Nanoxia, who brings us fine fans, has taken the plunge and brought us their first case: the Deep Silence 1. Is this a silent monolith? Let’s see – and hear.
Nanoxia is a German company best known for their green bladed fans and nanotechnology fan bearings. You can hear the composite in their name. They pride themselves on their “German Engineering:”
The idea for Nanoxia was developed in 2006 when a German engineering team sat down to develop fans that would meet the highest standards. . . . In addition to their distinctive design, the revolutionary fans were notable for their high quality.
A dedicated and experienced team has begun to build on the success of the legendary fan-series with new, innovative products. . . . As a new mile stone was reached after years of development, when during Computex 2012 the brand new Nanoxia Deep Silence case series was introduced to the world.
The first of this series is the Deep Silence 1. It will be followed by the Deep Silence 3 and the Deep Silence 6, but for now we will focus on this, the first of the Nanoxia cases.
▪ Deep Silence 1
The Deep Silence 1 PC case offers you a perfect combination of excellent system cooling at extremely low noise levels. Many unique features like the Air Chimney and the retractable I/O panel have been integrated into the chassis, this maintains the clean look of the case.
▪ Complete customizable soundproofing
The Deep Silence 1 is fully insulated and lined with sound-absorbing insulation materials. The use of two insulated front doors also contributes to the noise level, as well as the decoupled mounting of the hard drives and power supply unit.
▪ Air Chimney (protected design)
The Air Chimney can be simply opened or closed using a slider on the side of the top panel. While the Air Chimney remains closed, the uniform design line of the case is preserved and the interior is protected from the intrusion of dust and dirt. While open, the air chimney can be used to improve the case ventilation.
▪ Tool-free mounting of optical drives
The installation of the optical drives works completely without tools and screws. Corresponding brackets fix the drives quickly and safely.
▪ Full modular HDD cages (2, 3, 5, 6 or 8 HDD)
The Deep Silence 1 provides three fully modular HDD modules (2 x 3 HDD, 1 x 2 HDD). The top two cages are interchangeable and can also be removed if required. An additional bracket on the case bottom enables the mounting of one of the HDD modules, even if for example a 240 mm radiator is installed behind the front.
▪ 8 Slots for expansion cards
On the back side there are 8 slots for expansion cards. Multi-GPU systems can easily be accommodated in the Deep Silence 1.
▪ Maximum graphics card length
When using all HDD modules, graphic cards with a maximum length of 315 mm can be accommodated in the Deep Silence 1 case. With disassembled hard drive cages, cards up to 445 mm in length can be mounted.
▪ Maximum height of CPU-coolers
The maximum installation height of CPU coolers is 185 mm. Thus, all currently available CPU-coolers can be mounted in the Deep Silence 1.
▪ 2-channel control for up to six case fans
A 2-channel fan controller for up to 6 fans can be found behind the upper door. Three fans with a combined maximum power consumption of 18 Watt can be connected per channel.
▪ Ventilation system
Behind the front panel two 120 mm “Deep Silence” fans (max. 1300 rpm) are pre-installed, a 140 mm “Deep Silence” fan (max. 1100 rpm) can be found in the rear. Overall, up to 7 impellers can be mounted.
▪ Cable management
Seven rubberized cable guides are available in the motherboard tray. The cable management has been adapted to the needs of Micro-ATX systems as well. The opening directly behind the power supply unit is big enough to allow the whole cable harness of a PSU to be fed through.
▪ Made for watercooling enthusiasts
In the Deep Silence 1 you can mount one 120 or 240 mm radiator behind the front panel, as well as under the cover. Outward offset mounting holes in the lid prevent a possible collision with the radiator motherboard components. On the back side there are 4 rubber hose guides for external watercooling systems available.
Whew! They said a lot. And they say a lot more on their website. But as we shall see, it’s all true.
Here are the Deep Silence 1 specifications as provided by Nanoxia:
5.25 inch drive bay external
3.5 inch drive bay external
|1 x (optional)|
2.5/3.5 inch drive bay internal
Case Fan (Front)
|2 x 120 mm|
Case Fan (Rear)
|1 x 140 mm|
Case Fan (Top)
|optional 2 x (120/140 mm)|
Case Fan (Bottom)
|optional 1 x (120/140 mm)|
Case Fan (Left Side panel)
|optional 1 x (120/140 mm)|
Maximum VGA Card Length
|315 (445) mm|
Seven fans can be mounted. You can control six of them with the two sliders. The rear-mounted 140mm exhaust fan is a refreshing change from most cases. 140mm fans can pull more air with less noise than the more common 120mm exhaust fans.
