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Silent computer: Case and Fans - which to pick?

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Hi guys,
I'm looking to build a PC that is as close to Silent as it can
get with fans. And in this thread i want to focus on The Case and on Case fans (understanding that other components are and important factor)
I'm actually building a photo and semi gaming editing machine.


What medium sized Case has:
1. Good airflow
2. Is suitable for silent pc build
3. Can have its default fans replaced
4. Without a lot of lighting.

I was thinking Fractal r6 or BeQuiet?

What fans should I replace the case fans with for lower noise?
I'm thinking 140mm is better than 80mm or 120mm, I'm thinking PWM ( the case or motherboard i find will then need to have this too)

Options:

Noctua NF-AF14 FLX
BeQuiet! Silent Wings 3 140mm
BeQuiet! Silent Wings 3 140mm High Speed Edition
Arctic F14 PWM
Corsair ML140 Pro
 
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What medium sized Case has:
1. Good airflow
2. Is suitable for silent pc build
3. Can have its default fans replaced
4. Without a lot of lighting.
1 - your first and second point don't go together. You can have a silent case with good airflow for a silent case but it won't be good case airflow.

2 - any case can be silent, you just lower the speed of the fans.

3 - virtually any case can do that

4 - most cases have removable lighting

My personal suggestion is get a motherboard with several PWM ports to control your case fans or get a case with a fan controller (or just buy a seperate fan controller) and leave your fans as is unless they are RGB fans with no shut off as you clearly state you don't like that.

The Fractal R6 is a fine case with solid airflow but i I would keep that top vent open.
 
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Get the Noctua NFA12x25. Better than 140mms.
 
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1 - your first and second point don't go together. You can have a silent case with good airflow for a silent case but it won't be good case airflow.

2 - any case can be silent, you just lower the speed of the fans.

3 - virtually any case can do that

4 - most cases have removable lighting

My personal suggestion is get a motherboard with several PWM ports to control your case fans or get a case with a fan controller (or just buy a seperate fan controller) and leave your fans as is unless they are RGB fans with no shut off as you clearly state you don't like that.

The Fractal R6 is a fine case with solid airflow but i I would keep that top vent open.
Good point regarding 1 and 2, I meant that at Idle i wanted it to run silently, when gaming it's okay that fans ramp up speed, however id prefere 140mm over 120mm for less noise. Why would you keep the top vent open? I guess All fans should be PWM so i can connect them to the fan hub and control the fan speed / temperature curve.

Regarding Air-flow direction I was thinking
In front air comes in,
In back air goes out
On top Does air go in or out?
In bottom i will suck air in (which makes me think in top it should come out? ;) )
 
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What are you trying to build in this PC? Powerful and quiet don't get along very well.
 
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What are you trying to build in this PC? Powerful and quiet don't get along very well.
Lol you have no idea what you're talking about.

I can't even hear my pc from less than a metre away and it's not even on custom water.
 
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Good point regarding 1 and 2, I meant that at Idle i wanted it to run silently, when gaming it's okay that fans ramp up speed, however id prefere 140mm over 120mm for less noise. Why would you keep the top vent open? I guess All fans should be PWM so i can connect them to the fan hub and control the fan speed / temperature curve.

Regarding Air-flow direction I was thinking
In front air comes in,
In back air goes out
On top Does air go in or out?
In bottom i will suck air in (which makes me think in top it should come out? ;) )
it really depends on your GPU and CPU cooler.

For an air cooler on a case like the R6, it has two fan placements on top. The top rear fan should be outtake but the top front fan should be open (mesh dust cover is fine) so the air cooler can bring fresh air into the case from that top front vent. Even installing an intake fan will be counterproductive to the air cooler.

front fans should be intake (but remember your GPU may pull cool air in from the pci-slot covers depening on the cooler)
rear fan should be outtake
floor fan should be intake but may interfere with the bottom front fan's airflow
 
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There is no universal answer to this, there's too many variables and configuration possibilities. A sealed off case with sound dampening like Define series might seem to be an obvious choice, but it's not that simple. An open (i.e. mesh) case with great airflow can be even quieter because of lower fan speeds required to keep temperatures in check. Also, sound dampening doesn't really do as much to keep the noise contained as we'd all like.
The point of focus should be all the fans being as quiet as they can in low rpm mode. GPU with idle-stop cooling would be a good idea, it's a truly great feature, helps with both noise and fan wearing. There are also semi-passive PSUs with it, although it's less important there because PSU fans are bigger (therefore slower).
Top fans should generally pull the air out, but they might not be worth putting in.
 
