Gaming Performance

It's not going to surprise anyone to see the Puget Serenity take last place in all of these tests; the second-slowest gaming system we've reviewed sports a Radeon with more than twice the number of stream processors, more than twice the memory bandwidth, and higher clocks to boot. That said, many of the really high scores we've seen are largely academic: can anyone really tell the difference between 100 frames per second and 150? Without getting into the ridiculous argument of whether or not the human eye can see more than 30 frames per second (if it's not supposed to be able to, I'm pretty sure most of the video geeks in the readership—myself included—are superhumans), that framerate should still be your baseline for acceptable performance.

Outside of the stunningly CPU-limited StarCraft II, Puget Systems's Serenity is able to at least beat the 30fps mark by a fairly healthy margin. I like to see framerates in at least the forties to ensure smooth gameplay, but any of these games are perfectly playable at our "High" preset, which is basically running them at maximum or near-maximum (as in the case of Call of Pripyat) settings, 1080p, and no anti-aliasing (excepting Left 4 Dead 2). Knowing that we're a little bit close to our ceiling, let's see what happens when we do kick anti-aliasing in with our "Ultra" preset.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is pushing its luck and Call of Pripyat is fairly punishing even on our other systems, but for the most part these games (outside of Call of Pripyat) remain playable and fluid. Shifting the bottleneck back to the video card in StarCraft II sends the Serenity tumbling back to the bottom of the heap, but even then it's still very playable. Gamers looking for extra frames may want to disable anti-aliasing in that title anyhow, as the image quality difference is negligible when the performance impact is taken into account. Suffice it to say these settings are basically the threshold for the Radeon HD 5750, and while performance is good, the 6850 is going to be a welcome upgrade.

Application and Futuremark Performance Build, Noise, Heat, and Power Consumption


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  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    It's not a 5db decrease. Trust me when I say that even in the dead of night, in utter silence, you still won't hear so much as a low hum from this computer. Laptops don't get this quiet unless they're asleep.

    The only way you'd know the Serenity was on would be the power light.
  • mgl888 - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    Yes I kind of exaggerated there:P

    I wonder how much difference the foam makes in dampening the noise. I might grab some from Ebay and give it a try.
  • Trefugl - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    Foam goes quite a long way damping the airborne noise and since they chose a good (quiet) HDD they don't have to worry about structure borne noise (vibration).

    You really should tailor the solution to the particular problem. My personal PC was having issues with structure borne noise a few years back (due to my RAID array), so I added some vibration damping PVA sheeting to the side panels. I probably should also add some foam (to stop the sound of my SLI setup during gaming) but i just haven't gotten around to it now that my system is acceptable.
  • vol7ron - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    Agreed, solution should fit the problem.

    Really, when in doubt dish it out. It's easier to cater to all the noise possibilities early, rather than install everything and find out something is rattling behind the board later on. Be careful when getting a 120mm, you want to pay attention to two numbers: the db and the cfm. The decibels (db) is directly related to sound, but the cubic feet per minute (cfm) is how much air can be pushed through. If you have a fan with a high cfm, it's more likely that you can run it at a lower setting, thus reducing the actual db used.

    Also, realize that the foam/filters might decrease airflow. It's sort of like how you put more ventilation behind drywall to help sound-proof noise between rooms in a house. It does reduce sound, but it also helps close off the thermo system. That means your case might build up more heat, increasing work on the fans, increasing the sounds generated -- just something to keep in mind when making sure you have good airflow set up.
  • oynaz - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    Sounds like a nice system for use in a studio. Reply
  • mgl888 - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    Pun intended? Reply
  • wolfman3k5 - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    So because Puget is not willing to just give their work away, and instead they charge money for real warranty, support, and excellent service they won't get an award? Wow! Ever heard of you get what you've paid for? In all my dealings with Puget I've been extremely satisfied. I've seen now other companies that offer 3 ~ 4 years warranty, but will rarely honor it. So what good is it then?! Dustin, grow some man hair and some common sense and write more acceptable conclusions. And Puget: stop wasting your time and money with web sites like this. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    Nobody asked them to give their work away, and actually I've been very briefly back and forth with Jon over there about the review. He disagreed with me on the pricetag and to an extent he's right, but there's still some real markup there that makes Puget Systems a tough sell compared to other boutiques.

    The flipside is that, as I mentioned, most other boutiques frankly just aren't producing systems as nice as this one and I think you could definitely make a case for spending up a bit and going with them. If you're willing to spend up you'll likely get a better shopping experience with them and frankly they don't seem to cut any corners on their builds, using top notch parts from day one.

    Jon also argued that the one year warranty is to avoid being disingenuous: parts can go EOL and it may be difficult to even service that warranty under those circumstances. I don't disagree with him.

    Unfortunately, a lot of consumers are only going to look at the bottom line: Puget's computers are more expensive and they only allow list a one year warranty on parts when everyone else has standardized on at least advertising three.
  • Trefugl - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    I'm somewhere between both sides on this.

    Dustin, I think it was unfair to simply list the Newegg price without pulling a comparable list price from another boutique. Yes, we as the Tech crowd could just throw something together from Newegg (tho it might be louder), but with a boutique there is always some markup to cover labor and overhead, and at least (as you said) they don't charge a lot extra to upgrade components.

    Now, a roughly $1k markup is pretty high, but you're getting excellent components and a ridiculously quiet system. While the price is too high for my personal tastes, I'm not really the targeted customer - I really would never buy a mid to high end desktop from anyone, as I can always make it cheaper myself and have the knowledge and abilities to customize the case/design to suit my needs.
  • NCM - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    Dustin Writes: "Nobody asked them to give their work away."

    Hey, they get to set their price— and the market decides whether it sells or not. The AT readership is likely to have a disproportionate number of people who would assemble their own systems, but out in the real world many more buyers want complete solutions. We've certainly paid good money for well engineered low noise devices.

    (Me, I'm still trying to get over noting in the comparo that someone sells a box called the DigitalStorm BlackOps. Are these named by 12-year-old boys or for 12-year-old boys...or both?)

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