Hey guys, I just built my new rig and I'm using an xclio case (has since been taken off of newegg) and it sucks (actually it doesn't suck at all, which is the problem, the airflow is terrible.) I was just wondering if you guys had some suggestions at some good cases optimized for cooling. I'm going to be playing some games when I'm home and mining some bitcoins while I'm away, so my GPU will be running a full load a good portion of the time (gigabyte 7950) and I can't even OC it because the airflow is so bad in this case. The 250mm fans push less air than my tiny fan on my northbridge.
Sorry for the tangent, any help/advice is greatly appreciated!!!
If you honestly don't care how it looks. The entire thing is mesh, so airflow isn't exactly goingt o be a problem. Dust, on the other hand, may become one. I do happen to be particularly fond of some of the NZXT cases, especially the Source 220 or the Switch 810, or the Phantom 820. All of these support a plethora of fan choices, so all you've to do is pick out a nice pack of fans that you like. Do note, larger fans can push the same amount of air at lower speeds and thus make less noise. Also, noise doesn't add cumulatively as you might expect, however, certain ranges of noise will fill in and become more pronounced, so if possible, vary the size of the fans throughout the case. Say, have two 140mm intakes and 2 120mm exhaust fans instead of all of them being the same size. It helps to spread the noise over a larger spectrum so that it behaves more like blanket noise, or white noise. Another thing to note, although sounds under 20 dB aren't actually silent, your brain can be tricked into filtering them out with adequate exposure. This is why you can walk into a room and immediately notice a heater or an AC unit running, but five minutes later you will likely have forgotten it was there. For this reason most sub 20 dB fans are considered silent fans, and you should attempt to find fans with the highest CFM or cubic feet per minute of airflow while producing the lowest amount of noise. Note anything that has a range of volume to noise levels, as the airflow does not increase linearly. So you will not get 1/5 the airflow from 1/5 the noise, you will instead get practically no airflow for the noise. So you want to make sure that the highest volume is something between 20 and 25 dB for any given volume, as they often only quote you the maximal CFM.
A Define R4 would definitley be a solid choice, having 140MM fan mounts everywhere will help a lot with moving air and for the same CFM 140mm fans are quieter aswell.
I'm a big fan of the Antec 300/900/1200 series, they have really good airflow. I use several Antec 900's myself, it's my favorite case by far, not because of the great cable management options, because that's not so great to be honest, but because the entire front can be populated with 120 mm fans, in order to create a front-to-back full height horizontal wind tunnel, plus it has crosswind cooling with a silent but very effective 200 mm top case fan, and all fans have an independent fan controller.
The LanBoy is also great if you reverse a few fans, because all the fans are blowing inside of the case for an overpressure type case, but it's not as effective as a slight-overpressure windtunnel type airflow arrangement. Reversing the fans in the back makes for a windtunnel arrangement. It's still a loud case though, it's almost all mesh.
Cooler Master's HAF XM series are also very good gamer cases, they allow for the same "full height windtunnel" arrangement as the Antec 3/9/1200 series combined with a big 200 mm top case fan for crosswind motherboard cooling and residual cooling like the Antec 900, plus there is room for a second 200 mm top case fan. I also really like the Cooler Master HAF XB, even though it's quirky, but the airflow is great.
High airflow cases are never as quiet as cases with acoustic paneling and stuff, but they are much better gamer cases. It's like rock 'n roll, there is only so much bourgeoisie you can add to the concept before it becomes Celine Dion. Maximum gaming performance = maximum satisfaction.
You can make an Antec 900 near silent by the way, if you set the fans to low (my side panel and back panel 120 mm fans are set to 5 V, but they are jumpstarted by the air pressure of the 3 front panel 120mm fans, which are set to 7 V. My 200 mm fans are also set to low-7V. The only things that cause a very slight woosh are the walls of the drive cages, which just come into the front panel intake fan airflow, and cause a bit of turbulence.
If looks are important with the airflow, then i suggest that you take a look on some NZXT Phantom cases, looks awesome, and have great cooling.
The cooler master HAF XM, it comes with 2 200mm fans one in the front for intake and the other on top for exhaust and a 140mm fan in the rear for exhaust.
There is also room to add a second 200mm fan in the top and a 200mm intake fan to the side panel.