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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.
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
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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Computex 2008: Antec's Skeleton,
P183 & Sonata Elite cases
Antec Mini P180: A micro-ATX
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