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 the Silent mode (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:
- 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”).
The noise level is evaluated subjectively.