Testing Methodology

For testing ATX cases, we use the following standardized testbed in stock and overclocked configurations to get a feel for how well the case handles heat and noise.

Full ATX Test Configuration
CPU Intel Core i7-875K
(95W TDP, tested at stock speed and overclocked to 3.8GHz @ 1.38V)
Motherboard ASUS P7P55D-E Pro
Graphics Card Zotac NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 (244W TDP)
Memory 2x2GB Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer DDR3-1600
Drives Kingston SSDNow V+ 100 64GB SSD
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA 6Gbps
Samsung 5.25" BD-ROM/DVDRW Drive
CPU Cooler Zalman CNPS9900 MAX with Cooler Master ThermalFusion 400
Power Supply SilverStone Strider Gold 750W 80 Plus Gold

A refresher on how we test:

Acoustic testing is standardized on a foot from the front of the case, using the Extech SL10 with an ambient noise floor of ~32dB. For reference, that's what my silent apartment measures with nothing running, testing acoustics in the dead of night (usually between 1am and 3am). A lot of us sit about a foot away from our computers, so this should be a fairly accurate representation of the kind of noise the case generates, and it's close enough to get noise levels that should register above ambient.

Thermal testing is run with the computer having idled at the desktop for fifteen minutes, and again with the computer running both Furmark (where applicable) and Prime95 (less one thread when a GPU is being used) for fifteen minutes. I've found that leaving one thread open in Prime95 allows the processor to heat up enough while making sure Furmark isn't CPU-limited. We're using the thermal diodes included with the hardware to keep everything standardized, and ambient testing temperature is always between 71F and 74F. Processor temperatures reported are the average of the CPU cores.

For more details on how we arrived at this testbed, you can check out our introductory passage in the review for the IN-WIN BUC.

Last but not least, we'd also like to thank the vendors who made our testbed possible:

Thank You!

We have some thanks in order before we press on:

  • Thank you to Crucial for providing us with the Ballistix Smart Tracer memory we used to add memory thermals to our testing.
  • Thank you to Zalman for providing us with the CNPS9900 MAX heatsink and fan unit we used.
  • Thank you to Kingston for providing us with the SSDNow V+ 100 SSD.
  • Thank you to CyberPower for providing us with the Western Digital Caviar Black hard drive, Intel Core i7-875K processor, ASUS P7P55D-E Pro motherboard, and Samsung BD-ROM/DVD+/-RW drive.
  • And thank you to SilverStone for providing us with the power supply.
Assembling the NZXT H2 Noise and Thermal Testing, Stock
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  • SquattingDog - Thursday, May 26, 2011 - link

    I was quite looking forward to seeing how this case faired, as the H1 Hush was decent and quiet overall. The H1 Hush looks like it may have had more intake capabilities, with around half of the front 120mm fan exposed.

    Perhaps this case would be ideal for standard builds, but just not cut out for the job of a high-performance gaming machine, given it's comparatively low airflow characteristics.

    I agree that the asthetics are decent for the price-level, and the dampening foam and internal build quality definitely has an appeal...what a pity NZXT didn't sort out the intake capabilities...
    Reply
  • sometaken - Thursday, May 26, 2011 - link

    I assume anandtech will be testing more cases in the future. I would like to see how the Fractal Design Define R3 stacks up against this NZXT offering and vs. the P183. It is very similar in design and sells at the same price point of the NZXT. However it looks to offer better cooling yet still provide silent operation. Reply
  • EnzoFX - Thursday, May 26, 2011 - link

    SPCR has a great review on the Define R3.

    Regarding the review, a noise floor of 32db is too damn high. I'll take your noise assessment seriously when you get under 16db.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, May 26, 2011 - link

    Under 16dB? Really? That would require a serious investment in testing equipment and facilities, because you're not going to get to that level otherwise. I have a somewhat better SPL meter compared to Dustin, and when my house is completely silent I've gotten measurements as low as 28dB. Even the slightest noise at that level (e.g. a bird chirping outside, a passing car or plane, etc.) will increase the level to 30-32dB.

    Regardless, all of the cases are measuring above 34dB in our tests, so while that might be slightly higher than you could measure with a different test location and better equipment, the scores are relative to each other and show a clear difference. If Dustin gets a case that doesn't register above the noise floor, then there's more to complain about.
    Reply
  • hechacker1 - Thursday, May 26, 2011 - link

    As an owner of the Fractal Design R3, I can say overall it's a nice case, especially for hard drive and cable management.

    It's touted as a silent pc, and indeed, it is much quieter than my former Lian Li case it replaced. However, it's not silent in the truest sense, it's clearly audible over background noise.

    But then I have a gaming rig in it, so I don't expect it be to silent, just quiet, which it does really well.

    I would like Anandtech to tackle the R3, and perhaps their newer Arch series, which looks like an slightly fixed version.

    The only thing the R3 lacks is USB3.0, and more space behind the mobo tray.
    Reply
  • jrs77 - Thursday, May 26, 2011 - link

    If you want to build a silent PC, then there's no better cases around then the Define-series from Fractal Designs. They changed the dampening-material from bitumen to something foamy that doesn't smell anymore a while ago and their internal layout is clean and efficient.
    Having only two 5.1/4" bays in the R3 and Mini is very welcome in that regard.
    Reply
  • doctormonroe - Thursday, May 26, 2011 - link

    Hopefully this site will test this power supply and release a review of it in the not too distant future. Reply
  • kasseren - Thursday, May 26, 2011 - link

    To me it looks like you'd be better of buying the Fractal Design Define R3 or if you want silence and design more the new Cooler Master Silencio 550 that both seem to be in the same price range. Reply
  • jasonnovak - Thursday, May 26, 2011 - link

    I have this case and really like it. The last page of the SPCR review shows how to widen the slot on the bottom of the door for more air intake, though they didn't retest it. I haven't had any overheating issues on mild overclock i5-2500k but I think I may break out the dremel and give it a try Reply
  • DLeRium - Thursday, May 26, 2011 - link

    If you're going to review a case every 2 years, then how do you compare data?

    How about comparing this to a P182 or P183 or a R3?
    Reply

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