Articles: Cases/PSU
 

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Test Methods

We test assembled system cases at a constant ambient temperature of 23°C maintained by an air conditioner. As we assume that most users prefer low-noise computers, we set the speed of the CPU and system fans (those connected to the mainboard’s 3-pin connectors) into Silent mode (the quietest mode in the mainboard’s BIOS). If the system case has its own speed controller, we switch it to minimum speed, too. We do not change the default configuration of airflows determined by system case design.

The following components are installed into the system case:

  • ASUS P5E mainboard
  • Core 2 Duo E6850 processor
  • Zalman CNPS9500 AT cooler
  • Four hard disk drives Western Digital Raptor WD740GD
  • HIS IceQ3 Radeon HD 3870 graphics card
  • 2GB DDR2-800 SDRAM Patriot PDC24G6400LLK
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP2
  • Seasonic M12D SS-850EM power supply (850 W)

The CPU temperature is read with the ASUS PC Probe utility included with the mainboard. The temperature of the HDDs is measured with HDD Thermometer. The graphics card’s temperature is reported by its control panel. The speed of the fans is measured with an optical tachometer Velleman DTO2234. There are the following test modes:

  • Idle
  • IOMeter (IOMeter’s Access Time test running on all the HDDs to load them fully)
  • Prime95 (Prime95 running in In-Place Large FFTs mode to load both CPU cores fully)
  • 3DMark06 (3DMark06 running at 1280x1024 with maximum graphics quality settings)

Every temperature is read after the system has worked for half an hour in the current test mode.

The following table shows the temperatures of the components if the system is assembled without an enclosure (“open testbed”).

The noise level is evaluated subjectively.

Test Results

First we are going to discuss the results of each system case individually and check out the temperature of HDDs depending on their position. We will also discuss the noise factor.

HDDs are numbered from top to bottom.

In the Antec DF-85 we installed the top three HDDs next to each other. They were separated from the bottom HDD with one empty bay.

Antec Dark Fleet DF-85

The DF-85 ensures comfortable conditions for our components at the minimum speed of the fans. Well, we might have expected that from a system case with five 120mm and two 140mm fans!

The noise level is rather typical of Antec products in this category. The DF-85 is not silent, but should seem quiet enough for most users (except for the most demanding ones). The front fans produce more noise. To balance the airflows, the developers set the three intake fans at a higher speed than the four exhaust fans located at the top and back panels. For example, the back 120mm fans have a min speed of 900 RPM whereas the front ones, 1000 RPM. The 140mm fans have the lowest minimum speed, 800 RPM.

Antec dark Fleet DF-85, max.

Increasing the speed of all system fans makes the computer rather noisy. The speed grows up to 1500 RPM for the rear fans, 1200 RPM for the top fans, and as high as 2000 RPM for the front ones. The temperature only improves by one or two degrees at that. Running the fans at such speeds may only be necessary for very top-end configurations or if the ambient temperature is very high.

In the Corsair 600T the top HDD was placed separately from the others.

Corsair Graphite 600T

Like its opponent, the Corsair 600T is quiet but not silent. The speed of the fans is not low enough for them to produce no noise: 600 RPM for a 200mm fan is quite a lot, especially as both such fans installed in the 600T are pumping the air through meshes.

Corsair Graphite 600T, max.

The Corsair is better than its opponent at maximum speed. We mean in terms of noisiness rather than temperature. It is overall quieter and has a more agreeable spectrum of the noise. The 120mm back-panel fan was almost silent at 1050 RPM while the top 200mm fan was humming quietly at 750 RPM. The problem was with the front fan which was defective in our sample of the 600T and buzzed with its motor when rotating at maximum speed. That’s annoying because it is going to be not so easy to find a replacement for the 200mm giant.

 
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