February 28, 2014

Unboxing & Review: Nanoxia Deep Silence 1

Now we all know that German engineers are revered for their workmanship in producing quality vehicles but how about if they decided to build a PC chassis? Enter Nanoxia, a German manufacturer of quiet enclosures and chassis accessories. If you haven't heard of them, check them out at their official website.

A big THANK YOU to the the team at APES.My for supplying a unit of the Nanoxia Deep Silence 1 for this review article. Retailing at RM370 (MSRP) it's actually affordable, we'll see how German Engineering is applied in the chassis.

The Deep Silence 1 (DS1) comes in a large brown box with the brand name printed in the middle. Their motto "Nanoxia Next Generation PC-case" clearly written below the DS1 name and at the bottom, we can see that this is the windowed version of the DS1.

Boxeption!! they really take their shipping seriously. The inner-box told users to read the manual carefully.. a nice piece of advice really.

Taking the "box out of the box" we now have a full-colour glossy finished packaging. While it looks nice, I wonder how much will that contribute to the cost of the DS1. The front details the DS1 in the centre sandwiched between the multiple awards and the key features of the DS1.

At the back, Nanoxia depicted the features in full colour which looks more like an installation guide already.

Specs of the DS1 is available on both sides of the box.

I'll just place a screen shot of the specs from Nanoxia's official site, just in case:

First thing that fell off from the box was the manual, in full colour! 

External Features

Out of the box, the DS1 gives me a sense of elegance and simplicity. The colour scheme on this particular unit is the Anthracite (a variation of coal) variety. The DS1 (window version) is also available in Dark Black and White. Front bezel are two hinged doors with brushed aluminium finish but as with the top panel, it's plastic in general. Looks great but do be careful when handling the chassis as it will be nightmarish to remove fingerprints from the brushed aluminium panels. As this is a silent chassis, the ventilation comes from the sides of the front panel feeding the 2x 120mm fans with fresh air.

The top door concealed 2x fan controller sliders, a reset switch and 3x 5.25" bays while  the bottom door opens up to 2x 120mm fans. we could see some foam padding on the doors itself which helps to minimise the noise coming from the 120mm fans at the front. Do note that the doors only opens from left to right so do think about where you want to place the chassis before plugging in all the connectors on your setup.

Implementing separate doors at the front enables users to access the 5.25" bays without having to reveal the fans and vice versa. This is very effective and simple solution for eliminating noise while the 5.25" drive is in use. Use of magnets is a very much welcomed feature as well.

Glad to report that the 5.25" bay covers are easily removable and filtered... popping one back will require a bit of practice though.

As for the fans, I totally love the way Nanoxia implemented both the slide-out individual filters and the clip-on mechanism for fan mounts. This makes life so much easier when one wants to upgrade or just cleaning them.

A closer look at the 120mm fan included (there are 2 of them with the DS1) these are Nanoxia's own Deep Silence 120mm fans. I'm not gonna go into too much detail on them but for those who want to know, here is the link to the official site.

On the left side panel, the DS1 sports a rectangular window which is smaller than most windows on chassis that I've seen, probably they do not want to sacrifice too much of the sound dampening properties.

Right side panel is a solid piece.

At the back, we see mounts for 140mm (included) or 120mm fans, the I/O knockout, 8x expansion slots, rubber grommets on the top and side and a standard ATX-sized PSU mount at the bottom.

At the top panel, there is a single start button. The translucent ring is actually an embedded Power LED and HDD activity LED which delivers a cleaner look than having them elsewhere.

Note that rectangular piece right behind the power switch? that's the "stealthed" front I/O panel. Poping it out required little effort and you'll find 2x USB2.0, 2x USB 3.0, microphone and audio jack. Pretty neat but it wasn't really 100% flush against the top panel.

The DS1 have a "chimney" for heat exhaust at the top panel as well which opens up by sliding a switch at the left side of the top panel. According to Nanoxia, this will help exhaust the heat should it be required. We'll see how much more heat they mean and if there is a difference at all.

At the bottom of the case, you'll get a long dust filter over the perforated holes for the PSU and optional fan.

The case feet is adequate and cushioned with soft rubber that should minimise the transfer of vibrations to whatever surface it's placed upon, but unlike the more premium chassis that I've seen, these are plastic chrome instead of steel or aluminium.

Internal Features

Taking the side panels off makes the chassis so much lighter, as it is here that the bitumen-compound sound-proofing material is found. Though I have to question Nanoxia's implementation of the classic sliding side panels instead of swinging door, not what I had in mind for a "next Generation PC case".

Note how thin is the sound-dampening material is compared to the foam type found in some other silent chassis. I do like this type of material as foam tends to get squished when pressure is applied especially if it's the panel behind the motherboard tray where the wires from the PSU will be tucked away.

A small accessories box inside the DS1 includes a front panel 3.5" adaptor, bags of screws to mount your hardware, some cable ties, solid rubber grommets and a 8-pin EPS extension cable.

