Cooler Master Silencio 452 Review
Published: 1st April 2014 | Source: Cooler Master | Price: 63.99 |
Never being one to rest on their laurels Cooler Master continue to refresh and up spec their Silencio range. As you might imagine from the naming, the 452 slots in size wise above the 352 we looked at a few months back, and with this slight increase in size comes the ability, unlike the 352 to take a fully-fledged ATX board. Don't go thinking the 452 is by any means a big case though as measuring just 190 x 449 x 497mm we think it's pretty much small as it's reasonably practical to go and still retain the ATX format. The small size though doesn't appear to have overly constrained the proportions of internal components available for you to use. You can still fit GPUs up to 11.1" long , and if you're willing to whip off a few thumb bolts and remove part of the internal 3.5" drive bays, reducing from a max of 6x3.5" down to 2x3.5" then you'll be able to place cards as big as 15.2" inside. From a CPU cooler stand point, although you're not going to be fitting a monster in here you can still keep your chip cool with anything under 158mm in height which certainly leaves more than a few options on the shelf for your perusal. While we're talking about air cooling we should also mention that the case comes with a pair of 800RPM 15dBA fans, one in the front, and one in the rear. The front fan mount area can also take an additional 120mm fan or if you want to swap things about, anything up to a pair of 140mm units, all of which sit behind an easily removable fan filter. The rear fan position can also accept 80mm and 90mm units should you feel the need to replace the included 120mm fan with something smaller and noisier.
It's nice to see that Cooler Master have included Rubber grommets on all of their well-spaced management holes, and we're particularly delighted with the oversized PSU management hole which should make it very easy to pass cables rear wards and so keep them hidden, talking of which, you're going to have to hone your cable management skills to Zen Master level if you're going to fit everything into the available 9mm of space and still not have the side panel bulge like a 16-year-olds pants on prom night. Remembering of course that like the front door and roof, the side panels are internally lined with sound absorbent foam which isn't exactly going to increase the space on offer.
Build quality is good, although it is noted that the Steel used is on the thin side, still the case feels robust enough provided you're not tempted to sit on it. The noise reducing foam padding is well applied, as is the paint finish. Cooler Master have also made wide use of screws in their assembly as opposed to rivets, making deconstruction of internal parts extremely easy.
The ace up the sleeve of the Silencio 452 though is its ability to do all this in a relatively small package and still find the room for native 240mm rad based water-cooling support. This is accomplished, not by making use of the cavernous space created once the drive bays are removed, which is a real shame, as only a small mod will make this area perfect for thick radiators, but by having the rad and fan assembly mounted forward of the front chassis panel and hidden behind the front door. In total there's about 56mm of space available. We say about as we haven't included the rebate into the door aperture. This will theoretically add another 4mm but you may have trouble getting your fans to fit through. 56mm though is plenty of room for any rad under 30mm when combined with 25mm thick fans, and is certainly enough for most of the 240mm rad based AIOs on the market today, the main exceptions being the Corsair H105 and the Antec Kuhler 1250. Unsurprisingly both Cooler Masters own Eisberg 240L and Seidon 240L will fit just fine.
So what's not to like with the 452? Well not a lot really, but there are a few things. First up is the use of punch outs instead of screw in covers for the PCI expansion covers, it's a small thing and has no doubt shaved a few pence off the costs, but we'd still like to have seen reusable covers being used. We'd also like to have seen a bit more room to manoeuvre behind the motherboard. Sure there are plenty of cable tie points and grommeted management holes, but this is all for nothing if there's not actually enough room available to thread the cables through, and 9mm by any metric isn't a lot of room. Our last issue isn't so much a problem with the case, as a missed opportunity by the designers. With both the drive cages being so easily removable, and so much space being created between the case front and the start of the motherboard area it's a shame they never thought to make this area water-cooling ready. All it would have taken was a bit more thought and a different design for the remaining drive bay panel and it would have been easy to get rads up to 60mm thick with low RPM fans in push pull in there. Now that really would have made for a low noise case.
We can't of course look at the 452 in isolation, there are many more cases out there in the £65 region, but, as it happens very few with the silent credentials accredited to the 452. The Nanoxia DS2 for example offers ATX mother board support but at £79.99 is considerably more expensive and as it happens a good deal larger than the 452, The Fractal Design Define R4 on the other hand is a bit more compact but romps home at a pocket squeaking £90. If you want a small case such as the 452, the DS4 at £65 and the Arc Mini at £70 may fit your bill, both of these are a fraction smaller than the 452, but only offer M-ATX and M-ITX support, and if it's M-ATX you're looking for then Cooler Masters own Silencio 352 needs to be on your shopping list as it's considerably cheaper than both the DS4 or the Fractal case.
As for awards, we can't give the 452 a Gold, but it does get a well-deserved Silver and as a result of it's very competitive £65 price tag it also earns itself the coveted OC3D VFM award.