My wife's computer has been having problems, primarily because the case it was in is a piece of crap, generic, no-name, badly designed, badly assembled pile of turd. *ahem*
So I decided to quiet her system and also switch cases at the same time to get something a little better built. The problem is that the system is in a kitchen nook, so we needed something with microATX dimensions. I did some research, and found the FoxConn/Apex TM-124 at NewEgg.
It was incredibly inexpensive, and that even included a throwaway power supply. It had the right number of bays -- 2 external 5.25", 2 external 3.5", and one more internal 3.5". It also had front USB ports, 4 expansion slots, and used a regular ATX power supply. And only $32!! And did I mention only 14.2" tall?!
The case arrived promptly, and it has been incredibly well designed and put together. Here are the notable things about it:
- intake fan can be mounted (does not come with one)
- 80mm/92mm exhaust fan bracket, comes with 80mm fan. This is rare on microATX cases
- side panel has a perforated fan area with duct that leads straight to the top of the CPU fan. I don't know if this makes a difference, but it's nice to have and you can easily remove the duct and install a case fan there instead (I think)
- rotated bottom 3.5" internal drive cage like the Sonata! Very well designed, you mount the drive in the removable cage and then slide it in without requiring any tools
- slide and lock drive rails -- you use special screws on your drives and then they slide in from the front and lock down without special tools.
The only downsides that I've run into is that it doesn't have a removable motherboard tray and you can only pop off the side panel -- the top and other side don't come out, but this really isn't a concern since you don't need to get to the other side.
A lot of these features can be found on other cases, but not at this price point. $32 for case and power supply is just an incredible deal, and finding good cases in the microATX form factor that also allow for good cooling is tough.
Now, it's not a "quiet case", obviously, but it allowed me to make her system quiet. Her system is a P3/1000, so I mounted an SK-7 + Panaflo; Panaflo exhaust; and Antec TruePower 330, and while it's not silent, it's MUCH quieter than it used to be with an Enlight PSU and Antec HSF. The hard drive is the loudest part of the system now even with everything at the stock 12V settings.
For a small system I can't recommend this case highly enough. It's damn nice, reasonably expandable, and fits in small places. Cheap, small, good airflow and easy to use -- a winning combo.
While not as aesthetically pleasing as my gMono, in all other ways I think it's actually better.