Testbed Configurations and Methodology
The assembled system case is tested 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 all fans into the quietest mode available in the mainboard’s BIOS. The following components are installed into each system case:
- Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi mainboard
- Intel Core 2 Quad Q8300 processor
- Western Digital Raptor WD740GD hard disk drives
- HIS IceQ3 Radeon HD 3870 and Radeon HD 4850 graphics cards
- 2GB DDR2-800 SDRAM Patriot PDC24G6400LLK
- Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP2
You may have noticed that our selection of components has changed somewhat since our previous reviews. We changed the mainboard due to the nature of the tested products and we also changed the CPU to check out if the compact system cases would cope with the cold (thanks to 54nm tech process) yet powerful quad-core processor clocked at 2.5GHz. This CPU model has become quite affordable, by the way. Installing a faster CPU wouldn’t have made much sense whereas dual-core models did not appeal to us.
It is simple with the graphics cards: our traditional HIS IceQ3 Radeon HD 3870 fitted into the Silverstone Sugo while the single slot of the SuperPower Mustiff MX31 was occupied by the reference Radeon HD 4850. The rest of the system cases worked with the graphics core integrated into the mainboard’s chipset.
We used several coolers as we wanted to ensure the best cooling possible for the CPU and also check out different options. Here are the resulting combinations:
- Cooler Master Elite 100 RC-100-KKP1 was tested with Intel’s boxed cooler.
- Foxconn RS-224 GP was tested with a Scythe Shuriken SCSK-1100.
- InWin IW-BM648 was tested with a Scythe Shuriken SCSK-1100.
- Silverstone Sugo SG-06B was tested with a Scythe BIG Shuriken SCBSK-1000.
- SuperPower Mustiff was tested with a Scythe Shuriken SCSK-1100.
Every system case was tested with its bundled power supply except for the SuperPower Mustiff MX31 which worked with an Enermax MODU82+ EMD625AWT (625W).
The temperatures of the CPU (of the hottest of its cores) and integrated graphics core were read with SpeedFan. The temperature of the HDDs was measured with HDD Thermometer. The graphics card’s temperature was reported by its driver’s control panel. The fan speeds were measured with an optical tachometer Velleman DTO2234.
There were the following test modes:
- IOMeter (IOMeter’s Access Time test running on all the HDDs to load them fully)
- Prime95 (Prime95 running in In-Place Large FFTs mode to load all CPU cores fully)
- 3DMark06 (3DMark06 running at 1280x1024 with maximum graphics quality settings)
Every temperature was read after the system had worked for half an hour in the specific test mode. The noise level was evaluated subjectively.