With m-ATX and to some extent Mini-ITX motherboards becoming ever more powerful and as a result more popular and mainstream, it necessarily follows that the discerning PC enthusiast is going to be looking for an enclosure that best suits their needs. In recent months we've looked at both the original and the latest "Pure" version of the CoolerMaster Silencio 650 line up, and we've been well impressed with them. Although these cases will take an m-ATX case, they're far from being small form factor. Enter then the Silencio 352, an SFF case with more than a few aces up it's sleeve.
Dimensions (W x H x D)
200 x 378 x 453mm / 7.8 x 14.9 x 17.8 inch
4.7 kg / 10.3 lbs
5.25" Drive Bays
1 (the max. length of ODD: 170mm / 6.7 inch)
3.5" Drive Bays
3 (1 exposed, 2 hidden)
2.5" Drive Bays
USB 3.0 x 2, USB 2.0 x 1, Audio In & Out, SD card reader x 1
Top: 120x15mm fan x 1 (optional)
Power Supply Type
Standard ATX PS2
VGA card length: 355mm / 14.0 inch
Up Close: Exterior Overview and Roof
Measuring just 200 x 378 x 453mm (WxHxD) the 352 is a petite little thing especially when compared to the more fuller frame of the Prodigy for example, being smaller than the Prodigy in every respect other than depth.
The classy lines of the Silencio series can clearly be seen, with there being little doubt that this case is not intended for the "balls out" gaming sector of the market, but that's not to say you're not going to be able to get a powerful rig in there. The lines are simple and clean with un-windowed side panels and a full length door on the front.
There are slight bulges in each of the side panels, in part we think to aid rigidity, but also perhaps to provide a little more cable management room of the right hand side.
The roof of the 352 has a smooth plastic removable cover overlaying a filtered mesh grill which is fitted for a 120mm fan. Held in place by magnets the cover can be easily popped off enabling improved cooling at the expense of an increase to the sonic signature.
Up Close: Exterior Front, Rear and Base
The front I/O, although positioned as it is in plane sight on the front of the case, does not seem obtrusive. Consisting as it does of a pair of vertically stacked USB3.0, a single USB2.0, the usual brace of audio jack sockets and unexpectedly, an SD card port. Nice one CVoolerMaster. Above these, and separated slightly from the bunch we find a power and reset button which are paired with small blue LEDs.
Horizontal slits run down the majority of the lateral edges of the front, permitting cool air to enter the case. The first nod, if the name were not enough that this case like it's bigger Brethren is intended to be as quiet as can be.
The plastic full length case door is hinged on the left and cannot be swapped round. Opening it we gain access to a single 5.25" bay and a single 3.5" bay. Nice, but for the sake of a few mor millimetres we could have had 2x5.25" bays. Just a thought.
A large brick weave plastic panel is removed easily via a top clip revealing the metal mesh of the front air intake area.
If you haven't already noticed it's best we point out that like it's bigger brothers the 352 also has sound dampening material on the inside of the front door. To the right we can see the brick weave and mesh filter panel following its removal from the case.
Slotted screw holes indeed! Bit of a clue for those that understand the relevance. For those that don't, read on and all will be revealed. And for the modders out there who might be wondering how much room there is with the filter panel removed, well how does 30mm grab you? Room enough for a fan we thinks, but as we'll see when we get inside, it's not necessarily going to be needed.
Both side panels are also coated in sound dampening material, with only a small section left uncoved over the contour for the side bulge.
The rear of the case is quite compact as you might imagine. A 120mm fan nestles behind a grill that is also drilled for smaller units, but we can't think why you'd want to swap things around back here. Below 4 vented PCI covers sit along side blanks for tubing holes (god we can't wait for the day when these disappear)
Underneath things are more interesting than they might first appear. OK, so a meshed fan filter for the PSU isn't interesting, but the selection of holes towards the front of the case are. They are highly relevant with regards to one of the major aces this case has up it's sleeve.
Up Close: Interior
As you might imagine from a case this size there's not exactly oodles of room in here. That said, taking into account that it will only be accepting m-ATX and mini-ITX, things are well proportioned. There's a reasonable sized CPU cut out and two good sized vertical cable management holes. In addition to this, a large aperture runs practically the full length of the base of the case, starting adjecant to the PSU and finishing at the front. This should make bringing cables through a breeze but could potentially make things look a little messy or induce a builder to be lazy. Petite though it may be, the 352 is still able to take GPUs up to 355mm in length and CPU tower coolers up to 155mm. At he front there's a bay for a single 5.25" drive under slung with a 3/5" bay. This 3.5" bay is removable as we'll see later when we come to the build section.
