Case Cooling

SilverStone has done an excellent job of refining the various aspects of ventilation and case cooling in this latest chassis design.  It is one of the best on the market and offers a lot of flexibility for configuring a cooling system to meet each user’s specific needs.  Vent openings are strategically located on both sides and the bottom of the case to bring in cool room air. 

SilverStone CW01 Multimedia Server Case Review - Cases and Cooling  1

There are a number of different cooling configurations that can be used with this case.  A lot will depend on the hardware used (CPU/cooler, video card/cooler, HDDs, motherboard, etc.) and how sensitive a user is to noise.  Here is a list and brief explanation of a few options I considered.

·         PSU Orientation: The type of power supply you select will affect how it should be mounted.  If the PSU does not have a large, bottom mounted fan then the mounting orientation doesn’t matter.  If the power supply does have a large, bottom mounted intake fan then you have two options. (1) Mount the power supply with the fan facing out so it draws cool room air in thru the side vent holes and exhausts the warm air out the back.  This can potentially result in the quietest operation for the power supply.  (2) Mount the power supply with the fan facing in so that it adds to the airflow thru the case interior.  This configuration may help cool other internal components slightly but may cause the power supply to run a little warmer, which might result in the PSU fan running at a higher speed, producing more noise.

·         Two SilverStone 80mm fans at 12V: Adequate cooling for mid-level systems.  The noise produced by the included SilverStone fans will be acceptable for many users but may be too loud for anyone who is especially sensitive to noise and seeking a silent cooling solution.

·         Two SilverStone 80mm fans at 5V: This option provides virtually silent case cooling but may not be adequate for maintaining acceptable temperatures on modern hardware.

·         Four 80mm fans at reduced voltage:  Adding two 80mm intake fans below the HDD cage and then running all of the fans at reduced voltage (5V or 7V) will offer the best cooling performance with the least amount of noise for most users.  This is my personal favorite and the one I use.

·         Four high-speed 80mm fans with fan speed control:  For more aggressive users who want to run the latest hot hardware and aren’t too concerned with noise, using higher speed fans will greatly increase the overall airflow thru the case and result in the best cooling possible (without resorting to more extreme water-cooling or TEC assisted cooling options).

Using four fans at low speed resulted in very good temperatures for the modest system I installed in the CW01 enclosure and was very quiet.  On average, the CPU temperatures ran 4~5ºC warmer with the case closed up than with the top off.  The video card ran 6~7ºC warmer under load inside the CW01 and the HDD actually ran 2ºC cooler.

With the two fan system closed up and running under load at 12V, the average sound pressure level was 36.2 dBA; measured 3′ in front of the CW01 enclosure (background ~30 dBA).  This is relatively quiet by my standards but for users who are especially sensitive to noise it may be too much.

With the four fan system closed up and running under load at 7V, the average sound pressure level was <35 dBA, virtually silent.  With all the case fans running this quiet, you will need to make sure you have very quiet cooling solutions on the CPU and GPU as well or they will become noticeable.  This configuration offers the best balance between cooling performance and minimal noise IMHO.

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