The Nanoxia Deep Silence 1 came all the way from Taiwan in a close-fitting plain cardboard box that was girded round with edge reinforcements on all eight of its edges. It was an impressive display of protection. Inside was the case’s retail box, which is decorated with a left corner shot of the case in its black monolithic glory. The whole box side is busy with color photographs that show various aspects of the cases functions, and its potential functions.
Inside the box we see the classic Styrofoam caps that hold the case in place, while protecting it from all but the largest assaults. Pull it out of the box, take off the plastic bag, and the case shows us the stick-on sheets that keep the plastic face from getting scarred.
Nanoxia says this:
The front of the case is equipped with two soundproof doors. Magnets integrated in the doors ensure a fast closing and easy opening.
Behind the upper cover the user will find three 5.25 inch bays, a 2-channel fan control (with sliders), as well as the reset-button.
Behind the second door, two low-noise 120 mm Nanoxia fans are mounted.
Those fans run near 1200 RPM . They click a little, but with the front doors open they only make the equivalent of 26 dB noise at 1 meter. With the door closed they make 19 dB. With the fans on minimum, you can barely hear them. At less than 12 dB, my sound pressure meter could not distinguish them from background noise at 10cm, though I could.
Click on the right-hand picture to enlarge it. Above the 5.25-inch slot covers are the two sliding case fan speed controllers. The top slider is at maximum; the slider below it is set to minimum speed. To the right of that is the reset button. It’s a clever location, out of the way yet easy to get to. Note the sound deadening foam on the inside of both doors.
Let’s look at the side views; left then right. Notice something? That’s right, only one thumbscrew holding the left side panel to the case. The other thumbscrew was loose rattling around inside. There is also a removable panel on the left side. We’ll get back to that. But before we go, notice the vents on the side of the front cover on both sides. These allow the front fans some space to breathe.
Let us look at the back top and bottom of this case. On the back, we see the Nanoxia has a 140mm fan, eight expansion slots, four rubber grommet holes for radiator hoses, and a place for a bottom-mounted PSU. On the top of the case we can see the on-off button (it lights up when the computer inside turns on), with outlines of the IO panel and the “air chimney” below it. All deep black. Last, we see the bottom with its large feet and large air filter. Note the angled guides at the bottom of the picture. This beast is designed for you to remove and replace the filter entirely by touch. But also note the slight bowing in the left panel. That is where the dog on the panel is fully engaged; yet it does not snug up the bottom of the panel. It’s a minor point, but sloppy work at the factory can undo the best of designs.
Inside the main plenum, the Nanoxia Deep Silence 1 struts its stuff. The slot covers grip through to the outside of the case, so they do not require a motherboard to hold them in place. Thumbscrews fasten them at their tops. The green-bladed exhaust fan has its cable nicely tied. This fan is a model DF1402512SEDN. In free air, the fan made the equivalent of 21 dBA at 1m, running at 997 RPM, clicking quietly.
The generous CPU window is backed by Nanoxia’s two-layer acoustic treatment. The cables from the front and top panels pour in through the 5.25-inch bay. There are six large grommets covering the cable pass-through areas, with a seventh revealed if you choose to use a mATX motherboard.
In the upper right you can see the three 5.25-inch slots with tool-less grippers. They really do grip 5.25-inch devices firmly. Below the 5.25-inch bay there are three hard drive modules holding eight HD’s. The top two pull out easily. The bottom module has easily reached screws that can be removed to free it. In the bottom module is the box of accessories. Finally, there is a plastic shoe at the bottom of the plenum that will accept one of the free HD modules.
Now let’s pull out those HD modules. Just lift the tab at the back of the module, then pull it out. The manual shows you how, of course. I also pulled out a HD tray so you can see what it looks like. Each hard drive sits on those four cushions, held in place by four screws that leave just a hint of play when tightened. Very nice. And there’s the HD module shoe again. You can see that the modules all have shoes on top.
On the backside you get a clear view of all but the HD shoe. Note the tie-down points. They are not plentiful, but they are large enough to hold a several zip ties. And note the wide slot at the top of the motherboard tray. This leaves plenty of room for fan cables. Also, in the upper right corner. That little window is for the CPU cable. We will think about this again.
Here is the bottom of the plenum, first with filter and shoe, then open and free. In both pictures, you can see the rubber bumpers that support the PSU. Note there are only two of them.