A single CoolerMaster XtraFlo 120mm fan sits on intake duty behind the meshed filter panel. There's space below for another if you wish, but being a slim case there's no 140mm option here. The 3.5" drive rack is mounted slightly inboard of the fan area so as not to obscure airflow, and is able to house up to 3x3.5" drives. There is also a series of rounded key hole shaped slots in the interior of the side panel, these are in fact mounting holes for a pair of 2.5" drives.
Mounted on 4 rubber topped dimples the PSU is afforded a clean supply of air courtesy of a decent sized meshed and filtered floor. Further up the rear of the case we find four vented PCI covers (always a strange choice for a "silent" case) and a single 120mm XtraFlo fan on extract.
Turning the case around to look at the rear we're greeted with a bit of a mixed bag. Ok, we've got a very generous 14 cable tie points and what at first view appears to be a handy 23mm of space back here.
But alas all is not as it at first appears. The above measurement was taken in the bottom right hand corner of the case where there is something of a handy rebate. The rest of the rear area actually only has a very miserly 8mm, this figure of course will shrink when we take into account the sound absorbing padding on the inside of the door panel. Added to this we will also have to account for the rolled steel bar which runs horizontally across the case, over which all cables must out of necessity pass. We just hope the bulges in the ide panels will be enough to get the job done back here.
We'd usually devote a whole page to the "in the Nip" section, but as removing the front panel and door section which comes away easily revealing the metal front chassis and front I/O panel we've keep it in this section
At the top there's the apertures for the 5.25" and 3.5" bays, below which we find the front I/O panel and metal grill for the front fan mounting area. And what's this we spy? slotted fan mounting holes! This can mean only one thing, but surely not in a case this size?
CoolerMaster have again favoured the "bag'o'screws" approach, leaving you to sift through the pile to find the ones you're after. We think the chap responsible for this maybe had a bad experience with Lego as a child, not being able to find the brick he wanted, and has decided to punish everyone else. We do at least get a set of comprehensive instructions, opening up as they do to a large double sided sheet.
Although the PSU we've used in the demo build is 160mm long there's still room behind it to turn the cables rearwards. A longer PSU would cause problems, but then you're not very likely to be putting a monster 1200W unit into a case this size are you. It's also fair to say we're not entirely sure what we're going to do with all the cables.
With everything in, it all looks reasonably tidy from the front. Granted as there's no top hole for the 8 pin CPU cable we've had to run it across the top of the mobo, but aside from that it was a pretty standard build experience.
The area around the PSU looks surprisingly clean and tidy especially as there's no grommets on this case. We haven't mounted any 2.5" drives in the case, but as you can see, the vertical management holes are well aligned to accept the cables going to and fro.
We were able to make a decent fist of the cable management of the reverse side, thanks in no small part to plentiful and well dispersed cable tie points. Although it might look like the cables are in a bunch we've actually laid them out flat side by side to reduce their profile, using nearly all the 10 supplied cable ties to keep them that way. Even with these measures it was still a hell of a job to get the side panel on, leaving as it did a slight bulge when closed. As an alternative, the major cables need not be routed round the rear as the large full length cut out along the bottom enables them to be kept on the front side of the motherboard.
If you've read the rest of the review up to this point then you've most likely picked up on a few hints that this case has something of a major ace up it's sleeve. We've mentioned the slotted screw holes on the front panel which allude to the abilty to accept 240mm rads with varying inter screw pitches. We've also mentioned the sets of holes in the base of the case, the reason for these might not have been to obvious, however we are now in a position to tell you that they enable the 3.5" drive rack to be moved posteriorly in the case, opening up the gap in front of it from 35mm to 60mm. This of course means that not only is it possible to get a great many of the popular 240mm rad based AIOs in there, including CoolerMasters own Eisberg and Seidon series and of course the likes of the H100i from Corsair, but also if you're using 25mm thick fans, any rad up to 35mm thick.
