- Created on 21 June 2011
If what you want from your computer build doesn't rely on LEDs, multiple fans and extreme looks, then the chances are you might be on the lookout for something a bit more refined, quieter and discrete than your average gaming case. The latest case for us to review, the Cooler Master Silencio 550, fits those criteria perfectly with even the name devoted to giving you a quieter gaming experience.
Finished in black with a mirror finish front panel, the steel bodied Silencio 550 is built to impress. The front I/O panel houses a USB3.0 port, a USB2.0 port, mic and audio ports and also an SD card reader. It is instantly clear that a lot of time has been put into providing a silent computing experience as the front panel is foam lined and on opening the side panels of the case you can see the heavy foam insulation that is built into the panels.
Inside the case, there is room for up to three 5.25" drives to be mounted at the top right of the case with room for a further seven 3.5" drives, one of which can be converted to a 2.5" bay using the included plastic caddy (12 plastic rails are provided for drive installation). The PSU mounting position has four rubber standoffs surrounding a grill to allow sufficient airflow as well as ensuring quiet operation.
The inside of the case is large enough to accomodate ATX and smaller motherboards and can even accomodate the largest graphics cards (up to 28.1cm as standard or up to a maximum 42.7cm in length by removing one of the HDD cages and also an intake fan) and all the required screws and standoffs are provided along with a handy installation manual and PC speaker should you want to use it. Usefully there is also a cutout in the case under the motherboard tray where the CPU is mounted so that CPU coolers can easily be installed or swapped out without taking out the motherboard itself. The case also has room for up to seven expansion cards to be installed should the need ever arise, above which are predrilled rubber lined holes should you wish to install a water cooling kit. One slight downside is that the cable management is a little sparse, but with a little care and patience it is quite possible to route cabling efficiently and if you aren't planning on a monthly rebuild or upgrade schedule then this shouldn't be a problem.
Airflow is provided, as is becoming fairly standard, by a 120mm (800rpm) intake fan is mounted behind the front bezel providing airflow over any drives installed in the 3.5" drive bays and there is room for a further 120mm fan to be mounted alongside for extra airflow, both of which are served by removable dust filters. At the base of the chassis there is filtered grill which provides airflow to any installed PSU and there is a 120mm (800rpm) fan mounted at the top of the rear of the case as an exhaust.
Overall the Cooler Master Silencio 550 provides an excellently sound insulated chassis for almost any build (we probably wouldn't recommend a build with multiple high-end GPUs unless you install some extra airflow or improve cooling in some way). The looks of the case are fantastic and when we installed a basic set of components the machine was virtually inaudible above background noise. The build was fairly hassle-free, but required a little more attention with respect to cable management due to the limited routing holes. For the price tag of ~£65 (at the time of writing) we felt that the Silencio 550 certainly compares very favourably to similarly priced items and the overall build quality is excellent.
UPDATE: Cooler Master in response to various reviews has now improved the cable management options of this case by providing four more cutouts in the mainboard tray. In addition the right hand panel insulation has been modified to a flatter insulation material for easier closure. These adaptations address all of our previous reservations and we can wholheartedly recommend the case!