Build, Noise, Heat, and Power Consumption

Given the somewhat exotic nature of Puget Systems's Serenity SPCR Edition tower, it's reasonable to assume that there just aren't any good corners to cut. I'm happy to report that, having examined the system, Puget Systems simply couldn't and didn't.

What makes the build particularly interesting compared to the others is that, as I mentioned in the introduction, this really is a custom build, not just a melange of carefully chosen and assembled parts. Take a look inside and see what I mean.

 

Seeing the additional foam padding on the inside of the side panel when I had to remove the internal packing was a major cue, and the foam has been carefully cut to fit around the internals of the Antec P183 case used for the build. From the photo you can see three major points in Puget Systems's favor: quality case, quality power supply, and additional custom sound dampening. What's harder to see is that Puget Systems removed the Antec Tricool fans from the case and replaced them with silent Scythe 120mm fans. They've also bracketed an additional fan to the top hard drive tray, and they've removed the top exhaust fan and covered the vent with foam. 

Another interesting point is the use of an air cooler instead of a watercooling system on the processor. I've reviewed more desktops with watercoolers than not and they're generally considered among the quietest ways to go, but here Puget Systems opts to use an air cooler—the Gelid Tranquilo—with a silent fan. They also carefully tuned the fan speeds in the ASUS board's UEFI to ensure silent running.

Certainly building the entire system for low noise is going to mean running a little hotter than normal, though, right? Interestingly, that's not the case.

Check out those thermals. The Serenity SPCR Edition keeps everything running remarkably frosty, and that's due in no small part to the attention paid to airflow inside the case. The P183 was already an excellent case with great thermals (we actually have a review unit on hand and we'll be posting a case review in the coming months), but the modified cooling produces airflow moving in effectively a straight line through the tower with minimal turbulence, allowing the fans to run at low speeds without compromising thermal performance. Even the Radeon doesn't crack 80C.

With those temperatures and the system's configuration in mind, these power consumption figures should come as no surprise to you:

We tested power consumption by idling at the desktop, and then running our Left 4 Dead 2 timedemo. In my experience, very few games are capable of pulling as much power from a system as Left 4 Dead 2 can. Something about the Source engine's relatively frugal usage of graphics hardware lets the processor and video power consumption scale well together.

Under load, Puget Systems's Serenity SPCR Edition draws less power than my fairly frugal desktop does at idle. Sandy Bridge has proven to be stunningly power efficient in the testing we've been able to do (we really can't wait to get our hands on more Sandy Bridge-equipped notebooks), and combining that with the already efficient Radeon HD 5750 keeps power consumption low. The next system up on the list—my home tower—draws nearly twice as much power under load. That increase in power draw may be commensurate with the increase in gaming performance, but keep in mind the i5-2500K is able to handle processor-intensive tasks much more efficiently than the i7-930. 

Gaming Performance Conclusion: Custom Job at a Custom Price
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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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