be quiet! Silent Base 800 Case Review

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Late last year the German company be quiet! released a new case, the Silent Base 800. What does be quiet! have to add to the world of cases? The world of PC cases is filled with every innovation that engineers and craftsmen can devise. What makes their case so good that we would pick this, rather than another? Today we will explore the Silent Base 800 and find out.

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Features and Specifications

Be quiet! Is a brand name of products from Listan GmbH and Co. The name be quiet! tells us that quiet is their goal. Their website tells us, “be quiet! is a premium brand manufacturer of power supplies and cooling solutions for your desktop PC.” They tell us they were, “one of the first manufacturers of noise-dampening mats for PCs.” Their cooling products include heatsinks and fans, and they sell many different power supplies as well. The Silent Base 800 is the first case from be quiet!

From their press release:

be quiet! . . . introduces its first chassis – the Silent Base 800.

This case offers generous space and is firmly aimed at the premium segment – for customers who want high end features in a low noise system. With its innovative design, be quiet! guarantees silent operation while delivering excellent cooling performance. True to the motto ‘Form Follows Function’, each component in the Silent Base 800 fulfils a specific purpose in order to increase user-friendliness and bring performance to a new level.

If you are interested in learning more about this case, the press release is quite informative, and can be read here.

Features (from the website)

Unique Performance and usability

  • Innovative construction for controlled airflow and excellent cooling performance
  • Unique concept for well known be quiet! silence
  • Three pre-installed be quiet! Pure Wings 2 fans
  • Generous space and flexibility supports all manner of high-end hardware
  • Easy tool-free fitting and professional cable management

Very Silent Operation

  • The innovative construction of the side, bottom and top covers optimizes case airflow for perfect air circulation, reducing turbulence and generating superior cooling at lower fan speeds for exceedingly quiet operation
  • Sound insulation material on the side panels and the front also reduces vibrations and provides even more stability
  • Three pre-installed Pure Wings 2 fans ( two Pure Wings 2 140mm in the front, and one Pure Wings 2 120mm at the rear) include an array of optimizations for quiet airflow
    • unique airflow-optimized fan blade design reduces noise-generating fan turbulence
    • high-quality sleeved bearing
    • switching, noise-cancelling circuitry
    • fans are decoupled from the case with special mounts, reducing transmission of vibration and noise
  • Hard drive cages feature unique, specially designed silicone rubber anti-vibration rails that fully decouple drives so as to eliminate any transmission of vibration to the case

Perfect Cooling

  • The upper and lower cover air ducts are designed both to channel cooling airflow. The rear opening allows air to enter the chassis while reducing the noise passing through the front panel
  • Adjustable side panel vents allow the user to fine tune airflow, or even add more fans if needed
  • Additional fan mounting of up to four fans at the top, bottom and on the side panel of the chassis
  • Water cooling ready for high-performance systems. Three areas are provided for radiators: below the top cover, in the HDD section, and in the rear of the case
  • Organized cable routing assures a better look, but more importantly it also provides for efficient airflow, better cooling, and therefore quieter operation

Specifications

Under “Technical Data,” be quiet! provides many details about the Silent Base 800. Selections:

