Testing Methodology

For testing ATX (and larger) cases, we use the following standardized testbed in stock and overclocked configurations to get a feel for how well the case handles heat and noise.

Full ATX Test Configuration
CPU Intel Core i7-875K
(95W TDP, tested at stock speed and overclocked to 3.8GHz @ 1.38V)
Motherboard ASUS P7P55D-E Pro
Graphics Card Zotac NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 (244W TDP)
Memory 2x2GB Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer DDR3-1600
Drives Kingston SSDNow V+ 100 64GB SSD
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA 6Gbps
Samsung 5.25" BD-ROM/DVDRW Drive
CPU Cooler Zalman CNPS9900 MAX with Cooler Master ThermalFusion 400
Power Supply SilverStone Strider Gold 750W 80 Plus Gold

A refresher on how we test:

Acoustic testing is standardized on a foot from the front of the case, using the Extech SL10 with an ambient noise floor of ~32dB. For reference, that's what my silent apartment measures with nothing running, testing acoustics in the dead of night (usually between 1am and 3am). A lot of us sit about a foot away from our computers, so this should be a fairly accurate representation of the kind of noise the case generates, and it's close enough to get noise levels that should register above ambient.

Thermal testing is run with the computer having idled at the desktop for fifteen minutes, and again with the computer running both Furmark (where applicable) and Prime95 (less one thread when a GPU is being used) for fifteen minutes. I've found that leaving one thread open in Prime95 allows the processor to heat up enough while making sure Furmark isn't CPU-limited. We're using the thermal diodes included with the hardware to keep everything standardized, and ambient testing temperature is always between 71F and 74F. Processor temperatures reported are the average of the CPU cores.

For more details on how we arrived at this testbed, you can check out our introductory passage in the review for the IN-WIN BUC.

Last but not least, we'd also like to thank the vendors who made our testbed possible:

Thank You!

We have some thanks in order before we press on:

  • Thank you to Crucial for providing us with the Ballistix Smart Tracer memory we used to add memory thermals to our testing.
  • Thank you to Zalman for providing us with the CNPS9900 MAX heatsink and fan unit we used.
  • Thank you to Kingston for providing us with the SSDNow V+ 100 SSD.
  • Thank you to CyberPower for providing us with the Western Digital Caviar Black hard drive, Intel Core i7-875K processor, ASUS P7P55D-E Pro motherboard, and Samsung BD-ROM/DVD+/-RW drive.
  • And thank you to SilverStone for providing us with the power supply.
Assembling the Thermaltake Level 10 GT Noise and Thermal Testing, Stock
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  • geniekid - Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - link

    I like the aesthetic and the design. If it were under $200, I'd seriously consider it for my next build.

    That said, I eagerly await your review of the SilverStone FT02 and the Fractal Design R2, both of which I think are strong contenders in the quiet and cool arena, and both of which I think are good looking.
  • HeroicTofu - Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - link

    As an owner of the SilverStone FT02, I will say that I'm very impressed with the case. It has a very professional and sleek look to it which I so very much prefer to cases such as the CoolerMaster HAF 922 (to each their own right?). It's cooling efficiency is nuts as well. Compared to my previous case, the temps are a good 15-20 degrees cooler at full loads. Motherboard would get up to 60 degrees celsius where as in the FT02, it's rare when I see it exceed 40. It idles just 8 degrees above room temperature.
  • geniekid - Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - link

    Yes, I've read good things about the FT02 and it's my favorite in terms of looks. Unfortunately, the +$200 price tag forces me to consider the cheaper Fractal Design R3 case for my next build.
  • SunLord - Wednesday, July 27, 2011 - link

    I love my FT02B the only thing remotely lacking on it is USB3.0 but since it predates the USB3 spec it's easy to forgive. I've got it running 5 2tb drive with the hot swap brackets and a new 128g ssd it's pure awesome and mostly silent. I wish it came with a 3.5" external bay adapter given it's price so I could of mounted my card reader right when I got it but that is a minor annoyance at best.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, July 27, 2011 - link

    Actually, SilverStone offers a USB 3.0 bracket to swap into the FT02. They sent me one along with the review unit.
  • ggathagan - Wednesday, July 27, 2011 - link

    Did Silverstone provide a part number for that bracket?
    No mention of it on their website.
  • Kisakuku - Wednesday, July 27, 2011 - link

    Email Joel at usasales@silverstonetek.com. The replacement cable is $12 + $6 shipping. Silverstone isn't advertising this part, but they will sell it to you.
  • IAMTHEPROCESSOR - Wednesday, July 27, 2011 - link

    Ok I emailed him and I am awaiting a reply but might you tell me whats the link to your review please so I can see the usb 3.0 cable swap? Thank you!
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, July 27, 2011 - link

    The FT02 cable swap is SUPER simple. My review isn't written up yet (I literally JUST finished doing assembly and photography), but the housing is held on by two screws. You remove the housing, and then two more screws hold the USB/audio jack board in place. Remove those, slide the board out, slide the new board in, presto change-o.
  • iamafish - Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - link

    I own the FT02B, and in my long experience with cases it is by far and away the best I have opened up and played with. Sleek looks, lots of space, well designed, great fans, cooling is brilliant. The whole thing oozes quality, it's worth the asking price.

    This Thermaltake however is ugly as hell, I wouldn't pay bargain basement prices for something that looks like it had an accident at the car crusher.

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