Black interior and large CPU mounting cut-out.. I like... Note the placement of the rubber grommets on the motherboard tray for the smaller M-Atx form factor which will give a cleaner build compared to having to route the front I/O cable all the way from the bottom of the motherboard tray.

The 5.25" drive bays uses a tool-less latch on both sides and it actually works!

Mounted inside is a 5.25" to 3.5" bay adaptor.

And from here, you can see that one could mount a radiator at the top, with multiple fan mount options to boot. 

Taking the top panel off, we could see the various mounting points for fan options up to 200mm. The mounts for 120mm and 140mm looks to be offset towards the left side so that there wouldn't be any problems with thick radiators in push/pull configurations.

The PSU mount have four rubber support at the bottom and foam at the back is a foam sound dampener to further minimize the vibrations transferred to the frame of the DS1.

Here is another view of the rubber grommets. notice how clean looking the motherboard tray is? that's because it's void of any details to guide users on where to place the stand-offs, a feature that really helps so that one wouldn't have to go referring to the manual all the time.

The back of the motherboard tray we see quite a few anchor points for cable ties, always a welcome feature in my opinion.

But there isn't much of space at the back of the motherboard tray, only 3/4 inch ... I figure one will have to be godlike in cable management to properly close the side panel or else, use of a modular PSU will definitely make that task easier.

Looking at the modular HDD cage, you'll have to lift the tabs from the back and slide to the front. Would've been nice if the cage can be removed just from the front as one wouldn't have to remove both side panels just to get at the modular HDD cage.

Though being of modular design, there are lost of orientation for the HDD cage placement as demonstrated in the following pictures.

You could even move them back to mount a 240mm radiator but removal of the bottom HDD cage at the front will require users to remove some screws at the bottom of the DS1.

Oh and lets not forget the HDD mounting mechanism shall we? looks really familiar to the ones found on Fractal Design chassis.

and of course, the front I/O connectors. At this point, I wished that they would've included a USB3.0 to USB2.0 internal adaptor instead of the 8-pin EPS extension.

Installation and testing

Very little trouble installing hardware in the DS1, spacious enough to work around even with my Thermalright Archon SB-E X2 mounted (yes you can fit very tall air-coolers in the DS1). The only real difficulty is that one would have to be vigilant with the PSU cables behind the motherboard tray, especially when it is of a non-modular design as space is very limited.

Being a silent chassis, I'll compare the heat and noise emission between the BitFenix Shinobi XL and the Nanoxia DS1. Noise will be measured using the sound meter application found in the smart tools mobile app on three situations, idle, load and 100% fan where I'll crank up the fans to 100% speed on the GPU via MSI AfterBurner.

The usual suspects such as Prime 95, MSI Kombustor will be used to crank up the heat of the components which will be measured via the use of HWMonitor. The rig will be left on for 30 minutes for each idle and load tests on stock configuration for the chassis with their original fans mounted as you would get in retail.

Without Further ado, here is the test setup used for the comparison:

AMD PhenomII x3 710
Asus M4A785TD-V Evo
Thermalright Archon SB-E X2
Sapphire HD7850 2GB
Samsung HD 502J (HDD1)
Western Digital WD10EALX (HDD2)
Cooler Master G550M

And here are the results!

The DS1 did surprisingly well in the temperatures beating the Shinobi XL in all fronts. Both chassis is left with their stock fans mind you, really shows that the DS1's airflow is very well thought of despite it being a silent chassis. I've also tested with the DS1's chimney open but I do not see any improvements to the temps compared to the results shown here; results may have been different if there were fans mounted at the top.

Here is the noise comparison between the two chassis. Although the results are as expected, I honestly expected a much more quieter experience with the DS1 but I guess I was hoping for too much. 

The DS1 is a classy chassis no doubt. Aesthetically simple and elegant, with the noise dampening ability and native water-cooling support. It's not perfect but I think it will meet a lot of people's requirement for a PC chassis. One thing is for sure that whatever German engineering techniques were implemented on the Nanoxia DS1 worked well in it's favour.

  • Elegant and functional brushed aluminium front panel
  • Stealth front I/O ports
  • Easy access to front fans and dust filters
  • Built-in dual fan controller
  • Modular HDD cage
  • Native 240mm radiator support
  • Great airflow 
  • Use of Bitumen-compound sound proofing material
  • Rubber grommet placement for M-ATX form factor motherboards
  • Unique chimney mechanism
  • Brushed aluminium front panel is the ultimate fingerprint magnet
  • Need access from both front and back to remove HDD cage 
  • Lack of space behind the motherboard tray 
  • Side panels need to slide open/close
  • Really heavy (with side panels on)
The Nanoxia Deep Silence 1 fell a tad bit short of the gold award from Tech-Critter, the cost may also be even lower ave they opted for a less-extravagant material for the packaging and manual. Nevertheless, I would no doubt recommend it to anyone looking to build a quiet PC, so I'm giving it a Silver award and the Recommended award.