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 Post subject: Deciding between open or silent focused case (Fractal S2)
PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 1:57 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:19 pm
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Hello all.

I was asking in the drives forum about today's quiet drives, but CA_Steve kindly informs there's not much current information, so for now I'm gonna try out a WD blue, which by specs should be slightly quieter than my current greens and just hope it's better.

Now the topic got more sidetracked towards my main conundrum, which is the choice of my new case, so I thought it'd be best to just open a new topic in here even if it's just for me to get my thought process straight.

The issue is this: I currently have a Fractal R4 but I'm gonna change it for a couple of reasons, and the best candidates by specs (and looks) seem to be the Fractal S2s.

Now where's the thing. My main focus is silent operation at idle, but I already reached that even on a completely open case (tested opening up my R4 entirely). A GTX 1080, Noctua D15, Seasonic x750W as the PSU and 3 noctua fans as case fans (2 A14s are the intakes) mean that, at idle, the thing is completely dead silent even just a couple inches away from it. That's except if the hard drives are spinning, which is where all the pain is coming from.
They're in no way loud, and they spend a lot of the time parked as they're storage drives, but they get accessed more or less frequently, and in the middle of the night you can actually (barely, but you can) hear them over ambient noise at say 1 or 2 meters due to the spinning itself plus the vibrations, unless the case mutes the noise with padding. Hence why I'm gonna try to swap them for a single bigger, quieter drive (it was time to get a new one anyway).


So this is where the hard choice comes. As I said, the Fractal S2s are most likely gonna be the chosen, because even if I'll waste a significant amount of space and are kind of pricey, they have exactly what I want otherwise. I'll also mount 3 Phanteks F140s as intakes that I can't mount in the R4 because of them being slightly larger (deeper) than what the front cage allows.

And here's the thing: I cannot find any proper testing of the Meshify and the Define S2s for cooling performance with 3 good fans pushing through the front, so I just have no clue what the best choice is.

I know the Meshify will perform better overall, and it will be dead silent at idle anyway if the hard drives are parked, but I can't know how much better, and if a single WD Blue, and the placing of the drive in the S2 will be quiet enough for it to be silent at idle while spinning (seek noise is irrelevant for me btw, just the idle spinning plus induced vibration).
The supposedly better airflow would also mean less noise while at load, which isn't as much of a priority, but would be obviously preferable.

On the other hand, I have no idea how the Define option performs when you get 3 proper fans working against the closed front. Maybe the airflow difference in that situation isn't that much worse than on the Meshify, and I'd get the benefit of the padding that would almost guarantee the silencing of the hard drive.

Then again, from the little data I've found, it seems like the open nature of the Meshify makes it benefit more from additional fans than the Defines, so it's entirely possible that I'll be able to turn the fan noise down significantly while on load (this is what's kind of a problem with my current R4, it needs to get pretty "loud" when working hard to move enough air).


So there, I can't decide (need more data!!). Is there anyone around here with experience maybe with the Define R6 and a Meshify C if not with the S themselves that could give me some clarity?


Thanks, and sorry for the text walls, but I find when I'm asking things on forums, writing it out helps me at the very least to clarify the situation for myself :mrgreen:, with the obvious added benefit of giving people I'm asking plenty of information.


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 Post subject: Re: Deciding between open or silent focused case (Fractal S2
PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 7:46 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:22 pm
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Location: Guatemala
You can accomplish a quiet pc in many ways, usually people get good results getting a restrictive/dampening case but in most scenarios its hotter, same way if you chose a more open case it will have better airflow needing less rpms to sustain it quiet, both approaches are valid.

You seem to want to go with a more open case like Meshify from Fractal, the only reason i havent jumped to those cases is I dont know how the foam will work over time, i like more plastic washable filter, according to fractal the sponge can be washed, but im not sure how it will be over time, while stardard filters i have used for a long time.

Here some suggestions,

1) If you want to go with a more open case, buy a bigger ssd, now with QLC we are starting to see $600 4tb ssds, given that its not cost effective, the storage will be silent, allowing you to go with whatever case you wish. Im about to do this, just waiting for a sale, my main setup will lower 6 seconds booting just eliminating the storage hdd.

2) Move the mechanical HDDs into a NAS, today there are very good small NAS options like Synology, QNAP, etc, that you can place where you cant hear them just need to have a network access, this is good on the long run, as you are not binded to quiet drives, you can go with whatever you want.

3) Go with R6, its similar to your R4 (i own both), but its less restrictive, while it still has the frontal door, the second push door is not there, allowing more area to breath, also the side openings seems wider, its a very nice case overall. I'm cooling fine TR1950x on it.

4) Go with Meshify, here you might be fine with the your components, but hdds really hard to say, its more likely you will hear them, but if your storage needs are not that high, there are still 2TB WD Greens on retail. Here what i would do is try the Meshify, if its not quiet enough, then add the NAS.

About the fans, on 120mm i suggest Noctua NF-A12x25 PWM by far the best fan i have used, both for case and heatsinks. On 140, im very pleased with BeQuiet Silentwings3 BL067.

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 Post subject: Re: Deciding between open or silent focused case (Fractal S2
PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 9:14 am 
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Abula wrote:
4) Go with Meshify, here you might be fine with the your components, but hdds really hard to say, its more likely you will hear them, but if your storage needs are not that high, there are still 2TB WD Greens on retail. Here what i would do is try the Meshify, if its not quiet enough, then add the NAS.


My 2 hard drives are 2TB greens (wd20earx), that I didn't buy for this reason back in the day, complete accident on them being quiet.
Most of the time the PC is running on SSD though, couple smaller ones for OS and some games plus a 1TB one for kind of general purpose, that is the one that gets really used for the day to day stuff. It's mostly just video that I keep on the hard drives for obvious reasons, but there's times they are on frecuently.

