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SilverStone Precision PS11B-Q Budget Tower

SilverStone Precision PS11B-Q Budget Tower

July 13, 2015 by Lawrence Lee

Product
SilverStone
Precision PS11B-Q

ATX Tower Case
Manufacturer
Price
US$50

A few months back I took a look at the SilverStone Kublai KL05B-Q, a budget case from a manufacturer not well known for affordable cases. It performed fairly well but lacked the fit and finish of their more popular/expensive models. The side panels didn't fit as well as I would have liked and he drive cages were incredibly vibration prone, but it had some features you don't typically find in budget towers. Most notably, it had a dedicated radiator compartment which made it look overly tall and lanky.



The Precision PS11B-Q.

The Precision PS11 is a budget case in the same vein, though more modestly sized and even lower in price at US$50. It stands under 17 inches tall but it is somewhat wide due to 140 mm fan support at the front and beveled side panels with center sections extending outward, presumably to allow for bigger components and more cabling. It has a plain matte black finish with a plastic front panel that looks a bit darker than the rest of the chassis. The only flourish is a shiny metal strip across the front bezel with a mirror finish bearing SilverStone's branding.

Like the KL05, the PS11 comes in two different models. Our sample is the mostly solid PS11B-Q as opposed to the PS11B-W which sports a side window, fan placements on the ceiling, and a front-facing mesh intake grill that allows more air in. Another difference is the B-Q has foam padding, so it's a silence-oriented tower according to modern case conventions.



Unboxed.



Accessories.

The PS11 offers little in the way of extras. Included is a nut-driver for tightening the standoffs, all the necessary screws (no fan screws though), a few zip-ties, a rudimentary security lock, and an assembly guide printed on just a single folded sheet of paper.

Specifications: SilverStone Precision PS11

(from the
product web page
)
Model No. SST-PS11B-W
SST-PS11B-Q
Material Mesh front panel, steel body (SST-PS11B-W)

Plastic front panel, steel body (SST-PS11B-Q)
Motherboard ATX , Micro-ATX
Drive Bay External 5.25” x 2
Internal 3.5" x 3 , 2.5” x 2
Cooling System Front 2 x 120mm/140mm fan slot

(1 x 120mm intake fan included)
Rear 1 x 120mm fan slot
Top 2 x 120mm fan slot (SST-PS11B-W)
Bottom 1 x 120mm fan slot
Expansion Slot 7
Front I/O Port USB 3.0 x 2

Audio x 1

MIC x 1
Power Supply 1 x optional standard PS2(ATX)
Expansion Card Compatible with expansion cards up to 16.2” , width restriction - 6.1”
Limitation of CPU cooler 161mm
Limitation of PSU 225mm
Net Weight 4.825kg
Dimension 215.3mm (W) x 426.5mm (H) x 481.5mm (D), 44L

EXTERIOR

The SilverStone PS11B-Q is constructed out of the usual materials, with a steel interior and side panels, and a plastic front. Its weight is listed as 4.83 kg which is about 10.6 lb. The chassis measures 42.7 x 21.5 x 48.2 cm or 16.8 x 8.5 x 19.0 inches (H x W x D), giving it a mere 44.3 L volume. Keep in mind, the width figure does not included the bulge of the side panels which add about 1.6 cm to each side.



The reflective ribbon accent is perhaps a little too stylish contrasted against the plain front bezel. The control panel at the very top is home to the power button, two USB 3.0 ports, mic and headphone jacks, small rectangular HD and power LEDs, and a tiny recessed reset switch.



At first glance it appears the front panel has two sets of intake ports but the ones on the outside are just scalloped for aesthetic purposes. The actual vents are much larger but they are also lined with restrictive mesh on the inside.



The intake panel is lined with dense foam and pops off to reveal a pair of 120/140 mm fan mounts with a single 120 mm fan installed in the top position. From this vantage point, you can see the hard drive cage would be somewhat of an impediment for the bottom fan. It's also notable that the strange beams running across the front blocks screw access to the top fan, so the bezel has to be taken off to service it.



A 120 mm fan spot with a beveled honeycomb grill graces the back of the case, as well as seven ventilated expansion slots.



