Katana's Mean Machine: Quieter than a Fish Tank

Do-It-Yourself Systems
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April 1, 2003 by James Van Horn

James, a.k.a. Katana Man in the SPCR Forums, recently assembled a new system with some of the latest and greatest components for silent PC enthusiasts. The foundation was a D8000 mid-tower case from Coolcases, which James modded even more with fan grommets and complete panel damping. The result is a system whose noise level is so low that his "fish tank and flourecent lights are starting to bug" him. (Time for a little aural sensitivity reduction, James -- loud rock n' roll with headphones at full blast for 24 hours is prescribed! :-D) -- Mike Chin, Editor.

Recently, I started researching mid tower cases with 120mm fans in them with a bit of help from my friends at SPCR Forums. I found only a handful, and decided on a D8000 from Coolcases. Coolcases takes a CompuCase LX-6A19 (which is internally identical to the Antec SLK3700), and makes a number of mods to make it more ideal for enthusiasts. For this project I also used:

>> Fan Isolators from Silicon Acoustics.

>> Fortron/Sparkle FSP350-60PN power supply from XP Direct.

>> AcoustiPack Deluxe case damping kit from Quietc PC USA.

>> Thermalright SLK-900U heatsink and some Panaflo fans from Plycon.

>> Zalman ZM-MFC1 multi-fan controller

>> Solid State Hard Drive from BIT Micro.

>> Zalman ZM80A-HP from Newegg

>> Modder's Mesh from MNPCTech.com

Being used to the quality of Lian Li cases, I prepared myself for the arrival of this low cost steel case. And as expected, many of the edges were sharp. Without hesitation, I grabbed my dremmel, steel brush bit, and spent and hour smoothing out some of the sharp edges.

I was not especially pleased with the 120mm fan mount design on the back panel. If you don't mind hard mounting two 120mm x 25mm fans directly to the case, then you don't have to worry. (Hard mounting fans directly to the case can transfer vibrations and noise to the case.) But since I was going to be using silicon fan isolators, I immediately removed the plastic fan holders. To my surprise, their proprietary plastic fan mount do not use standard holes. As seen in the next two pictures, you can see where I had to dremmel in between the two holes. This took over 2 hours with all of the cleanup and thorough vacuuming.

Next, I installed the AcoustiPack (reviewed by SPCR) into the case. I was very surprised at the weight of the delux kit, as it comes at nearly 10 lbs! Installation went just about how you'd expect: slow, but enjoyable. It took a couple of hours to install the material. Pretty much the entire exposed interior was covered.



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