Lian Li PC-Q18: The Perfect Mini Server Case?

Cases|Damping
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Test Results: One Hard Drive


System Measurements
System State
Idle
CPU + GPU Load
System Fans
Off
5V
7V
9V
CPU Temp
24°C
64°C
57°C
55°C
53°C
SB Temp
31°C
54°C
48°C
44°C
42°C
HD Temp
36°C
38°C
34°C
31°C
29°C
System Power (AC)
37W
135W
133W
132W
SPL@1m
18 dBA
19 dBA
22 dBA
24~25 dBA
CPU fan speed: 1100 RPM.
Ambient temperature: 20°C.

Our test system was fairly quiet with the stock fans disabled, producing 18 dBA@1m both idle and on load, though it did get somewhat hot when stressed. With the fans running at only 5V, internal temperatures reduced substantially and the noise level increased by just 1 dB. Further increases in fan speed resulted in diminishing returns; the added noise was simply not worth the extra cooling. Considering we tested the case using an Intel Core i5-2500K processor, an overkill CPU for a file server, the system ran fairly cool overall.


Our test system measured 19 dBA@1m on load with the stock fans at 9V and CPU fan running at 1100 RPM.

With the other components in our test system running, the stock fans' acoustic deficiencies blended away into the background, leaving a mostly smooth, broadband profile. The rattle emitted by the top exhaust fan was still audible, but only at closer distances.

Test Results: Four Hard Drives

Test Drive Noise Summary
Drive
Vibration
1-10 (10 = no vibration)
Idle Airborne Acoustics @1m
Seagate Barracuda 3TB
8
16 dBA
Samsung F3 EcoGreen 2TB
7
15~16 dBA
WD Caviar SE16 320GB
6
18~19 dBA
WD Caviar Green 2TB
7~8
13 dBA

To test the PC-Q18's suitability as a quiet server, we loaded it up with three additional hard drives of varying noise and vibration levels to see what effect it would have on the system's thermals and acoustics.

System Measurements
System Fans
Off
5V
Drive Count
One
Four
CPU Temp
24°C
26°C
23°C
SB Temp
31°C
34°C
28°C
HD #1 Temp
36°C
45°C
34°C
HD #2 Temp
N/A
45°C
34°C
HD #3 Temp
42°C
29°C
HD #4 Temp
47°C
35°C
System Power (AC)
37W
54W
SPL@1m
18 dBA
21~22 dBA
CPU fan speed: 1100 RPM.
Ambient temperature: 20°C.

The addition of three drives to the system increased temperatures all around. The original hard drive in our test system was hit especially hard, experiencing a 9°C spike due to the extra heat being generated and the higher impedance to airflow. The system was also louder of course, by 3~4 dB, a reasonable amount for a four drive system. With the fans running at 5V, everything ran much cooler and the fans were drowned out by the rest of the components, so the noise level remained unchanged.

Some vibration was definitely passed onto the case as we could hear the drives resonating, but not to the same degree as the PC-Q08. When we tested the PC-Q08 with three drives, the rhythmic humming produced actually decreased when we pressed both sides of the case inward with our hands. No such effect could be reproduced on the PC-Q18 loaded up with four drives and it sounded better as well.



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