Back in early 2009 I was introduced to AZZA as I took a look at their Fantom 900 chassis. Back then cases still had exposed steel innards, but they were still offering aggressive styling, LED fans, shiny bits of plastic - you know, everything that was all the rage four years ago. Then we got to see the Solano 1000 that was basically AZZA's take on the Antec 900. Here the styling was more subtle, but air flow and LEDs were big then, and they were accommodating to those desires.
Then there was a pair of cases that sort of broke the typical mold of full-tower designs. The Genesis had a reverse ATX layout, was white, and appealed to a lot of people trying to be a bit different than the average user. The Fusion, again was slightly aggressive in its styling, but was one of the few to make a color themed chassis that didn't take the accent color over the top, and choosing red as this accent allowed a ton of ASUS users a chassis that would easily match their motherboard.
One thing that seemed to be a trend with AZZA was that they were seemingly building for the gaming and overclocking crowd, but what about those that want to have a PC that is less seen and heard then the previous solutions? Today AZZA is looking into exactly that. They are taking what could be an average mid-tower in its basic respects, and adapting things to make this latest chassis to hit our labs, not only subdued in appearance, but great strides have been made to either redirect the airflow and fan noise or just straight up absorbing it with materials placed inside of the chassis. Not that this concept has been unheard of, Fractal Design, Corsair, Antec and many others have been banking on this for quite some time now, but this is the first I have seen this from AZZA.
So what do we know? This new chassis has sound absorbing materials placed inside a few of the panels, and redirecting the airflow from the users ears means we are likely to have a flat front to the chassis, and very possibly a door over the optical drives if they follow the trend of other solutions in this field. We also know, well I do, and that typically AZZA cases tend to have a very low price associated with them, especially when it comes to the features that each of the previous cases had to offer.
With today's example, the AZZA Silentium 920 mid-tower chassis, even the name lulls you into a sense of peaceful silence. With my ears wide open for any sort of oddities, I say we dive right into the Silentium 920 and see what this case is all about.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The Silentium 920B or CSAZ-920B is a mid-tower chassis that is comprised mostly of steel, with plastic used on the front bezel and for various components inside. Externally, the front of the chassis is very flat with a door panel with a stealth drive bay at the top and with an angled break under it, the rest of the panel is flat on the front with venting along the bottom. Both door panels are expanses of black steel with large bumps in both panels for taller coolers on the left, and to hold more wiring on the right. The roof of the chassis is solid, with no ventilation. The floor once had an optional fan mounting position, but is now covered over and has venting only for the PSU. In the back you do have a pair of holes with grommets for water cooling and seven ventilated expansion slots. Also if black isn't your thing, there is a white version on display at AZZA's site, so I would expect its release soon.
Internally, starting at the front of the Silentium 920, there are four 5.25" bays with tool-free clips on the left side of the cage to secure devices here. Just below that there is a dedicated rack for a pair of 2.5" storage drives. Moving down to the bottom, you find two walls supporting five 3.5" trays between them that also have screw holes for 2.5" drives. The motherboard tray is designed well for wiring and access to the back plate of the CPU cooler, and will hold ATX and Micro-ATX motherboards.
Cooling this chassis you have a 120mm fan with a dust filter in the front along with a 120mm fan in the rear as an exhaust. Unless you were to remove the large section of sound proofing material that is stuck to the chassis floor, there are no other options for fan mounting. What helps to keep this chassis silent other than the design of the front bezel is this sound absorbing material, like what is on the floor. Inside of the roof and both of the door panels, their entire surfaces were covered with this stuff to keep any noises made inside of the chassis and not audible to its users.
This chassis is fairly new, and as such, the listings of where you can find this chassis are currently pretty limited. As I looked around, I did find that Newegg is the only one apparently advertising that they have stock in the US. Keeping with the idea I had about how well these cases are priced to fit in the market, the Silentium 920 stuck to the plan as well. Over at Newegg they are currently listing the chassis for $84.99 before shipping. Even with it added in, you are only adding another $10 to that price.
It seems like a fair deal to me as far as what the AZZA Silentium 920 offers on paper, so let's dive in and see what the reality of this chassis is.
The front of the pain cardboard with blue printing on it displays the company and chassis name at the top, followed by a rendering of the front of the chassis along with features like noise reduction, the HDD trays and native USB 3.0 are all covered.
Spinning the box you now see both names again at the top, but this time they are followed by a specifications chart that matches the one we just covered.
