be quiet! has expanded its range of Silent Base enclosures with a new-and-improved 802. Setting itself apart from earlier Silent Base entries, the latest addition gives users a choice of maximum sound dampening or increased cooling performance.
Available in black or white, prices start at £150 and rise to £160 when outfitted with a windowed side panel, and at first glance the case could easily be mistaken for the 601 and 801 that came before. Venture into the included accessories, however, and it's clear that the 802 is trying something different as each variant comes bundled with interchangeable front and top panels to suit your style of build.
By default, the 802 is optimised for quiet computing, with both the solid front and rear-side panels lined with 10mm-thick sound-dampening material. The pre-installed top covers are split into two, with a smaller section at the back providing venting for any fans installed in the roof, while the larger front section is lined with a 3mm dampening mat to once again help soak up unwanted noise and vibration.
We have no doubt that the Silent Base 802 can be employed to create a truly quiet PC, but what's interesting is that be quiet! is also catering for the performance crowd this time around. The aforementioned solid front fascia can be pulled up and out and interchanged with a mesh panel that's better suited to optimal airflow. In a similar vein, the top panels come away to be replaced with a mesh insert whose black outline contrasts nicely with the white body.
It's nice to have the options, though do be aware that the airflow-optimised extras do command a premium, as the outgoing Silent Base 801 can be found for £120 while stocks last. If you are contemplating shelling out extra on the 802, take solace in the fact that the I/O panel has been refreshed to include a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type C, alongside the customary two USB 3.2 Gen 1, audio jacks and power and reset buttons.
Rounding out the I/O selection is a toggle switch for the SATA-powered integrated fan hub, which allows up to half-a-dozen three-pin fans to be set to low, medium or high speed. Should you prefer, a fourth 'auto' option is at hand for all attached fans to dynamically adjust speed from a motherboard PWM header. Better still, be quiet! includes a trio of three-pin Pure Wings 2 140mm fans as standard; two configured as front intakes, the other a rear exhaust.
The Silent Base 802 feature set is attractive, yet at these price points we're of the opinion rival cases such as Fractal Design's Define 7 and be quiet!'s own Dark Base 700 offer higher overall quality for similar money. Start building into the Silent Base 802 and you begin to notice large swathes of plastic that you wouldn't necessarily expect on a premium solution.
The plastic clips holding the tool-free side panels in place aren't the most elegant, the seams between various panels are more prominent than we'd like, rear cable management is good but not great, and if you're a stickler for detail, you will notice that the metal and plastic sections are different shades of white. The supplied feet aren't ideal, either. While they do a decent job of elevating the case from the floor, they aren't pre-attached and prove tricky to install and almost impossible to remove without scuffing the case.
be quiet!'s plasticky exterior mouldings and thick bezels leave room for further refinement, yet on the inside Silent Base 802 offers plenty of chassis real estate. Dimensions of 539mm x 281mm x 553mm are large by mid-tower standards, and the space is put to good use with support for motherboards measuring up to 305mm x 275mm. That includes some E-ATX models, though taking the extended approach will obscure some, if not all, of the rubber-grommeted cable holes.
A 7+2 expansion slot arrangement opens the door to a vertical graphics card, there are three 2.5in SSD mounts attached to the rear of the motherboard tray, and ample scope for adding hard disks. Out the box, you'll find a dual-bay 3.5in cage toward the end of the shrouded PSU compartment, and be quiet! includes a floating 3.5in bracket that can neatly be attached to any of the five mounting points to the side of the motherboard tray. We like the fact that all five mounts are pre-covered with plastic inserts for tidiness, and if you do need more storage, individual HDD cages will be available as optional extras.
In terms of cooling, the case has a total of seven 120/140mm fan mounts; three in front, three up top, and one at the rear. Do note, however, that while the front can support up to a 360/420 rad, the top is officially limited to a 240/360 - though the 140mm mounts are there, a drawback of the chassis' angled top is that the pull-out radiator tray isn't offset far enough to guarantee compatibility with motherboard heatsinks. On the plus side, filtration is good, with a full-length filter behind the front panel, and another beneath the case that pulls out conveniently from the front.
Elsewhere, and as before, be quiet! continues to employ a decoupled motherboard tray, allowing for the interior to be swapped over to an inverted layout that can offer a unique approach to airflow while suiting those who need the windowed panel on the right-hand side of the case. The number of configuration options are plentiful, though a caveat to such a flexible interior is that cable management is relatively basic, with be quiet! sticking to a combination of tie-down points and bundled Velcro straps.