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 Silent (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.

Test Results

We don’t change anything in our testing methods today (except that we test the Corsair Carbide 200R with and without an additional fan), so we can get straight to business.

Corsair Carbide 200R

As expected, the Corsair Carbide 200R isn’t good at cooling hard disks. On the other hand, our very hot Raptors have a peak temperature of only 55°C, which isn’t so bad for a computer case that doesn’t have a dedicated fan for the disk rack.

Otherwise, the results are average except for the rather high GPU temperature both when idle and under load. It is especially strange because the preinstalled fan blows right at the graphics card, so the GPU should be colder than usual.

Corsair Carbide 200R + fan

The Carbide 200R isn’t as bad in its out-of-box configuration as we had feared. However, our apprehensions come true concerning the additional fan. It doesn’t improve the temperature of the HDDs much whereas the other temperatures have got even higher. So, the additional fan is useless here (at least at comfortable speeds).

Thermaltake Chaser A41

The Thermaltake Chaser A41 is overall better in terms of cooling – and quite expectedly so considering its higher price and extra 200mm fan. But it’s only in terms of HDD temperature that it is much better. The WD Raptor drives only get hotter than the safe 40°C in the random-access mode. Today’s more economical HDDs are going to be much colder.

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