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As someone that has the Fractal R6, I can say it's a pretty good case for silence, the front door is pretty good at blocking sound. BeQuiet! also has some nice cases.
As for the fans, right now I have Corsair ML140 Pro, they are pretty good at around 1000rpm. I used to have Noctua NF-P14s redux-1200 and they were pretty good as well.
I would say there are many complicated things to take in account to make a truly perfect silent computer.
 
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Depends how much you value silence and cooling. If you want to be more silent focused then there are plenty of cases out there that deal with noise. If you want extreme silence then you might have to look into passive cooling with extreme cases(basically huge radiators). If you value cooling more but want it to be silent then pick a case with good open airflow in front panel, put some quiet fans in front+back(top remains closed in this case as well imho) and you are good to go, a case with some sound absorb material MAY do something but its almost meaningless if the front panel is open.

For the fans there are guides out there that analyze it way more than i can tell you about right now.
For silent cases check fractal design, silverstone(SST-KL07B seems okayish), bequiet and others.
 
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it really depends on your GPU and CPU cooler.

For an air cooler on a case like the R6, it has two fan placements on top. The top rear fan should be outtake but the top front fan should be open (mesh dust cover is fine) so the air cooler can bring fresh air into the case from that top front vent. Even installing an intake fan will be counterproductive to the air cooler.

front fans should be intake (but remember your GPU may pull cool air in from the pci-slot covers depening on the cooler)
rear fan should be outtake
floor fan should be intake but may interfere with the bottom front fan's airflow
Wou you prefere 1 intake fan in front or two intake fans in front?
So you would just remove the Top fans not have them suck air out of the case? Hot air travels upward so would it not be better to have 140mm Fans
At top to suck out air?

authorized: Good points, so my below settings should make it silent (providing i get semi-passive GPU and semi-passive PSU)

THIS IS HOW I WILL MAKE my FRACTAL R6 SILENT:

TURN FAN HUB INTO PWM for all fans.

The Fractal R6 only has three 4-pin connectors in Fan hub for PWM - the six 3 pin connectors make fans run at 100% which makes no sense Fractal!
so I will need to get two splitters, then I have 5 PWM connectors from the fan hub that i can connect all my case fans to. Then i connect the case fan hub to a 4-pin connector on the motherboard i find so I can control all 5 fans at once from my motherboards PWM software (such as Fan Expert + )

The question for me remains: What is the smartest choice in fans and should i leave some fans out?

So far I'm convinced of getting
NOISEBLOCKER NB-eLoop Fan B14-3 - 140mm: bit expensive but great reviews!
And Some 140mm Silent Wing 140mm

Regarding Air-flow direction
In front air comes in,
In back air goes out
On top Does air goes out
In bottom i will suck air in
 
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I honestly think you're overthinking this when it comes to cases and fans. What components are going into your build? That's going to dictate the cooling setup, not the other way around.
 
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I honestly think you're overthinking this when it comes to cases and fans. What components are going into your build? That's going to dictate the cooling setup, not the other way around.

I think I am overthinking. I just don't like noise. I just want a quiet setup for photoediting in photoshop and, some gaming and HD Video editing for content creation.


I was thinking an Intel i7 8700K (or something that runs photoshop smoothly and is not a power consuming monster),
CPU cooler: Be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4 or NH D15
PSU Corsair RM750x,
(fans are off at IDLE),
GPU and Motherboard: Not sure, I would like some type of fan control in MB and a semi-passive GPU that runs well with the CPU, any ideas on this?
 
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Wou you prefere 1 intake fan in front or two intake fans in front?
So you would just remove the Top fans not have them suck air out of the case? Hot air travels upward so would it not be better to have 140mm Fans
At top to suck out air?
Hot air will go in any direction you force it to especially when it's the Noctua NH D15 forcing it. If you are running the 8700k at stock that cooler will make little noise.

As for your case set up using the GN review of the Fractal R6, it comes with two fans up front and one in the rear. I would use those fans and control them via the mobo. I would add one 140mm fan on the top rear roof mount and keep the front roof mount open so the D15 can pull fresh air in from outside the case.