Let’s take a look at the ends of the cables. There are the fan sockets for the top slider – A1, A2 and A3, a HD Audio plug, and an AC ’97 plug. Who needs an AC ’97 plug? It just gets in the way. Then we have the motherboard plug-ins; Reset, Power LED+, Power LED-, and Power Switch. Additionally, there is a Molex plug for the fan controllers, a plain two-channel USB plug, a two-channel USB3 plug, and the three fan sockets for the lower slider – B1, B2 and B3. There is no converter for the USB3 plug if your motherboard happens to lack an on-board USB3 socket. There is no way to get USB3 from the back I/O area of your motherboard.
In the second picture we have the back sides of the two removable panels. The left is the top panel. Aside from the I/O cables, the main feature is the underside of the Nanoxia Air Chimney. More on that later, but for now note that it has an application of Nanoxia’s 2-layer noise insulation material. At right is the back of the front panel, which features the Reset button, the Power switch with the surrounding power LED, and the fan controllers. The backs of the doors are covered with foam to deaden noise.
Next we have a nice view of all three fans that come with the Nanoxia Deep Silence 1. The front fans are covered with filters. You push on the left sides of their frames to cause them to let go so you can open them. Push again to close.
From the front with the fans swung out, you can see the HD modules. Thankfully the fans don’t have to push through a grill, but the HD modules are very restrictive. True, they’re sturdy, but they allow little airflow. In fact, most air from the front fans goes around the HD modules.
Note the hard drive sitting in the 5.25-inch bay above the fans. Nanoxia provides you with a cradle for 3.5-inch devices. You will see this HD substituting for a 3.5-inch external-facing device.
In the second picture we get to peer into the bare case from the front. It does give you a sense of the possibilities.
We will let the inside of the left panel represent both sides. The right is the same except is has no space for a fan. Next is a closeup of Nanoxia’s “noise reducing insulation material.” In their excellent manual Nanoxia informs us that “the 2-layer insulation material consists of a bitumen layer and a layer of foam compound that acts equally against airborne sound, while the bitumen layer specifically reduces the vibrational characteristics of the case.”
Arrayed across the outside of the left panel, we see the 140mm filter, the 140mm rear exhaust fan, the acoustic fan window cover, and the fan window with its grill. I don’t get the grill. While it is not the most restrictive grill, it is somewhat restrictive and will add a hissing noise to any fan with at least a moderate airflow. Worse, it runs the risk of adding vibration to any fan set against it. Since Nanoxia already provides a reinforced air filter, a grill is completely unnecessary here.
Let’s look again at the left panel. Nanoxia says, “The side panel offers the opportunity to install a 120 or 140 mm side fan. The opening is closed by a succinct, square fan cover so as to preserve the uniform appearance of the case.” Next, here is the 140mm fan mounted on the left side panel. Looks good, doesn’t it? Elegant.
The side panel fan behind vertical bars shows its colors. But the poor thing looks like it’s in jail. The second image shows what it is supposed to look like. Again, elegant.
Before we leave the side fan, we should note that the front, bottom and side fan positions all have filters. All have a medium mesh that will catch most dust without unduly impeding airflow. And all are reinforced. The filters that are difficult to reach are removable, and the one filter that is screwed in is well within reach of your vacuum cleaner. The only possibility the Nanoxia engineers did not address is using the top fans for intake.
Nanoxia considers their Air Chimney to be an important innovation in the Deep Silence 1 case. They tell us:
A unique feature of the Deep Silence 1 case is the Nanoxia Air Chimney in the top cover. It can be used to increase the cooling capacity of the case with minimal increase in noise. This is accomplished by simply applying slight pressure on the lid of the chimney to open it. Thanks to the stack effect (heated air always rises to the top), the system heat escapes passively and without additional noise from the case interior.
They further note:
With the Nanoxia air chimney you can chose between two advantages:
- keep it closed for silent operation
- keep it open to improve heat dissipation (passive) and for using additional fans or a water cooling system (active)
As long as the air chimney is closed the integrated noise isolation components will reduce noise very efficiently. Moreover you can keep the plain and simple design – which was the main idea when we started developing the air chimney. In addition a closed top cover will protect your system against dust and fluids.
With an open air chimney the internal heat conduction will be improved while your system is still well protected against external influences. We even added a gutter in the rim around the inner frame of the air chimney to absorb leaking fluids.
