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 (those connected to the mainboard’s 3-pin connectors) into Silent mode (the quietest mode in the mainboard’s BIOS). If a system case has its own speed controller, we switch it to minimum and maximum speed to check out both modes. 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 at 3.00 GHz
  • Zalman CNPS9500 AT cooler
  • ASUS P5E Socket 775 mainboard
  • Western Digital Raptor WD740GD hard disk (10,000 RPM)
  • Western Digital Raptor WD740ADFD hard disk (10,000 RPM)
  • Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD hard disk (10,000 RPM)
  • Western Digital Raptor WD1500AHFD hard disk (10,000 RPM)
  • 2GB DDR2-800 SDRAM Patriot PDC24G6400LLK
  • HIS HD 3870 IceQ3 Turbo H387Q512NP graphics card (Radeon HD 3870)
  • Seasonic M12D SS-850EM power supply (850 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 main HDD bay downwards without any gaps.

The temperature of the CPU is measured with Core Temp 0.99.8. HDDs, 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)

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.

Test Results

First I want to describe the digressions from our standard testing procedure and the reason for them.

We test system cases with their default ventilation systems, but the InWin IW-PE689 is an exception. The lack of a front fan deprived my HDDs of any cooling, so I had to add such a fan myself (ExeGate 12025M12B/Blue LED; about 1400 RPM in the mainboard’s Silent mode).

Besides, I also changed the order of HDDs in both InWin cases. I installed them into the bottom four bays rather than top ones since they were cooled better (and could also be connected easier in the IW-PE689). Otherwise, I followed our long-established testing methods.

Ascot 6ZRX

The Ascot 6ZRX isn’t very good at cooling, especially when it comes to cooling HDDs. That’s quite a surprise as the fan speed is quite high even in the mainboard’s Silent mode and there are no serious obstacles in the way of the air, yet the outcome is rather poor.

The Ascot’s results might be called average if it were not for the bad cooling of HDDs. You should consider other options if you care about your HDDs and data you store on them.

InWin IW-PE689

The benefits of the more expensive of the two InWins are not limited to offering a very simple way to assemble your computer. Its ventilation is effective as well.

The only shortcoming is that the graphics card’s temperature is as high as in the Ascot and somewhat higher than in the other tested system cases. On the other hand, it is a considerable 7°C better than the Ascot 6ZRX in terms of the temperature of the coldest HDD in idle mode and as much as 16°C better in terms of the hottest HDD in IOMeter!

Well, we shouldn’t forget that the excellent cooling of HDDs is only due to the additional fan I had installed before the test. I guess the IW-PE689 would have been inferior even to the Ascot without it.

InWin IW-MG133

The second InWin doesn’t have additional cooling (its single preinstalled fan is located correctly, in front of the HDD bays) but performs just as well as its more expensive cousin.

It is only at the back of the case that the temperature is higher than in the IW-PE689: the lack of an exhaust fan affects the cooling of the mainboard and CPU.

As for the HDDs, they feel even better than in the senior InWin model as is indicated by the small difference in temperature between the coldest and hottest HDD. Well, this is also due to the fact that the well-cooled bottom bays were occupied by the hottest HDDs (according to the open-testbed test) whereas the coldest HDD was in the zone of the missing top front fan, receiving very little of the preinstalled fan’s air flow.

Scythe Gekkou Standard

The Scythe Gekkou Standard produces the best results in this test session for each component, except for the HDDs, notwithstanding its lowest fan speed.

The HDDs are hot, but not as hot as in the Ascot. The temperature could be lowered by switching the fans to their full speed (800 RPM won’t be uncomfortable) and opening the front door (to provide more air for the front fan).

The next diagrams compare the performance of the system cases to the open testbed.

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