Coolermaster Sileo 500: Quiet ATX Midtower Case

Cases|Damping
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AUDIO RECORDINGS

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.

FINAL THOUGHTS

As it turns out, the Sileo is pretty darn quiet for several reasons. For starters, the fans included with the system are about as quiet as you'll find included with any case. Newbies just getting into the silencing game won't notice them, and hardcore silencers will be relieved to find the fans undervolt well and appreciate the fact they are decoupled from the case slightly. Then you look at the case's holes, or rather the lack thereof. Coolermaster's case catalogue is filled with many different cases with holes on the left side, holes in the front, and even holes on the right side behind the CPU socket. The Sileo is stifling in comparison — once you fit it with quiet components, what little noise the system generates doesn't bleed out from every side. This has a negative impact in intake airflow, but not enough to makeour test system overheat in our relatively cool ambient temperasture. Finally, there's the padding. The power supply is cushioned, hard drives are softened, and the entire interior is covered in foam. Granted the foam is not that dense, and these features aren't going to make a loud system quiet, but every little bit counts and the thought that went into these features is appreciated.

The Sileo has its share of faults, most notably, the shamefully thin side panels. While this isn't a huge problem acoustically given that they are lined with foam, they are weak and easily dented or warped by over-handling or by the random acts of violence sometimes associated with PC use. The hard drive mounting system, while not bad, isn't enough to dampen high vibration drives like the WD Black. Placing our WD Black drive on the foam floor of the case rather than the drive cage resulted in a 2~3 dBA reduction in our test system's overall noise level. In fact, if you tend to keep your system stationary, it's not a bad option. A little extra ventilation wouldn't be amiss either, especially from indirect sources like on the sides of the front bezel, which are far more choked than they need to be..

Accessibility is an issue we have mixed feelings about. Drives are easily swapped in and out — a hard drive can be mounted in less than 5 seconds. Fans too can be removed with relative ease. Other aspects of the Sileo's tool-less design are problematic. The latches used to secure expansion cards are laughable — they're like the safety scissors you give your kids. They kind of work, but they don't really get the job done. The front panel, while solidly constructed, is a pain to remove. Cable management is non-existent as there is little space behind the motherboard tray and no holes or hooks for routing cables. All you can really do is stuff everything behind the drive cages as best you can. For more complicated configurations, it will get messy fast. Almost as a joke, Coolermaster kindly provides a magnetic ring and a single adhesive pad with a zip-tie threaded through it.

Coolermaster isn't a name that comes to mind when we think about quiet computing, so to be honest, we weren't expecting much. We are pleased to report that the Sileo 500 is a humble, affordable, and most importantly of all, quiet case. It doesn't stack up to a top silent case like the Antec Solo/P150, but at $70~100, it is cheaper and perhaps a bit easier to work inside. We wouldn't recommend using it to house a multi-GPU configuration, but just about anything else is fair game.

There are plenty of manufacturers who haphazardly slap the words 'quiet' or 'silent' on their products, but few take the trouble of implementing even the most basic design elements to back up their claims. Looking at the case's design, it is clear to us that Coolermaster is thinking about silence. They're not quite there yet, but if the Sileo is any indication, they are well on their way.

Our thanks to Coolermaster for the Sileo 500 sample.

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Antec Mini P180: A micro-ATX P182

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