September 4, 2018 // 12:05 p.m.
Manufacturer: Be Quiet!
UK price (as reviewed): MSRP £109.99 (inc. VAT) / £122.99 (inc. VAT) for windowed edition
US price (as reviewed): MSRP TBC
Making its debut into the case market a little under four years ago, Be Quiet! now has a pretty impressive range of chassis under its belt. The Silent Base family was the very first to launch, though, and both the mid-tower Silent Base 600 and the full-tower Silent Base 800 that started it now feel dated. Little surprise, then, that updates to both models were unveiled at Computex 2018, and the first in our labs is the smaller Silent Base 601, which is launching for £110 for the base unit and £123 for the one upgraded with a tempered glass side panel.
As the name indicates, this isn’t a major overhaul in design but rather the culmination of a series of small modernising tweaks. Gone are the optical drive mounts, for example, and there’s no doubt that while the design is still pretty industrial and minimalist, aesthetically the 601 is much more in-line with the current trend and, we'd say, far better looking. With both versions of the 601, users have a choice of black, orange, or silver highlights, although these only affect a few small areas.
Pleasingly, metal dominates the exterior, adorning not just the side panels but the external portions of the front and roof ones too. Build quality overall is high as a result, both for individual panels and the fully assembled case as a whole. With silence being something the whole design is based on, Be Quiet! has also fitted the insides of the front, roof, and side panels with quality 10mm-thick dampening mats. Meanwhile, although the front and top are pretty solid and will definitely restrict airflow, there are still some vents, and Be Quiet! says these are specifically angled so as to maximise airflow while minimising noise by deflecting it.
The front I/O lacks USB Type-C, which we feel is an oversight. It also only has one USB 2.0 port alongside the dual USB 3.0 ports, leaving it in the odd position of being less well equipped than the original Silent Base 600. We’re in two minds about the three-step (5V, 8V, and 12V) fan controller as well. On the one hand, it’s clearly useful for those interested in rigid control of system noise, but on the other it’s arguably unnecessary given how good most motherboard fan control suites are these days. The plastic toggle itself feels cheap, too. Overall, though, it doesn’t really detract from anything, and you can easily just not use it if you feel it isn’t for you.
The Silent Base 601 is fitted with two of the company’s own Pure Wings 2 140mm fans each with a peak speed of just 1,000 RPM. You get one as a front intake and one as a rear exhaust, meaning airflow should be balanced. Larger fans tend to shift more air at lower noise levels too, and Be Quiet! uses rubber washers to ‘decouple’ the fans from the chassis frame and cut down on vibration transfer – a small touch, but one that shows commitment to a design principle. Likewise, the rubber pads on the case feet perform a similar function. Users looking to expand the cooling on offer can add two more 140mm or 120mm fans to both the front and roof, and the internal PSU shroud can be fitted with one fan of either size too.
With usability being another key focus area for Be Quiet!, it’s satisfying to note how easily the front panel lifts upwards and away from the chassis. This then grants you immediate access to the front and bottom dust filters, the latter pulling out helpfully to the front rather than the rear.