AC6607b ATX Tower case
After reviewing an Acousti Products 80mm fan a few weeks ago a nice gent from the company emailed me and asked whether I knew someone who would like to review a new quiet case they had for sale. As my living room sounds a bit like a miniature Heathrow at times I replied I knew of just the chap. So a few days later I lugged a big heavy box back home from work and got down to looking at this most impressive Super Midi ATX Tower case. The AC6607b's major selling point is its super quiet properties. As the entire inside of the case is plastered in sound absorbing foam it is marketed as the perfect case for professional or home musicians, creative types or performance gamers.
The case looks good when it's all sealed up. The black metal is a little bit glossy but nothing too flashy. The facia is curvy and nice to look at while retaining a dignified restraint in the face of ostentatious designs like the Thermaltake Xazer. The front of the case has a flip-out panel which covers up the forward ports. Underneath the panel there are 2 USB slots, a Firewire port, and a couple of audio jacks. Unfortunately I found the placement - right at the very bottom of the front facia - a bother to use: getting a USB plug into the slot is an art worthy of a surgeon, and the fact that the panel is fastened at the bottom means that it is prone to coming off if the case is ever shuffled about. I would have much preferred for these ports to be at the top, but as this was really the biggest flaw I could see in the design it remains that the AC6607 is a superbly made product. An example of this is the side panels. The right hand side panel is locked in place with two thumb screws. Untwist these and then slide the two catches off and the panel comes away like a lid. What a pleasure this is in comparison to my old cases, which either involved removing the entire single-piece cover in an operation worthy of military command to panels that had to be slid all the way back. Getting access to my PC's innards is a quick and easy job now, and in tandem with the uncluttered layout inside, working on my PC when using the AC6607 case is as stress-free as I could hope for.
The inside of the case itself is sublime. The design just screams out class while there's a definite shout about the build quality, not forgetting a good cheer for the looks. The motherboard sits unobstructed by anything except maybe the bottom optical drive slot. There's plenty of room for the PSU, and I managed to attach my Coolermaster Aero 7 heatsink/fan - no wee beastie - without having to yank the PSU back out. Both of the disk drive cages can simply be released with a quick spin of a thumb screw or a press on a lever. The HD enclosure has little rubber grommets on all the screw-holes, minimising vibrations greatly. The optical drives only need to be screwed in on the near side and easily slide into their well shielded brackets. Everything is solid and perfectly aligned, so no extra noise will be generated from poor fits or built up resonance. The rear case fan sits right next to both the AGP slot and CPU zone, so when combined with the fan from the PSU there's a flurry of air circulation going on around the hottest part of the PC. The front fan is situated directly in front of the hard drive brackets. While this does disturb the airflow of clean air, especially if all four slots were occupied, it does also have the affect of moving warm air away from the drives and towards the back fan. Both fans just slot into their purple plastic brackets, which means no driving in of those petulant grub screws that normally perform this function. The card slots at the back require no screws as the little plates are held in without the need for extra restraint. All of this engineering comes at a price however. The case may not be well suited to carrying around a lot as it does weigh a heck of a lot and some black faceplate for the CD and floppy drives would retain the uniformity of colour of the facia, but these are minor quibbles for this reviewer.
It's debatable whether you would really need both fans unless you have a lot of kit to stick in the case, in which case the crowding could make things rather warm. For my set up, which now consists of one HD, 2 optical drives, and a 9800pro the case temperature was 24 degrees at idle. Keeping my CPU fan's RPM low enough (2500) for the noise to be at the same levels that are coming out of the case in general - effectively making my CPU cooling silent - the processor temp was 46 degrees. After a session of Call of Duty the case temp remained at 24 degrees while the CPU had risen up to 51. Normally I would turn the fan up for a loud game so I was quite happy with these results. My living room is rather warm as we're not shy of using the central heating round here, so bear that in mind when evaluating these figures.
So the temperatures suffer very little from the inclusion of all the acoustic dampening materials. Getting all of these foam panels into the case in the first place is a mildly tricky proposition, but as long as you test the placement first before removing the backing and applying the very sticky panels should take no more then fifteen minutes. Every flat surface on the sides of the case gets a piece of foam. The material itself is about a centimetre deep, and is very soft and would make a nice place to rest your forehead on. There are also a bunch of foam blocks to stuff into every empty drive bay, but these are optional and I decided to leave most of them out. Even so, once the case was all sealed up again the difference made to the amount of sound coming from my machine was startling. Even with the 9800pro whining away inside from the outside only the barest of murmurs could be heard. My CD drives still announced their activity with a squeal like a bayou pig with it's head under a sack and someone... but apart from that my PC was almost inaudible against the background hum of my living room. When I put the room into sleep mode the noise of the PC was defiantly audible, but in no way approaching the aggravating levels of old. Dairy products and the white cliffs of Dover came to mind. The two 120mm Acousti Products fans certainly helped to lower the overall noise level inside the machine. These are great fans, quieter then the sounds of the cogs going round in Bush's head, but they are expensive at twenty quid each. I imagine if you were to scrimp and go for a cheaper option the sound absorption of the case itself would make your tightness a hidden trait.
If you want a nice quiet PC without having to pay through the nose for specialist components or water cooling then the Acousti Products AC6607B will make you happy. If you like to tinker with your PC the layout and build quality will soothe your tortured soul. If you like a nice compact and good looking case then you will not be disappointed. In short, the AC6607B is the best case I have yet to encounter, and the extra money to be spent on such a beast is well worth it in terms of the peace of mind such quality delivers.