Zotac ZBOX HD-ND22: A CULV Nettop at last!

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TEST RESULTS CONTINUED

Fan Control

There are both static and dynamic fan speed settings available in the BIOS. If SmartFan Control is disabled, there are 5 different single speed settings: Quiet, 50%, Medium, 75%, and Full On. If SmartFan Control is enabled, the minimum/maximum temperature and duty cycles can be set manually. SmartFan control turned out to have too little hysteresis, continually ramping up and down in fan speed in small increments. Most of the time this resulted in less noise than any of the single speed settings, but the constant up-down changes in noise was incredibly annoying.

The minimum duty cycle can be set to 0~100, while the maximum goes from 101 to 240. To stop the fan from constantly changing speed, these two numbers have to be close together, like 100 and 105 for example. However, with such settings, we found the system ran too hot. A static setting is far preferable.


Dynamic fan speed options.


Static fan speed options.

Acoustics

Acoustics
Fan Control Setting
Fan Speed
System Noise
@1m
@0.6m (VESA)
@0.6m
SmartFan duty cycle: 0
0 RPM
13 dBA
15~16 dBA
16~17 dBA
Quiet
3240 RPM
20 dBA
24 dBA
24~25 dBA
50%
4020 RPM
24 dBA
29 dBA
30 dBA
Ambient temperature: 22°C.

With the fan completely off, the hard drive became the only moving part, and it produced a very low 13 dBA@1m. The vibration of the bare drive was transmitted directly into the chassis/casing.

The Quiet setting produced a 20 dBA@1m result, and though that is a bit high for a mini-PC that will be used next to the monitor atop a desk, the quality of the noise wasn't too bad. At one meter it sounded very much like soft, whooshy, static-like white noise. At 0.6m, it had some tonal elements but nothing sharp enough to really bother us. At the 50% setting, the fan sounded like a well-contained miniature hair dryer.

Surprisingly, mounting the ZBOX behind a monitor did little to reduce the measurable sound pressure level, but it was a big improvement subjectively, softening the higher frequencies considerably.


With the fan set to the "Quiet" setting, some tonality was evident at ~500 Hz and at various points within the 1~3 KHz range.


Mounting the ZBOX behind a monitor muffles much of the noise above ~1.5 KHz.

Thermals

Thermals
Test State
Temperatures
Avg. CPU
GPU
HDD
Idle
49°C
53°C
45°C
x264 Playback
59°C
59°C
48°C
CPU Load
81°C
66°C
57°C
CPU + GPU Load
99°C
89°C
63°C
Ambient temperature: 22°C
Fan control setting: Quiet

While we found the Quiet fan setting in the BIOS to be acceptable, it didn't quite cut it when we place the system on full load. With Prime95 running, the CPU temperature surpassed 80°C and, the GPU temperature climbed into the mid-60's. When FurMark was added to the mix, the CPU and GPU approached 100°C and 90°C respectively and the hard drive passed 60°C. This torture test is a worst case scenario, but we still don't recommend working it too hard if you wish to keep the system both reasonably cool and quiet.



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