Articles: Cases/PSU
 

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Testbed and Testing Methodology

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 (connected via the mainboard’s 3-pin connectors) at the Silent mode (the quietest mode in the mainboard’s BIOS). If a system case has its own speed controller, we switch it to its minimum speed, too. We do not change the default configuration of air flows determined by system case design.

The following components are installed into each system case:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 processor (3.00 GHz)
  • Zalman CNPS9500 AT cooler
  • ASUS P5E Socket 775 mainboard (Intel X38)
  • Western Digital Raptor WD740GD hard disk (74 GB, 3.5”, 10,000 RPM, SATA)
  • Three Western Digital Raptor WD740ADFD hard disks (3.5”, 10,000 RPM, SATA)
  • 2GB DDR2-800 SDRAM memory module Patriot PDC24G6400LLK (PC6400, 800 MHz, CL4)
  • HIS HD 3870 IceQ3 Turbo H387Q512NP graphics card (Radeon HD 3870)
  • OCZ OCZ-ZS550W (550 W)
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit SP1

We test system cases with their bundled PSUs if they have one. If not stated otherwise, the HDDs are listed in the order of their placement from the top HDD bay downwards without any gaps.

The temperature of the CPU is measured with Core Temp 0.99.8. HDD, GPU and mainboard temperatures are measured with CPUID Hardware Monitor. 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)
  • Linpack (Linpack-based Intel Burn Test 2.5 runs in the stress test mode, loading both CPU cores; we show you the peak temperature of the hottest CPU core in the diagrams)
  • MSI Kombustor (full-screen mode, DirectX 9 rendering, 1280x1024 with 8x MSAA, Xtreme burn-in; we show you the peak temperature of the hottest CPU core in the diagrams)

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”).

Open Testbed

The noise level is evaluated subjectively.

Performance

There was only one exception from our long-established testing method. The fans of the Eleven Hundred have short cables, so we used their default connection to the internal card powered by a PATA power connector and without any speed regulation. We tested the P280 at both the minimum and maximum speed of its fans.

Antec One

As you can see, the Antec One is quite good at cooling the components, despite the fact that it has exhaust fans at the back of the chassis only.

The four Raptor drives are installed close to each other, but the temperature of the hottest of them is no higher than 42°. So we can expect ordinary HDDs with a spindle rotation speed of 5400 to 7200 RPM to have a comfortable operating temperature below 40°C even if the Antec One’s basic cooling is not improved.

But if you add a low-speed front-panel fan, even 10,000RPM HDDs are going to have a comfortably low temperature.

The rest of the components are cooled properly, too. They have lower temperatures than in most other system cases priced at up to $100.

Antec Eleven Hundred

The Eleven Hundred is much bigger than the Antec One, so the higher temperature of the HDDs, which lack a front-panel fan, is not a surprise: the back-panel fans find it harder now to ensure a strong air flow in the front part of the chassis.

The temperature of the other components is even better than that of Antec’s junior gaming product thanks to the top 200 mm fan.

So, the Eleven Hundred provides good ventilation out of the box, yet it can do better if you install fans in front of the disk rack.

Antec P280 (high)

First, let’s check out the Antec P280 at the maximum speed of its fans, which is not actually what it’s meant for. Its advanced soundproofing is just not designed for high-speed fans.

However, even with the fans rotating at high speeds, the P280 is overall inferior to the Eleven Hundred which is designed in a similar way. The hard disks are cooled better (because one of the top fans is located closer to the front panel) but the other components are 1 or 2 degrees hotter.

Antec P280 (low)

It’s different at the low speed: the HDDs in the middle of the rack are almost as hot as 50°C whereas the CPU is hotter than 70°C at peak load.

So, while the first two system cases do not require front fans, we strongly recommend installing them on the P280.

 
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