Serenity i7 Sandy Bridge PC, SPCR Edition, by Puget Computers

SPCR Certified Silent PCs | Complete|Mobile Systems
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ACOUSTIC & THERMAL CHARACTERISTICS

This is the core of the SPCR certification for a PC. Many tools were used to analyze the system:

The basic approach is to assess the noise, thermal and power characteristics at idle, and then at full CPU and GPU loads. The testing was conducted entirely in the SPCR anechoic chamber, with the door open to ensure adequate room ventilation when noise measurements or recordings were not being performed. Measurements under load were recorded 60 minutes after the tests were started. This is an artificially long time for both CPU and GPU to be at full 100% load; it would hardly ever happen in actual use with real applications.

Test Results: Puget Serenity Sandy Bridge, SPCR Edition
Criteria
idle
1080p play
Prime95
Prime95+
Furmark
AC power
68W
80~86W
152~155W
210~215W
CPU
30°C
35~38°C
66°C
69°C
GPU
40°C
42~48°C
45°C
82°C
Mainboard
38°C
38~41°C
55°C
63°C
HDD
32°C
32°C
32°C
33°C
SPL - dBA@1m
11
11
12
12.5
SPL - ISO 7779 Seated User Position (0.6m)
12
12
14
15
Ambient conditions: 22°C, 10 dBA - Off/Sleep Mode: 0.3W
Max safe temps - CPU: 80°C, GPU: 100°C, HDD: 55°C

Test Results: Puget Serenity SPCR Edition PC (v.2)
Criteria
idle
1080p play
Prime95
Prime95+
Furmark
AC power
70W
82~87W
191~196W
257~262W
CPU
30°C
35~38°C
68°C
74°C
GPU
40°C
42~48°C
46°C
84°C
Mainboard
38°C
38~41°C
55°C
63°C
HDD
32°C
32°C
32°C
33°C
SPL - dBA@1m
11
11
12
12.8
SPL - ISO 7779 Seated User Position (0.6m)
12
12
14
15
Ambient conditions: 21°C, 10 dBA - Off/Sleep Mode: 3.5W
Max safe temps - CPU: 80°C, GPU: 100°C, HDD: 55°C

Test Results: Puget Serenity SPCR Edition PC (original)
Criteria
idle
1080p play
Prime95
Prime95+
Furmark
AC power
70W
80~86W
173~180W
232~240W
CPU
28°C
35~37°C
55°C
55°C
GPU
33°C
40~42°C
44°C
68°C
Mainboard
30°C
35~37°C
35°C
55°C
HDD
26°C
26°C
26°C
27°C
SPL - dBA@1m
14
18
18
18
SPL - ISO 7779 Seated User Position (0.6m)
16
20
20
20
Ambient conditions: 20°C, 10 dBA - Sleep Mode Power: 3.4W
Max safe temps - CPU: 80°C, GPU: 100°C, HDD: 55°C

1. Noise

The Puget Serenity i7 Sandy Bridge SPCR Edition is just as silent as v.2. The measured sound pressure level of 11 dBA@1m at idle and not quite 13 dBA at full system load is the same as v.2, and it is at the same level as any fanless PC with a single, natively-quiet, super-well muffled hard drive. The v.2 and 3 systems are quieter at full load than the original system was at idle. That's pretty impressive, especially as the original was extremely quiet.

At idle, it is still really hard to tell that the system is on using only sonic cues, even sitting next to it (with the system on the floor as it should be). Compared to any other fan-equipped PC we've encountered or even assembled ourselves, this one is quieter.

The ISO 7779 computer noise standard's defined "Seated User Position" SPL places the microphone about 0.6m away from the top/front of the PC, which explains the 2 dBA higher readings. This is an unrealistically close distance for a PC in a case as large as the Antec P183, which is designed for placement on the floor; few users would put it on top of the desk.


The frequency spectrum of the Serenity i3 Sandy Bridge SPCR Edition shows small rises above the ambient noise floor of the anechoic chamber, mostly below 600Hz. At idle, it is essentially identical to the ambient of the chamber, which is about 10.5 dBA.


The original Serenity showed a bit of a tonal peak at ~90Hz, at the fundamental frequency of the WD Green hard drive, and another around 200Hz. The v.2 and v.3 systems are quieter at full load than the original system was at idle. .

Audio Recordings of this system were not made. There is no point. It is virtually silent in the anechoic chamber and it will be silent in almost any environment.

2. Cooling

The various components stayed well under maximum safe limits through the CPU load testing, but they ran significantly hotter when both CPU and GPU were fully loaded. The maximum speed of the CPU fan dropped from 1030rpm in the previous version to 880rpm in the current configuration. They are different fans, and do not necessarily have the same airflow at the same speed, but it's clear the new fan at 880rpm does not move as much air as the previous one at 1030rpm. In any case, despite higher overall temperatures, the components temperatures remained safely below maximum limits.

Puget expressly states that this PC is designed for quiet operation in an ambient of up to 30°C. This is a fair statement under normal use conditions. Under such conditions, the CPU fan will probably still not rise much beyond 880rpm, as it Puget has custom-set the fan controller in the BIOS.

3. Power

The idle state AC power consumption of 68W is modest for a power ful system and slighly lower than the previous version. The maximum CPU/GPU load power of 215W AC is a big drop from the 263W of the previous version. The similar drop in Prime95 load indicates that the improvement in power consumption can be attributed to the new CPU (and P67 motherboard). Another significant improvement is the 0.3W AC power seen when the system is powered off or in sleep mode. Even a rabid eco-green user will not feel compelled to power down and switch off the power bar.

4. Performance

No conventional performance benchmarks were run on the system. The performance of the Intel i3-2600k is already well documented in the tech press; it is superior in almost every benchmark than the previous v.2's Intel i7-875 CPU. The graphics capability of the ATI HD5750 is also well known. There were no problem of any kind encountered during our testing. Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit provides a mature, smoothly operating environment. The quick boot time of under 35 seconds (from power button press to actual usability at the desktop) remained unchanged.

CONCLUSIONS

The Puget Serenity i7 Sandy Bridge SPCR Edition extends the tradition established by the previous iterations of this PC. It is superbly assembled, provides better performance and draws less power than its predecessors, and remains extremely quiet in our test conditions. In fact, it is hard to imagine any setting where the system's noise would be audible in normal use. The ambient noise floor in any common human habitation is louder by many decibels. The system remains unique in the use of components cherry picked (or binned, to use an well-known industry term) for lowest noise. This unique selection service, the carefully chosen fans, the performance and energy efficiency improvements of Sandy Bridge all combine to make our third Serenity PC test sample not only the quietest fan-equipped PC we've ever tested but the most capable. It bears comparison even with PCs that have no moving parts; some of them will actually have more electronic noise (high pitched, sometimes intermittent whine) than the Serenity. Puget's SPCR-certified Serenity PC is a truly well-crafted high performance computer that remains at the cutting edge of silent computing.

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

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Comment on this article in the SPCR Forums.



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