Serenity Mini, SPCR Edition by Puget Computers

SPCR Certified Silent PCs | Complete|Mobile Systems
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Serenity Mini, SPCR Edition
Starts at $1075
As tested, $2299

The SPCR Edition v.3 of the Puget Serenity was not only the quietest fan-equipped PC we've ever tested but with an Intel 2600K Sandy Bridge under the hood, also the most capable. After that accomplishment at the beginning of the year, could Puget Computers make any more splashes in 2011? Well, they're trying, and it would appear they have succeeded.

The latest PC model from Puget to receive SPCR certification is the Serenity Mini. As you can guess from its name, the new model is the Serenity in a smaller package. Jon Bach, the president of Puget Systems, expressed the hope of breaking the 10 [email protected] mark with the Serenity Mini. Keep in mind that SPCR certification does not require a computer to be totally silent; as long as it is quiet and unobtrusive, what matters most is that the company building them maintains acoustic consistency from sample to sample, to assure that all buyers get the same result as the SPCR tested sample. In any case, our anechoic chamber ambient level is 10~11 dBA, and as a result, if a PC achieves less than 10 dBA, we cannot verify it. Mr. Bach's comment simply underlies his confidence in the silence of his company's new product.

So how much smaller is the Serenity Mini compared to the Serenity? A Micro-ATX mainboard is used in place of an ATX board. The Mini is housed in an Antec Mini P180 case while the Serenity uses an Antec P183 case. The volume of the cases are 40 liters and 55 liters, so the Mini is about a quarter smaller than the Serenity. The Mini P180 isn't exactly a small case, however. Its 40 liters is about the same size as many conventional mid-tower ATX cases such as the Antec Solo (I or II) and the Coolermaster Sileo 500. Still, the reduction in overall size may be enough to allow the Mini to be placed atop a desk, especially if the bottom mounted optical drive is going to get much use. In contrast, a P183 case is too tall and deep for convenience on any desktop.

Puget Serenity Mini SPCR Edition atop the table in the anechoic chamber, next to mouse for scale. Animated GIF shows door closed & open.

The table below shows the differences and commonalities between the new Serenity Mini and the Serenity i7, SPCR Edition v.3 . The light blue boxes indicate components common to both.

Puget Computers PCs, SPCR Editions
Serenity Mini
Serenity v.3
Asus Maximus IV Gene-Z
Asus P8P67 Pro
Intel Core i5 2500K 3.3GHz OC'd to at least 4.0GHz
Intel Core i7 2600K Quad-core 3.4GHz 95W (Sandy Bridge, socket 1155)
2 x Kingston Value DDR3-1333 4gb
2 x Kingston Value DDR3-1333 4gb
Video Card
PowerColor Radeon HD6750 1gb Silent Go! Green
PowerColor Radeon HD5750 1gb Silent
Hard Drive
Intel 510 120GB SATA 6Gb/s Solid State Drive
Intel X25-M 34nm Gen2 120gb Solid State Drive
Hard Drive
WD Caviar Green 2.0 tb
WD Caviar Green 2.0 tb
Optical Drive
Pioneer BDR-206 12x Bluray burner
Lite-On 8x Blu-ray Player
Antec Mini P180
Antec P183
Seasonic X-560 Antec CP-850
CPU Cooler
Gelid Tranquilo w/ Scythe SlipStream 120 fan
Gelid Tranquilo w/ Scythe SlipStream 120 fan
Quiet Fans Upgrade (Scythe SlipStreams)
Quiet Fans Upgrade (Scythe SlipStreams)
Case Mods
*ATech PRO-35U USB 2.0 Multi-Card Reader
*AcoustiPack Acoustic *Composite Sheets
*AcoustiPack Acoustic *Composite Sheets
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Lifetime Labor, 1 year parts
Lifetime Labor, 1 year parts
Cherry picking of quietest components.
Cherry picking of quietest components.
Starts at $1075
As tested, Oct 2011: $2299

The range of quieting features added to both models are now described as the Serenity Quiet Modification package. These include the Scythe fans, Scythe Quiet Drive for the hard drive, AcoustiPack case panel treatment, and the fine adjustments to ensure the whole system runs as quietly as possible while still cooled even at high loads.

Here are some notes from Puget about the Serenity Mini:

  • The Intel Core i5 2500K CPU in the system is preset to an overclocked speed of 4.0 GHz. This a relatively modest OC, but the combination of overclocking and super low noise is unusual.

  • All chassis fans are Scythe Slipstream 800rpm, at 5V. We're very happy with the temperatures, and we are confident that we're not going to find much quieter than this! Temperature logs are provided in the packet with the PC.

  • The CPU fan is a Scythe Slipstream PWM. Iinstead of relying on the default "Silent" QFAN profile, we have custom tuned the fan ramping curve to provide the lowest noise levels while maintaining good temperatures. We also tuned it to prevent cyclic patterns of the fan ramping up and down. We keep it nice and smooth, and in fact, our full load speed is only 30% higher than our idle speed. We have this VERY well dialed in.

  • For the SPCR edition, we "cherry pick" components from our shelf that are the quietest. We've found that even with the same model of component, there are variations in noise level. Hard drive spindle noise, power supply fan noise, motherboard electrical noise (we're so quiet now that that's one of the loudest items!)... we set aside the quietest components for SPCR packages. We're branding this "Picked by ear." (Editor's note: This is a unique and valuable service given the sample variance among components we often encounter!)

  • We've done some minor power management tuning in Windows 7. None of it is necessary to ensure quiet operation or good temperatures. We wanted to make sure customers get the same experience even if they reinstall the OS. Mainly, we're just decreasing the inactivity time before the secondary drive spins down.

  • A fanless version of the Radeon HD6770 from Asus is now available, and if it qualifies in this system build with no increase to fan speeds, the new card will be offered as an option.

  • The top fan bay is blocked off by a laser-cut black acrylic plate, then acoustipak. It helps reduce sound a little more, and looks a lot nicer.

Mini Serenity PC page at Puget Custom Computers
The SPCR-certified Silent PC Program
Serenity i7 PC, v.2

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