Silent Base 800 Specifications
General Data
Form Factor ATX
Motherboard Compatibility ATX, Micro-ATX, mini-ITX
Case Size incl. Stands (W x H x D), (mm) 495 x 266 x 559 (19.5” X 10.5” X 22”) L/W/H
Case Size excl. Stands (W x H x D), (mm) 495 x 230 x 542 (19.5″ X 9.1″ x 21.3″) L/W/H
Color Options Orange, Black, Silver
USB 2.0 2
USB 3.0 2
HD Audio I/O 1
Expansion Slots 7
Drive Bay Capacity
5,25 (5.25”) 3
3,5 (3.5”) 7
2,5 (2.5”) 4
Pre-installed Fans
Fan Front 2 x be quiet! Pure Wing 2 |140mm 1,000rpm
Fan Rear 1 x be quiet! Pure Wings 2 | 120mm 1,500 RPM
Dimensions (L x W x H), (mm) Front: 140 x 140 x 25, Rear: 120 x 120 x 25
Fan Speed @ 12V (rpm) Front: 1,000, Rear: 1,500
Noise Level @ 12V (dB(A)) Front: 18.8, Rear: 19.2
Air Flow @ 12V (cfm / m3/h) Front: 61.2, Rear: 51.4
Air pressure @ 12V (mm H2O) Front: 0.76, Rear: 1.25
Voltage range (V DC) 5–12
Input Power (W) Front: 1.08, Rear: 1.04
Input Current (A) 0.09
Connector 3-pin
Lifespan (h / 25°C) up to 80,000
Optional Fan Installation
Fan Mounting Locations 7
Top (mm) 2 x 140/120
Bottom (mm) 1 x 140/120
Side Panel (mm) 1 x 120 (actually 2 x 120, or 2 x round frame 140)
Graphic Card
Standard (mm) 290
Without Middle HDD Cage (mm) 400
Removable Dust Filters
Front 1
Bottom 1
Side Panel 2
Accessories
#6-32 Round Head Screws (pcs.) 8
M3 HDD Screws (pcs.) 28
M3 x 8 Flat Head Screws (pcs.) 16
#6-32 x 5 Flat Head Screws (pcs.) 4
M3 x 5 Round Head Screws (pcs.) 6
#6-32 Hex Head Screws (pcs.) 4
Rubber Rail (pcs.) 14
Standoff (pcs.) 2
Cable Tie Long (pcs.) 2 (150 mm)
Cable Tie Short (pcs.) 2 (100 mm)
Cable Tie Holder (pcs.) 1

Exploring the Outside of the Silent Base 800.

The Silent Base 800 comes in a shipping box covered with ads and pictures.

Box - Front Oblique

Box – Front Oblique

Box - Back Oblique

Box – Back Oblique

The top and bottom of the case is capped in Styrofoam and wrapped in a cloth bag. In the top cap, the feet were stored apart from the case.

Caps and Cover

Caps and Cover

Legs in Top Cap

Legs in Top Cap

You just shove the feet in the bottom to get them on. Simple.

Bottom Without Feet

Bottom Without Feet

Bottom With Feet

Bottom With Feet

The case front is secured with masking tape.

On the left side, you can see the first of the side vents, complete with the be quiet! logo. Note that the side cover is held on with two thumbscrews at the rear of the case.

Case Front

Case Front

Left Side

Left Side

The rear view shows a pretty standard back end, except that the generous top and bottom covers have vents. There also seems to be a handle here. If you pull it, you get an excellent filter that will easily cover the PSU’s fan and a 140 mm bottom fan on the chassis.

The top of the case shows the IO cluster in the front right corner. Be quiet! apparently made the choice that the IO cluster would be accessible to you if it sat on the floor next to you. These ports would require you to stand up if the case sits on your desk. One fine decision is to include four USB ports. The USB2 ports are handy for wireless mice, wireless keyboards and the like. Note that you open the front door at the top.

Rear View

Rear View

Bottom Filter

Bottom Filter

Top View

Top View

The right cover shows another be quiet! vent. At this point it is closed.

Opening Up the Silent Base 800

In front, the fan cover comes down like a drawbridge when you push at its top. You can also see the vents within the orange lines. This is where the front fans get their air. At the top, a front door opens to show the 5.25” slot covers. There are only three real slots. The top one is a dummy.

Right Side

Right Side

Front Opened

Front Opened

A closeup of the front filter shows it is the same excellent optimal mesh that be quiet! used on the case’s bottom filter. The tab at the top of the filter releases it for cleaning and for access to the front area.

Closeup of Filter

Closeup of Filter

Filter Off

Filter Off

Opening the left panel, we see that it is covered with what be quiet! calls its “brand new anechoic material.” The side vent simply pops out.

Main Cavity

Main Cavity

Anechoic Material

Anechoic Material

When the side vent pops out, it exposes a fake filter. You see them over and over. These do not stop much dust, but they do restrict a lot of airflow. The folks at be quiet! are obviously aware they could do better – they are using topnotch stuff in the front and bottom filters.

Now, do look at that thumbscrew. It has a tapered shaft that leads to the threads. A paragon of thumbscrews. It never allows you to miss or mis-align the threads you are aiming for. It makes working on these cases ever so much easier. This may seem like a trivial matter, but be quiet! deserves credit for choosing such labor-saving thumbscrews.

