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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  • capeconsultant - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    to silence! I myself have the quietest computer! Sound pollution sucks! Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    Agreed, drives me nuts. Reply
  • MeanBruce - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    You should try a 10db rig! Normal healthy human breathing is 10db, so sweet! Reply
  • MeanBruce - Friday, February 11, 2011 - link

    This is the 10db fan I have used in my system Noctua NF-P14 it came with the Noctua NH-D14 CPU cooler but is also sold separately. It comes with two inline resistors so you can attenuate it down to 10.1db! Just go to the Noctua website if you want more info, oh and it comes with a 6year warranty, a fan, that's a little better than this Puget system, just a little! ;) Reply
  • mgl888 - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    I tune the crap out of my fans to get the quietest desktop. Fan controllers, rewiring, BIOS mods, software PWM control etc.
    I probably can't reach 11dB with my current case, but it's barely audible at the moment. As the review said, I can't justify spending an extra $1000 for a.. say 5dB decrease in noise.
    Reply
  • medi01 - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    I second that. The price is outrageous.
    To silence my PC in similar setup I've payed:

    140$ for Antec
    4x 120mm coolers => 40$
    Reply
  • medi01 - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    Forgot about CPU and Graphic card coolers, about 60$ total Reply
  • Firebat5 - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    Don't know what the antec comment was about, but I thought I would share that I am really, really happy w/my antec skeleton case. I have all stock coolers... It is darn near silent. The fans on the graphics card and cpu never spin up.... And the big 300mm fan is really, really quiet... Even w/o the steel skin of a regular case it is far, far quieter. Reply
  • Drag0nFire - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    If you can't stomach the price, you can build a similar pc yourself. I can't speak highly enough of the great people at www.silentpcreview.com. Great place to go to help pick out the best parts for your desired balance between performance and silence. Reply
  • capeconsultant - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    So true! SPCR rules all! My Noctua case fans and CPU cooler kicks silent butt. My machine id drop dead silent with hardly any extra expense at all. The Noctua fans were a bit premium and the best $$$ I ever spent. BTW the stock Intel cooler for my i5-650 was a total joke. I laughed at it. Here are 2 links, one with Intel, one with Noctua!

    https://picasaweb.google.com/capedave.bell/SOLOCor...

    https://picasaweb.google.com/capedave.bell/NewHeat...
    Reply

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