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 NZXT H230 Noise and Thermal Testing
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  • zero2dash - Friday, September 13, 2013 - link

    I thought about buying one of these a few days ago but since the only 2 reviews out there for the case are not very flattering, I figured I'd wait for someone more worth their salt to review it.

    AT delivers as usual; thanks for the review Dustin.

    This looks like a silent case built for computers that don't make a lot of noise to begin with....the onboard video, 1 HD, ≤ 430W PSU systems.

    Guess I'll continue trying to lower the noise in my Core 3000 instead.
  • flemeister - Saturday, September 14, 2013 - link

    You've got the right idea. =)

    First deal with the noise making components:

    * Fans: fan control, undervolt, or change to better quality or quieter models (eg. for the PSU).
    * Hard drives: 5400/5900RPM models to reduce vibration and high-freq. noise compared to 7200RPM models (relying on your SSD for speedy stuff). Also suspension with elastic cord, which can even be done in the internal 3.5" bays if they're wide enough. Or go all SSD. ^_^

    That should be a marked improvement. But if you'd like to go further, get an enclosed case with solid panels, solid build quality (eg. Antec Solo, Antec P18x), mass damping and acoustic foam. Ideally, a case with not too restrictive ventilation. Generally though you'll have to sacrifice one of performance, temps or dust filtering to keep the noise down. Only under load though; at idle there should be no problem keeping the rig quiet. Few are so anal as to desire near silence at both idle and load. =)
  • WarrenSmith - Saturday, September 14, 2013 - link

    Love my job, since I've been bringing in $5600… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online( Click on menu Home)
  • KLC - Friday, September 13, 2013 - link

    "the perfect silent chassis for users looking for the bare essentials"

    Maybe 20 years ago a huge case was required for the bare essentials, but not anymore. With better CPUs that require lower power, with 4tb hard drives that negate the need for multiple hard drives, and with higher power integrated graphics that eliminate the need for GPUs, the bare essentials in 2013 are more like a small mini ITX box than gigantic case the size of microwave.

    The PC industry is still living in the past.
  • et20 - Friday, September 13, 2013 - link

    I completely agree.
    At this point, in any case review I see I immediately check for for factor and ignore everything larger than microATX.
  • JoanSpark - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    so true.. where are the reviews of mini-ITX or m-ATX cases?
  • lwatcdr - Saturday, September 14, 2013 - link

    For the average home user yes. Even an ITX board would do. Thing is that the average home user buys a PC or these days a notebook or even a tablet.
    1. Integrated graphics are not good enough for high end CAD, gaming, or video editing.
    2. Multiple monitors are becoming the norm for developers and large high resolution monitors are becoming cheap.
    3. People do still roll their own NAS boxes so lots of drives is a plus for them.
    Bare essentials vary by use case.
    For me it would be a good nVidia graphics card, i5 or i7, at least 16gb of ram, one SSD boot and two HDDs in Raid for storage. I like slots because I do some hardware work as well and like to add at least one real serial port.
  • Grok42 - Saturday, September 14, 2013 - link

    Every thing you describe is handled by common mITX systems. I build a mITX system with an Intel i7 3770k, 16GB of ram, Nvidia 660ti and a 840pro SSD. Your need for a real serial port is pretty unusual given that I work for a company that does tons of hardware development and everything has USB interfaces these days even when it's serial over USB.
  • JoanSpark - Monday, September 16, 2013 - link

    Zotac H87-ITX... besides the other stuff you need we find.. "internal connectors: .. serial COM port header".
    Admitted though.. with mATX this would be easier ;-)
    Still no need for full blown ATX cases anymore for 90% of the users of such hardware.
  • Grok42 - Sunday, September 15, 2013 - link

    I completely agree. I've noticed a lot more "mini" GPUs coming out lately as well which will make it even easier to build mITX systems. I guess everyone is getting the picture that small cases are the future except the case manufactures.

    My only complaint with mITX is the PSU. While there are tons of good ones out there and most mITX cases support full ATX or small ATX PSUs, there is a lack of a specific standard for small ATX PSU that makes picking a PSU a case by case decision.

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