In developing a chassis, companies like Cooler Master have to decide whether the focus will be on cooling or noise, because it’s extremely difficult to have a chassis excel in both. The Silencio 550 proves this, because while it becomes the quietest chassis we’ve ever tested, it comes at the expense of higher temperatures.
If it’s too loud, you’re too old! I remember using that line on my parents back in the day (15 years ago!) as the volume of my music reached ear-splitting levels. Those days are long gone, as are the days when I didn’t care how loud my computer was. Every open spot had a fan in it regardless of the noise rating and that’s the way I liked it, by gum!
Like my music listening habits, the amount of overall system noise that I feel is acceptable has also changed, so I’m excited to take a look at Cooler Master’s latest “silent” offering.
The Silencio 550 mid-tower case, as the name would suggest, is all about keeping things quiet. Capable of supporting micro-ATX and ATX motherboards, it has a black steel frame to match the panels and plastic accents. The user guide also mentions a 551 model with a grey interior and an extra 5.25″ drive bay in favour of the hot swap bay, though for some reason Cooler Master doesn’t list it on its website.
At the front of the Silencio is a door with a piano finish inlay and an all black Cooler Master logo towards the bottom. Swinging the door open from the right shows the foam lining on the inside to muffle sound. At the top are two 5.25″ drive bays and a 3.5″ X-dock hot swap bay below. Below the hot swap bay is a removable filter to help keep dust out of the system and a pre-installed 120mm fan behind it. If additional cooling is needed, another 120mm fan can be added, or a single 140mm fan instead.
The right and left side panels are both held in place with two black thumbscrews and are completely solid. There isn’t much to show, but in front of the panels are vents that run from about the mid way point to the bottom of the plastic accents for extra ventilation.
Moving around to the back shows the motherboard I/O opening at the top left and a 120mm fan to the right. Below them are seven PCI slot covers, two holes with rubber grommets for running water cooling hoses and the power supply opening at the very bottom.
The top panel is also solid, but along the front edge is the I/O area that starts with a USB 3.0 port on the far left that connects via a cable to an open port on the rear I/O of the motherboard and is backwards compatible with earlier USB interfaces. The rest of the top I/O area from left to right is made up of the 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks, a USB 2.0 port and an SD card reader.
Finishing things off is the blue hard drive activity LED and reset and power buttons. Built into the power button is the power LED that shines blue when the system is powered on.
The underside of the case has four plastic, stereo-style feet with rubber bottoms to keep the case from slipping and to absorb vibration. The last feature to look at is the removable mesh air filter that slides out the back for cleaning.
So far, the exterior provides understated looks with a nice amount of expandability, but it’s time to see if the interior has what it takes to make prospective buyers sit up and take notice.