The configurations assembled in each system case differ a lot, so we will not build comparative diagrams for each test mode. First we will show you the results of our system on an open testbed. Here is how the variant with a Scythe Shuriken and a Radeon HD 3870 performs:
Everything is good here. The cooler copes with the CPU perfectly even at minimum speed. The CPU temperature is never higher than 45°C even under Prime95. Under minimum loads the CPU is only two degrees hotter than the ambient temperature. Such an excellent temperature is due to the effective cooler as well as to the 45nm tech process coupled with the Core 2 architecture.
And what if we replace the cooler with Intel’s boxed one and the graphics card with a Radeon HD 4850?
So, the CPU doesn’t feel so comfortable now. Yet if you don’t load it by 100%, it is only 39°C hot. The temperature grows up by 10°C at full load and the cooler’s fan speeds up somewhat (but this acceleration cannot be caught by the ear).
The graphics card feels all right but at the expense of your acoustic comfort. While the HD 3870 was hardly audible even under maximum load, the HD 4850 increases its fan speed in 3DMark06 instantly and becomes very loud in a highly unpleasant tone that can be described as wailing. Well, top-end graphics cards with a single-slot cooler have never been truly quiet.
And the last piece of data about the performance of the open testbed is the result of the boxed cooler together with the integrated graphics core.
Yes, the single chip incorporating a chipset bridge and a graphics core gets scorching hot at work. We guess the passive cooling it has just barely copes with its job and some ventilation inside the system case would come in handy.
Now, let’s see what the system cases can show.
The lack of a system fan affects the cooling of the components in the Cooler Master Elite 100. The CPU feels most uncomfortable, its temperature reaching up to 60°C and its cooler’s fan speeding up to an audible level. On the other hand, the CPU is still a long way to begin skipping clock cycles, so we are absolutely sure that this computer will work just fine. The HDD is not really comfortable, either. Its temperature is over 50°C under high load. But when there is no such load, the HDD has an acceptable temperature. Take note that when the computer is working long under a high load on the CPU and graphics core (even though such a modest one), the HDD gets some of the heat, too. It is easy to improve this situation. You should use modern power-efficient HDDs with a spindle rotation speed of 5400rpm. They are going to dissipate only half that amount of heat under load.
The main disappointment about the Elite 100 is the default fan in the power supply. Its whistling is perfectly audible and louder than any other sound under typical loads. Describing this system case above, we mentioned the option of replacing the power supply’s fan. Without such a modification, the Elite 100 may only be good for office work. It will be uncomfortably noisy for home.
The Foxconn produces a picture similar to what we’ve seen with the previous product. The temperatures are not low, but the system does not overheat, either. Take note that the different CPU cooler only makes a difference when there is a high load on the CPU: 54°C instead of 60°C. And the cooler goes on working in the near-silent minimum speed mode. This system case is quiet overall.
The InWin cools the components better than the Foxconn. The nonstandard layout with the power supply located at the front of the chassis seems to be good for this extremely compact system case. This is especially clear when it comes to the HDD: the rack at the side of the chassis helps the HDD always remains within a comfortable temperature range. The temperature of the integrated graphics core is better, too. Thus, this system case is a nice surprise for us, but this is only true if you don’t install an optical drive. If you do, you have the cooler problem again.
The InWin is good in terms of noisiness. And if you replace or slow down the excessively powerful 80mm system fan, the IW-BM648 will be very quiet.
We were highly interested in the performance of the Sugo SG06 as it is not a simple electronic typewriter but an advanced enough gaming configuration. The numbers speak for themselves, actually. The computer feels all right, every component having a comfortable temperature in every test mode. This is all due to the 120mm fan rotating at 1000rpm. By the way, you can only hear it if you put your ear next to the front panel. The system is very quiet overall.
Alas, the SuperPower cannot match the Silverstone Sugo. Its CPU cooler is gasping for air. The HDDs suffer from the same problem, both heating up above 50°C under load. The graphics card contributes to their temperature, too. It obviously fries the HDDs up under serious load. So, the overall picture is quite gloomy.
But then, we’ve got a seat for an 80mm fan. We quickly installed what fan we had at hand (it was a GlacialTech SilentBlade II GT8025-BDLA1) and repeated our cycle of tests.
Here, the system case looks far more appealing. Every component is colder, including the graphics card, and the HDDs are all within a comfortable temperature range. So, our supposition proved to be true: the case had been lacking ventilation indeed.
As for the noise factor, the system case itself is silent and most of the components in our configuration are very quiet. However, it is going to be a problem to find a fast and quiet graphics card with a single-slot cooler, which negates the very idea of assembling a home gaming station in a super-compact enclosure. The extremely low quality of the bundled power supply must be noted, too. The Mustiff MX31 won’t look cheap if you add the cost of a new power supply to it.