You’ve seen the underside of the air chimney already. Now let’s see it in action. To start, it presents a flush rectangular cover “so as to preserve the uniform appearance of the case.” Slide the button over and up comes the chimney cover, just like the tops of many chimneys that you might see in your neighborhood. But that doesn’t look like much room for warm air to waft its way out of this case. My steel ruler tells me the gap is exactly ¼-inch. Hey! I thought we had gone metric. Well, it’s about 6.5mm, which is close to ¼-inch. I have my doubts about how effective a quarter-inch gap is in allowing warm air to waft out.
What this case needs is a fan or two up top. You can see that there is another one of those unfortunate grills. Aside from interfering with warmed air rising out of the case, it interferes with any fans you might put there.
In the second picture you can see how the Deep Silence 1 mounts fans in the top. Instead of centering fans in a fan window, they are mounted with adjacent holes. This will allow for twin rads, both 280mm and 240mm. The shape of that grill is suggestive. 180mm fan anyone?
Finally, let us look at the pop-up IO panel. We see it here with the air chimney in background. The two USB ports, the two USB3 ports, the headphone and mic jacks are all clearly evident. What you can’t see is how hard I pushed trying to get this little thing to pop open. I gave up and pushed on the latch from below to hold it firm while I mashed on it again from above. This time it opened and I got the shot you see. Later when I did not have access to the inside of the case I simply pushed harder on top. That eventually popped the panel up, but it felt like I was going to break something. Manufacturing issue or design flaw – I can’t tell. At least it looks nice.
The Crown Jewel
The crowning glory of this case is not part of the case at all. It is the manual that comes with it. Eighty-eight pages in four languages – German, English, French and Spanish – with plenty of color pictures. This means that for each language there was a 22-page manual that used text, diagrams and full-color photographs to tell you what you can do with this case, and how to do it. As prolix as their website is, Nanoxia tells you and shows you things in this manual you will find nowhere else. Let’s take a peek.
Lots of screws and other hardware are here. Page 24 shows you what they are all for. But this page shows you what kind of motherboards fit in the case, how to identify and use motherboard standoffs, and how to plug in the 4+4 EPS extension cable. Hmm. I wonder why we need one of those? My semi-modular PSU has cables so long I’m usually worried about where to put the slack. I don’t need a longer cable run.
Note the rubber hole plugs. Those are designed to replace the hose grommets at the rear of the case. Why Nanoxia thinks you need those is not in the manual. I also found an extra hole plug bouncing around loose inside the case.
The picture also shows a 5.25-inch faceplate for 3.5-inch external devices, and a standard 5.25-inch slot cover. See that latch on the right side of the cover? It works really well.
In the second picture is the 3.5-inch adapter with a 3.5-inch HD in it. Note the manual shows and tells you how to use it. The manual is like that. Everywhere you look there are pictures showing you where the screws are, how to mount and dismount things, radiator clearance (radiator clearance!) — just a wealth of information in 22 pages for each language.
Overall, I’d say Bravo! here. I hope Nanoxia publishes these for all their cases.
Building in the Nanoxia Deep Silence 1
We’ve now thoroughly inspected the Nanoxia Deep Silence 1, outside and in. It’s time to do what you do with computer cases: build a system inside it. Actually, the case is easy to build in – if you follow directions. Look at the picture above of the manual page with all the stuff on it. In the lower corner is a hand plugging in an EPS extension cable. They tell you not to plug it into the PSU yet. For good reason. The dedicated hole for this cable in the motherboard tray will not pass the EPS plug; the hole is not tall enough. And the slot for the fan cables is narrower still. So you must pass the 2×4-pin EPS socket through the EPS hole. And you must do it sideways. That done, it goes right through. Then you can hook it up with the EPS cable from your PSU.
Nice Looker, eh? One issue: with only two bumpers, the power supply unit had to be held up in the back to put in the mounting screws. It was the only truly inconvenient installation in an otherwise smooth building experience. This is a design flaw: the PSU really does need four bumpers.
With the fans running you can barely feel any air on the far side of the hard drive modules. That didn’t seem too cool, so I buttoned up the beast and ran some tests. The rear exhaust and the two front fans were spinning. With one HD running and the sliders set to their lowest speed for front and rear fans (<12 dB in front), the HD reported its internal temperature to HDD Health as 33 °C after an hour, 9 °C over ambient. With the same HD running and the three fans set to their highest speed (19 dB in front), the HD reported 31 °C after an hour, 6.5 °C over ambient. So if you care about noise, it won’t hurt your HD’s to run those fans at a low setting. As restrictive as the modules are, they seem to let enough air through them to cool a hard drive.
