Slowly but surely, computer hardware manufacturers are beginning to realise that consumers prefer quiet-running components. We still get certain parts that sound like jet engines - extreme graphics cards being the obvious culprit - but by and large, it's easier than ever to build a quiet PC that still packs a decent punch.
Chassis manufacturers are at the forefront of this gradual transition to near-silent computing, so it's no surprise to find that many of the big names are ramping up production of sound-proofed and elegant enclosures.
Cooler Master has been attempting to establish itself as a go-to brand for anyone in the market for a quiet chassis, and its latest effort - the Silencio 650 - is in many ways the best yet.
Introduced as a successor to the Silencio 550 - which proved to be a poor thermal performer - the revamped 650 hopes to do better at providing consumers with the best of both worlds; quiet operation and low temperatures. That's the promise, but Cooler Master's marketing department will have to have its thinking cap on to come up with a compelling ad campaign. Aesthetically, the Silencio 650 - like so many other chassis - comes across as just another black box, and the £110 price tag won't exactly have punters lining up to buy. A shame, really, as there's more to this one than meets the eye.
|Cooler Master Silencio 650 specification|
|Materials||Aluminium Alloy, Polymer, Steel|
|Motherboard Support||ATX / Micro ATX|
|Drive Bays||External||5.25in x 2|
|3.5/2.5in x 1|
|Internal||3.5in x 5
2.5in x 2
|Cooling||Front||2 x 120mm intake fans|
|Rear||1 x 120mm exhaust fan|
|Top||1 x 120/140mm fan (optional)|
|Bottom||1 x 120mm fan (optional)|
|Internal||1 x 120mm fan on HDD cage (optional)|
|I/O Panel||USB 3.0 x 2
USB 2.0 x 2
Mic x 1, Audio x 1
SC Card Reader
Fan Speed Controller
Dual-Boot Toggle Switch
|Max. Graphics Card Length|| 268mm (with HDD cage)
434mm (without HDD cage)
|Max. CPU Cooler Height||168mm|
|Power Supply||ATX (not included)|
|Dimensions||(H) 479mm x (W) 207mm x (D) 526mm|
Perusing the specification sheet, we can see that the Silencio 650 has plenty of potential. In addition to the basics - seven expansion slots, a couple of optical bays and numerous storage bays - the latest Silencio has a few added extras thrown into the mix. These include an external hot-swappable drive bay, a dual-boot facility (more on that latter) and a well-stocked I/O panel that includes an integrated fan controller.
The entire array of buttons and ports is tucked neatly behind a slide-to-open plastic cover, and the port selection is excellent. In addition to the audio jacks and two USB 2.0 ports, Cooler Master has included a pair of SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports, the ability to choose between one of two boot devices, a speed controller for all three of the chassis' bundled fans and an SD card reader.
Both the power and rest buttons are tidy in appearance and satisfying to click, and we like how Cooler Master has hidden the power and activity LEDs in the same compartment. They're positioned on the front edge to not be too intrusive, and they're almost completely out of sight when the compartment is closed.
The conceal-what-you-can approach is visible throughout the Silencio 650. At the rear of the chassis' top side, another plastic cover slides back to reveal access to an extra fan mount - allowing users to easily increase airflow if need be.
Similarly, the chassis' entire front face is covered by an aluminium door that swings to the left by default. Removable hinges make it easy to swap the opening direction, and a magnet in each corner of the door ensures that it snaps shut securely.
At the bottom of the case, in between large strips of vibration-absorbing rubber feet, there's a well-sized dust filter that pulls out to the rear. Two thumb screws hold the side panels in place, but externally, the Silencio 650 doesn't provide a lot to write home about. The aesthetics are neither eye-catching nor boring, but perhaps that's the idea; this is a chassis that's designed to be quiet and inconspicuous. Build quality, however, is good and there are plenty of neat tricks under the hood.