But I am thinking about increasing the size of the case and go for the DEFINE Mini http://www.fractal-design.com/home/prod ... efine-mini
While i like a lot Fractal cases, personally i dont like much the Mini, unless you are going for mulitple hdds, where it does make sense, its not a bad case at all, dont get me wrong, its a fine choice, but i dont see it as small, its just 3 pcie slots less, thats all you gain over the R4, and since you were presuing a small... i dont think its the best choice, unless you going to use a lot of mechanical hdds.
or pick the SilverStone Temjin TJ08B-E. They seem to be easier to build in and make them soundproof.
The TJ08-E is a very good case, was reviewed by SPCR and got the editors choice, for its size it cools very good, the only drawback of it, is that the frontal fan (AP181) requires a lot of undervolting for it to become bearable, below 600rpm starts to become decent, below 500rpms is how i used it for two years and although not dead silent, it was very quiet. Worth mentioning that quiet or noisy are very relative terms for each user, we all have different scales or opinions into whats good enough or whats irritating, so while the fan at 500rpm was good enough for me, i have encounter people that have change the fan as they find it still too noticeable... so no way of knowing until you try it. Still is a case that i do recommend a lot, as for me for its factor and its cooling its very good, and for SSD + single mechanical, you can take off the middle cage and have direct airflow for your cpu and gpu, ends up very nice. As an alternative there is also the PS07 which has basically the same internals, just instead of the 180mm it has 2x 120s, which are much easier to replace, i also did a build for friend on it, and was the same as mine.
Recommended you read the following thread, OCN Silverstone TJ08-E Owners Club.
In there you will find tons of builds and combos that can help you decide or even ask there, there are tons of owners that can help you.
Now a build that i really liked in that thread was iamdjango bild post #5264
, he fits a phantek PH-TC14PE + Prolimatech MK-26, really both big coolers, he also added some sound deading material, and went with PS07 and 120mm fans, worth mentioning that i asked him a few post below that mk26 mounting bracket makes some screws stick on the back and into micro atx mobos, the PCIe 16x is right next to CPU socket, so very wide coolers or brackets that have screws in the back makes it so they touch, this might or not matter to you, in my case Artic cooling Accelero did touch, so is this case with mk26, weather it will affect the CPU socket adding extra weight to it, is something that i fear, but idk if it will affect it at all.
I am not sure I understand if this test is performed with the coolers that the cards come with from the fabric?
Yes, on the GTX780ti i belive nvidia allow manufacuters to use their own coolers from release, and the review refers to all the cards they have tested, most of them with coolers that came design by their own manufacturers. I really wished we could have reviews by SPCR to back up the claims that techpowerup is making, but at least you can have a comparation between the cards they review, thats as good as it gets, specially because high end cards are not what most quiet builds aim for, but still some of us think we need them (punt intended to me), either way i think MSI twin frozr is the best bet into looking for the quietest factory cooler based card out of all.
If yes, is it possible to make the noise even lower by buying a special GPU cooler?
Probably, specially cooolers like prolimatech MK-26, which is massive and allows to install big fans, but there are drawbacks like needing 4x PCI slots, so this wont fit in NODE 304, and also its a lot of wight that you put the PCIe slot.... even the mobo will get some extra weight that its not meant for. Read the SPCR Prolimatech MK-26 Multi-VGA Cooler
, it puts into shame almost any cooler, even artic cooling, its a really superb cooler, just not for everybody. Personally i don't recommend anyone to go aftermarket unless they need to, going for something like MSI twin frozr should be good enough for most, and if you think its too noisy after putting it inside you PC and playing with it, then go for aftermarket, my guess is you will be happy with how the MSI comes.
Some other comments,
You might not believe this, but a mini itx motherboard like the ASUS i linked above will have more space than micro atx mobo, i mean between the cpu socket and 16x PCIe, allowing to install bigger cooler without touching, this is because of the CPU socket placement, and Asrock mobos have even more space as they place it oposite to the 16x (but this might not be ideal for node 304). Overall i like Fractal Node 304, it can pack a lot of hardware for its small factor, and choosing the right motherboard will help or allow to install a very big cpu cooler.
As a last recommendation, read the OCN threads for both the NODE 304 and TJ08-E, i think either case should fit what you are looking, personally i would favor the NODE 304 because you want small, and since you are using a single mechanical hdd, you can even suspend it with the front of the case for even quieter build, but its a case that you will never be able to do SLI or add cards, but at the same time its what allows it to have a small factor and still allow a really impressive and quiet build.