Hardware Review: A stylish option for the quiet computing crowd.
Fractal Design may have the quiet computing market pretty much cornered, with the likes of its Hot Award winning Black Pearl cases, but Cooler Master’s come along with an interesting take on computing power without pounding noise.
The Silencio 650 isn’t much to look at. Its lines are a little plain, and what few flourishes of design grace the chassis seem just a little bit... twee. It’s hard to explain, but the angles that make up the front aluminium door, for instance, or even the sliding doors on the case’s top, just seem slightly old-fashioned. They are, however, pretty practical. And it's got a solid price for what you're getting.
Sure, it’s not nearly as quiet, or as well made, but it does the job in some style. And speaking of which, there’s a few in there that will definitely make more than a few of you smile.
Outwardly, about the only things of note are the aforementioned doors. The front door is a solid block of nicely – if not imaginatively – tooled aluminium, which swings well and can be configured to swing out in either direction. This door is backed by some sound-dampening foam; it’s not on a par with the bitumen derivative used in Fractal Design builds, but it’s something. The same stuff sits inside the side panels, too.
Under the front door is a panel protecting two intake fans, and the first of a few nice surprises – a hot-swap drive bay. The second surprise is underneath the sliding door that protects the IO ports, on the leading upper edge. Here, there are two USB3 ports, as well as the usual USB2 and audio hacks, as well as an SD card slot, along with a fan slider, that can set the included fans to 700rpm or 1200rpm.
There’s a second slider here, too, and it’s a dual-boot HDD switch. It’s a bit of a brute-force feature, but it starts to really inform what kind of user the case is aimed at.
Inside, it’s pretty clean. There’s a removable HDD cage, which is a necessity if you want a GPU longer than 268mm – the max without the cage is 434mm. There are rubber-grommetted cable runs, room for large PSUs, and a relatively un-annoying tool-less system on the optical bays. It’s a little cramped behind the mobo plate, thanks to the foam on the side panels, but if you’re not building too much into the system this won’t be an issue. Cooler Master boasts that you can fit three-way SLI in the Silencio, but I wager it would be a touch cramped. And if you did, you’d surely have to make use of the other sliding door on the top panel, to reveal a mesh exhaust port – but then, your somewhat silent case would be that much louder!
It strikes me that this would be an almost perfect case for avid consumers of media. Whether via fast USB3 devices, from cameras via the SD card, or on a shared HDD, this is a very versatile media box. It’s not quite as quiet as other cases, but it does the job, so with a low-powered build would make a great option for a loungeroom PC. And being able to switch between HDDs and OSes, makes it great for folks who work in Mac, but play on PC – or whatever mix you care to think of. And at such a good price, it just looks even better.