And yeah, the greens are quiet. I mean, I admit I'm pretty much splitting hairs at this point with trying to get quieter ones, it's just that doubt if I go the open case way.
Still I'll try out that WD Blue that by specs should average just the one dBA less on idle, but hey, who knows, maybe it'll vibrate a bit less.
But yeah, I'm thinking it's unlikely I'll manage to make them completely unhearable if I go the Meshify way. But then again there's a point where I have to think "who the hell cares if there's gonna be a slight sound coming out of a drive that I can just barely hear at a meter, which also is only gonna be on only when there's some show or movie playing that's gonna cover it anyway".

So at this point I'm leaning towards the Meshify. Guess me not pulling the trigger yet comes down to not knowing how much of a difference in temps there's gonna be against the Define, specially with you telling me the R6 is less restrictive than the 4, as I suspected (and in fact the S2 should be ever so insignifcantly better than the R6 because of the slight difference in the front panel and filtering desing).

Oh and there's also the question of the coil whine coming out of the graphics card, but since that's gonna be coming up only while under heavy load, it'd be a matter of choice of more fan sound with a padded case, or less fan noise and hearing some coil whine, don't think that really weighs on the decision.


Thanks for the response.

I will also think about the possibility of setting up a NAS somewhere hidden. Thought about it a couple of times, cause I have (and will have more) a few old drives lying around that could see more use. But then again, I don't really need more than 4 or 6 TB worth of capacity right now, hence why I think it'd be overkill and just getting drives for the PC.


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 Post subject: Re: Deciding between open or silent focused case (Fractal S2
PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 10:22 am 
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Location: Guatemala
Molitro wrote:
I will also think about the possibility of setting up a NAS somewhere hidden. Thought about it a couple of times, cause I have (and will have more) a few old drives lying around that could see more use. But then again, I don't really need more than 4 or 6 TB worth of capacity right now, hence why I think it'd be overkill and just getting drives for the PC.
Synology Hybrid raid and unRaid will allow you to use different disk and create a pool, this is not possible on traditional raids arrays, personally im about to remove mechanicals from my main pc and remain with server for videos and large files, a synology nas barely consumes power, and it can sleep the drives, but to each to its own, for example on my R6 my intention was to make a raid 10 for video editing, to have a big storage where i could have my raw video files and still have decent performance on editing, but R6 came with only 6 trays, im still trying to get 3 more, but will see i have 8x 4tb Seagates that were taken out of my server for 8tb reds, so i can still do it, just a matter of when.

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 Post subject: Re: Deciding between open or silent focused case (Fractal S2
PostPosted: Mon Mar 04, 2019 11:16 am 
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Yeah you can build some big ass quiet servers on the Fractal Rs if you have the room for them.

On my side of things, screw it, I pulled the trigger on the Meshify. I also like it aesthetically, so what the hell. I'll probably forget about the hard drive noise soon enough, if it's even a problem, which it may well not be. I'm testing it now that there's very low ambient noise and with both "doors" open on the R4, I can more or less hear it at about a meter if I place my head in front of it (which happens to be where my head is when I lie on my bed to sleep, although then there's usually some clothes blocking the way, so that alone may actually be enough to kill it outright once it reaches my ears), but it's such a quiet hum I honestly only hear it cause I'm focusing on hearing it.

Of course once the drives get parked the case goes pretty literally silent even inches away with everything open, so I'm good on that front.

So there, Meshify it is, let's get the noise down at load and let my poor gear breath a little.

And a bit further down the road I'll probably eventually follow your advice and set up a NAS somewhere around as a media server so I can access it from my TV on the other side of the house. Seems like a good solution.


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 Post subject: Re: Deciding between open or silent focused case (Fractal S2
PostPosted: Thu Mar 14, 2019 2:54 pm 
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So just to finish this topic, all went basically as expected.
I've been trying out different configs and playing with the Speedfan profiles, and I've ended up with 3 intakes (trusty Noctua A14s) and 2 exhausts (2 of the Fractals that come with the case), and sure enough, the Meshify is effectively silent at idle when there's no hard drive noise, pretty quiet on load since the fans can be running at about 6-700 RPM (and even less, but the graphics card noise is enough anyway to justify running them a bit higher to bring the temps down a bit with a very low noise penalty) or so and still get a couple degrees less on the GPU than on the R4 (the CPU is fresher). And of course have the choice of going cooler with similar noise as before.

And yeah, the hard drives are obviously a bit louder than on the R4, but, one, not that much really, I'd be fine with my WD Greens, and second, I want to go bigger drive anyway so I'm just setting up a NAS since I have the perfect place for it and be done with it. 100% SSD it is.

I'm happy with the results (although the S2 is obviously too big for my needs, the ideal would've been a hypothetical Meshify C2, updated with the few improvements on design they've done since the C and just a bit bigger, but oh well).


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 Post subject: Re: Deciding between open or silent focused case (Fractal S2
PostPosted: Thu Mar 14, 2019 5:35 pm 
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Nice it work out and that you are happy with the outcome.

Btw im interested if maybe, if you remember after you do your first filter cleaning, to give us some feedback on the mesh/foam on the front, im wondering how well does it clean with dust or how well it takes a water/wash.

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 Post subject: Re: Deciding between open or silent focused case (Fractal S2
PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2019 1:16 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 03, 2019 1:19 pm
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You got it.
I've never water cleaned a dust filter though, never thought of it. I usually just unleash the vacuum on it. I'll keep you informed.
The foam isn't too thick, although I haven't tried yet to take it out of the front panel, it's pretty well fixed. I'll see how bad it is just trying to clean it without taking it out and if need be, I'll separate it.
Front panel is very easy to release though, decently designed case in general in terms of easy of use.


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