Noise and Thermal Testing, IGP

Ordinarily I have a pretty clear idea of what I expect from an enclosure, but with the Thermaltake Armor A30 I honestly had no idea how I expected it to perform. The trio of small fans (two 60mm and one 90mm) without any kind of fan control led me to believe this case would actually be incredibly loud, but I wasn't sure if airflow was going to work out since the arrangement of fans felt strangely haphazard. As it turns out, for all of their foibles in assembly, Thermaltake definitely got the cooling right.

The A30 was tested with an ambient temperature of about 24C.

CPU Temperatures

SSD Temperatures

The A30's thermals are basically competitive with the best of the other cases at our relatively unstressful stock settings. The CPU temperatures are actually pretty impressive; I was expecting the heatsink's fan to be competing with the intake fan on the PSU for air, but that turned out not to be the case.

CPU Fan Speed

Fan speed on the CPU's heatsink was also very competitive, with only BitFenix's Prodigy besting it and not by a particularly significant amount.

Noise Levels

Honestly this is what impressed me about the A30. Despite having three tiny fans, the A30 is able to run with impressively low noise levels. The A30 is a hair over the noise floor of the sound meter under load, and certainly tolerable.

Testing Methodology Noise and Thermal Testing, Dedicated GPUs
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  • Dadofamunky - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    I tried a couple of microATX build with cases to match and finally gave up. It's always been too complicated and too high-maintenance for long-term use. In my experience with SFF (which ended some three years ago) the motherboards also tend to require too many compromises, including indifferently updated BIOSes, limited overclocking options compared to normal ATX boards and fewer SATA and USB ports. For me, though, the biggest headache always proved to be working with the cases and the hardware. Reply
  • Icehawk - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    Maybe a few years ago? I built a mATX machine for the first time last month with an i7 and GTX670 using the (much larger but clearly MUCH nicer) Fractal Design Mini Define and while the mobo doesn't have a ton of options as you said, it has enough to run a simple O/C and XMP which is all I need. Reply
  • Zap - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    You're doing it wrong. :P Well, it is easier these days too.

    First thing is to choose the right motherboard. They are available, and have as many SATA/USB ports as full ATX boards and can overclock as well as an ATX board of similar price point.

    Second thing is to use a micro ATX mini tower, and NOT a "cube" style case. The computer still ends up a lot smaller than an ATX tower, and are just as easy to build.
    Reply
  • Fuzz1111 - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    While I'm interested cases of this style, I can't say I would recommend the sff cases that require the use of half-height cards, or any that don't allow alternative power supplies.

    Until recently my media centre was a build that used an Antec Minuet 350, an intel E2200 and cheap gigabyte board (had an intel chipset though). The board and cpu were fine, and with a zalman 8700 I even got a decent overclock. Unfortunately half-height turned out to be more limiting than I'd have thought - vidcard choices were rubbish (still aren't great), and I had to make my own half-height bracket for my TV tuner.

    The worst problem by far was the power supply - it was a complete piece of crap and it got worse over time (in the end I was running without tuner card, and with DVD drive disconnected).
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    Can't say that I agree. Unless one specifically needs more than 2 GPUs, mATX is plenty enough. I've had my Gigabyte mATX P55 mainboard with an overclocked i7 860 since a month after the i7 came about (roughly). At first I had it in a cube case from Lian Li (V351B) with an HD5770. I had an optical drive, a 3.5" drive and a 2.5" SSD for my system in there. Had I wanted, I could have fitted more drives, the mainboard certainly provided all I needed. While it was a bit hard to assemble and maintain, it was pretty small, light, powerful and quiet. It also did not cost any more than a regular ATX with similar quality components. Last Christmas I decided to get the Silverstone TJ08-E because I wanted to get water cooling. That is also a mATX enclosure, much smaller than most ATX ones of that performance. The CPU now runs at 3.8GHz (up from 3.3 in the cube), my mainboard is still fully functional and has all the connections and abilities one can expect from a ~130€ board of the time.
    Unless you are doing LN2 OC'ing, it is stimply not true that ATX offers greater performance than mATX. Most often, they don't even offer more ports or better quality.
    Reply
  • just4U - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    I have to agree with other's on this.. Nothing wrong with Matx setups.. and you don't have real compromises with the MB either. Look at Asus's Gene line, Or Gigabytes M3. Reply
  • NA1NSXR - Friday, September 28, 2012 - link

    My X58M was offered new BIOSes periodically to support the entire lifespan of 1366. It was also capable of overclocking as well as any full ATX board in its price range, well encompassing any OC on air cooling anyone would be doing. Fewer SATA ports are moot, as my mobo had way more ports than pretty much any matx enclosure could support anyway, and I had 8 USB ports. So I don't know what you are talking about. It sounds like you just did not do the planning, which is the funnest part anyway. There is no reason to use full atx on air cooled, single GPU computers anymore, unless the extra PCIe slots are absolutely needed.

    Quite frankly when I see a massive "gamer tower" these days I just roll my eyes.
    Reply
  • Operandi - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    Looks like a fairly decent case aside from the 60mm fans but holy crap does it eve stop with the taken to “11” overly designed boxes that constantly try to convey the image of just about anything but a PC case?

    That and the price is a joke when I can get a Lian LI PC-Q08B for the same price.
    Reply
  • Lucian2244 - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    I second that, it looks like a travel bag !
    And if it was hard for you to assemble it, i can't imagine how it would be for me as I only assembled ATX cases so far.
    Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Monday, September 24, 2012 - link

    Yeah, that's way to busy for a SFF case. Angles here, windows there, extra vents, raised lines, additional bevels and a pop-up roof. To be fair, it looks like they took a full ATX design(that probably looked fine) and scaled it down until everything got jammed together. Reply

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