Introducing the Puget Systems Serenity SPCR Edition

This is our second review unit from the Washington-based Puget Systems (our first was several years ago when they were first starting out), and it's a doozy. While the P67/H67 chipset recall has proven to be a boot to the collective breadbasket of the industry, we were fortunate enough to get the Serenity SPCR Edition in before the recall hit, and Puget was kind enough to let us review it anyhow. That seems reasonable, since the SATA bug in the chipset isn't liable to affect any of our test results outside of PCMark, leaving us with an opportunity to show you a remarkable system that you'll be able to get your hands on in the near future.

Puget Systems' has also issued a post discussing how they'll handle systems with the SNB chipset bug. The short summary is that they'll let you continue to use your system and send it in for a replacement motherboard when those become available, or they'll ship you a PCIe SATA controller to use in place of the affected SATA ports. It's a nice change of pace from the motherboard side of things, as Puget Systems will let you use your new system now, and get the problem fixed in the next few months with a minimum of hassle. With that out of the way, let's look at the system we received for review.

Puget Systems' Serenity line of computers are designed to maximize silent operation, with the SPCR Edition being the quietest system in their lineup. This tower is designed in cooperation with Silent PC Review and independently certified by them to run at a staggeringly low 11db; the regular Serenity models have a noise ceiling of 20db, which is still impressively quiet. If you're wondering whether the Serenity SPCR lives up to that claim, we can't tell you: the unit is inaudible unless you put your ear against the side (even under heavy load), and operates below the noise floor of my apartment at any hour. Simply put, we're not equipped to measure the noise level of something this quiet. So how is our review unit outfitted?

Puget Systems Serenity SPCR Edition Specifications
Chassis Antec P183 (Customized)
Processor Intel Core i5-2500K @ 3.3GHz
(spec: 4x3.3GHz, 32nm, 6MB L3, 95W)
Motherboard ASUS P8P67 Pro Motherboard with P67 chipset
Memory 2x4GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1333 @ 1333MHz (expandable to 16GB)
Graphics PowerColor Radeon HD 5750 1024MB GDDR5 with Passive Cooler
(720 Stream Processors, 700MHz Core, 4.6GHz RAM, 128-bit memory bus)
Hard Drive(s) Intel X25-M 34nm Gen 2 120GB SSD
Western Digital Caviar Green 1.5TB
Optical Drive(s) ASUS DVD+/-RW Combo Drive
Networking Intel Gigabit Ethernet
Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
Audio Realtek ALC892 HD Audio
Speaker, mic, line-in, and surround jacks for 7.1 sound
Digital and optical out
Front Side Optical Drive
2x USB 2.0
eSATA
Headphone and mic jacks
Top -
Back Side 2x PS/2
Digital and optical out
2x eSATA
6x USB 2.0
6-pin FireWire
Ethernet
2x USB 3.0
Speaker, mic, line-in, and surround jacks for 7.1 sound
Operating System Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Dimensions 19.9" x 20.25" x 8.1" (WxDxH)
Weight 31 lbs (case only)
Extras Antec CP-850 850W Power Supply
Gelid Tranquilo CPU Cooler
Scythe Silent Fans
Silent Case Modification
Warranty 1-year limited warranty and lifetime phone support
Pricing SPCR Edition starts at $1,550
Review system quoted at $2,149

For most of this review we were able to handpick and outfit the tower with the components of our choice; as a result the Intel Core i5-2500K we chose didn't ship overclocked and Puget Systems doesn't offer overclocking on this model (though you can still do it yourself). By now you already know that Sandy Bridge processors are the fastest clock-for-clock on the market, and also among the most efficient (which our thermal and power consumption testing will bear out).

If you're a little bit underwhelmed by the Radeon HD 5750 in our review unit, don't be. This 5750 is arguably the fastest passively-cooled card on the market (only the Sparkle GTS 450 really competes), and is included in this build for what should be obvious reasons. Our rep did tell us that a passively-cooled Radeon HD 6850 is in the works right now; when that becomes available expect it to be offered with the Serenity SPCR Edition. That said, just because it's fanless doesn't mean it's slower: this 5750 runs at spec.