Around back there is a look inside the chassis with five key features listed around it. They also give you an idea of the underside of the chassis with its large feet and the ventilated area for the PSU that comes with a dust filter.
On this side, it is very much like the opposing panel we looked at, but this time there is a pair of boxes under the chassis name. This is to show if you received the CSAZ-920B in black as I did, or the white version, the CSAZ-920W.
Going with what has worked for years, AZZA employs the same plastic liner and Styrofoam caps that have worked very well in most instances for any manufacturer. In this specific instance, the box was a little worse for wear, but the foam and plastic did their job and there were absolutely no damages to my Silentium 920B.
AZZA Silentium 920B Mid-Tower Chassis
As you can tell, the front of this chassis is very flat down the bezel, only to be broken up by the shiny bit of plastic. The panel is a bit offset to the left, as the angle on the right give access to the top door panel, and at the bottom, below the AZZA logo is where this chassis gets its intake of fresh air.
The front I/O panel is a bit spread out. The stripe across the chassis holds the power and HDD LEDs and the large power button on the right. Near the bottom, on the right side of the front panel you get the connectivity for USB 3.0, HD Audio and USB 2.0 with the reset button at the very bottom.
Back up top I opened the door panel to show you what is going on. The top bay does not get a drive cover, but that is due to the flip down, stealth, bay cover built into the door. To keep the door closed, this one uses tabs that lock into the bezel rather than magnets like I am used to seeing.
Since AZZA are trying to keep noises to a minimal level, opening the top of the chassis is counterproductive to that end. So in the Silentium, the top of the chassis is just an expanse of black painted steel.
The panel on the left of the chassis mounts flush against the top and front of it; you can also see the large bump-out made into it. This will add some strength to the steel as well as offering a bit more room inside the chassis. This shape is also where the sound absorbing material is placed on the other side.
The top of the chassis is really close to the I/O area and 120mm fan; this means it will be tight inside as well. Below that there are seven expansion slots next to a ventilated area allowing for water cooling tubes to pass through, leaving the PSU to be mounted in the bottom.
The right side of the chassis is identical to the opposite side, just in reverse. Again the material is place in the bump, and here this space is here to allow for more wiring to be tied in before the panel would restrict this.
Under the chassis, you see that this is supported on large, chunky, rubber feet that give the chassis good purchase on almost any surface. In the rear there is ventilation for the PSU to intake air, and there is a dust cover. As for the hole in front, it has been covered with material to keep things quiet.
Inside the Silentium 920B
For some of the previous images I had shove wires back in through the PSU hole so that they weren't popping out in the side or rear images. Now I see why. While the hardware is neatly tied to the hard drive rack, the wiring is just run in the chassis and left flopping around.
There are four 5.25" bays that will accept screws if you wish, but for now have these plastic tool-free clips that you just twist to lock and unlock. The other side will accept screws too, but has bent tabs of steel to press against the drive to let the clips work a bit better. Just below is the rack that will allow you to stack a pair of 2.5" drives.
Then you run into the HDD rack that offers five plastic trays that accept both 3.5" and 2.5" drives. There is also a fan in front of these, but to show it I will have to peel the front bezel (which is coming up soon).
The motherboard tray offers three standoffs across the top, but use steel bumps that have threaded holes for risers in the lower six. Around the board you can find three large holes to the right and eleven places to tie wiring to.
The lower part of the motherboard tray has a couple more tie points and a large hole for the PSU wires to get behind there. On the floor you can see the material glued to the floor over the fan hole and of course the PSU area with steel bumps to support the front of the unit.
Inside the rear of the chassis you can see the 120mm fan and its 4-pin Molex connector for power. You can also see that the replaceable expansion slot covers are all held in with thumbscrews.
Behind the motherboard tray there is 20mm of room between the frame and the tray, but don't forget the panel gives you another 5mm as well. On the left side there is plenty of room to put bulk wiring from a non-modular PSU.
The wiring is not all black like I would like, but there isn't a window to see them through later either. There is the fan power lead at the top that can use the 3-pin fan connector for power or the Molex adapter. Then there is the native USB 3.0 with a USB 2.0 tail on it, another USB 2.0 connection, and the HD Audio or AC'97 connections. Then there is the rainbow of colors to make the front panel connections for the lights and switches.
Accessories and Documentation
In the plastic bag attached to the drive bays, you will find this hardware and some paperwork. In the hardware you will find a bezel adapter plate for converting a 5.25" drive bay to a card reader or floppy drive bay. You get two small and two large wire ties and a motherboard speaker. You also get four thumbscrews for the PSU, five standoffs, a handful of M3 screws and a larger handful of 6/32 screws.
