There could be lots of reasons for wanting a silent computer case, and lots of people have been obsessed with this quest for a silent PC since the beginning of the 21St Century. Though it's really just a matter of personal preference, a PC’s quietness has now become one marketing point manufacturers are just too eager to sell.
Building a silent PC and PC case from scratch requires some technical know-how. This article will walk you through the basics of building a silent PC, as well as teach you how to choose or build a silent computer case. So, first, decide…
Silent PC vs. Silent PC Case
Yes, there’s a difference. Most PC components don't really make much noise on their own, but together they can be loud for some people. High-end and heavy gamers tend to favor silent PCs more, especially when they’re streaming. The same goes for bloggers, and just about anybody who likes to work, play, and use their PC systems without any unnecessary noise.
If you want to build a silent PC, then you need to invest in quieter PC components. This might mean getting a quieter video card, getting quieter DVD and Blu-ray drives, and even maybe swapping out your HD for an SSD. You can choose from a wide array of quiet CPU fans, or you can even go fanless.
Building a silent PC from scratch means that you also get to decide about the system’s airflow pattern. If you’re switching up your default gears, you need to make sure that your PC can sufficiently cool itself with the airflow pattern you’ve chosen. To avoid overheating, always make sure that the components you choose fit your system’s specifications.
What Is a Silent Computer Case?
Your PC may have a hard drive instead of a solid state drive. It may have a GPU fan that’s not exactly silent. You may already have all your components. And all of these PC components, whether or not they’re meant to be a part of a silent PC system, will be housed inside a silent computer case.
Silent PC cases are designed to house PC components and mute or soften the sounds created by the components. Not to be mistaken for sound damping, sound absorbing or soundproofing kits that you install inside your system, a silent PC case is the actual housing of your CPU.
Silent PC Case Buying and Building Guide
Buying a silent PC case and building one from scratch offers different benefits. Most PC cases nowadays are so flexible that it could definitely seem that you’ve built it from scratch. Though if you really want a fully customized silent case, here’s a short guide:
- Budget – How much are you willing to spend on your PC case? Cases can cost anywhere from $50 to $300 online. Most are around the $75 mark, but every additional feature can easily add a few bucks to the total bill. A more expensive case does not necessarily mean better soundproofing though, so make sure you check out reviews or ask for recommendations. For your budget, read the options tips for your reference.
- Appearance – How the PC case looks can be a deciding factor for some people. PC cases nowadays lean towards tempered glass panel exteriors. Most cases are also just black, white or metal, but you can make or choose one with RBG, customizable lighting if you’re looking for a bit of flair. You may also choose to work with other materials, though steel, tempered glass and plastic are the most popular. Wood and Lego are unusual materials for PC cases, but they’ve been used nonetheless.
- Size – There’s a variety of terms used when talking about PC cases. There are terms used to differentiate silent computer case shapes and sizes. Micro-ATX, Mini-ITX and ATX refer to the different sizes of the motherboard a case can accommodate. The Micro-ATX measures 244mm by 244mm, the Mini-ITX measures 170mm by 170mm and the ATX measures 305mm by 244mm. Most cases that can hold the large motherboard sizes can also usually hold the smaller sizes, but you should ask the manufacturer to be sure.
Mini-Tower, Mid-Tower, and Full Tower refer to the size and shape of the case itself. Mid-tower PCs are usually around 18 inches tall. Full towers usually measure around 22 inches tall. Mini towers are smaller than both since these usually leave a little space between the motherboard and the graphics card. There are also the SFF cases, which are usually small and compact cases.
- Drive Bays – Larger cases may have more space for more drives, with mini towers having only one bay. Larger cases will have different bay sizes to hold different drives. Bigger bays may accommodate smaller drives with the use of universal drive sleds, though these bigger bays are most commonly used for DVD drives. The small bays measuring 2.5 inches are most commonly used for SSDs.
- Fan Mounts – Some cases have cooling fans pre-installed. Some will have a few extra fans with mounts for those looking to put a better cooling system in place. You’ve probably already heard about smaller fans making more noise than larger fans, but this isn’t always true. Smaller fans only tend to make more noise since they spin faster. If a larger fan spun at the same rate, they’d definitely be louder too.
More recent models of silent PC cases offer more flexibility in terms of the components they can accommodate and the way they can accommodate them. Back then, soundproofing kits are better options for those with already existing PC systems, because most of the earlier models of silent PC cases can only accommodate a select number of components, and the gears are also usually just intended for silent PCs.
Nowadays, however, you can customize a store-bought silent computer case so much that it almost looks like you’ve built it from scratch. Choosing among the hundreds of readily available computer cases can be difficult and overwhelming, but knowing what to look at and what to look for can help you make a better decision.