An exposed sheet of mesh filters the power supply fan and the optional 120 mm fan mount on the case floor. The feet are plastic and don't offer much traction so the case can be easily moved across smooth surfaces.

INTERIOR

The PS11's interior is more thinly constructed than most cases, but feels fairly solid as both drive compartments are secured to the chassis on two sides and to the motherboard tray, stiffening the entire assembly. The internal layout is relatively standard for a tower, designed primarily for front to back airflow.



The side panels are 0.6~0.7 mm thick, fit reasonably well, and are secured with captive thumbscrews at the rear of the case. The center is lined with a 3 mm thick mat of dense noise absorbent foam.



The area in front of the lone stock fan is home to a removable drive cage in most cases but the PS11 leaves it out entirely for better airflow. The space is empty aside from 2.5 inch drive mounting trays at the top and bottom.



The stock fan appears to be a slower (1200 RPM) black variant of the FQ121, which features a thin blade design with heavy curvature and shallow slits. It looks like it's designed for high static pressure which explains why SilverStone uses this design for their heatsink fans, but it might not be the best choice for a case fan. The hard drive cage below is affixed to the chassis at the front and bottom, and the motherboard tray as well.



The rear side of the interior.



The solid top is also covered with foam on the inside.



The motherboard tray is outfitted with multiple large cable routing holes. The presence of a hole at the top/rear corner is puzzling as it is actually blocked off once the motherboard is installed. Despite this, there are cable tie-down points leading up to it — they would be better utilized near the center. There is only 8 mm of space behind the motherboard tray but the bulge of the side panel makes up for this.

ASSEMBLY

The assembly process is straightforward as the only unusual mounting system is a simple tool-less scheme for 3.5 inch hard drives. Not having a center drive cage makes it feel more spacious when installing the motherboard and graphics card, but it's very tight at the top as the edge of the board comes close to touching the ceiling. If a large CPU cooler is going to be used, I advise plugging in any necessary connectors to the top half of the motherboard before securing it.



Our test system fully assembled. The hard drive is placed at the very bottom where it's coolest and a Scythe Slip Stream has been added as an exhaust fan (the same fan I added to the Kublai KL05). I usually use a Scythe Mugen Max cooler but it doesn't fit, so the Ninja 4 takes its place. The Ninja 4 is a superior heatsink with its stock fan, so a Nexus fan is used instead, which performs slightly worse.



The Mugen Max's 16.0 cm height fits within the PS11's 16.1 cm CPU heatsink height limit, but as a side-blowing tower with a 140 mm fan, it is quite wide, causing it to bump into the lip at the top of the case. The Ninja 4 is both shorter and narrower so it fits with room to spare on every side.



Given the wider side panel, you wouldn't expect this to be an issue, but the bulge is too far away from the top of the case to make any impact. This begs the question: why have the bulge at all?



The drive mounting system is rudimentary. A single nub attached to a lever at the side is the only thing that keeps the drive in place. It's a convenient and cheap alternative to drive trays but it's not very secure.



Cable management. No problems on this front.



The center of the side panel sticks out by up to 13 mm, making the total clearance 21 mm behind most of the motherboard tray. This is sufficient to get the panel on without issue.

TESTING

System Configuration:



Test system device listing.

Measurement and Analysis Tools

  • Prime95
    processor stress software.
  • FurMark
    stability test to stress the integrated GPU.
  • Asus GPU Tweak to monitor GPU temperatures and adjust fan speeds.
  • SpeedFan
    to monitor system temperatures and adjust system fan speeds.
  • Extech 380803 AC power analyzer / data logger for measuring AC system
    power.
  • PC-based spectrum analyzer:
    SpectraPlus with ACO Pacific mic and M-Audio digital

    audio interfaces.

  • Anechoic chamber
    with ambient level of 11 dBA or lower

Testing Procedures

The system is placed in two states: idle, and load using Prime95 (large FFTs setting) and FurMark, an OpenGL
benchmarking and stability testing utility. This puts more demand on the CPU and GPU than any real life application. Throughout testing, system temperatures, noise levels, and power consumption are recorded. During the load test, the system and GPU fans speeds are adjusted to various levels in an attempt to find an optimal balance between cooling and noise while maintaining a GPU temperature of 80°C (assuming an ambient temperature of 22°C).