Thumbscrew and Mesh

Thumbscrew and Mesh

Now we view the interior of the Silent Base 800. Right in the middle, where we can’t ignore it, is the gaping CPU hole. Wow. Big. It extends above the top motherboard screws on the left, all the way over to the motherboard screws on the right, down to the center motherboard screws, and all the way over to the leftmost screw. It is as big as it can be to surround any CPU socket – which of course, is its job.

In the upper left corner is the triangular space that the EPS12V plug goes through. I’ll tell you in advance it is comfortably big enough for an EPS plug to go through with no issues. Four cable pass through grommets – colored orange to match the trim on the outside. On this side of the 5.25” bay, we see slide locks for slot devices. Those slides work great, and they are plenty big for large hands.

Interior

Interior

Looking up, we see an arching top and essentially no grill at the top of the metal part of the case. Of course, you say, that will always be covered. But enough manufacturers have grills there that be quiet! should be praised for leaving it open. After all, if you put a radiator up there – an AIO, perhaps – you don’t want anything obstructing airflow. On the left, we see those grooved blades on the be quiet! exhaust fan. It looks like they didn’t put cheap fans in their case, but used the same fans they sell at retail. And on the right, look at how the latticework on the sides of the HD cages are open to airflow. Great news. Finally, along the top of the motherboard tray you can see a couple of tabs. Those hold the plastic top on.

In the next picture, we have a red arrow pointing to one of the tabs holding on the front cover. Here is where the manual lets you down. Section 8.3.3 says “Remove the front panel.” How? You could easily miss those tabs.

Looking Up

Looking Up

Front Tab

Front Tab

When the covers come off, a couple of things become apparent. First of all, the IO port and system on/off button unplug with one-way connectors. You can’t plug them in wrong. Second, the stops on that top cover will only allow you to use 25 mm thick fans. Sorry, 38 mm fan lovers.

Next up, a glamor shot of a naked case, steel skeleton and all. It looks light and airy, as it should.

Top and Front Covers

Top and Front Covers

Covers Off

Covers Off

The bottom of the main cavity has pads for the PSU – those are the green arrow. The blue arrow points to part of the PSU pad where it is screwed on to the back of the case. All of this cuts down vibrations from the PSU fan. The bottom is also a grill. Funny, it’s not the bottom of the case. Why isn’t it open? Because sometimes it is the bottom of the case, as this picture shows. There is room for airflow here, along with fans. Here the manual is a little more prolix, and actually explains something: Section 8.4.4 – “To install the fan on the bottom of the chassis, remove the front panel first, then remove the four screws inside the case and slide the lower cover towards the rear to release it.”

Pads for PSU

Pads for PSU

Bottom Cover Off

Bottom Cover Off

The back side of the motherboard tray is next. We will start at the upper left corner: no slide locks for the 5.25” bay. Luckily, in a well-made case like this one, you only need to lock one side. Between the set of case cables and the edge of the HD cage, you can make out the thumbscrew that helps hold the upper HD cage. A point worth noting is the paucity of tie-down points. This case has one, no more. Not good. There are two doohickeys that are held on with one thumbscrew apiece. Wonder what they are? Those little doohickeys are 2.5” frames for mounting SSD’s to the back of the motherboard tray. There are two slots that make hinges, so each frame is solidly mounted with that single thumbscrew. You can also see one of the sills for the side panel. These would come in handy if you put a heavy fan on the panel.

Back of Motherboard Tray

Back of Motherboard Tray

SSD Holders

SSD Holders

Accessories. Actually, small parts since they are integral to the functionality of the case. Rubber rails, screws, zip-ties, and a cable clip. You can also buy “Self Adhesive Cable Tie Mount Bases,” a.k.a. “wire tie attachment pads” or “stick on wire tie down points.” You will need those to supply tie down points absent from the motherboard tray.

Here is how you use those rubber rails and those short thumbscrews. It’s a little more work than in some cases, but you end up with firm grips that nonetheless attenuate vibration.

Small Parts

Small Parts

Rails on HD

Rubber Rails on HD

Our next picture shows case cables. It starts with the dual USB2 plug and moves to the dual USB3 plug. A nice surprise is that the HD Audio is alone – no outmoded plugs flapping in the breeze. I won’t even mention its name, so as not to summon the dead.

