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 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 i3-2120 processor at 3.30 GHz
- Intel’s Socket 115x cooler with a copper core
- Zotac H67-ITX WiFi mainboard (Intel H67, Socket 1155)
- Three Western Digital Raptor WD740ADFD hard disks (3.5”, 10,000 RPM, SATA)
- Western Digital Raptor WD740GD hard disk (3.5”, 10,000 RPM, SATA)
- Seagate ST9500420AS hard disk (2.5”, 7200 RPM, SATA)
- 1 GB DDR3 SDRAM Corsair CM3X1024-1333C9DHX
- 1 GB DDR3 SDRAM CellShock CS3222580
- Thermaltake Litepower W0293 450W power supply
- Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-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. 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:
- 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”).
The noisiness of the systems is evaluated subjectively.
Configurations available for the tested system cases differ very much, so we will only show you the results of three common tests in the comparative diagrams. Besides that, we will run each product throughout all the tests it can support. For more readability, the nonstandard Seagate ST9500420AS disk, which differs dramatically from the WD Raptor series in terms of operating temperature, is marked with an asterisk (*) in the tables below.
Lian Li PC-Q07
Lian Li PC-Q11
The different system cases turn out to be rather similar when it comes to cooling our test configuration. That’s why we don’t want to comment on the performance of each of them. The only exceptional results we can note is that the CPU and mainboard’s chipset are not cooled as effectively in the Lian Li PC-Q11 as in the other system cases and that the Chenbro ES34169 is the best one at cooling our 3.5-inch hard disk drives.
While the latter’s superiority as a file server could have been predicted, the poor performance of the Lian Li with its active cooling system is quite a surprise. It has the largest interior and a high-speed fan but turns out to be less effective at cooling than its opponents. Its developers must have done something wrong with the air flow configuration although it seems logical enough.
By the way, the lowest chipset temperature at peak CPU load is also the result of the poor ventilation of this system case. The CPU cooler would just accelerate to a higher speed than in the other system cases, ensuring better cooling of the chipset along the way.
Anyway, the difference of a few degrees of temperature cannot be viewed as a critical downside of the Lian Li PC-Q11. This system case can hardly be preferred by hardcore overclockers, but when it comes to non-overclocked mode, it can keep the CPU and mainboard cool enough.
The next diagrams compare the system cases with each other and with the open testbed.