 
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What medium sized Case has:
1. Good airflow - Phanteks
2. Is suitable for silent pc build -Phanteks
3. Can have its default fans replaced - Phanteks (but why would you ?)
4. Without a lot of lighting. - Phanteks

And yes, you can have a silent case with GREAT airflow. Im using a Enthoo Primo with 16 fans (6 case / 10 rads) under stress test it is dead silent. You an not tell if the PC is on or not using your ears.

Phanteks has taken home "Case of the Year Awards from Computex just about every year since 2013. They introduced case lighting but it's never been blingy designed primarily for accenting the build rather thn being the "look at me, loom at me'"thing. And if used, its an option, with an off switch.

You don't replace the fans in Phanteks cases because they are the best on the market. Scroll down to the chart here to see how they stand up


Since that review came out, tI would say the only fan on par with the Phanteks is the Silent Wings 3. here's what happens when you take Noctua fans off a Noictua cooler and replace them with Phanteks ... CPU temps drop by 6C at same rpm...


Their cases are particularly known for wide water cooling support, plenty of fan mounts, superb cable routing, built in fan hubs, abiity to fit tall / large heat sinks and large GFX cards, and quiet operation.

PWM used to have an advantage with low speed control but Phanteks invented the concept of controlling DCV fans with a PWM hub... providing the same low speed control at half the price.

Regarding Air-flow direction I was thinking
In front air comes in, .... yes intake
In back air goes out ... yes, exhaust
On top Does air go in or out? ... depends
In bottom i will suck air in (which makes me think in top it should come out? .... intakes

If you have a radiator on top, intakes. If it's all air cooling, it will depend.

Three concepts cause trouble here...

1. We all learned in 8th grade earthe science that hot air rises. While that is significant concept in open atmosphere it is insignificant in a closed space.

2. A case is a closed box. Air in must equal air out or the box will implode / explode.

3. Ins and outs should be close to equal .... in summer when you open two windows and put a fan in one ... when you turn the fan on, doesm't air come in thru the other window all by itself ? When y use an attic fan or stive exhaust fan, did they install another fan to bring air in ? ... of course not

Intakes have air filters, and hese restrict air flow. This means that two fans one blowing in and one blowing out will create a negartive air pressure condition inside the case. As the filters become clogged with dust, this gets worse and worse. While most will point to dust as being the primary concern here, it's not. When negative air pressure exists, air will enter the case thru the path of least resistance. In most cases this is that large grille in the back of your case. So lets day you have:

(3) fans in front blowing in
(1) Fan at rear blowing out
(3) fans on top blowing out

Thats 3 in / 4 out. No Good. Let's do the math assuming a not so anal user who cleands the filters every 3 months when you can see thru them anymore. The air restriction is significant (I have measured as high as 30%). let's call "EAF"
the equivalent air flow from a fan with no filter

Front (3) EAF x 70% = 2.10 EAF
Rear (1) EAF x 100% = 1.00 EAF
Top (3) EAF x 100% = 3.00 EAF
Bottom (2) Empty fan mounts

So that's 4,00 out and 2.10 in meaning you have 1.9 EAF coming in thru open vents spaces in the case. Again, the biggest area with the biggest holes is generally the rear case grille. If your case is like most on a desk or floor with rear up close to wall, that air intake will come from the air space between the rear grill and the wall. So what's going on there ?

You hot air exhaust exiting the rear case bottom from your 750 watt PSU and your 250 watt GFX card is coming out and is getting sucked right back in. Your not removing hot air from the case as much as recycling much of it.

Here's how Id do that case:

Front (3) EAF x 70% = 2.10 EAF
Rear (1) EAF x 100% = 1.00 EAF
Top (3) EAF x 100% = empty
Bottom (2) F x 70% =1.40 EAF

Now we have 3.5 EAF in and 1.0 out ... the extra 2.5 EAF will go out hru the 3 empty fan mounts all by itself.

You didn't mention budget ... Look at the 400s and 600S depending on budget needs. If ya have the budget, the Evolv X is wide;y considered the best case available < 4200

There's ATX and mATX versions

I must mention that many folks have 'looked' at the case fron panel and concluded it has poor air flow. It has great air flow ... the 600S is a less expensivee version and the air flow was tested here

As designed, outta the box so to speak the air flow is 271 ft/m
Angling the front panel to provide a huge open area, we see a minimal increase to 281 ft/m, Clearly the panel has little effect
Taking the panel off entirely, the air flow is still 281 ft/m .. again, clearly the panel has little effect
Taking off the mesh, the air flow is 300 ft/m
Taking off the dust filters, the air flow is 311 ft/m

The Lux 2 is also a great case.

