BeQuiet! Silent Base 600 Case Review
When building a silent system, we often prioritize the enclosure. But while a top-notch noise-dampening case is nice, it's only one part of the equation when building a quiet computer. You also need to choose the right components for internal cooling in order to get satisfactory acoustic results. Today we're looking at the be quiet! Silent Base 600 as well as some of the company's cooling products to see what the latest in quiet technology can do.
The Silent Base 600 retails at $119 for the windowed version and $109 for the version with a solid panel. That's a competitive price point, and this case seems aimed at the Define R5. The Silent Base 600 is the smaller sibling to the Silent Base 800, which our reviewer had some problems with. We'll see if be quiet! has addressed his concerns about the challenges of assembly.
We like the design of the case, which comes in three different accent colours—orange, black and silver—that outline the intake vents on both sides of the front panel, the edges of the side window and throughout the inside. Even the power button on our orange system glows with an orange LED, although there is simple white illumination for the other two colors. The top I/O has a four USB ports, centered audio jacks, and a reset switch built into the HDD activity LED.
The front panel of the Silent Base 600 is plastic, with a brushed look. It opens at 90 degrees and can be swapped from one side to the other depending on the orientation of the case. The front panel, like the rest of the case, is covered in sound-dampening material. It features a three-speed, three-fan controller, which is nicely accessible yet hidden. It also includes a very clever dust filter that is removable from the top, but on the other hand the the power supply dust filter covers almost the entire floor and can only be removed by sliding it out completely through the back.
The front panel, unfortunately, is also incredibly difficult to remove. A 140mm fan is included and the front supports dual 120mm and 140mm fans, but you can only install fans outside of the frame! That means radiators are out of the question. But why is the case so restrictive when there's nothing on the interior? You could install a 120mm AIO at the back, but a traditional CPU tower may be a better choice for airflow since rear fan spacing is quite tight despite the wide overall shape of the case. Fractal Design, Corsair, and NZXT are building in support for the latest AIO coolers. It's strange that be quiet! isn't doing so.
The top of the frame is just as difficult to remove, and it’s almost completely sealed aside from two ventilation strips and a bit of extra height on the panel to allow air to exit through the rear. The top can support dual 120 or 140mm fans inside the frame, but the way the ventilation strips align on the top panel means you can only utilize the rearmost slot if you want to avoid choking the fans.
The side panel actually has some interesting innovations related to the goal of silent computing. Many have the understanding that windowed panels don’t fit in silent cases, but this dual-layer poly-carbonate used here significantly thicker than rival cases and features an air gap between the two panels that helps reduce noise. Weirdly, the metal around the window isn't coated with the same noise dampening material as the rest of the case. The dual-layer window can also be reflective in the right (or wrong) light.
The interior of the Silent Base 600 looks awesome, especially with the colour accents. And it lives up to the name of the company—despite using a reference GPU, this is the quietest system we've ever built thanks to incredibly quiet case fans and the DARK ROCK 3 CPU cooler. But when it comes to assembly and modular construction, the case leaves a lot to be desired.
The main disappointment is with the front of the case, which is outdated and restrictive in its lack of options. The top, too, doesn't provide the flexibility for watercooling or even a two-fan setup. It is really meant to either remain fan-less or use a single fan. If you want additional airflow there is a mount on the floor of the case, but our be quiet! power supply blocked off the mounting positions. Cable management is workable but disappointing. Workable because the gap is wide enough to connect cables around the perimeter of the case but disappointing because there are simply not enough cable tie points around those key areas. They include just a single adhesive hook to use as a cable-tie holder. These are the exact same limitations that we identified on the Silent Base 800 a year ago, and it doesn't look like anything has been done.
The be quiet! Silent Base 600 lives up to the name of the company. When assembled—using their fans, their CPU tower and their power supply—this is the quietest machine I’ve ever built. The problem is, it's very hard to get to that point. The assembly itself is the weakest point of this system, with totally non-user friendly panels, no potential for watercooling and just not enough work on cable management. While it's the quietest case we've ever reviewed, the Silent Base 600 just loses too many points when it comes time to build.
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