HDPLEX H3.SODD Fanless Mini-ITX HTPC Case

Cases|Damping
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TESTING

Normally, installation of a system is part of our case review routine. This part was skipped for the H3 because it was shipped with a system preinstalled. However, it should be routine for anyone with a modicum of screwdriver handling skills to install a PC system into the H3. The layout and overall procedures are so straightforward that it would be easier than with most conventional cases. If you're needing more details about assembly, please chek out our earlier H10 review, and the HDPLEX pages on assembly. The latter shows ways in which different drive combinations can be employed in the H3.SODD case.

Measurement and Analysis Tools

The case was tested for cooling, energy consumption, and noise with the system it was supplied, described on the previous page. System temperatures and noise levels were recorded with SpeedFan and GPU-Z at idle and on load using Prime95 (large FFTs setting) and FurMark, an OpenGL benchmarking and stability testing utility.

Thermal Performance

We tested the system in four different states and recorded the temperatures after they stabilized, and up to about an hour of full continuous load. We noted any internal sensor readings and used an external thermometer to measure the hottest points on external casing.

System Measurements
Temps
Idle
H.264 Playback
CPU Load
CPU + GPU Load
CPU
34°C
38°C
62°C
63°C
System
34°C
38°C
48°C
48°C
HDD
28°C
29°C
29°C
29°C
External Casing
30°C
30°C
36°C
36°C
System Power
25W
29~31W
Bluray: 36W
56W
60W
Ambient temperature: 21°C
Ambient noise level: 11 dBA

Basically the case cruises with the thermal load of this system. When idle and during video playback, the system ran very cool with exterior temperatures stabilizing at around 30°C, while the internal CPU and hard drive temperatures stayed below 40°C. On load, the exterior became warm to the touch but never hot, while the CPU heated up to modest levels. The right heatsinks (to which the PSU is clamped) always stayed at least 5°C cooler than the left heatsinks (which handle the CPU heat). These are excellent cooling results, though there's no doubt of the low thermal load imposed by the system. We expect the case could easily handle double the thermal load.

Power Efficiency

It is not possible to get a precise assessment of power supply efficiency without pulling it from the case and loading it up our power supply test rig. However, our AC test measurements can give us a pretty good idea. The Asus P8H67-I Deluxe mini-ITX motherboard used in this sample was just tested and reviewed by Lawrence last week. Although the processor used in that review was the high end Intel Core i5-2500K, we know from previous testing that all the standard TDP socket 1155 chips have the same idle power. Another difference is that two 2-GB sticks of SO-DIMM were used in Larry's testing, while the H3.SODD system used just one, but this should not impact idle power at all. It should be well under 1W difference.

The estimated idle state DC power for the tested Asus P8H67-I Deluxe with i5-2500K and 4 GB RAM was 20W. The H3 sample system pulled 25W AC at idle, which suggests ~80% efficiency. This load is very low, and likely below the power level at which maximum efficiency is reached by the power supply. This means efficiency should be higher with any kind of load. You could expect 85% or better efficiency at ~60W.

Noise

Given that the Bluray drive is the only moving part, it should come as no surprise that the system is silent. By silent, we mean silent. Unless the Bluray drive was engaged, the system made not even the tiniest squeal or hum at any time during our testing or in a week of sporadic use. No noise measurements, recordings or frequency spectrum graphs are needed: The system in this H3.SODD makes no noise at all. This may be be due to a happy happenstance of cooperative parts in our sample, as we've known for years that electronics parts (such as motherboards, solid state drives, fanless power supplies, and even RAM or VRMs) often can and do make noise, sometimes insidiously nasty squealing, sizzling or buzzy noise, but this is the very first time we've actually heard absolutely nothing from a computer that is up and running. A holy grail achieved, in our view, though it's something of a letdown after so many years of inaudible computers: The difference in normal use is hardly dramatic or even audible. :D



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