Baseline Noise

For our baseline noise tests, the system is left idle, the CPU fan is set to its minimum speed under PWM control (400 RPM — the Nexus fan is run at the same speed for consistency even though it can be shut off entirely), and the GPU fans are off by default. The system fans are connected to controllable fan headers and are set to a variety of speeds using SpeedFan. This gives us a good idea of what the stock fans sound like at different speeds with minimal interference from other sources.

Once the system started up, I was greeted with strong vibrations caused by the hard drive. Pressing down on the side panels eliminated this effect, so I wedged a thick foam block between the motherboard tray and the right panel to help immobilize it. This helped tremendously but I couldn't duplicate the result on the left side, possibly because there's no easy way to stiffen the middle of the panel's bulge.

Baseline Noise Level

(Idle, CPU fan at 400 RPM, GPU fans off)
Fan Speed Setting
Fan Speed
Stock
Stock + Scythe*
0%
N/A
16 dBA
40%
430 RPM
17 dBA
60%
760 RPM
17 dBA
18~19 dBA
80%
1020 RPM
18~19 dBA
23 dBA
100%
1220 RPM
21 dBA
27 dBA
Scythe fan set to same RPM as stock fan.

Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle left/front
of case.

Ambient noise level: 10~11 [email protected]

Though my little modification does help, enough vibration remains to drive the base noise level up to 16 [email protected], slightly higher than usual compared to a typical tower case. The included fan is very quiet though, adding only 1 dB to that total at speeds between 430 and 760 RPM. At full speed, it only generates 21 [email protected] which is fairly low for a single fan. The added Scythe fan produces similar noise levels at lower speeds, but at 1000 RPM and above, it becomes much louder. Matching the stock fan's 1220 RPM top speed adds a substantial 6 dB to the total.

At speeds up to about 800 RPM, the stock fan isn't audible over the rest of the system unless you put your ear right up to the case. At 80% speed, it has a relatively smooth profile, but at close proximity there's a noticeable moderate frequency tone. At 100% speed, the tone becomes stronger and higher in pitch (between 900 and 1000 Hz) and can clearly be heard from a distance. If you have sensitive hearing I would suggest keeping it under 1000 RPM.

The Scythe fan has a superior broadband profile and as it's louder than the stock fan at higher speeds, it helps smoothen out the overall sound. Set to the same speed as the stock fan at 80% (1020 RPM), the two in tandem are louder than the stock fan by itself at full speed, but the sound it produces is more pleasant.

TEST RESULTS

System Measurements: CPU + GPU Load,

80°C Target GPU Temp at 22°C Ambient (82°C at 24°C Ambient)
System Fan Speed
760 RPM

(60%)
1020 RPM

(80%)
1020 RPM

+ filters removed
1110 RPM

(90%)
GPU Fan Speed*
1380 RPM

(47%)
1230 RPM

(44%)
1140 RPM

(42%)
1030 RPM

(40%)
CPU Temp
71°C
70°C
67°C
66°C
MB Temp
54°C
53°C
51°C
49°C
SSHD Temp
36°C
36°C
35°C
35°C
System Power (AC)
354W
363W
362W
362W
25~26 dBA
25~26 dBA
25 dBA
26~27 dBA
*set as low as possible to maintain target GPU temperature on load.

CPU fan at full speed (1100 RPM).

Ambient temperature: 24°C.

With system fans running at 60% speed, the GPU core hits the target temperature with its fans running at 47%. However, the CPU temperature ends up at 71°C, past the throttling threshold of our CPU. As a result, the processor underclocks itself slightly, reducing the overall power draw by 6~7W. The PS11 is the first case to fail our test at 60% fan speed, though it should be noted that the high ambient temperatures this time of year probably pushes it over the edge. Based on previous heatsink data, the Nexus fan should be set to 900 RPM to approximate the performance of our usual cooling setup, but even at top speed, it's not quite enough.

