Shuttle XPC ST61G4: Tiny Computer with Big Integrated Videoby Wesley Fink on January 23, 2004 12:23 PM EST
- Posted in
Shuttle XPC ST61G4: Noise LevelMost people choose the SFF systems for their small size, but they also want the almost contradictory quiet operation that comes with the best of the SFF computers. For that reason, we have been testing noise levels of all SFF systems in our recent reviews. With the new G4 chassis, Shuttle claims that they have reached new levels of quiet. Since Shuttle is famous for their quiet SFF systems, we were particularly interested in how the ST61G4 stacks up in quietness to recent SFF systems that we have reviewed.
Like our other SFF sound level tests, measurements of the Shuttle ST61G4 were taken with the unit on a desk. To be consistent with earlier data, Sound Level was measured on all 4 sides, in the center of the side, 4" from the chassis. Our Sound Level meter can measure as low as 35db, using either A or C weighting with Fast or Slow Dynamic Response. We use A weighting and Fast response because they are most comparable to how we actually experience sound as humans.
As we have done on other SFF tests, the ST61G4 was loaded just as a user would likely set up their SFF system. We installed a 3.0 P4, 1 GB DDR400 memory, a combo CD burner/DVD, and a 120GB Seagate Hard Drive. This is no provision for a floppy drive with the bootable flash reader. Since users will likely use the on-board 9100IGP, we did not use our ATI Radeon 9800 PRO video card in the system for sound level measurements. This is exactly the same setup used in all past SFF Noise Level measurements, except for the missing floppy drive. Since we have not operated the floppy drive during noise measurements, this should have no impact on our measurements.
The ST61G4 certainly matches Shuttle's claims. It is the new champion of quiet. The redesign of the ICE cooling system and the new Silent X power supply clearly work very well in keeping normal operation to very quiet levels. Compared to the earlier Shuttle design, the G4 chassis is 4 to 10db quieter. This means that the new features for quieter operation are working very well indeed. In fairness, once you get to average levels below 50db on the SFF systems we have tested, the system can be considered quiet and the noise will generally fade into background noise.
The otherwise silent ST61G4 does become very noisy when booting, however. We measured noise levels as high as 59db during early boot - until the smart fan controls kick in. This may be important to those who have their computers in bedrooms, since a boot up is pretty noisy. Keep the Shuttle on if you plan to use it while others are sleeping and you will find it as silent as you can get with any current SFF.