As for the parts we didn't choose, most of them make sense, though the lack of a card reader is disappointing when most of the review units we've seen include one as a matter of course. An SSD is a shoo-in with no moving parts to produce noise—though you could argue for using a SandForce-based drive instead of the Intel one—and the inclusion of the Western Digital Caviar Green sacrifices some performance in the name of silent running. A basic DVD+/-RW combo drive instead of a Blu-ray drive was disappointing, but the upgrades are at least available for a reasonable price. Puget Systems claims on their website to test individual components and cherry pick them and I can believe it. And finally, a brief thumbs up for including 8GB of DDR3 instead of 4GB in the review unit. This really should be standard and it's perplexing why so many of our review towers don't ship with 8GB at this point.

Finally, wrapping everything up is the Antec P183 enclosure. The P183 is often regarded as among the quietest cases available, but as you'll see Puget Systems takes it a few steps further in the name of silent operation. If I could really complain about anything, the Antec CP-850 power supply seems like gross overkill for a machine with specs this modest. You'll see in our power consumption testing that it's not really an issue, though.

Application and Futuremark Performance
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  • pcfxer - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    RTA analysis + anechoic chamber time = engineering.

    They hand picked the fans, coolers, etc. to work together based on what they believed to be appropriate compromises.

    Let's take your simpleton description to another analogy.

    "Engineering? They took some bolts, some plastic, motor oil, a few sensors to fit inside a mustang body! Damn them and their highly efficient 5.0L with more horsepower than a base Corvette!"

    Like I said, some of you just don't get what Engineering is.
    Reply
  • FunBunny2 - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    Don't be so quick to jump on that bandwagon. OCZ has been getting a lot of heat over its Vertex 2 parts built with 25nm NAND. A topic you should pursue, by the way. Reply
  • bigbob123456 - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    Speaking from experience, I can tell you that's the most half-assed foam installation. First that's a cheap medium density foam. Quality would mean using 1/4" neoprene, which costs 3x as much as what they used. Second, they're making a mistake in cutting slots in the foam for the structure of the case...it's FOAM it'll compress to compensate. Third, they could have used 3x as much foam as they did. I see lots of exposed metal at the back of the case, around the motherboard, on the drive cage, etc.

    I recently bought some foam and did my own installation, and every square inch you cover beyond just the front / sides does make an audible difference. In a lot of places I even doubled up on the foam.
    Reply
  • HangFire - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    "I recently bought some foam and did my own installation, and every square inch you cover beyond just the front / sides does make an audible difference."

    Wow, impressive. So how much lower than 11db did you get? And how is it you could actually hear the difference below 11db? Are you an Owl?

    Or maybe... once PS got to 11db... they knew they could stop right there?
    Reply
  • bigbob123456 - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    Obviously I did my own installation in a normal game box, subjectively cutting the noise level in half. The point is it speaks to the level of overpricing on this machine given the quality (lack of) they put into it. For example, if they would have done some better foaming they probably could have thrown in a 6870 or something instead of a useless 5750 and had the same results. Duh. Reply
  • HangFire - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    Puget Sound does make gaming systems. Anandtech didn't review of them them. D'oh. Reply
  • MeanBruce - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    I guess you can purchase a PC like this one and let someone else decide and define a silent PC for you. But for $2200 you can build a much quieter and much higher performing and much better looking PC than this Puget. Corsair AX850 is a much better psu than this Antec, Noctua NH-D14 is a much better CPU cooler than the Gelid, and the Asus 6870 direct cu is a much better video choice than the 5770. Do some research put some time into it learn a great deal and pay yourself in better components instead of paying Pugit for assembly costs!

    Wrap all these great parts in a Corsair Obsidian 650D enclosure and run the 6870 fan on auto. It's 10decibels of hardware heaven! Enclose your hardware not your mind!
    Reply
  • PartEleven - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    I think you have no idea how quiet 10 db really is. The system you described is no where near 10 db. Reply
  • kevith - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    You're absolutely right: 10 dB is VERY little sound. Reply
  • MeanBruce - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    Oh I know 10db and 8db and 6db. Read my earlier comments on each component, this article. Maybe you are not up on the latest heatsinks by Asus they are huge allowing fans to run at idle 15 percent and stay in the 30s. I know the fan can also produce 30db but I am talking idle and working in Office apps, not gonna argue but the AX850 is dead silent fan does not move under 25percent load and the Noctua NH-D14 I run with no fans passive! Don't assume until you really know! Reply

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