Lian Li PC-B25S Mid-tower Aluminum Case

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TEST RESULTS - CONFIG 2 w/ HD 4870

The second test system configuration adds a Radeon HD 4870 video card. This is a card we have used in ATX case reviews in the past. With gaming oriented cases, there has been a third configuration with dual 4870s in CrossFire, but as this case is not really oriented for gamers, we will stop with the single card. The AC power draw of this configuration at load is not low, reaching 330~335W in previous tests. The HD 4870, with its stock cooler, tends to ramp up its fan fairly quickly under load, making it the noisiest component at load in most systems. The challenge to provide enough airflow to the video card so that its fan stays at slower speed — without the case fans making more noise than the video card would. IWith previous cases, the best we've heard is around 25 dBA@1m at full load.


Test system with HD 4870 graphics card.

System Measurements (HD 4870)
System State
Idle
CPU + GPU Load
Fans
Back, Top and 1 Front
All fans* Med
Low
Med
SPL@1m
21 dBA
29 dBA
29 dBA
29 dBA
CPU
30°C
52°C
49°C
48°C
SB
34°C
52°C
50°C
48°C
HDD
30°C
31°C
28°C
28°C
GPU
79°C
88°C
86°C
86°C
GPU Fan
1100 RPM
2060 RPM
1900 RPM
1900 RPM
CPU fan set to 100% speed. Ambient temperature: 23°C. *The two front fans were paired with a Y-splitter and connected to the built-in fan controller. AC system power under load = 330~333W

Adding the HD 4870 graphics card had no appreciable temperature or noise impact on our test system when idle. Of course, AC power did jump. On load, it made a substantial difference all around.

As this graphics card fan is often biggest source of noise in our test system when under load, and the GPU fan responds to air temperature changes, increasing case fan speeds can lower the overall noise. Not in this case. Whether with three fans on low or four fans on medium, the overall noise level stayed consistently at 29 dBA@1m. Component temperatures dropped a bit as fans were sped up or their total number increased, but the balance of noise from the various fan sources somehow remained constant at 29 dBA in this case.


The system measured 29 dBA@1m at full load with all fans at medium. The same basic result was also obtained with three fans on low, due to the increased speed of the VGA cooler fan.

The overall cooling was quite good, but as the comparison table below shows, it was at the cost of more noise than other mid-tower cases we've reviewed with the same system.

COMPARISONS

HD 4870 Configuration Comparison (Load)
Case
Lian Li PC-B25S
Antec 1200*
Fractal Design Define R2
Antec 902
Active Fans
4 fans
low/med
top, rears @low
rear, front & side @12V
rear, front @low
SPL@1m
29 dBA
25~26 dBA
26~27 dBA
27~28 dBA
CPU
47°C
46°C
48°C
49°C
SB
47°C
49°C
45°C
50°C
HDD
27°C
31°C
34°C
31°C
GPU
85°C
85°C
84°C
81°C
GPU Fan
1900 RPM
1760 RPM
1710 RPM
1860 RPM
CPU fan set to 100% speed
All temperature results adjusted to 22°C ambient.
*Antec 1200 tested with Antec CP-850.

Examining the above table carefully gives a pretty good picture of what is happening. In the Lian Li, the hard drive runs at a lower temperature than in any other case, because there is more airflow from the two front fans, running 830/1000 RPM. Those are the main sources of outside air in the case, however, and the side-mount HDD cage blocks much of that airflow (as with so many other sidemount HDD cages) so that less cooler outside air reaches the video card than in the other cases. As a result, the video card fan runs faster to keep the GPU at the same temperature as in the other cases. Once simple way to reduce the noise in the Lian Li (as in the other cases) is to set the HD 4870 fan cooling (easy to do with the latest versions of the Catalyst Control Center) for less aggressive cooling, allowing the card to run a bit hotter at the benefit of lower noise.

In any case, what is clear is that without a side vent (with or without fan) for the GPU, and the airflow-impedance of the side-mount HDD cage, the air in flow to the Lian Li PC-B25S is not quite up to par with the other mid-tower cases it is compared to here. The 29 dBA@1m measured here is not the quietest that the PC-B25S can run with a system of this thermal load. A change to a better aftermarket VGA cooler with quieter fans and more effective cooling could easily bring the noise level down closer to its baseline (close to 20 dBA@1m). However, the same can be said its competition.



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