Page 2 - Physical Look - Outside
Like the Fractal Design Define XL and Define R3 cases designed primarily for the quiet computing market, the Cooler Master Silencio 550's exemplary clean design is carried forth by the use of a full height black door in front. It is pretty much completely blank; with the exception of the Cooler Master logo in front. However, unlike the Define series cases, the Silencio 550's door features a high gloss surface instead of a matte finish. That said, the Cooler Master case still looks like a mini fridge -- a quick glance at our image above quickly confirms this assertion. Don't get me wrong though. It is not a bad thing. I would much rather have this than cases with an alien face or so-called dragon inspired designs, but that is just me. Do keep in mind a glossy piano finish means a hardcore fingerprint magnet, so do keep your buffing towel next to you if you like shiny things.
Measuring in at 210mm width, 451.5mm height, and 502.4mm depth, the Cooler Master Silencio 550's dimensions are about right for an ATX computer case. On the other hand, it tips the scales at 20.3lbs, which is a bit heavier than the competition. The reason for its increased weight is because quiet computer cases are built with more sound insulation materials and other miscellaneous items, and being at that, it is still half the weight of the Fractal Design Define XL full tower chassis.
Sliding your hand into the full height gap on the right hand side allows you to swing open the magnetically held shut front door. A layer of sound absorbing material is installed on the other side of the door, used to dampen the sound emitted from the front fans. Behind this door is nothing surprising; everything we are used to see in standard computer cases are there. However, before we start talking about that, let me just point out the direction the door swings cannot be changed. It only swings left, and that is quite a bummer. While it is true most of us rarely access optical drives anymore, I would still like to see a little more flexibility in this area. I don't know about you, but for some reason, I always put my computer on my right hand side, and I don't know why manufacturers always like to make it swing the other way. After all, left case windows are the standard, right?
Other than that, from the top we have two 5.25" openings for optical drives, and other case accessories such as the fan controllers. The third bay is preoccupied by a Serial ATA hard drive bay. I am a big fan of cases with built in hard drive docking stations; you won't believe how many times I have used the one at the top of my Cooler Master 690 II Advanced NVIDIA Edition chassis. However, it seems to be the one found on the Cooler Master Silencio 550 is merely an afterthought. Yes, it is a little cleaner behind the front door, and sure enough, it works -- if 3.5" is the only hard drive format in the world. If you want to dock a 2.5" drive, it is about as easy as trying to get an engineer to go outside; it is just not happening.
Situated below the array of 5.25" external drive bays is room for two 120mm air intake fans. Unsurprisingly, the fans are black in color; used to complement the distinct color scheme of the case. We are also happy to say a removable vent module with dust filters is installed right in front, just to ensure air goes in, and dust does not. The funny thing is this brings up my second complaint in this area. The removable vent clips on very poorly, so in order for it to stay on, the bottom end must be protruding slightly in misalignment. Of course, you can just close the door and pretend everything is alright; unfortunately this is not an exactly good testimony of quality.
Rather than setting the front panel connectors behind the door, Cooler Master made a wise choice in putting them at the top of the Silencio 550. I have to say this is truly one of the best 'front' panel configurations I have seen -- starting with one USB 3.0 port at the left, followed by a 3.5mm headphone and microphone jack, one USB 2.0 port, one SD card slot, hard drive indicator LED, reset button, and power button. The power button has an integrated blue status LED, while the hard drive indicator LED as aforementioned flashes in cool white. Everything is appropriately labeled for the end users. I have never owned a case with an integrated SD card slot, and with the popularity of digital cameras, I was more than glad to give up one USB port for the card reader. And rectangular buttons? What I can say, this is definitely quite unique.
Painted black to match the rest of the chassis, the back of Cooler Master's Silencio 550 is pretty much standard for a case with a bottom mounted power supply bay. To give it some description in text, we can expectantly spot an included black colored 120mm fan placed adjacent to the motherboard I/O backplate, with two pre-drilled water cooling holes on top of each other right under. Both side panels are held closed by two thumbscrews each. Even the ventilated plates enclosing the seven expansion card slots are painted black, as shown in our photo above. As aforementioned, Cooler Master's Silencio 550 ATX case has a bottom mounted power supply bay.
In case you have missed it, all side panels, including the top panel, are left completely blank. Being true to its extremely classic configuration, this means no fans can be installed at the top, or the side. This is done to retain a pure front to back airflow design, and to be honest with you, I have never had fans in any other configuration, and my computer has never overheated before. To make my regular complaint, I would just like to mention it here that there is no option for a side window, even if you want to forgo some sound absorbing material. Even as a hardcore silent PC enthusiast, I honestly wouldn't mind. All my components are quiet out of the box anyway.
Shiny aluminum legs with rubber bottom resembling those commonly found on home electronics can be seen on the Cooler Master Silencio 550 as well. Combined with a modest 1 cm rise above the residing surface, like every other air intake, the company has a fan filter here to reduce dust from entering your power supply -- especially of those featuring a bottom mounted fan. The filter can be detached from the chassis externally, so you can clean it any time you like without removing your power supply. A bottom air intake vent that works along with side vents for the front panel fans can be found here as well; used to improve airflow when the case door is closed.
Overall, the Cooler Master Silencio 550 ATX case is about average at best with regards to build quality. Most panels fit together reasonably well, with a few exceptions; the ones that don't turn out feeling a bit flimsy or cheap. That said, I have not noticed any sharp edges during the installation process. I feel Cooler Master should pay a little more attention to detail and refinement, as the Silencio 550 seems to be a bit sloppy in this area.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Outside
3. Physical Look - Inside
4. Installation and Conclusion