I'm thinking of upgrading my whole rig (including the display and peripherals) by next year, and considering the proximity of my computer to my head, silence is just as important now as cooling. Not that my current rig(1) is noisy on its own, it's actually pretty quiet. However, the climate here (hence the need for watercooling) but maybe also my house, plus my sweat glands together don't like headsets/headphones at midday, which is usually the time during weekends when I'm playing online multiplayer with my brother and cousins in other timezones, so I send out comms through my speaker system or my phone on Skype using a separate pair of 2.0 speakers. Either way, the noise of the GPU and rad fan at full tilt get in the way, and can only be really controlled by switching on the A/C (which blows directly into the open intake on the case), at which point it then becomes the noise source.
So I've chosen, for now, the most likely chassis I'll be using for my next build(2) - the Bitfenix Phenom - because as screwed up its airflow might be for some it has a lot of things going for it. Looks is one, and silence is the other, which of course is the trade-off for the relative lack of ventilation (it actually still has more compared to smaller, server-style cases). I've considered most pros and cons of each, and note that with my games RAM channels (4 vs 2) don't feel all that audible anyway, so this is really more along the lines of which case - given the orientation of the motherboard and the fans on each version - will be a safer bet for cooling the CPU as well as the GPU, both using closed-loop water cooling kits. The GPU will use the NZXT G10 bracket kit to allow the use of a closed-loop system to cool the GPU chip itself but the Mosfets and RAM will rely on its fan, spinning at lower speeds than stock fans for less noise.
Option 1 - MicroATX version : http://www.bitfenix.com/global/en/products/chassis/phenom-micro-atx/
Motherboard mounted on the side panel and the PSU on the front of the chassis, graphics card smack under 2x120mm vent. My concern here is whether, if at least in theory, I am right enough about points 1 and 2 to work well enough.
1. CPU cooling : 2x120mm radiator with push (or only pull?) exhaust fans; will be set to run at minimum voltage (replace fans if necessary, with something like the Silverstone AP123) so that it won't fight the NZXT G10's fan on the graphics card's mosfets and RAM, but I'm relying on hot air to rise naturally off the rads with just a wee bit of help from the fans
2. GPU cooling : NZXT G10, 1x120mm radiator, maybe with both push and pull fan, on the rear 140mm/120mm exhaust port
3. Chassis : 120mm, or 2x120mm, or 180mm intake fan/s on the bottom - all depends on which one fits along with the GPU radiator and the availability of magnet-mount dust filters to match (this I can figure out later, even customize the filter if I have to)
4. PSU : mounted vertically in front, will see if I can mount it with its intake fan inside to seal more noise inside the chassis, as well as benefit from the same dust filter as the primary intakes
Option 2.1 - MiniITX version : http://www.bitfenix.com/global/en/products/chassis/phenom-mini-itx/
Motherboard horizontally mounted over PSU (which has more length limitations) graphics card naturally has no vents making the NZXT G10 more crucial, on top of which is the lack of open space from which the front intake fans can get air from. In the photos here they look like they have grills, but unlike what you'd find covering a BMW radiator, the front panel has some kind of structural panel behind those to keep up integrity but actually has only a few holes to breathe through before the grilles themselves.
1. CPU cooling : 120mm radiator on top vent, using Silverstone AP123 exhaust-specific 1500rpm fans (either as replacement push fans, or for push-pull if they'll fit, actually help cooling, and stock fans are not too noisy)
2. GPU cooling : NZXT G10 with 120mm radiator on top vent, using Silverstone AP123 exhaust-specific 1500rpm fans (either as replacement push fans, or for push-pull if they'll fit, actually help cooling, and stock fans are not too noisy)
NOTE: I am assuming here that I might be able to fit both rads with the sides that are flush to the fans (ie actual 120mm) touching, and the sides with the hoses to the side of the chassis away from the GPU.
3. Chassis : any combination of intake fans that will fit in front that will match well with a dust filter (trust me on how bad dust is over here, which is why I don't just trust a restricted airflow panel to be enough), which makes it worse airflow-wise; 120mm rear exhaust ;
(1) Silverstone PS07, i7 2600K+Kuhler 620+Enermax exhaust, HD7850, 2x120mm Silverstone Air Penetrator intakes (recent addition since the original Enermax fans were damaged by the filter when it came loose)
(2) I haven't picked out specific components yet, but suffice to say it will have to be an upgrade of the processor (which I've had for years) and the graphics card (which I've had since it came out); cooling kits of course will be chosen for fit - thickness of the rads and the length of the tubing - the specs for which I'll check and confirm on forums (ie if some have longer but too stiff tubes, etc) later