with regard to sound levels, the hdd's are only barely
audible now (they were quite loud before) and other noise has pretty much not changed at all. there's enough acoustic material on the side panel left to prevent the pump from vibrating it to oblivion and the only other noise making component is the rear case/radiator fan which is definitely not any noisier.
structurally, the side panel is pretty much as before. there are folded bits on all 4 sides so there isn't much flex, however the steel alone (without the window) wobbles quite a lot
thanks, i spent a long time planning the window i'm glad someone appreciates its form
the power cables are too stiff to be manouevred (sp?) any more, and due to the acoustic material there isn't any room behind the motherboard backplate or above the psu etc.
the material is "SoundSorber Barrier" material made by a company in Australia called SoundGuard. it's an 18mm thick composite material consisting of 5 mm foam, 3 mm barrier mass and another 10mm foam.
i'm going to get a bigger rad (a "big arse" heatercore) which won't fit nicely inside the case except for at the top front, but that would hinder airflow to my already-very-low-airflow PSU. so i'm mounting it outside. also the air is much cooler outside the case so performance will be better.
the system isn't louder now. it's quieter.
watercooling can be almost totally maintenance free if you know what you're doing. if you don't, then it's a very very expensive nightmare. basically, if nothing horrible goes wrong, then the only maintenance you need to do (if at all) is a complete flush of the system every year or so, and that's about it. i wouldn't hesitate to move this case anywhere - in fact, just as a test, i turned the case totally upside-down and everything was fine (pump on and everything)