80% and 90% speed keeps the CPU at nominal settings but the temperatures are still fairly high. I have full confidence in the heatsink/fan combination and exhaust fan selection, and the GPU cooling seems fine as the video card fans require fairly low speeds. That seems to to indicate that the lack of ceiling ventilation is the culprit. The restrictive intake vents certainly don't help as removing the filters allows the GPU fans to slow slightly while also netting lower temperatures across the board.

At the PS11's sweet spot (80% system fan speed), the noise produced is mostly innocuous, similar to the baseline test at the same speed. The added contribution of the Nexus fan is minimal as it's a very smooth sounding fan. The GPU fans do add some tonality at ~300 Hz but the pitch and strength is low enough that most users will not be bothered by it.

Comparison

Case Comparison: System Measurements

(CPU + GPU Load, 80°C GPU Temp at 22°C Ambient)
Case
Fractal Define S
SilverStone KL05B-Q
Zalman Z11 Neo
Antec P100
SilverStone PS11B-Q
Avg. System Fan Speed
630 RPM

(2 x 80%)
840 RPM

(2* x 60%)
960 RPM

(3 x 70%)
980 RPM

(2 x 80%)
1020 RPM

(2* x 80%)
GPU Fan Speed
1120 RPM
1070 RPM
1180 RPM
1530 RPM
1230 RPM
CPU Temp
60°C
57°C
61°C
60°C
68°C
MB Temp
45°C
43°C
45°C
44°C
51°C
SSHD Temp
35°C
34°C
36°C
32°C
34°C
System Power (AC)
350W
351W
356W
354W
363W
23 dBA
24 dBA
25 dBA
25~26 dBA
25~26 dBA
Street Price (USD)
$90
$70
$75
$70
$50
*one fan added.

Even after adjusting the PS11's results to match our standard 22°C ambient temperature, the picture is not flattering. Among the sub-$100 cases we've tested, it's the worst performer, matching the Antec P100 for noise, but with substantially higher CPU and motherboard temperatures. The contrast is particularly striking against the similarly designed Kublai KL05B-Q, though it should be noted the KL05 has a taller body with vents at the top and a different intake fan.

AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording
system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to
LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no
audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent
a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

Each recording starts with ambient noise, then 5~10 second segments of product
at various states. For the most realistic results,
set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then
don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Many manufacturers seem to think that a silent case is one that is sealed off as much as possible to keep the noise being generated within from reaching our ears, but these types of designs are not effective enough to compensate for the higher temperatures they naturally cause. They may be quieter when the thermal demand is low, but when things heat up, a case with better airflow almost always wins out, all other things being equal. The PS11B-Q follows the more closed design paradigm. Lacking ceiling vents and having small intakes lined with restrictive mesh, it struggles when pushed to the brink.

The build quality of the case is as good as you can expect for US$50. It's thinly constructed but the interior doesn't feel cheap as the drive bays are well secured to the rest of the chassis, lending and receiving extra stability, so structural integrity is superior overall compared to most budget towers. However, there's also no mistaking it for a mainstream model, especially if it's sitting on a smooth surface. The feet hardly gives it any traction, so a stiff shove could send the case sliding by a foot or so, assuming it doesn't topple over first.

The hard drive cage, while held sturdily in place, is poorly conceived, as the tool-less install mechanism grips the drive at only one point. The drive is mostly free to tremble against its metal surroundings and this effect seems to be amplified by the bulge of the side panels. Even if that wasn't an issue, I'm not a fan of the bulging panels. Aesthetically, it's an eyesore, and from a practical standpoint, it adds nothing to the left side. It does provide extra space for cabling on the right side, but they could've just made the case wider and called it a day.

Hampered by poor CPU cooling and a vibration prone drive cage, I can't recommend the SilverStone Precision PS11B-Q, even for US$50. If you're looking for an affordable ATX case, the windowed PS11B-W is a more suitable candidate. Its vastly improved airflow scheme should address the performance issues, and best of all it doesn't carry a price premium over the B-Q.

Our thanks to SilverStone
for the Precision PS11B-Q case sample.

* * *

Articles of Related Interest

Antec Signature S10: A Second Coming?

Antec P100 Case: Performance One on a Budget

Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ITX Mini Tower

Fractal Design Define S Tower Case

Zalman Z11 Neo ATX Case

Corsair Carbide 500R Performance Midtower

* * *

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