The front of the case with the fans off. I suppose this half-grill might be OK for a case where the HD cage matched the front. But here, there is no such congruency. Also, you are supposed to be able to mount a 120/140 mm radiator here. Why block some of the air?

Case Cables

Case Cables

Front Demi-Grill

Front Demi-Grill

Back inside the case, we have to note the center king post and the raised dimples set up for ATX motherboard screws. The king post in the center allows you to position your motherboard easily. The dimples actually guide your screws into the screw holes. In one of the accessory bags there are two standoffs for mATX boards.

The front door can be repositioned to open on the other side.

Center Post and Dimple

Center Post and Dimple

Hinge Moved to Right

Hinge Moved to Right

Building a System in the Silent Base 800

HDD Installation

Now we have fun. First, note that there are three thumbscrews holding the top HD cage nice and tight. There is another thumbscrew at the back. When you have unscrewed those, the cage slides out on two pairs of rails.

The upper rails are set into a piece of plastic, as indicated by the arrow.

HD Cages in Place

HD Cages in Place

Rails -- Plastic  Piece

Rails — Plastic Piece

At the bottom of the 5.25” bay, four screws hold the plastic piece with the HD cage rails. They can be removed. When the plastic piece is removed, we find that it has skewed screw holes to avoid it being placed incorrectly. It is two-sided. We also see two sets of mounting holes.

Bottom of 5.25" Bay

Bottom of 5.25″ Bay

Rails on Plastic Piece

Rails on Plastic Piece

The first picture shows the HD cage with hard drives mounted in it. Note that the thumbscrew on the side operates a slide that locks the HD’s in place.

The next picture shows the cage . . . in the 5.25” bay. In this picture, the plastic piece was mounted using the back holes to bring the HD cage forward. The logic of this indicates current thinking: few people use a DVD/CD/ODD any more. That leaves the 5.25” bay unused. When a radiator is mounted in front, hard drives cannot go there. So the HD cage goes into the potentially empty 5.25” bay. Nice. It’s the first time I’ve seen this in a case. Sure, after market cages exist, but this is the first time the potential was built into a case.

HD Cage

HD Cage

HD Cage in 5.25" Bay

HD Cage in 5.25″ Bay

Then I pulled it all apart and reset the HD cage to its rear position. Then there was room for a 140×25 mm fan in front. We could use a filter here, and you will have to leave the front door open to use this, but the potential is definitely here. Note that I have filled up that HD cage with three hard drives.

140mm Fan in 5.25" Bay + 3 HD's

140mm Fan in 5.25″ Bay + 3 HD’s

Component Installation

Here is an early build of the test system. It has a mATX motherboard. It has a passive NH-D14 (no fans) and a SSD. The hard drives have not been added yet. You can see the lack of a grill on top, and the ODD in the 5.25” bay.

With the hard drives added and connected with SATA cables, one advantage of the open lattice in the HD cage becomes apparent. The SATA cables have a straight shot into the motherboard. No bending needed.

Partly Built, Passive Cooling

Partly Built, Passive Cooling

Straight SATA Cables

Straight SATA Cables

Here is what a built system looks like from the back. Oops. Looks like I had to use some Molex-to-3pin adapters to power the fans. They make a mess. Note that the CPU window leaves lots of room around the CPU socket.

There is just about 7/8” (21 mm) of space behind the motherboard for cable management. While this is adequate, it is not a generous amount.

Back of Built System

Back of Built System

Cable Space -- 7/8"

Cable Space — 7/8″

One other item – the plastic slide piece broke when I was putting the HD cage back in its original place. The manufacturer needs to loosen up the clearances by a hair to keep this from happening.

Radiators in the Silent Base 800

Here is a full ATX board in the Silent Base 800. At the top of the cavity we seen a radiator, and perched on top are two 120 x 25 mm fans.

ATX MB with Rad

ATX MB with Rad

We clearly could have put a 280 mm radiator here instead of this 240 mm. The radiator is 30 mm thick, so we have plenty of room. In fact, we could have put this radiator on top and let two 120 x 38 mm fans hang in the main cavity.