You are going to have to take the internal 3.5" bay out, which is no great shame and is a piece of cake as it's only held in with a few screws, but with that done there's actually quite a lot of space to play with. If you're not using an AIO then you've still got the 5.25" bay which can be used to house one of the many single bay combined res/pumps on the market. If you can do without the 3.5" bays altogether then there's enough room in here for a push pull set up with a 60mm rad no problem, although you will get close to covering up the cable management holes. With the 3.5" rack in place as we say, anything up to 35mm will be fine, so the likes of the XSPC RS240 seen below along with the Swiftech MCR220XP and the Hardware labs Black Ice GT Stealth will fit just fine.
You can though forget any thoughts you might be having of a rad in the roof, with just 20mm of room up there, there's barely room for the 120mm fan that the vent has holes for. It's also going to be tight in the rear as the 120mm fan only just slots in there will be little is no room left for the over hang of the end tanks on even the most demure of 120mm AIOs. Best to stick with the front rad solution we thinks.
If water's not your thing you'll be pleased to know that the 352 will still accept a tower cooler up to 155mm in height. And yes we know the NZXT Havik 120 shown below is 160mm in height, but we've shown it as we always do to aid perception of the internal space available. We did actually manage to get the case side on with it in place, but we wouldn't recommend this as it was most definitely making contact with the case sides.
We'd like to recommend that you never play cards with the Silencio 352. A case which on the face of it appears to be little more than a small black enclosure has more than a few aces up its sleeve. We've now looked at three of the cases in the current Silencio range it's fair to say we've been most impressed with this pluck little number.
Let’s start with the build quality, no surprises there. It might be a downsized case but in no way have CoolerMaster down sized their quality standards, with both build quality and finish being excellent as we would expect from CoolerMaster.
Although diminutive in stature the 352 is still bale to accept tower coolers up to 155mm in height and GPUs up to 355mm long, which should be plenty for even for those rocking a 310mm long old school 5970 with a little left over for plugs and cables.
Aside from being able to house 3x3.5" drives along with separate stealth locations for up to 4 hidden 2.5 drives the main ace up the sleeve of the 352 is the native water cooling support. And we don't just mean a token 120mm AIO in the rear, oh no, this little chap can take a 240mm rad in the front, and not only the slim 240mm AIOs such as the CoolerMaster Eisberg or Seidon, or for that matter the Corsair H100i, oh no, we mean any standard 240mm rad up to a thickness of 35mm and that means such rads as the XSPC RS240, the Swiftech MCR220XP and the Hardware labs Black Ice GT Stealth. To do this you will have to sacrifice the 3.5" bay slung under the 5.25" bay, and you will have to move the 3.5" rack posteriorly to the alternate set of mounting holes but the real point is you get to keep your internal storage. If you don't mind losing the internal storage you could always just use internal 2.5" SSDs and external HDD caddy, then you'll be able to plonk in an even thicker rad, we think 60mm is on the cards but you will get close to losing the lower of the cable management holes.
On the subject of cable management things are a bit of a mixed bag. There's plenty of holes to pass cables from front to rear and vice versa, but none are grommeted. The 14 cable management holes round the back are well distributed and should make the life of the system builder an easy one, however there's not a lot of room to play with back there with just 8mm of space even accounting for the slight bulge in the case side we still had a great deal of trouble getting the case side on. Although a less tidy option it might just make sense to keep the thicker of the cables in the front side of the case.
If the 352 has another ace up its sleeve it is that, like its bigger brothers it is fully sound dampened. Both side panels and the door are coated with sound dampening foam, with a magnetically attached roof vent panel allowing you to choose between sonic isolation or greater cooling performance. In use the 352 is as silent as the award winning Silencio 650 series and didn't really get noticeably louder when we removed the roof panel.
All of this lot will set you back just £60 and that we think is damn good value. However there are other options out there, the Fractal Design Arc Mini for example is a slightly bigger case which also boasts native water cooling support. It also costs a fiver more and doesn't have the sound dampening characteristics of the 352. There is of course the Define mini which does have sound dampening but this will set you back nearly £80 and lacks much of the native water-cooling support offered here. We can't of course ignore the BitFenix Prodigy. Coming in at around the same price it's a fine case in its own right, but if you're trying to choose between the 352 and the Prodigy you clearly need to spend a bit more time working out exactly what you want from your system.
Hand on heart we have to say we're rather taken with this little case and have no problem at all award it our top honour in addition to the coveted "silence" award for its low sonic foot print.
Thanks to Cooler Master for the 352 on review today, you can discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.