be quiet! Silent Base 801
- Excellent build quality
- Clever design makes building fast and easy
- Easily the quietest case I have ever used
- Highly customizable
- Three quality fans and fan controller included
- Cavernous interior
- Cable from fan controller to some motherboards not quite long enough
- Too big for some builds
Your case might not be the first thing on your mind when you begin building your new PC, but sooner or later you have to start thinking about how to house all the fun stuff. The temptation to buy the cheapest possible case is real (I have been there and done that), but are there advantages to considering a more premium offering? Let’s see what the be quiet! Silent Base 801 has to offer.
Disclosure: be quiet! provided Blog of Dad with the Silent Base 801 for the purpose of review. All thoughts expressed about be quiet! products in this article are based on my own experiences with the product. For more information, visit my disclosure statement.
be quiet! Silent Base 801 – Premium Build Quality
The be quiet! Silent Base 801 is the most luxurious case that to have ever had the pleasure of working in. I don’t mean that tongue in cheek either – my latest build was a genuinely enjoyable experience. The Silent Base 801 comes in several different trim colours (black, orange and silver), with the option of either a full-panel tempered glass window or a solid panel. My version is black with the window.
Of course, there is only so much that ever changes in the basic layout of a tower case, but it is the thoughtful inclusions and clever touches that make the difference with the Silent Base 801.
Just weeks earlier I completed a Mini-ITX build in a budget case. While the layout was essentially the same, the difference in experience was night and day.
One example was the motherboard offsets. Both cases came with them preinstalled in the Mini-ITX position. However, where some force was required with the budget case (the top left screw refused to go all the way in), the Silent Base 801 motherboard screws inserted like a hot knife through butter. The alignment was perfect.
That kind of precision is not only extremely satisfying, it also makes building faster and kinder on components. While the motherboard ended up installed without incident in the cheaper case, there was a point at which I worried about the amount of pressure I was placing on it. Motherboards are delicate components with a huge amount of critical components. Damaging even one tiny component during an installation could cause big (expensive) trouble.
The differences don’t stop there. The be quiet! Silent Base 801 offers plenty of versatility when it comes to the motherboard tray. It can be completely removed from the case, which is handy for anyone who likes to thoroughly test their configuration before completing a build, or someone who needs a quality test bed. It can also be inverted (the side panels are also switchable) to provide extremely versatile setup options. This, combined with its vast capacity, means the Silent Base 801 is able to meet many, many needs. Even if you are using the bog-standard configuration to begin with, this can be invaluable down the track when you might get a little more adventurous with future builds.
There are plenty of other premium features to enjoy with the be quiet! Silent Base 801. The full size tempered glass side panel is spectacular enough to stop you from settling for an acrylic window ever again. When you have put the time and effort into routing cables and making everything look good to show off the awesome components within, the tempered glass panel of the Silent Base 801 does your hard work justice. Even my 4 year old and 1 one year old enjoy sitting under my work desk and peering in to see all the goodies within.
The design of the removable panels is genius! There is no more need for thumb screws and that awkward lining up manoeuvre that always seems to take several goes to get right. The be quiet! Silent Base 801 uses a brilliant push-button system on the rear of the case that releases the panel. It then sits securely in place until you remove it! It is the simple things in life that make all the difference and this system makes removing and reinstalling side panels as simple as possible.
The dust filters are also cleverly designed to be as easily accessible as possible, while not being always on show. The front panel easily slides upwards reveal the front filter, and also provide access to the bottom filter. Again, it has been well thought out, with the user-experience as important as the effectiveness of the filter. Great design!
be quiet! Silent Base 801 – The Luxury of Space
This size of case (539 x 281 x 553 mm) is always going to feel spacious, especially for those of us installing a Mini-ITX motherboard. The Silent Base 801 is capable of fitting up to an E-ATX board. The space in the be quiet! Silent Base 801 is particularly well used.
The 281mm width provides a spacious front compartment, with ample room in the unseen rear compartment for routing cables and attaching hard drives. In this day and age there probably isn’t the same need for most of us to mount copious amounts of mechanical HDDs inside our case, but the 801 does cater for the installation of up to 7 3.5″ drives.
Thankfully, two of those drives can be stowed out of sight in a specially-designed cage under the PSU shroud. This keeps the main compartment looking clean and tidy.
There are plenty of options for routing cables in the rear of the case, and the included Velcro ties are easy to use with the large amount of mounting points. My cable management skills are not the best in the world, but I was pleased with the end result in my build. It was definitely the tidiest-looking cables that I have ever achieved! Part of that comes down to the excellent layout, and part is down to the luxurious space.
Seven expansion slots provide plenty of options for customisation, although on my Mini-ITX board I don’t have the option of taking advantage of them. There is also a two-slot vertical expansion bay for properly showing off those expensive GPUs. You will need a PCIe riser cable, which is not included with the Silent Base 801.
The final element to mention regarding the space on offer in the be quiet! Silent Base 801 is the PSU shroud. This not only provides ample room for the largest of ATX power supplies, it also uses a detachable bracket to make installation and removal extremely easy. Clever cover plates allow for ultimate cooling customisation, with the ability to install a 140mm fan on top of the PSU shroud, and/or a 360mm or 420mm radiator to maximise the front-of-case cooling real estate.