Most Phanteks cases come with the built in PWM / DCV fan comtrol hub which converts the PWM signal to DCV allowing low speed control at 1/2 to 1/3 the fan cost ... In addition you don't need t replace any fans as the one that come w/ the case, as the chart shows, are best in class.
 
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Funny I replaced my Phantek fans with Noctua and temps dropped and the fans made less noise...
 
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I can't explain that, are we talking 140mm, 1200 rpm max fans ? What rpm ? Our fans never exceed mid to high 600s, while doing CAD and other office related tasks ... usually about 440. You can stick your ear literally in them and not hear a thing at that speed. Also given the 10 fans on rads, they all blow in, as do the 3 front and 2 side fans. .. leaving most of the noise to bounce around inside the case.

We got similar results as Overclockers club and silentPCreview.com. We have (6) temp sensors in the test box (Phanteks Enthoo) and a 6 channel display on case front, both accurate to 0.1 C. We used 4 different noise meters and they could not pick up any noise over ambient ...

(4) sensors measure radiator temperature .. both in and out for the 2 rads. The other (2) measure case interior and ambient temps.

For sound, are you going by ear or sound meters ? We do environmental noise analysis for compliance with municipal regulations. Perceived noise will depend upon the octave distribution and that is user dependent. Also , we find that folks used to noise in a particular octave band are more tolerant to higher ;levels in the same nad whereby a lower noise level in a different octave will be bothersome. With the 16 Phanteks fans, there is no noise over ambient. The loudest noise in the room is the wall clock ticking.,,, and if the ceiling fan is on, it wobbles a little and the little chain that turns the light on and off ... well sometimes it clicks against the glass globe for the light.

This is how we measured the sound. In the test there, when the CPU loud got to 55% I'd be looking for 30 foot cable so that the case could be put behind closed doors in another room.


Sitting at my desk, you can not tell the PC is on if the monitors are off. I have the fans set to shut down when the temp curve gets below 400 rpm and at that point the box is passively cooled. But , sitting just 3 feet away, there is no difference in noise level on the meter whether they are on (usually at 600-650 rpm in gaming ) or off.

In short, I don't have enough information specific to your situation as to why your experience differs with the various published results. Of course comparing brands of fans is like comparing brands of PSUs..... If you ask the question "Does Corsair make .....

a) Great PSUs
b) Good PSUs
c) Average PSUS
d) Crappy PSUs
e) Corsair doesn't make PSUs

The most correct answer is e) but if we equate "make" with "sell" (buying from OEMS), than all of the above are true. For the purposes of this discussion, I am inluding the PH-F140HP/TS/SP with the letters indicating the frame design, 140mm , 1200 rpm DCV fans. Many PWM fans, mostly older designs experience low speed ticking or hum
 
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Funny I replaced my Phantek fans with Noctua and temps dropped and the fans made less noise...
The new noctua A12's are just absolute monsters... they are so good. Phanteks fans are great too - super quiet at lower rpm (even more so than noctua in my experience) but they don't move nearly as much air, an a12 at 1000 rpm pushes as much air through a rad as a normal fat at 1200, 800rpm = 1000 etc.


^ this review says it all.
 
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Mouse Logitech G502
Keyboard Logitech G15 original
Software Win 10
Benchmark Scores i can finally play crysis
The new noctua A12's are just absolute monsters... they are so good.
Yep, I have two in push-pull on my CPU heatsink

I can't explain that, are we talking 140mm, 1200 rpm max fans ? What rpm ? Our fans never exceed mid to high 600s, while doing CAD and other office related tasks ... usually about 440.
Phantek PH-F120SP_BBK, fans are ok and better then most of the generic case fans I have seen (I have a box full of 120mm corsair, antec, enermax, and now phantek fans) I started to hear a tick from them once they passed 1000rpm. The case came with two of the phanteks but I use two Noctua P14s in front & one on top plus a Noctua S12 in the rear of the case (all PWM). None of the fans make a noise and I have them set to top off around 1000 rpm.
 
