Be Quiet! Silent Base 601

A case study in com­bat­ing suc­cess­ful Swedish de­sign

Maximum PC - - IN THE LAB - –ZAK STOREY

WITH RE­GARD to sys­tem build­ing, it al­most al­ways comes down to two trains of thought. The first is about show­cas­ing. Pre­sent­ing your com­po­nents in a chas­sis that fits the bill, with LED light­ing, tem­pered glass, re­flec­tions, you name it. The se­cond is about so­phis­ti­ca­tion and el­e­gance. It means keep­ing things out of the way and—more im­por­tantly— min­i­miz­ing noise. More of­ten than not, the lat­ter ethos is as­so­ci­ated with work­sta­tions in noise-sen­si­tive en­vi­ron­ments, or for peo­ple who sim­ply pre­fer to en­joy their PC in si­lence. Frac­tal De­sign was the one to look out for as far as that was con­cerned, with its De­fine se­ries of chas­sis be­ing leg­endary for en­cap­su­lat­ing those prin­ci­ples.

For the long­est time, the Swedish de­signer had no com­pe­ti­tion, be­cause al­though there was no lack of man­u­fac­tur­ers de­vel­op­ing quiet com­po­nents, few had at­tempted to build a case ca­pa­ble of ful­fill­ing the same noise-re­duc­ing re­mit. En­ter Be Quiet!

Al­though this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a chas­sis from Be Quiet!, we haven’t en­coun­tered one aimed at a more bud­get-ori­ented por­tion of the mar­ket be­fore. And, boy, does it im­press.

The Silent Base 601 is avail­able in three sep­a­rate color schemes (or­ange, black, and sil­ver), and comes in ei­ther a win­dowed or non-win­dowed vari­ant. Ours, the non-win­dowed vari­ant, is a beauty to be­hold. The ex­te­rior is clean, with sub­tle ac­cents, and plenty of noise-damp­ened air vents lin­ing the front panel and roof. There’s sup­port for up to two 140mm fans in the front, or three 140mm fans in the roof, and ra­di­a­tor sup­port for both. Be Quiet! has also in­cluded two of its Pure Wings 2 140mm fans as stan­dard, as op­posed to a cut­down ref­er­ence vari­ant. There’s a fan con­troller baked into the top of the case, and easy ra­di­a­tor in­stal­la­tion in the roof, thanks to a re­mov­able slid­ing bracket, sim­i­lar to what Phanteks first in­tro­duced with its Evolv lineup.

It’s when you get to the noise damp­en­ing that the Silent Base be­comes par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive. Each panel (front, top, and both sides) is lined with half an inch of noise-damp­en­ing ma­te­rial, de­signed to re­duce vi­bra­tions from in­side the case. Then there’s the in­cluded 3.5-inch hard drive cages, each hous­ing rub­ber mount­ing grom­mets for your old-school spin­ning drives, fur­ther re­duc­ing vi­bra­tions. Even the air in­takes are spe­cially de­signed to re­duce over­all noise, by rerout­ing the air­flow around the side of the fan. Bring all of this to­gether, and what you’re left with is an in­cred­i­bly clean, ex­cep­tion­ally quiet case, at a rea­son­able price point.

Out­side of the noise re­duc­tion, there’s also a ton of mod­ern fea­tures packed in. From the ver­ti­cal GPU mount, to the PSU shroud, hous­ing mount­ing for a sin­gle 140mm fan, and the mod­u­lar sup­port for even more drive cad­dies, this thing’s a beast to build in.

So, what are our crit­i­cisms? Well, if we’re hon­est, we would have loved to have seen more care lav­ished on the front I/O, be­cause it still looks a bit too in-your-face (es­pe­cially the power but­ton) for us to re­ally con­sider it a su­per-premium so­lu­tion, along the lines of Frac­tal. But per­haps that’s what Be Quiet! is go­ing for. Af­ter all, you do need some­thing to dif­fer­en­ti­ate your­self from the com­pe­ti­tion. We’d also have liked to have seen a ra­di­a­tor bracket in the front, sim­i­lar to Cor­sair’s 500D.

That said, the Silent Base 601 is a fan­tas­tic new prod­uct, and for those look­ing to build a clean, quiet build, at an af­ford­able price point, it’s well worth con­sid­er­ing. Ul­ti­mately, whether you choose a Frac­tal case or this will come down to per­sonal pref­er­ence, but in our eyes, they’re very much on a par with one an­other, which is why we’re happy to give this a “9.”

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