The paperwork consists of the very thin manual on the left, and a wiring diagram on the right for the USB 2.0, audio and USB 3.0 pins in their respective plugs.
With the specs chart being on the front, it leaves room for the rest of the instructions to be found here on these two pages. On the left you get an exploded view of the chassis above a parts list to help along with the build. On the right there are very small images and decent descriptions to help the novice builder along.
The HDD tray take on 3.5" drive using pin on the sides. All you have to do is flex the tray around the drive and align the pins with the holes in the side of the drive. For 2.5" drive mounting, you need to flip them over and use the screws through the frame to secure them.
The Build and Finished Product
With the bezel removed you will notice two things. First of all, the wiring is attached, so if you tend the wires and need to remove this later, be careful. Secondly, there is the 120mm fan and dust cover I removed from the front of the chassis with just one screw. This will make cleaning it very easy.
With the build complete except for having the side panels on, the front of the chassis looks not one bit different from when we pulled it out of the box. So if you liked the aesthetics to begin with, you don't have to deal with the optical drive mucking things up.
Inside there is room for a full sized tower cooler, plenty of room for the HIS Radeon HD 7950, and things are pretty tidy inside. Since the roof is so close to the motherboard, getting the screws in at the top are challenging if the CPU cooler is already in place.
The dust shield for the rear I/O went in smoothly, and the card only required a bit of force on the back to line up the holes properly, and with the thumbscrews for the PSU, mounting it was a snap.
In reality, there wasn't much to run back here. With the short cable kit for the video card and 24-pin being used, all I had to deal with was the fan power and the front panel wiring for the most part, and it was simple enough to just roll them up and set them on the floor.
With the panels back on and just a power cord shy of testing this chassis, once again, the completed build leaves the Silentium 920B looking just as it did in the beginning.
I had to try out the stealth cover and see how it worked. The large button in the bezel makes good contact to the drive and the flip down panel gets right out of the way so the tray can extend. Once you go to close it, the retraction is smooth and the door springs back closed.
Once the chassis gets power, and you pressed the large button on the front, the only way you know this case is running is from the blue LED in that shiny bit in the front bezel. If the storage drive is in action, you get an amber LED flicker off to the right of the blue one. As for noise, you have to put your ear within about six inches before you can even hear the hum of a fan.
To be blunt, the aesthetics of this chassis are very simplified, and verging on mundane, but that is sort of the point of this chassis. With the solid steel panels and the way that the front bezel is designed with the ventilation under it, it helps to keep noises associated with most chassis designs away from the user's ears. As a second step to lower noises, the top, bottom, and both sides all have absorbing material applied to them to absorb vibrations and noises. This is why I mentioned earlier that the idea it to deliver a chassis that is simple and understated to just do the job, look clean, and be as quiet as possible.
In this area alone, the AZZA Silentium 920B is a success. There is more to it that just the outside of the chassis though, but even here AZZA does really well. The wire management is slightly overkill for what you have to hide, but options are always welcome in my book. The drives went in easily, and both the optical and the storage drives were securely held in place with their various tool-less mechanisms. On the whole of all things considered, the Silentium does really well.
To keep things silent, along with the fact of close panels and added materials, this chassis only uses the pair of 120mm fan supplied. In this instance, the fans are sufficient for normal average users, but with an overclock applied, things did get a bit warmer inside than the average chassis. You can always swap out the fans, and it shouldn't cause too much of an issue, but if you do plan to remove the floor panel to install a fan, I am sure the noise will dump right out the sides and take away from why this chassis was designed this way. I would however have liked an option for at least a second front fan, and maybe the option for a 140mm in the back. Still though, for people who demand silence, usually gaming or overclocking isn't their intentions. It's more for office use, or something in video or image production, where typically users run their products stock for stability. In this market, I think I can overlook the limitations for the silence I was offered when using this chassis.
From what I can see, the feature set is pretty good and covers the basic needs of any user. This chassis offers a door panel and a stealth drive cover so you don't have to open it all the time, and they didn't hide the I/O panel back there, rather they made it all simple to use and right out in the front. Air flow is sufficient to keep stock systems under control, and from any sort of distance over a foot away, it isn't this case you are hearing, maybe the PSU or the video fan, but not the chassis.
When you take all of that into account and the fact I didn't have any issues installing the system, the $84.99 price point looks to be spot on. I mean if you don't have the money for other options in silent cases, this isn't a bad alternative at all, and it does exactly what you need it to do.
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