Serenity Mini, 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.

Typically, the power draw at the start of each test is lower by several watts than that recorded at the end of the test when the stressed components are much hotter. This is typical; as the voltage regulation modules in the motherboard and in the VGA card heats up, they tend to become a bit less efficient.

Test Results: Puget Serenity Mini SPCR Edition PC
Criteria
idle
1080p play
Prime95
Prime95+
Furmark
AC power
63W
76 ~83W
187~190W
244~248W
CPU
35°C
35~40°C
68°C
76°C
GPU
34°C
42~46°C
48°C
80°C
HDD
26°C
27°C
28°C
28°C
SPL - dBA@1m
11
11
12
12.9
SPL - ISO 7779 Seated User Position (0.6m)
12
12
14
15
Ambient conditions: 24°C, 10 dBA - Off/Sleep Mode: 2.4W
Max recommended temps - CPU: 80°C, GPU: 100°C, HDD: 55°C

Test Results: Puget Serenity SPCR Edition PC (v.3)
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 recommended temps - CPU: 80°C, GPU: 100°C, HDD: 55°C

1. Noise

The Puget Serenity Mini SPCR Edition is just as silent as the Serenity, SPCR Edition v.3. The measured sound pressure level of <11 dBA@1m at idle and not quite 13 dBA at full system load is at the same level as any fanless PC with no moving parts; the fanless PSU alone will emit enough electronic noise at full load to match this SPL.

At idle, it is really hard to tell that the system is on using only sonic cues, even sitting next to it on the desktop. Compared to almost 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 not unrealistic for a PC that is used atop the desk.


At idle, the spectrum trace for the Serenity Mini was hardly different from the red line that represents the anechoic chamber ambient, which suggests it might have been better than 10 dBA@1m. However, at maximum load, it was just a hair louder than the Serenity i7 we last tested. Without these measurements, you'd never know the difference between these systems, however. A 0.4 dBA difference is below most people's perception threshold.


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.

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 recommended limits through the CPU load testing, but they ran significantly hotter when both CPU and GPU were fully loaded, and the i5 2500K actually ran some 7°C hotter than the i7 2600K in the Serenity v.3. The maximum speed of the CPU fan was 800rpm in the Mini, compared to 880 in the Serenity v.3. This plus the overclock speed to 4.0GHz (from 3.4GHz) probably explains the slightly hotter CPU, but other factors such as a possibly hotter video card and a different case surely come into play.

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 800rpm, as Puget has custom-set the fan controller in the BIOS.

3. Power

The idle state AC power consumption of 63W is very modest, and 5W lower than the Serenity v.3. The maximum CPU/GPU load power of 248W AC is up >30W, however. The similar rise in Prime95 load indicates that the increase in power consumption can be attributed to the CPU and motherboard. The obvious explanation for the power increase is the overclocked CPU, but the different motherboard could also have some impact on overall power draw.

4. Performance

No conventional performance benchmarks were run on the system. The performance of the Intel i5-2500k is already well documented in the tech press; it is one of the very best desktop CPUs available today. With the overclocked CPU, the system has the smooth effortless feel of immense power under the hood. The graphics capability of the ATI HD6750 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 Serenity Mini SPCR Edition is another worthy addition to Puget's lineup of super-quiet PC offerings. Like its precessors, this sample is superbly assembled, provides great performance and remains extremely quiet in our test conditions. The system noise would be be rarely audible in normal use. The ambient noise floor in any home or workplace is louder by many decibels.

The Puget's SPCR Edition PCs remain unique in the use of components cherry picked (or binned, to use a well-known industry term) for lowest noise. This unique selection service, the carefully chosen fans, the performance and meticulous assembly all combine to make a system that is more than the sum of its parts. The overclocked CPU is an extra bonus that one does not normally associate with a silent PC. Those who want the highest silent video performance to go along with the OC'd CPU can opt for the now available fanless Asus Radeon HD6770 card.

Even with all its performance, the Serenity Mni bears comparison with PCs that have no moving parts; some of them will actually have more electronic noise (high pitched, sometimes intermittent whine) than the Serenity Mini. Puget's SPCR-certified Serenity Mini is another well-crafted high performance computer at the very limits of silent computing.

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Serenity Mini PC page at Puget Custom Computers
The SPCR-certified Silent PC Program
Serenity i7 PC, v.3

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Comment on this article in the SPCR Forums.



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