Conclusion: More Reliable Comparisons

The ultimate goal of the revised testing hardware and methods is to prune the excess data that wasn't particularly useful before while substantially improving the reliability of the results produced during the testing process. Our Sandy Bridge testing platform may not be state of the art for too much longer, and NVIDIA is no doubt cooking up a suitable replacement for the GeForce GTX 560 Ti—outside of pricing, we could even argue that GTX 680 is that replacement—but these components should remain representative of the kinds of thermal and acoustic loads end users will be building their desktops off of for some time to come.

As always, we welcome any comments or suggestions on what you'd like to see from our case reviews. Keep in mind that our general goal is to review the cases as they ship from the manufacturer, so replacing all of the case fans with, for example, $20 Sanyo Denki fans isn't our intention—particularly when you're reviewing sub-$100 cases, adding $60 or more in fans is a bit extreme. If a manufacturer wants to market a case as being quiet or silent, then the onus is on them to provide acceptable fans for that goal.

In the meantime, I'm personally looking forward to accumulating fresh data sets using these new methods. With a year of testing from the previous platform, we have a better understanding of some of the weaknesses of our previous testbeds. While our earlier results are still useful in a broad sense, future case reviews (starting with the Corsair Obsidian 550D) should allow for better comparisons in a finer, more granular sense.

Testing Methodology, Revised
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  • irow - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    Why not forget about motherboard/cpu/gpu etc and just put a sound source (speaker) and a heat source (eg light bulbs) inside the middle of a case and measure outside volume and internal/external fan vent temperatures ?? Although you may have to change a few bulbs, you could use that system for years while different components come and go. Reply
  • dac7nco - Thursday, March 29, 2012 - link

    Article: "I've actually moved since I started doing case reviews, and my new apartment is much quieter than the old one, resulting in an ambient noise floor well below 30dB."

    Isn't Anandtech in North Carolina, in an office complex? I have always thought you guys had your own (professional) facilities. I wouldn't bench hardware that could potentially cost a company millions (in lost sales) in a spare bedroom. Enthusiast hardware I understand; overclocking GPUs and CPUs is meant to be at home... but sound testing?

    Daimon
    Reply
  • LeftSide - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Lightbulbs are a bad idea because they transfer heat via radiation. It would heat the metal on the side of the case and not be an accurate representation of computer hardware. Cases are very different placing components and fans in different locations. The only accurate way to test is to use actual hardware. That way you can test and measure hard drive temperature, video card temperature, and cpu temperature separately.
    I'm afraid the speaker idea would not work as well. Having 4 fans in one case and 2 in another would have different sound properties than a speaker in the center of the case.
    Reply
  • mariush - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    It might be a better idea to use a 500-600w gold power supply for the mini-itx systems, perhaps even one semi-passive one (as in one that turns off fan at lower power consumption).

    Gold efficiency power supplies at that wattage are cheap enough these days and lots of people build such small systems to watch tv so they don't want lots of noise.

    At the same time, the reduced air circulation inside (if the power supply won't spin its fan) would introduce some interesting effects and provide some good data about how well the air circulates inside the case and how well the case will work in time (people don't clean their cases often so they can get dusted, blocking vents)
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    "instead of stratifying between ATX and Micro-ATX/Mini-ITX, it makes more sense now to stratify ITX as a separate platform"
    Been waiting for that for a while! My last 2 enclosures were mATX (one cube and the TJ08-E) and both are pretty powerful. There is no difference between mATX and ATX as long as 2 graphics cards or 1 graphics card and 2 other pci(e) cards are used and not more.
    Reply
  • hpzSZo95 - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Almost all builds will include a physical hard drive, not just an SSD. I think it is important to include a 3.5" 7200 RPM hard drive in the test bed as a physical drive: 1) generates heat (small amount), 2) can block airflow (many cases mount these in front of the front intake fans), 3) generate noise, especially vibrations if mounting is insufficient.

    Also, when reviewing a case the ease of assembling the system should be considered. I recently added an SSD to an existing system, which should be fairly simple from an assembly point of view. Unfortunately my 3 year old case has only 3 internal 3.5 bays in a single drive cage, which are occupied by a 3 disk RAID, and no 2.5" drive. It also has 2 3.5 external bays. I had to use an adapter to mount the 2.5 drive in the external bay behind a face plate. This required removing the GPU and memory as the tall heat spreaders blocked the installation.

    My point is that while I doubt adding a single 3.5" drive to any modern case will cause issue, each additional component does increase the risk of complicating the assembly, so typical components should be included.
    Reply
  • shin0bi272 - Monday, April 02, 2012 - link

    I agree. My friend just built a system and he planned on using his old 7200rpm drive but his other friend that he had put it together said the drive was bad... he didnt splurge on an ssd he went out and bought another hard drive. Plus with gaming you wont see any FPS increase with an ssd so the only benefit you'll get is load times. Reply
  • Shinobisan - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    I notice you're using a Corsair Link in the new test bed... Where exactly did you get one?
    I can't find them anywhere for sale (at least online... I'm in the middle of no-where).
    I've asked Corsair themselves a gob of times, and only received abject silence.

    I was really starting to think they were vapor-wear. !

    What is the source? ? ?
    Reply
  • Shinobisan - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Ah... page 2 says you got it directly from Corsair... so... still vapor wear. :( :(
    (shinobisan = pouting)
    Reply
  • Luay - Sunday, April 01, 2012 - link

    Sticking with the small CM 212 Hyper Evo for all case reviews will mislead you and the readers whne it comes to CPU thermals.

    The cooler is great for narrow cases such as the Antec 300, Rosewill Blackhawk and such, but for the wide full towers it is less effective and a much larger cooler is required to suck in cool air from the top, so that might be unfair to the larger cases when you review their CPU thermals.
    Reply

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