Wow. After placing my order late on Wednesday afternoon, the components from QuietPC.com arrived yesterday (Friday). They came in a huge and heavy box, that had me slightly worried. I haven’t taken a note of the dimensions of the AcoustiCase (£99 ex. VAT) before I ordered it. What if it didn’t fit on my desk? Gulp.
Fortunately, the box contained a lot of packaging. The case itself turned out to be slightly narrower than my old one. It is a good bit taller and longer, but that’s okay–it means there’s more room to manoeuvre inside. (It also has a flat top, which means that stuff I leave lying on it won’t keep rolling off. Cool.)
Another thing I hadn’t checked before ordering the case was the page of installation instructions. If I had, I wouldn’t have been surprised when Abi heaved an enormous bag of acoustic padding out of the box. Some assembly is required, you see…
What you start with is a nice, solid case. A good old-fashioned steel PC case. It weighs a tonne, but that’s part of the deal: with a heavy case like this, there’s less possibility of bits rattling around and making noise. You also get three different kinds of acoustic padding, all carefully cut to size: plain acoustic foam, which slots into spare drive bays and other empty spaces; acoustic barrier mass, which is heavy rubber, backed with strong adhesive for adding dampening weight and thickness to the case; and acoustic composite, which is a combination of the two, for places in the case where there is room for both.
It looks like a daunting task at first, but the instructions are clear. (Once you find them, that is. They were hidden inside the case itself). Overall, it took us about an hour and a half to assemble the case and transplant my PC from its old case to its new one. Installing the Ultra-quiet PSU (£52 ex. VAT) was a simple matter of slotting it into the case and attaching it with a few screws. The Flower Cooler (£33 ex. VAT) looked at once beautiful and scary, but turned out to be easier to snap on to my CPU than my current heat sink and fan.
When it was finished, the whole package looked fantastic. The acoustic padding is cut to perfect size, and is cleverly thought out to fill all the spaces through which sound might escape. The case is large enough to accept an ATX motherboard with stacks of room to spare for running cables. The Flower Cooler comes with a fan that attaches to the case itself rather than the heat sink, and hovers a centimetre or so above the fins to ensure maximum airflow. It also has an attachment that allows you to adjust the speed of the fan, so you can balance trade off some cooling power for more silence.
But the main reason I bought the case was to silence my PC. So does it work? Oh boy, does it work. It is gorgeous. When the computer is idling away, there is a very light thrumming noise from the CPU fan. Sitting a few feet away on the sofa, watching TV at normal volume, the sound is barely noticeable. It makes me cringe at the noisy rattle the old case and cooling fans had been producing.
I had been a little bit worried about heat build-up inside the case, because the acoustic baffling looks like it restricts the airflow in places. But the worry turned out to be unfounded. My CPU (a Duron 800) is ticking over at a happy 45°C, which is lower than it had been in my old case. Excellent! Given that the rear of the AcoustiCase has much better ventilation than my old one, I could probably get away with not running the fan at all right now. But I know I’ll need it when I move up to a high-speed Athlon next year, so I don’t want to get used to complete silence, only to be disappointed when I have to turn the fan back on.
Looking at it sitting on my desk now, the AcoustiCase is a true beast of a case. But it purrs just like a baby kitten. It wasn’t cheap, but this is definitely one of the best computer purchases I’ve ever made.