Articles: Cases/PSU

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Test Methods

The assembled system cases were tested at an ambient temperature of 29°C (the weather was hot, making the test conditions even more difficult). The PC configuration included the following components:

  • Intel D510MO mainboard
  • Intel Atom D510 processor (integrated into the mainboard)
  • Western Digital Raptor WD740GD and Seagate Momentus 5400.4 ST9250827AS hard disk drives
  • 2 GB DDR2-800 SDRAM (Kingston ValueRAM KVR800D2N6/2G)
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP2

The temperatures of the CPU (the hottest one of its cores) and integrated graphics core were read with the SpeedFan utility. The temperature of the HDDs was measured with HDD Thermometer. The speed of the fans was measured with an optical tachometer Velleman DTO2234. There were the following test modes:

  • Idle
  • 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 both CPU cores fully)

We didn’t run 3DMark because the mainboard's integrated graphics core is not meant for 3D games.

Each temperature was read after the system had worked for half an hour in the specific test mode. The noise level was evaluated subjectively.

The following table shows the temperatures of the components if the system was assembled without an enclosure.

Open stand

This table shows the temperature of the 2.5-inch HDD. The 3.5-inch model was somewhat hotter: from 38°C in the Idle mode to 45°C under load.

Test Results

We want to say it right away that every system case (with only one exception we will talk about specifically) coped easily with cooling our components even at an ambient temperature of 29°. This is largely due to the amazingly economical Atom processor and its thin manufacturing process. We weren’t surprised that every case coped with our 2.5-inch HDD because such drives do not consume too much power. The system cases with 3.5-inch HDD did well, too, and that was kind of surprising for us.

So, we will show you the exact temperatures of the CPU and HDD, but will focus on the noise factor in our comments.

Antec ISK300-150

The Antec case is very quiet. Unfortunately, we can't call it absolutely silent because we could hear some noise from the power supply's fan, but it wasn't oppressive. It was just a small addition to the ambient noise (we must confess such quiet noise sources are usually hard to hear at all in our test lab because there are always louder sources all around). The TriCool fan was expectedly very quiet at minimum speed while keeping the system case properly ventilated. Overall, this system case is very good if not perfect.

Delux DLC-MS126

The Delux didn’t please us after the previous model. It is not because of the 3.5-inch hard disk drive which was louder than its smaller cousin, especially when seeking for data actively. As expected, the main source of noise was the power supply’s fan. It produced the annoying buzz typical of small high-speed fans, making us more and more disappointed with each minute of our test.

HKC 003

The HKC 003 is cooled by a rather large fan, so we had expected it to be rather quiet. Unfortunately, it was not so and we suspect that its fan was of inferior quality. The fan would rattle rather loudly when we turned the system case on. This rattling would subside after a while, but then the temperature inside would grow up, making the fan accelerate to cope with the heat. The fan would get loud then, just about as loud as a cheap 120mm fan rotating at 1200-1400 RPM. It’s sad but this noise spoils our impression from this cute system case.

HKC 007

Next goes the HKC 007. We guess only very sensitive people may realize without some visual clues that a computer assembled in this fan-less system case is really working because it is very hard to hear a 2.5-inch HDD, especially in idle mode. However, we were quite alarmed when we read the temperature data or touched the top vent grid. When the CPU was under serious load, its temperature grew up quickly to 80°C and more. This is not a catastrophe, yet quite a problem and the system case cannot solve this problem on its own.

Following our experimental urge, we tried to organize some kind of cooling in this system case, but that was not easy. The HKC 007 is so small that there is hardly any room in it left for a fan. Finally we found an old cooler for Socket 370 and took a 60mm fan with a height of 13 millimeters from it. We then attached this fan right to the CPU heatsink and put the cover down with some difficulty and performed another round of tests.

HKC 007 + fan

Now that’s a completely different story! The temperatures are excellent. Unfortunately, even the 60mm fan was far from quiet when rotating at a speed of 3000 RPM.

Well, this system case can work in its default mode, too. You should just take a very energy-efficient processor and avoid putting your HKC 007 into a high-temperature environment. If you do so, it will serve you for years and you will be able to warm up your hands on its top panel in cold winters. Otherwise, you may want to find a slim (10mm) and quiet fan to mount on the CPU heatsink.

Thermaltake RSI H SD100

Unfortunately, the small and high-speed fan in the power supply of the Thermaltake system case spoiled the overall picture, too. The 60mm system fan proved to be nearly silent whereas the small beast in the PSU would produce a characteristic and irritating noise with lots of high frequencies.

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