Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Be Quiet! Silent Base 800

Be Quiet! Silent Base 800

Fantastic noise canceling, but could do with more modularity

Ever Since 2008, Be Quiet!'s ethos has been about one thing: silence-optimized computing. Originally a power supply manufacturer, the German company rapidly expanded into cooling solutions, bringing with it the level of precision for which our Germanic cousins are so famed. It also provided one particular product that rival outfit Noctua failed to deliver on until just very recently: black high-performance fans. Which means it wasn’t a huge surprise when Be Quiet! announced its first iteration of a sound-dampened PC chassis, the Silent Base 800.

A noise enthusiast’s wet dream, the steel chassis houses sound-dampened side panels constructed of a plastic polymer, as is the bottom. Although these are removable, it’s advisable to take a quick dive into the instruction manual, because it’s not as intuitive as we would expect with modern cases. The interior layout touts some solid modularity—the included 5.25-inch bay cannot be removed, but the two 3.5-inch drive cages located below that can be. You’ll lose out on a considerable amount of additional storage space by doing this, but it allows the two included Be Quiet! Pure Wings 140mm fans to really take advantage of that extra room, leveraging some impressive airflow throughout your system. Once you remove the rear panel, you’re greeted with ample cable management space, with the back of the motherboard tray also housing two 2.5-inch drives.

As for cooling, well, if water-cooling is your game, the Silent Base has room for a 240mm or 280mm radiator in the roof and the front of the chassis, with plenty of space for push-pull. And if that’s not enough, you could always throw another 120mm rad in the rear as well.

There’s no doubt at this point, then, that the Silent Base 800 is a competitive chassis. However, in an incredibly loud market, we’re just not sure whether this Germanic case can create enough uproar to be heard over many of the other silenceoptimized gaming cases available. In particular, we’re talking about Fractal Design and its Define R5. We’ll admit, it’s a favorite of ours, and being one of the most recognizable silence-optimized brands on the market today, the Silent Base has a lot of ground to make up.

Although definitely a contender, the 800 doesn’t quite make it. The build quality of the panels, although featuring a soft-touch finish, similar to that introduced by  Bitfenix way back when, still harbors a plastic construction and feel, leaving the strength of those panels somewhat wanting. The modular capacity found within the interior can feel a little constricting, and it simply doesn’t feel like a fully flexible ATX chassis. All that aside, the addition of rubber mounting on all of the hard drive bays, and the inclusion of the premium Be Quiet! fans, is definitely a plus. What would have been impressive was if Be Quiet! had included an integrated fan hub to help control the vast array of cooling options you have at your disposal.

Ultimately, the Silent Base 800 is deafeningly quiet, and it’s certainly a good option for those wanting something with a little more flair than Fractal’s Define R5. That said, it simply feels too rigid for our liking. There’s not enough customization internally, and the inclusion of such a large 5.25-inch drive bay in this day and age makes little to no sense in a case that’s supposed to be optimized around silence.

Form Factor ATX
Dimensions 19.5 x 10.5 x 22.0 inches
Cooling Front: 2x 120/140mm (included); Top: 2x 120/140mm; Rear: 1x 120mm
CPU Cooler Clearance 6.7 inches
Graphics Card Max Length 11.4 inches (with HDD brackets); 15.7 inches (without HDD brackets)
Storage Support 7x 3.5-inch HDD mounts; 2x 2.5-inch SSD mounts