Just little background first. I have lurked at this site since it's inception. This is the first thread that Ive really wanted to post in. I started working on silencing cases back when Delta fans were everyone's favorite, and Pabst was your only option. I've chopped up Lian Li cases, built half a dozen P180, 182, 183 mini rigs, built multiple Silverstone rigs of all sizes, and replaced almost all of my fans with either Nexus or higher rated ones. I have BLED for the Scythe Ninjas I have installed, and anyone that owns one knows what I mean. So I'm coming from experience here.
Thank you Mike and all the other members who's advice has been thankfully received over the years. Also, thank you Corsair George for giving us an opportunity to be heard.
A while back I built a new gaming rig for my father. Being disappointed in the difficulty in wiring my Silverstone FT02 and it's general noise profile (in comparison to my old Antec P182), I decided to try something different by putting his rig in a Corsair 600T. I was hesitant at first due to the design being more about cooling then noise, as well as the heavy use of plastic, but was pleasantly surprised by the results. With two 7970s (using dual fan, 3 slot coolers), and a heavily overclocked i5 3570k using a Thermalright Venomous X with two Nexus 120mm fans in push/pull config, the system was actually quieter then my FT02 build. Not to mention much easier to work on. Due to that, I'm going to use the 600T (layout wise) as base of where you should go.
What you did right:
- Large 180mm fans that are nearly silent. (EDIT: I meant 200mm. I was tired when I wrote this originally).
- Excellent cable routing with lots of space behind the mainboard.
- Flexible cooling options.
- AWESOME AND EASY case panel opening.
- Fan controller.
What you did not so right:
- Plastic...lots of it. Given it's not a super expensive case, but the Plastic is annoying. Noise Itself
Two things have to be considered here. First what produces noise. Second how does that noise escape the case.
Production of noise:
There are a myriad of components that produce noise, but almost all of them can be traced back to fans (water pumps for liquid cooling also). The fans that cases and components use are paramount to producing a quiet system. Very generally speaking, the larger the fan, the lower and deeper in tone it's noise output. So the use of 180mm fans for intake and exhaust will help drop the noise profile. The exception of this is to ensure that fans run a low RPM, or at least capable of being dialed back, while still producing good airflow. These fans need to be test not only at their full voltage (let's say 12), but also at three quarter and half. The sounds of their bearings need to be taken into consideration. Unfortunately, the 180mm market isn't nearly as well stocked as the 120 and 140mm market. I would urge you to include adapters or mounting points for 140mm as well.
- A good starting point would be to listen to the Nexus 120mm case fan. It has very good airflow, and a noise profile that's one of the best in the industry. I use them extensively in my builds, though I despise the fact that I can't purchase them without molex connectors. If Nexus made 180mm version, I'd own it. It would be worth buying a few to examine in your labs.
The next issue is vibration. Aluminum cases, if built with thin panels, can hum in an annoying high pitched way. Manufactures often claim it's to make the case light, but we all know it's mostly to save money. Even if it was to make it light, PC enthusiasts who focus on silence aren't going to be hefting their rigs around. So you MUST build the case with a heavy, dense build.
- A good example is the P180/182/183. The case used three layer panels that effectively trapped the sound and eliminated vibration. This is FAR better then slapping some foam on a thin side panel. The Silverstone FT02 is mostly aluminum, but it's built with a thicker gauge so it works decently.
Of course it goes without saying that keeping components cool so their fans don't have to ramp also is critical.
How noise escapes:
Do you know why silent PC enthusiasts avoid cases like the 600T in general? Because they're full of holes. Holes allow the noise to escape, and some of the worst offenders are those on the top of the case. I cut my noise output in HALF just by covering the top 80mm vent on my old Lian Li. Put a pillow between the case and wall also significantly reduced the noise.
-Using carefully crafted baffles will help direct and trap noise to areas where it's less intrusive is a must. Making It Silent
Using the 600T as a base, lets go over what would be needed to make it truly silent.
Build Material: Thicker panels with foam to reduce noise. Use silicon seals or gromets on areas that are metal on metal touching to reduce vibration. Soft rubber feet should be use to elevate the case. ALL FANS should have a silicon cover like this surrounding them, and any fan grills should be simple circular style. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811996014&nm_mc=KNC-GoogleAdwords&cm_mmc=KNC-GoogleAdwords-_-pla-_-Case+Accessories-_-N82E16811996014&gclid=CIrN_ZmQnLoCFaXm7AodSk0AGw
Compartmentalize the PSU: The PSU should be it's own compartment, not shared with any other component. The compartment interior should have noise absorbing foam on it. Mount it at the bottom of the case as it currently is. It's air intake will come from below, but the area should be baffled so as to not reflect sound waves off tile/wood floors. The interior of that baffle should also have foam.
Partially Compartmentalize the Hard Drives: Hard drives should be isolated in cages like the P180. These cages should be simple to remove, and face front to back (again like the P180) on the case so as to create a wind tunnel effect, instead of blocking airflow. They should be directly in front of the front 180mm intake.
Baffle the top exhaust: Adding a baffle to the top of the case with insulating foam and a rear exhaust for the top fan would aid in eliminating noise. The baffle should be about an inch thick, and removable via thumb screws in the back. It should also have noise insulating foam inside, so as to absorb sound as it redirects the airflow.
Seal the front panel: You require that it has two optical drive slots but I would suggest removing them entirely in favor of a single slim slot load drive at the top (like the Silverstone FT-03). The front panel would have about an inch gap from the frame of the case, but only open and showing the gap at the very bottom for the front air intake. Foam would line the rear of it. Behind the front panel would be two slow 180mm fans with removable dust guards. Fan grills would be unnecessary because they will be behind the front panel. The intake should be ducted so that it flows through the hard drives and not around.
Silent Lights: Give me a way to flip a switch and turn off the those obnoxious flashing hard drive lights. If you must have a power light, make it subdued and red not blue.
Okay. I'm trying to figure out a CAD program to put to picture everything I just wrote. I hope I was descriptive enough and this wasn't too long to read.
One last thing: I would really, really like to see a silence focused ITX case akin to the Ncase M1 but without the numerous vents on every side. Just food for thought.
EDIT: Okay...everywhere I mention 180mm fans for the 600T, I meant 200. It was late and I was tired...