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And in this thread i want to focus on The Case and on Case fans (understanding that other components are and important factor)
So you're starting from the wrong end. :)
You're building this PC for some task(s). They imply some performance.
You should start with performance i.e. internals, then check how much cooling you need. And they find the case and cooling that will match your preferences.

The way you want to do this, you'll get a very expensive case and very expensive fans. Which means you're almost sure to either:
a) overspend on non-computing parts
b) learn that there's no way to make marry performance you need with your noise expectations. :)
I'm actually building a photo and semi gaming editing machine.
Photo editing can be comfortably done with an ultrabook or a passively cooled mITX - unless you're doing gigapixel panoramas or batch processing thousands of photos daily.

I have no idea what "semi gaming" means... If it's something that works on RTX 2060, it's also easy to pull off.
What medium sized Case has:
1. Good airflow
2. Is suitable for silent pc build
3. Can have its default fans replaced
4. Without a lot of lighting.

I was thinking Fractal r6 or BeQuiet?
I'm confused. Medium sized but ATX? ATX cases are huge. Do you really need one?

If you're fine with mATX or mITX, there are many air-cooling configurations that most people would call noiseless.
ATX cases are generic and - lately - very focused on water cooling, which you (likely) don't need.

In fact small cases are usually better for low noise, because they're actually... designed. ATX cases are relatively generic.

E.g. Thermaltake Core V1 is a favourite among pursuers of silence. Single 200mm intake, dedicated GPU intake and little vibrations - that's all you need.

What fans should I replace the case fans with for lower noise?
I'm thinking 140mm is better than 80mm or 120mm, I'm thinking PWM ( the case or motherboard i find will then need to have this too)
If you're after silence, don't go PWM. I assume you're interested in noise during load. If you make the PC silent under load, there's no reason to lower airflow in idle.
It gives you a simpler setup, larger choice of fans and more control (like: keeping positive pressure).
Moreover, fans that are silent at 1200rpm may become noisy at 800rpm because of vibrations or resonance.
Get the simplest, least varying setup you can.

You can go full Noctua NF-A, Corsair ML or bequiet.
All these fans are audible at full rpm, so they need to be limited anyway.
 
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System Name System Failure
Processor Like Chuck norris Overclocked
Cooling Nope
Memory I don't remember "haha"
Video Card(s) Doubt it.
Storage 1TB of google cookies
Case Hot as an oven
Benchmark Scores -5 ( without chuck norris OC)
Hot air will go in any direction you force it to especially when it's the Noctua NH D15 forcing it. If you are running the 8700k at stock that cooler will make little noise.

As for your case set up using the GN review of the Fractal R6, it comes with two fans up front and one in the rear. I would use those fans and control them via the mobo. I would add one 140mm fan on the top rear roof mount and keep the front roof mount open so the D15 can pull fresh air in from outside the case.






Wow 3 C at idle with no front panel? Are they running this test in a fridge? :D

Still 45 C during case torture is really good depending on the CPU + cpu cooler used. I guess I'm narrowing it down to a choice between 3 cases
Phantex p600s, Fractal R6 and Phantex Ethno. The pantex Ethno seems to have good potential for quiet setup at idle and good airflow, it would be nice with USB 3.1 +

Phantex p600s vs Fractal r6? In terms of quietness and performance and cooling potential.Something says Phantex p600s in white: It is heavy and big, but if it get's the job done and i get a good work computer out of it, i'm satisfied.
 
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Poland
Processor Ryzen 7 3700X
Motherboard Gigabyte X570 Aorus Elite
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Video Card(s) EVGA 1060 6GB SSC
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Wow 3 C at idle with no front panel? Are they running this test in a fridge? :D

Still 45 C during case torture is really good depending on the CPU + cpu cooler used. I guess I'm narrowing it down to a choice between 3 cases
Phantex p600s, Fractal R6 and Phantex Ethno. The pantex Ethno seems to have good potential for quiet setup at idle and good airflow, it would be nice with USB 3.1 +

Phantex p600s vs Fractal r6? In terms of quietness and performance and cooling potential.Something says Phantex p600s in white: It is heavy and big, but if it get's the job done and i get a good work computer out of it, i'm satisfied.
These temperatures are delta over ambient. Ambient should be in details, AFAIK it's around 22C for GN. That means that 3C is 25C and 45C is 67C.
 
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