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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 about 6~10 seconds of the ambient in the anechoic chamber (silence), 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.
Comparable System sound files:
The Silverstone SG05 and SG06 are welcome additions to the slowly expanding range of mini-ITX cases for DIY system builders. This is a sector that was once served by industrial/commercial case suppliers, complete SFF PCs from specialized vendors, or barebones SFF PCs, popularized by Shuttle. There are still very few well designed mini-ITX cases, and these Silverstones are among the best available today.
With most mini-ITX cases, because most of the features are expected to be built right into the motherboard, there is no need for many visible features. Basic I/O for the front panel, perhaps a memory card reader and an optical drive (if you really must have one in this day of flash and portable optical drives) are all that's really needed. What's more important is the cooling design, because it is a key to noise.
The overall airflow design in the SG05 and SG06 is basic: Most of the airflow comes from the front 120x25mm intake fan, a decently quiet fan when undervolted just a bit. The exhaust venting is a bit more complicated because of Silverstone's design goal of allowing a gaming graphics card to be used in the case. When such a card is installed, the airflow works fine, although a fan on the CPU heatsink is probably better than none if you plan to push the system hard over long periods. The overall noise level under high load with a gaming card will depend largely on the video card's cooling scheme; many have fans that get quite noisy when pressed.
When using only onboard video, the large vent on the left side becomes detrimental for cooling, allowing a lot of the air from the front fan to escape before cooling any hot components on the board. The solution of blocking the front portion of that side vent is simple to implement.
The more blocked front bezel makes the SG06 a bit quieter than the SG05, but the difference isn't really that significant due to the noise of the power supply, which is louder at idle than the 120mm case fan except when when the case fan is run at full speed. The SG06 also tends to run a bit hotter due to the increased airflow impedance of the front facia.
Inside both cases, the 3.5" HDD mounting frame impedes the front fan a bit too much. If you use a 2.5" drive, just remove the 3.5" bay. The steel sheeting used for the case is also a bit too thin to feel sturdy, and the fit of the cover could be improved. One of our sample cases never quite fit well enough, allowing a bit of the blue-gray metal to show above the top portion of the bezel.
The prices of the cases are relatively modest; the SG05 can be found online in the US for ~$90, and the SG06 for ~$120. Considering the inclusion of the 300W 80 Plus efficient power supply, it's a decent deal. The PSU is part of Silvertone's simple but effective strategy for supporting a mid-level gaming system in these little cases. In the SG05 and SG06, Silverstone has created small cases suitable for a gaming system yet also workable for a quiet, general PC.
Silverstone SG06/05 Case Balance Sheet
- Good airflow design
- Quiet 300W power supply
- Set up for 2.5" and 3.5" drive
- Quiet stock fan
- Better cooling than other m-ITX cases
- Usable with midrange graphics card
- Decent prices
- Build quality could be higher
- Fan too blocked
- No fan speed controller
- No HDD soft grommets
- SG05 front bezel a bit noisy
- SG06 front bezel a bit airflow impeded
Our thanks to Silverstone Technology for all the various samples, and to Coolermaster for the GeminII sample.
Recommended by SPCR
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|POSTSCRIPT: Thoughts for the Über Silencer
The difference in perceived noise between the SG05 and the SG06 is mostly obscured when the power supply is turned on. As usual, a few silent diehards may consider replacing the provided PSU with a silent picoPSU and an external AC/DC power brick. This not only eliminates the noise of the power supply fan, it also frees up the space above the CPU so that one of the huge tower heatsinks could be used (as long as it fits on the motherboard of your choice). Such a heatsink could be fitted with a slow, quiet 120mm to blow in almost any direction, as there are vents on three sides around the motherboard, now that the opening for the PSU exhaust is free. A left to right alignment might be best, assuming the PCI (or PCIe) slot is not filled.
With the stock PSU gone, the SG06's lower noise floor becomes significant again. You might feel the price premium makes the SG06 too costly... in which case there is also the option of going with the cheaper SG05, removing the front fan, and blocking up that opening with a piece of dense foam. After all, if there is a big fan on a big CPU heatsink, the front fan becomes superflous. It would not be difficult with the right components (including an SSD) to obtain an SPL of ~15 dBA half a meter in front of such a system.
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Articles of Related Interest
Cases: Basics & Recommendations
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mCubed HFX Micro S13 system: Atom 330, Silenced
Fanless TC-100 mini-ITX case
Apex MI-008: A Cheap Quiet mini-ITX Case?
Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi
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