various reasons and tying up the use of the front of the case for air-tunnels was just one of the worst ideas ever. Even inverted cases don't have a clear air path for the cpu hsf. There is no going back to BTX and Prescott air-tunnel days. The important thing is to change the air in the case, a case fan isn't directly forcing air on the cpu cooler. I guess you love the good ol' days when cases had side fans above the cpu socket area too?

    Don't repeat past mistakes. Air flow is important to keep the case temp, and the ambient/case air inside the case cool. There is no need to have forced air or turbulent air everywhere and a front fan doesn't really do that either. And is quite far away from the cpu in modern cases to begin with.
  • JDG1980 - Sunday, August 25, 2013 - link

    The test results don't bear out the statements you are making. The reviews of the Silverstone Raven RV04 and Corsair Air Series 540 demonstrate that having fans blowing straight onto the motherboard is far more effective than the indirect cooling favored by conventional ATX cases. Reply
  • JPForums - Monday, August 26, 2013 - link

    I don't understand why the inverted motherboard design hasn't been more widely adopted. The "standard" ATX tower design seems pretty dumb: you've got the CPU cooler in a dead spot behind the optical drives (with no airflow from the intake fans), and one of the two front intakes is largely wasted by blowing at the back end of the PSU.

    Actually, the "standard" ATX tower had the PSU up top behind the optical drives. The dumb idea was to move the PSU down to the bottom while leaving the optical drives up top. The SilverStone Temjin TJ08 would be similarly effective with the board inverted or in a standard layout as the fan is large enough to provide airflow to a CPU cooler regardless of where it is located at on a microATX motherboard. Though to be fair, the Silverstone Fortress FT02 and FT04 (and Temjin TJ08) have largely proven that 90 degree rotation and inverted motherboard designs can be very effective.
  • OCedHrt - Sunday, August 25, 2013 - link

    I don't get what the big deal is? How is this any better or different than my Antec P180 (and mini's). Reply
  • kmmatney - Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - link

    I have a Antec P182, and it's basically dead silent once it's configured correctly. Reply
  • bobbozzo - Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - link

    I really wish Anandtech would re-review some Antec cases so they could be compared with these others. The P183 V3 and the p280 are both still available.

    I'm still happy enough with my p182, but for friends building new systems, I don't know if I should still recommend Antec over the newer offerings.
  • bobbozzo - Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - link

    Also the build quality of my p182 is extremely good, and I wonder how it compares to the Nanoxia, etc. Reply
  • Laststop311 - Sunday, August 25, 2013 - link

    nanoxia deep silence still is the superior choice. Extremely low temps + extremely quiet. It's got it all. I'm big on silent computing and every article i read i never see a case beat the nanoxia cases. I've been waiting for years to see them beat but they still represent the best choice for silent + good temps Reply
  • EnzoFX - Sunday, August 25, 2013 - link

    I have my fair share of problems with the case reviews here, but measuring "silent" cases has to be the biggest. Can't imagine the noise floor being ideal. I also wouldn't call 30dba silent, if you want silent, it's pretty easy to go below that. Reply

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