PC silence means more now than ever before. While we love to have powerful machines, we also want peace and quiet, and understandably so. NZXT recently released their Whisper full-tower that’s poised to deliver the best of both worlds. Can this huge chassis deliver the silence we’re looking for, along with the functionality?
Testing, Final Thoughts
To help give the Whisper a good test, I’ve installed the following hardware:
Processor: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 @ 3.0GHz
Motherboard: ASUS P5E3 Deluxe WiFi-AP
Memory: OCZ Platinum 2x1GB DDR3-1333
Graphics: PowerColor HD 3450 256 MB
PSU: Enermax Liberty 400W
Storage: Western Digital VelociRaptor 300 GB, Seagate Momentus 2.5″ 40 GB
ODD: ASUS 18x DVD Burner
OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit
There’s plenty of space for components of any size inside. Things do get tight in the upper-left-hand side when installing heat sinks. The motherboard sits very close to the top of the case which is due to the design of separating the lower section from the upper. E-ATX motherboards will have no issues at all here and there should be no interference issues with your ODDs, either.
The first real issue is the placement of the power supply at the very bottom of the chassis. Most manufacturers place the CPU power connection at the top of the board meaning you will be stretching the limits of even the longest connector. The lack of an included extension is really not good and will cause system builders grief. Also, the cutouts for wire maintenance are not ideally placed. Running wires behind the motherboard tray is just not possible due to the foam on the side panel. There’s also a lot of wasted space in the lower section as well.
While the hard drives are mounted on rubber spacers in their trays to help isolate the noise and vibrations, they don’t firmly lock into place. The spring steel tabs bend easily and simply don’t do a good enough job, causing some slight transfer of vibration. It’s hardly noticeable, but I am not a fan of this design.
One thing I was critical on was the airflow design. On paper, the Whisper doesn’t seem to carry a design that would lead to cool components, but real-world testing proved to be the complete opposite. I recorded idle temperatures for the CPU at 27°C and the GPU (which is passively cooled) at 48°C. Under full load, the CPU stayed under 40°C and the GPU around 65°C. These results were obtained running Prime 95 to stress the CPU and ATI’s built in stress tester for the GPU with an ambient air temperature of 22°C. I have to say I was quite pleased with the performance here.
Seeing as the name chosen was “Whisper”, I was expecting a very quiet machine when powered up. Unfortunately, the included fans are anything but quiet. A fan controller is definitely going to be required if you are looking for that elusive silence. The insulation does a good job of keeping other sounds squelched but there is no getting around the fact that the system fans are just far too loud as is.
All in all, I had a very hard time coming up with an overall rating for this chassis. When you take the good with the bad, I feel this case should receive a 7 out of 10 rating. The flaws taken individually are not big, but there are too many to overlook.
With a price tag of roughly $140 USD at time of this writing, it falls squarely in the range of what most people are spending on their newest chassis. The competition is stiff in this area and NZXT will need to do some work on this front to stay competitive. With the likes of the Cooler Master HAF 932 and the Antec 1200 in the same price-range, it is certainly an uphill battle.
Extensive drive mounting options.
Will fit the largest of air cooling heat sinks.
Included fans very noisy.
Power supply far too low.
Could use more ventilation in the motherboard area.
Front I/O panel flimsy.
December 9, 2009 Addendum: NZXT contacted us to let us know that they’ve recognized that with high-end components, temperatures can get too high. To remedy this, if anyone would like to receive a front-fan assembly for free, you can contact the e-mail address as laid out on their support page.
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