All of these features make the be quiet! Silent Base 801 an extremely customizable case that can be adapted to suit the requirements of a wide range of builds.
be quiet! Silent Base 801 – Sound Dampening
I guess the clues are there in the name, but it is worth pointing out that the be quiet! Silent Base 801 is a case with silent operation at the forefront of its design. The quality of materials and the excellent fit of panels work together to create a very solid-feeling enclosure that has no rattles or squeaks.
The rubber-decoupled HDD tray dampens the familiar noises of the mechanical 35.” HDD, and its positioning inside the PSU shroud further contains the HDD noise. This noise is managed to the point where I have no idea if my 3TB HDD is running at full speed or not fired up at all.
The real star of the noise dampening show in the be quiet! Silent Base 801 case is the 10mm insulated mats that stop just about any sound from leaving. In order to ensure vital airflow through the case, be quiet! Have developed clever noise dampening vents. IT really works – even after a solid hour of gameplay in the graphically demanding Microsoft Flight Simulator, the three large GPU fans on the PNY GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER 8GB XLR8 Gaming Overclocked Edition don’t produce more than the faintest of hums through the sound-dampened case.
To say I don’t notice it the vast majority of the time is an understatement, especially when the case fans are set to “1”. Sitting here and writing this I have just turned off my (already quiet) Vornado heater, the baby monitor (the kids are asleep but it produces a constant hiss) and the upstairs air-conditioning in an attempt to hear my computer. However, the fridge in the next room is still louder than anything produced by the be quiet! case. To hear anything of note, I have to bend down and put my ear next to the case. It is remarkable.
With the fans set to the maximum “3”, there is the slightest increase in noise. Again, I have to have everything else in the room off to appreciate it’s existence. For someone who is accustomed to the familiar rattles and whirs produced by even decent components in decent cases with decent fans, the lack of noise from the Silent Base 801 is impressive.
be quiet! Silent Base 801 – Cooling
A case with such serious sound dampening credentials needs to have some serious cooling capacity if it is to avoid turning into a very expensive oven. be quiet! Are well aware of this and have provided three preinstalled Pure Wings 2 140mm case fans. They have also helpfully included a 3-step fan controller that can be used to set the speed of up to six fans manually. It can also be connected to a motherboard header to control the fans through one PWM signal.
This brings me to the one tiny issue I had with the be quiet! Silent Base 801 case. The connection from the fan controller to the motherboard header needs to be about 1/2cm longer. That need is very specific to the awkward placement of the only PWM fan header on my Mini-ITX motherboard, but for a moment I thought it wasn’t going to reach. It got there (just), but there was an uncomfortable amount of pulling, wrangling (and hoping) to finally convince the two to meet. In the end it all worked, so I really don’t have too much to complain about.
The preinstalled Pure Wings 2 fans are be quiet!’s entry-level performance-oriented fans. They use nine blades and a long-life rifle bearing to ensure quiet running now and well into the future. be quiet! claim that at maximum speed the Pure Wings 2 fans only generate 18.8 dB(A). Based on my experience, I don’t doubt that claim at all.
The three included fans have been effective enough to keep my system temperatures in a comfortable place. My build includes:
- GIGABYTE H170 Mini-ITX motherboard
- Intel i7 6700 CPU with stock cooling
- 32GB PNY XLR8 DDR4 gaming RAM
- PNY GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER 8GB XLR8 Gaming Overclocked Edition
With light use (internet browsing, word processing etc.), the CPU temperature hovers around the mid 30s/low 40s C. The case fans can run all day on their lowest settings while maintaining these temperatures.
When gaming or under heavy workloads, the temperature quickly reaches the high 60s/low 70s C, where it remains consistent. Bumping the fan speed up to the highest setting knocks a few degrees off fairly quickly.
With my specifications there is little need to worry about additional cooling, but overclockers or those with the highest spec hardware might be searching for a little more. The Silent Base 801 can accommodate another 3x 140mm fans in the clever top bracket, and a third 140mm fan in the front (under the two preinstalled fans). A removable panel in the PSU shroud can provide space for another fan up to 140mm.
Those who prefer water cooling are also well catered for. There are options for installing radiators ranging in size from 120mm to 420mm in the front of the be quiet! Silent Base 801. The top can accommodate a radiator up to 360mm. A small radiator (up to 140mm) can be installed in the rear.
You shouldn’t have much trouble installing a custom CPU fan and heatsink, with a 185mm clearance.
The be quiet! Silent Base 801 is a wonderfully constructed, premium case that is adaptable enough to suit almost any build imaginable. Clever design features are found in abundance and they make building in the Silent Base 801 a supremely enjoyable experience. The three included quality 140mm fans and fan controller add value to the deal and ensure that standard builds receive the airflow they need. More ambitious builders with greater cooling needs are well catered for through a variety of options. Most enjoyably, the be quiet! Silent Base 801 well-and-truly lives up to its name, with only the status lights on top of the case often the only indicator that anything is happening inside.