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[XAP]Bob
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That article has got loads of good considerations – and it’s 8 years old, so anything they talk about in terms of PC performance is pretty much a given nowadays…

You’ll want a graphic card (to get away from ‘orrible shared memory devices), so that’s a probable 3u lower limit in terms of height, although IIRC a “normal” PSU has to be mounted sideways at 3u, which is a tight fit, unless either the motherboard or PSU is mounted at the front… hence the more usual 4u.

With the luxury of space in 4u you can be creative with cooling, and can mount HDDs in silent caddies (normally take a 5.25 slot instead of a 3.5 one, but with massive noise isolation). Metal panels can have damping materiel glued on to limit resonant responses etc.

Length is the killer, many 4U cases are seriously deep!

You might be interested in people like http://www.silentpcreview.com/
There is a whole bunch of people who just want their PC at home to be completely silent (either home theatre types or bedroom PCs)