So I got a package yesterday, and hurriedly moved my old htpc system into the new case. I'm going on vacation next week, and I wanted to get it up and running in the new case immediately, so I haven't really had time to tweak it out for maximum silence. These are just first impressions I had while installing a system.
First off, the only access inside is through the top, there is no sliding motherboard tray and none of the other panels seem to move. This makes the case a little more solid, but be sure to have a good light overhead or a flashlight handy, the depth of the case is such that the bottom can be a little dark if you don't have good light.
The case itself is pretty solid, there is no rattling anywhere that I noticed, so if you're looking for a case that doesn't add extra noise, this will do it. However, the two panels in the front are pretty wide open, so any noise near those will come right out. For instance, I was really surprised at how much seek noise I heard from the hard drives. They are connected in the case to a raised platform, there are two mounts where you can use rubber grommets, I think those are pretty quiet, but the two in the lower section are harder to use grommets with, so I just screwed down the drive there. No constant noise, but I did distinctly hear the seeks, and it's a WD green drive, so I was a little surprised. It might be possible to suspend the drive inside the lower section, but it would be a tight fit.
My big problem was that I also moved the case location, I had my old htpc under the tv near the floor, and in the new case it's on a shelf next to the tv, so it's much easier to hear noise when you walk past. I was using a low profile zalman cooler in the old one, and it seems noisier in the new location. I have a Megahalems I can swap out for it, after I come back from vacation, but for the time being I can deal with it. I also have a gtx 725 in the system, wanted a little more horsepower for BluRay watching, and it seems a lot noisier now too.
The big 140mm fan in the back of the case is fairly noisy, I have a yate loon I want to swap in for it, but I haven't even tried undervolting it yet. It seems to be pushing out a lot of hot air, so it's effective if nothing else. With the open panels in front and the big fan in back, the air flow is pretty simple. One thing to note, in one review I read that there were 92mm fan mounts on the front panels, but as far as I can tell, there aren't. The front panels are covered inside by a fine black mesh cloth stapled to the inside of the case. I may try using some velcro to attach a 92mm fan on the graphics card side to see if I can boost the airflow over there. And with the wooden panels, you could probably add mounts if you really want them, but velcro seems like an easier way to go.
In terms of other small touches, the cable routing is pretty random, I need to go back in and clean it up at some point, but with the design the way it is, there isn't really any place to hide cables under or behindh anything. They include a couple of stick on cable tie offs in the hardware bag that came with it, I'll have to think about where to use those. One thing to keep in mind when routing the cables is the raised hard drive section, I have the hard drive power cables running from the front over the bar to keep them out of the way of motherboard stuff, but make sure you can connect everything up before you screw the hard drive section back in place, it can be tricky running power to all the different points you may have. The hard drive bar uses a single wood screw on each side, which seems like a bad design choice, those could certainly strip out holes in the wood at some point, so try to make sure it's all cabled up well before you screw it back in.
The installation instructions that come with it are pretty spare, the most important part is the recommended installation order. Try to follow that, it is definitely a case where you need to go step by step. Especially with the hard drive mounting, I had to backtrack a couple times on that with mounting the drives and getting the cables all straight. One thing to note is that the listing on newegg.com gives the depth as 11", that's a little disingenuous, it's 11" at the sides, in the middle it's about 14.5" It's overhanging the shelf I put it on a little, should be fine for me but if you're more space constrained keep it in mind. The size is pretty odd, it's long and tall and resonably thin, but with the part that sticks out it makes it a little more cubic. It is pretty heavy too, all the wood is pretty thick.
So all in all, it's a great looking case, and it isn't too noisy by design, but it isn't going to help out a lot in making a quiet system. Installing an inherently quiet set of parts will keep it quiet, but any big noise sources will make themselves known. It's a little unforgiving, you need to plan things out pretty well to make things go really smooth, and I haven't taken the time yet to really perfect my installation, but the potential is definitely there to make a nice looking quiet system.