Review: Silence is not golden, it's black
Scythe, the company well known for their excellent PC cooling solutions, has recently launched its first case. However, these "silence experts" have not taken this task solely upon themselves as they've had help in the famous German case modder - Benjamin Franz. As a result of their joint work comes the case FenrisWolf, named after a giant wolf from Norse mythology. We must admit that the case is seriously silent as well as stylish.
Before we move on to the case itself, let's take a look at the packaging. The package weighs about 7kg and measures 250x500x570mm (WxHxL). The case is obviously pretty large, but it's not too heavy thanks to the aluminum build.
The front of the box is nicely designed; it shows a large picture of the case and the Fenris creature. Of course, Scythe and Benjamin Franz's logos are there as well.
The rear of the box shows the inside of the case with individual component descriptions. Additionally, you'll find full specifications on six languages.
Large pieces of Styrofoam and plastic shield the FenrisWolf from taking damage in transport. As we've already mentioned, FenrisWolf is made of aluminum, and the case measures 203x455x527mm (WxHxL). While the entire package weighs in at 7kg, the FenrisWolf case weighs exactly 6kg \.
FenrisWolf features a simple but stylish design.
The front panel hides behind a small door made of brushed aluminum and a large piece of mesh grill, which allows for unhindered airflow. The door also features Scythe logo, which fits like an integral piece of the design.
Behind the "secret door" is the front panel where you can see six 5.25 inch slots. The last 5.25 slot features a floppy drive bracket, but Scythe made sure that the bracket can be removed and the slot employed to hold an optical drive. The top of the front panel holds the Power and Reset keys as well as Power and HDD LEDs.
Below the optical drive slots is the first of the two fans that come with the case. We're talking about Slip Stream 120mm fans running at maximum 800 rpm, making them almost inaudible. Unfortunately, Scythe didn't leave place for additional fans within the case, meaning you'll have to do with these two only.
The upper side of the case houses another panel holding two USB ports, one eSATA port, headphone out and microfone in. To open the panel, all you need is a simple push.
The sides are black and feature no special designer details except for the "b" in the lower left corner, representing Mr. Benjamin Franz. The side panels are easy to remove and mount.
We've mentioned that this is an extremely quiet case, courtesy of the two 120mm Slip Stream fans. One is located on the rear panel of the case and can bee seen on the picture below. The PSU is mounted towards the top of the case, and the two 25mm holes for water cooling are in the lower left corner.
The inside of the case seems pretty standard, but FenrisWolf has a couple of aces up its sleeve. Although it's not quite common, Benjamin Franz's touch brought black color to the inside as well.
The case packs plenty of room and the case will hold many motherboard form factors including - ATX, Mini-ATX, Mini-ITX, µATX and Flex-ATX.
The power supply is mounted above the motherboard but unfortunately, Scythe didn't do anything for cable management, and the extra cables coming from the PSU will probably clutter the case somewhat. The only solution is to hide the rest of the cables in or behind the 5.25 inch slots.
Mounting optical drives is done the old-fashioned way - although we must say that this method is getting increasingly rare, as most manufacturers tend to use different, and more practical methods. This way you'll have to take both side panels off, which isn't hard, but is still time consuming. Most of the screws on the case are the type that can be used without tools, so at least you won't be reaching for the toolbox.
The picture above shows the silent Scythe fan with a three pin connector, spinning at 800 RPM.
A great thing about FenrisWolf is the Scythe's implementation of the stabilizer, which while very efficient, is pretty impractical to handle. For instance, mounting the HDD took more time than mounting the rest of the components did.
The stabilizer is comprised of two aluminum plates, one of which is on the picture above. In between the plates, you can mount up to four 3.25 inch disks. To maximize efficiency, the inner sides of the plates are coated in rubber, and the sides are physically separated by three rubber wheels on each side.
The stabilizer, together with the hard disks is mounted in the bottom three 5.25 slots. We had to remove our graphics card as well, the GTX 260, otherwise we couldn't have mounted the stabilizer.
Mounting the motherboard and the rest of the components, except for the HDD, went without a hitch. We decided on passive CPU cooling because the entire idea behind the case is to make it as silent as possible. So, we used Cooler Master's Hyper Z600 cooling to see whether FenrisWolf with its two 120mm fans can muster sufficient airflow to for passive cooling. As you already know, passive cooling greatly depends on the actual airflow within the case.
MSI P35 Platinum (Provided by MSI)
Intel Core 2 Extreme x6800, 2x 2.93GHz (Provided by Intel)
A-Data Extreme DDR2 800 (2x1GB) (Provided by A-Data)
EVGA Geforce 260 GTX (Provided by EVGA)
OCZ GXS 700, 700 W (Provided by OCZ)
Cooler Master Hyper Z600 (passive) (Provided by Cooler Master)
In order to test the thermals, we used Prime 95 to put our CPU through its paces and compared the results to those scored by Cooler Master's HAF922.
Idle operation sees FenrisWolf emerging much quieter than Cooler Master's HAF922, but as you all know, silence and performance rarely go together. The two fans in Scythe's case are not enough for a high end processor and passive cooling, but it should be enough for an average CPU with active CPU cooling.
Scythe FenrisWolf features a simple yet stylish design, excellent finishing touches and extremely quiet operation. Scythe paid a lot of attention to making this case as quiet as possible, but two Slip Stream 120mm fans aren't enough to provide excellent cooling performance. The fans run at 800 rpm and are inaudible, but unfortunately, Scythe doesn't provide extra mounts for additional fans users might want to install.
If you want a passively cooled graphics card and CPU, carefully consider the thermals and the size of the passive coolers on them. During our testing, FenrisWolf didn't exactly when put up against the Core 2 Extreme x6800 CPU with passive cooling. The case doesn't come with a motherboard tray, so if your cooling comes with a back-plate, you'll have to remove the entire motherboard - which is quite a tedious task.
HDD Stabilizer is a great feature and it effectively attenuates transmition of vibration from the disks to the case. We must admit that it runs great, but the mounting process gets a bit tricky as you'll have to take the entire HDD bracket off, and in our case we had to remove the graphics card as well.
Regardless of the few flaws, Scythe FenrisWolf is still a nice case, and since this is the first case to come from Scythe, it's not too shabby at all. Scythe will surely get better and better and we're looking forward to seeing the company progress on this market. The FenrisWolf is currently priced at about 115-130 euro, which might be a bit to pricey. Note that FenrisWolf is not a case for overclockers or gamers, which require plenty of quality airflow to keep the components cool, but rather a nice looking and above all - a quiet case, which has a market of its own. While we're aware that there are a couple of points that need fixing, Scythe is surely on the right track to become an important player on this market.