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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.
In our first test configuration, we setup the Silencio 450 with a relatively low power IGP based system and it performed on par with the Silencio 550 not surprising seeing as they share the same basic layout. Adding a moderately powerful graphics card heated up things considerably in both cases, but ultimately the 550 got the worst of it due to its underpowered fans. However neither case performed particularly well, being easily beaten by the much-lauded Antec Solo II. Both Silencios showcase the number one problem with "quiet" cases: they tend to block out noise by sealing up every hole possible resulting in poor airflow and high temperatures. If the front bezel is going to be the main source of intake airflow, the vents should be as wide as possible and run all the way up the sides.
The thermal and acoustic performance of the 450 could be overlooked given the cost of the case, but there are a laundry list of other issues as well. The thinner construction makes the side panels prone to vibration. The bottom hard drive cage is an inconvenience, requiring the intake fan to be removed first to properly secure the drives. The top hard drive cage is removable allowing for a long graphics card, but only if it's installed in the 4th or 5th slot, an option not available on most budget motherboards. Modern cable management features are present, but their usefulness is dubious due to the laughable amount of space behind the motherboard tray. They've cut corners in other places as well, with the motherboard mounting holes not being pre-threaded, the lack of proper expansion slot covers, and power supply air filter being a crudely secured piece of plain steel mesh.
These cutbacks were intended to make the case more affordable but with a street price of US$70, the Silencio 450 is currently only US$10~$15 cheaper than the Silencio 550. The only real advantage the 450 has over the 550 is its reversible door, hardly enough to compensate for all its shortcomings. The 550 doesn't suffer from any of the 450's structural problems and boasts a second intake fan option, individually removable hard drives, and a SATA hotswap bay as well, making it a much better deal overall. As it stands the Silencio 550 remains our favorite budget case the cuts made to create the 450 were simply too deep.
Our thanks to Cooler Master for the Silencio 450 case sample.
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Articles of Related Interest
Cooler Master Cosmos II: Ultra Tower Case
Raidmax Viper: A Modern Budget Tower
Fractal Design Define Mini MicroATX Tower
Antec P280: Performance One Refresh
Antec Solo II: The Legacy Lives On
Cooler Master Silencio 550 Quiet ATX Tower
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this article in the SPCR Forums.
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