Room to Grow

Room to Grow

Rad Room

Rad Room

Testing Setup

The case was run with the following system installed:

Test Setup
CPU Intel i7 860 HT enabled, LLC enabled; ran at stock 2.93 GHz
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-P55M-UD2; supplied 1.1125 Volts to the CPU
RAM 4 x 2 GB G.Skill low profile DDR3-1600 at 10x (1333 MHz)
Graphics Card PowerColor AX3450 Radeon HD 3450 (fanless)
Solid State Drive Kingston V+ 100 64 GB
Hard Drive 1 3.5” 1 TB Hitachi
Hard Drive 2 3.5” 1 TB Toshiba (little used)
Power Supply SeaSonic SS-460FL 460 Watts (fanless)
Heatsink NH-D14, fanless
Stress Software OCCT 3.10, small data set; logs temperature readings
SSD Software CrystalDisk Info (read after 1 hour run)
Measuring Equipment
Tenma 72-942 Sound Pressure Level Meter
Digital TEMPer USB Thermometer with dedicated logging software

The NH-D14 was installed several cases ago. That makes all the cases tested since then strictly comparable. We don’t have to worry about mount variation.

OCCT 3.10 running a small data set produces a flat core temperature curve. This produced a set of four core temps, which were automatically logged. The ambient temperature was measured with the USB thermometer and automatically logged. The temp for core one (the hottest core) was averaged. The mean ambient temp was subtracted from the mean core temp to get the net core temp. The mean ambient temp was about 21 °C.

Sound Pressure Levels were measured one meter in front of the case in a basement where the ambient SPL was 30 dBA, which sounds like dead silence to the human ear. The SPL was reported as a net SPL.

Results of Testing the Silent Base 800

Well, aside from looking good, this case performed well. It is not the quietest case I have ever tested – you could hear a quiet sound. But usually cases this quiet do not cool very well. This is not the best cooling case I have ever measured, but it is significantly quieter than the only case to beat it. In other words, this is the P-51 Mustang of cases – not the very best in anything, but nearly so in everything. Fine case.

Silent Base 800 CPU-GPU

Silent Base 800 SSD-HDConclusion

This is a case that combines excellent performance, good looks and quiet operation. It also has a lot of add-ons that really give it flexibility. That said, there are lapses as well. We expect that be quiet! will fix those small lapses, and bring out a killer case.

Working in the Silent Base 800 was a juxtaposition of ease with careful work. If you want to get at those fiddly little screws in the 5.25” bay for example, you will need a shorty Phillips screwdriver.

The ability to move the top HD cage is a very interesting feature – especially since it can sit in two positions. You may move the top cage and remove the bottom one, not just to put a radiator there, but simply to free up airflow into the case.

The backsliding filter is an annoyance. Why not set up the case so you could pull out the bottom filter through the front? But at least there is a filter for any bottom fan you might have. But note that you would have to remove four screws before you could slide the bottom cover off the tabs to get to where you would put screws in for that bottom fan. It’s like this all over: you have to do something technical to do something simple. Overall, though, it’s a good case.

The MSRP stated for the Silent Base 800 was is $139.90 in November. Currency fluctuations may change that, but you can expect a price in that range once available in the US.

Silent Base 800 Pros

  • Attractive, even handsome
  • No nonfunctional excrescences
  • Can sit with or without included feet
  • Accommodations for radiators
  • Movable HD cage
  • Clever combination of mounting and vibration damping in hard drives
  • Fans mounted with vibration isolators
  • The fans appear to be the same ones they sell individually
  • Front and bottom filters have optimum mesh
  • Excellent thumbscrews
  • Top cover unplugs from case and can be stored while you work on the case
  • Plugs can only be put in one way
  • EPS12V plug pass-through is large enough for the plug to pass through easily
  • Motherboard automatically positioned with a center king post
  • Dimples instead of standoffs – they guide motherboard screw to their targets

Silent Base 800 Cons

  • Manual is too laconic. It needs to explain things more.
  • Unnecessary grill in front; obstructs airflow.
  • Fake air filters in the side panels
  • The front door blocks intake air for any fan you would put in the 5.25” bay.
  • The bottom filter pulls out the back instead of coming out the front
  • No Molex connectors on the case fans
  • Only one tie down point on the motherboard tray
  • The plastic HD cage holder broke too easily.

Click the stamp for an explanation of what this means.

Ed Hume (ehume)

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