Gaming Performance

It's not going to surprise anyone to see the Puget Serenity take last place in all of these tests; the second-slowest gaming system we've reviewed sports a Radeon with more than twice the number of stream processors, more than twice the memory bandwidth, and higher clocks to boot. That said, many of the really high scores we've seen are largely academic: can anyone really tell the difference between 100 frames per second and 150? Without getting into the ridiculous argument of whether or not the human eye can see more than 30 frames per second (if it's not supposed to be able to, I'm pretty sure most of the video geeks in the readership—myself included—are superhumans), that framerate should still be your baseline for acceptable performance.

Outside of the stunningly CPU-limited StarCraft II, Puget Systems's Serenity is able to at least beat the 30fps mark by a fairly healthy margin. I like to see framerates in at least the forties to ensure smooth gameplay, but any of these games are perfectly playable at our "High" preset, which is basically running them at maximum or near-maximum (as in the case of Call of Pripyat) settings, 1080p, and no anti-aliasing (excepting Left 4 Dead 2). Knowing that we're a little bit close to our ceiling, let's see what happens when we do kick anti-aliasing in with our "Ultra" preset.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is pushing its luck and Call of Pripyat is fairly punishing even on our other systems, but for the most part these games (outside of Call of Pripyat) remain playable and fluid. Shifting the bottleneck back to the video card in StarCraft II sends the Serenity tumbling back to the bottom of the heap, but even then it's still very playable. Gamers looking for extra frames may want to disable anti-aliasing in that title anyhow, as the image quality difference is negligible when the performance impact is taken into account. Suffice it to say these settings are basically the threshold for the Radeon HD 5750, and while performance is good, the 6850 is going to be a welcome upgrade.

Application and Futuremark Performance Build, Noise, Heat, and Power Consumption
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  • MattM_Super - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    I would love an article that focused on building a quiet powerful gaming rig. Some info about DIY sound insulation and how it affects noise and thermals in the case would be great. A guide to building a quiet water cooling system would also be nice. In all the reviews I have read, box kit water coolers end up being louder than high end air coolers. Reply
  • KayDat - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    You could check out SPCR (silentpcreview.com), the guys who Puget worked with to build this system. They've been around for ages, lots of info there. The founder, Mike Chin actually took part in the design of the original Antec P180, (arguably) kick starting the whole silent/quiet computing in the commercial market. Reply
  • piroroadkill - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    I doubt water cooling is the way to get the absolute quietest type of system.

    You're always having to run a pump, and no matter how you hide it away, it's still essentially quite a large and powerful rotational mass compared to a fan.

    I bet this system is quieter than anything you could build with water cooling.
    Reply
  • PartEleven - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    Air cooling is the absolute quietest solution. Water cooling has the benefit of a lower sound-to-cooling power ratio as you scale up, but if you're talking about the absolute lowest noise possible, air cooling wins. It's why Puget went with air cooling in this system. Piroroadkill was right: with water cooling there's always going to be a pump. While they may be quiet, I've never encountered one as quiet as properly tuned fans. Reply
  • Martin Schou - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    "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 what happened to Gigabyte's Radeon HD 5770 Silent Cell, that made it slower than a 5750? I was going to use it in my own HTPC/mid range gaming PC, but it's a bit on the large side and wouldn't fit in my case (height wise)
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    I couldn't find it for purchase. NewEgg only lists the Powercolor 5750 and Sparkle GTS 450. In fact a visit just now to Google Shopping reveals exactly one vendor selling the Silent Cell 5770, across the pond. Reply
  • ganjha - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    Gigabyte's Radeon HD 5770 Silent cell has reached EOL I've been told by distributors in my country. It's a shame since I used it in quite a few silent builds, and the cards meant to replace it all use the Windforce 2X/3X cooling. Reply
  • Martin Schou - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    Ahh. That explains it. I bought mine in Sweden in late January (2011), and it didn't seem like an issue, but that could just be left over stock; however when I just checked there are about 30 stores that claims to have them in stock.

    Rather odd though - usually we're the ones being left out, not the US.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    For something that's EOL stores listing it as being in stock might not mean anything. I tried getting a case a few years ago after the non-window version went EOL. About a dozen vendors claimed to have it in stock, but after a few days refunded my money saying their distributer couldn't find it (one took about 3 weeks and a dispute filed with my CC company); about a month after that only half of them removed the case from their list of available parts. Reply
  • Taft12 - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    Many vendors (most in fact) will just copy and paste their distributors lists onto their website and wait for the orders to roll in. They spend little effort maintaining their site when distributors run out of stock. It is par for the course in this business and unless you can confirm ACTUAL stock from one or more other vendors, don't bother placing the order. Call them first at least! Reply

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