The Silent Beast

Hello, DVTests’ fans! We’re about to show you something slightly different this time…

This is not a build log or work log or a mod. It’s about a colleague of mine who said – I want a silent case and silent fans. So my first thought was – Noctua fans. And as for the case, he had a suggestion for Fractal Design.

We had a budget which I will not mention due to the fact that the products my colleague bought cost in the range of an Intel i5 CPU. Why he wanted to spend that much money on fans and a case? Because of silence!

And the planning began. We decided to go with Noctua fans in the face of NF-A14 PWM and NF-A15 PWM, as well as the Noctua NH-U14S CPU cooler. Yes, we had to replace the CPU cooler as well, if silence was our main goal.

After carefully planning the fans, we had to choose a similarly silent case. We narrowed it down to several options, however the most desired one at the end was – Fractal Design Define R5 Blackout Edition. You can have a look at the non-Blackout sample review here – FRACTAL DESIGN DEFINE R5 – Test and Review. A bit more information as to why we chose that case you can find HERE.
Yes, I know that the windowed version may not be the most silent one, however another one of the important targets was to add light effects at a later point (due to lack of finances).

So, after purchasing the parts and waiting in anxiety, we were able to begin the transformation. Below you’ll be able to admire the overall process…

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All of the boxes were carefully arranged and everything seemed to have arrived in pristine condition. I have to say, guys, that although these are just fans and a case we were both quite excited. Noctua and Fractal Design truly make premium products and are well known for following their customers’ feedback and suggestions.

Start Closer view
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Next step into the PC relocation steps was to unbox all of the products and disassemble the old PC with the hardware components. We did that and had to proceed with some planning on how the fans will be arranged inside the Define R5 case, as well as moving the PC into the case.

2 front intake fans
Attack of the Noctua
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I would not focus on “how to build a PC” steps guide as the main goal here is the fans and case symbiosis. In order not to disrupt the noise dampening capabilities of the Define R5 case, we decided to keep the Moduvents closed on the top and install a rear exhaust fan as well as 2 intake fans. We used NF-A14 PWM and that way we were able to create a positive air flow in the case. This will prevent dust build up as long as the intakes are filtered. In this case Define R5 does the brilliant job with the integrated front dust filter.

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Next step was to install the Noctua NH-U14S CPU cooler and we’ve purchased another NF-A15 PWM fan so they can keep company. Of course, installing those was a breeze and we used the included Y-splitters to connect all the cooling prowess.

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Although we were aware of the slight overkill with the second fan on the CPU cooler, especially if we strive for silence, the idea was to compensate the second fan’s presence with low RPM operation. Due to the coolers’ excellent compatibility, we had no clearance issues with the RAM.

NH-U14S Interior (don’t mind the blue RAM)
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Of course, one of our last steps was to make sure that we can close the side panel as we had to arrange quite a few cables behind the motherboard tray, including the PSU cables. Honestly, it was not that hard at all, because Define R5 offers very well designed cable management.

In the process of cable management no zip ties were harmed.

I would strongly recommend that you try as much as possible to use the cables as a web and tangle them together, as this usually saves time and effort as well as the sad live of a zip tie, more so if it’s a non-reusable one.

Cable management – rear Cable management – front
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Here is my work with the cable management. Only the included straps were used in the process and I have to say I was quite pleased with the end result. At the bottom right corner behind the motherboard tray you can see how I’ve violently pushed all the PSU cables down, but this is due to the fact that there is an indentation of the case designed especially to honor the cable management.

Front intakes
Finished system
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And that was it, we had the chance of admiring the system for a bit. There will be no overclocking results as for the moment this PC is mainly used just for slight gaming. The goal here was to achieve silence and with the help of the PWM Noctua fans combined with Define R5 enclosure we were able to achieve a silence level that is insane. No, it really is insane.

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Conclusions

I just want to share some thoughts with you before ending the article. Of course, this is not the most silent build, due to the acrylic window on the side panel of the case – the owner of the system wants to add some LED lights in the future that would go along with his living room ambient lighting, which I find to be quite attractive.

We explored several options on our home market here in Bulgaria and found the best prices possible. Did we manage to achieve the main goal and the purpose of the whole investment? – Absolutely!

In terms of performance, I have to say that we did not want to measure any temperatures or measure any noise output. This build was more about building it, enjoying it and following the main plan as closely as possible – silence. I would like to see some discussion in the comment section about your build and how you achieve silence, or if silence is your thing.

Also, I would like to make several suggestions to all of you enthusiasts out there. One of them would be to make a game plan that you need to follow. You’ll need to set your goal and your vision of what the system should look like or what you want to achieve with it. Then explore the options you’ve got – check compatibility, search for the best possible offer of a given product and then purchase. While creating a vision for your goal consider the possibilities of a change or two so you aren’t left with empty hands if there are setbacks along the way.

In the end – build it. Take your time, don’t rush it. Follow the plan and then enjoy what you’ve achieved.

The Silent Beast
10 Total Score
Excellent silence

Cost
10
Noise - what's that?
1
Was it worth it?
10
User Rating: 4.73 (2 votes)

Nikola Milanov is reviewer and newsman at DVTests and has more than 6 years of experience in telecommunications. I'm really enthusiastic about the website and its development by sharing a user's point of view and experience with the products we test. We are honest and objective in all of the articles, the products get tested and reviewed thoroughly with no exception! Feel free to ask any questions in the comment section or use the emails in About us page!
8 Comments
  1. Reply panchev_maika 03.11.2015 at 17:13

    cool fans (pun intended)

  2. Reply PepiX 03.11.2015 at 15:44

    Excellent .. I would be happy to read about combining low noise product every now and then.. as this would help me creating the combination needed once I decide to change my current case..

    I am quite like your friend in terms of priorities so this article was pleasure to follow.

    Thumbs UP

    • Reply Nikola Milanov 04.11.2015 at 23:36

      Thanks Pepix,

      We’ll try to produce new articles like this one in the near future! 🙂

  3. Reply Bockata 03.11.2015 at 14:40

    The Silent Monster!

  4. Reply Dark 03.11.2015 at 14:20

    Noctua is noctua, normal to be the best cooling heatsinks and fans on the market….

    • Reply Nikola Milanov 04.11.2015 at 23:37

      Almost no company out there can match their build quality, performance and overall the value for the product you get.

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