Let’s measure the plenum chamber now. With the HD module present, there is nearly 320mm for a GPU card. That’s more than a foot. From the motherboard I measured 190mm to the edge of the case. That’s more than enough for any large heatsink. To bring this point home Nanoxia shows an Archon on page 30 of their wonderful manual. A cute touch, that.
Let us review the flexibility of the hard drive modules. We will start by looking again at how the modules can come out:
Now let us look at the Deep Silence 1 with the middle module locked into the shoe at the bottom of the plenum. You might do this to give your GPU card more air, for example. That 2-drive module hanging down from the upper rail is not fixed in place. You will have to kludge something up if you want to keep it from sliding. But the arrangement shows the flexibility HD module arrangements.
The second image shows us the back of the built case. Note two things here. First, the CPU window is properly placed so the heatsink backing plate has plenty of room. Second, look at the PSU’s EPS plug connected to the EPS extension cable’s socket. I have seen at least one comment in a forum to the effect that a user had burned out more than one such extension cable in his system. His CPU drew enough current that he needed a direct connect from the PSU to the motherboard. Certainly this case is small enough that with a little larger EPS hole the PSU’s cable would reach.
The back of this build is a bit messy, but the narrowness of the space behind the motherboard tray precludes grouping the various cables into neat bundles. Below you can see that behind the motherboard we have maybe 17mm from the tray to the edge of the case. Sounds like a lot, until you figure it’s about 5/8 of an inch. And with all the padding on the side panel there’s not much room left for cables.
Finally, an NH-D14 juxtaposed with top-mounted fans. There is still room here to reach around with your hands and detach fan clips from the fin stack.
Cases represent a balance of various features. The Deep Silence 1 strikes an excellent balance. It looks great, it has a lot of thoughtful features, and it comes with a very thorough manual. Maybe this is what the Nanoxia engineers mean when they proclaim “German Engineering.” It certainly is welcome.
This case was comfortable to build a system in. It provides enough flexibility that you can pretty much put anything you want in it. And Nanoxia has a variety of pictures online that display that versatility here, including placement of radiators. There appeared to be a little sloppiness in the execution of the design. The bottom of the left panel was not held solidly down; the pressure latch on the I/O panel was too stiff; and one of the rear thumbscrews was rattling around loose, as was an extra plug. But these are trivial matters. Note that the thumbscrew was not missing, and the loose plug was an extra. Better these than missing parts.
This is not really an air-cooler’s case for overclocking. While there is room for radiators, the overclocking potential is limited by the limits on airflow. This really is for what its name says: Deep Silence. With the CPU set to stock clocks, the fans can be set to minimum. You won’t even hear your system.
The MSRP for the Nanoxia Deep Silence 1 is $109. This is a price point where you will find a number of cases — some excellent, some trying to look excellent. The DS1 holds its own in this company.
The Deep Silence 1 was provided by Nanoxia. We look forward to seeing what else they produce.
- Elegant. The pieces all fit together to present a unified whole.
- Thoughtful design.
- Soundproofing throughout, including 2-layer deadening material for the larger panels.
- Specifically designed to accommodate radiators as well as fans.
- Great flexibility in installation arrangements.
- Except for the Air Chimney, all fan intake positions have excellent dust filters.
- A complete manual that completely explains the case, in four languages.
- The space behind the motherboard is not generous.
- The hard drive module design is sturdy but restricts cooling airflow.
Needs to Improve:
- Some minor manufacturing glitches. Hopefully these will be fixed when the case goes retail.
- Only two PSU support bumpers. That made PSU installation the sole inconvenient job in the case.
- Lack of USB3 adapters for motherboards without USB3 headers.
- All three fans quietly click.
- The EPS12V pass-through will only pass a socket, not a plug. This requires an adapter. While the adapter is included, it adds undue complication to building in this case.
- The Air Chimney produces only a 1/4-inch gap. It hardly seems to be enough to make a difference.
The complete text of the wonderful user’s manual would be a nice addition to the Nanoxia website. They say so much on the website already, so a copy of the manual should not be much of a burden. Having the manual online would allow potential buyers to see how their rads might fit into this case.
There are two places on this case that have unnecessary grills: the side panel and the top. This is unfortunately rather typical of computer cases. I wish manufacturers would get rid of grills where they are not absolutely necessary.
The Nanoxia Deep Silence 1 comes in Dark Black (this case), Anthracite, Silver and White.
Ed Hume (ehume)