AVADirect Quiet Gaming PC with GTX680

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. To reach the required test conditions, a 1500W space heater is used heat up the room so that the temperature around the PC is 30°C, ±1°C. It is difficult to maintain this exact temperature all around the system over any length of time, especially when the system itself is producing in excess of 300W of heat at full load, but I'm confident that the ±1°C range was maintained. Measurements at load were performed approximately 10 minutes after complete thermal stability was achieved in each state; i.e., no changes in power or temperature for at least 10 minutes. This usually means >30 minutes of running at full load. The 30°C temperature tests were run twice with no more than 1 dBA or 1°C variation.

Test Results: AVADirect Quiet Gaming PC with GTX680
Criteria
idle
1080p play
Prime95
Prime95+
Furmark
AC power
59W
64~103W
126W
314~317W
CPU
41°C
43°C
68°C
82°C
GPU
46°C
50°C
50°C
78°C
Mainboard
38°C
38°C
45°C
56°C
HDD
42°C
42°C
44°C
45°C
SPL - dBA@1m
16
16
18
26
SPL - ISO 7779 Seated User Position (~0.6m)
18
18
20
28
Ambient conditions: 30°C, 10 dBA - Sleep Mode Power: 4.4W
Max safe temps - CPU: >80°C, GPU: >90°C, HDD: >55°C

Test Results of first AVADirect Quiet Gaming PC
Criteria
idle
1080p play
Prime95
Prime95+
Furmark
AC power
58W
65~105W
125W
325~345W
CPU
41°C
43°C
69°C
77°C
GPU
49°C
51°C
49°C
83°C
Mainboard
37°C
38°C
45°C
55°C
HDD
41°C
41°C
43°C
44°C
SPL - dBA@1m
18
18
19
26
SPL - ISO 7779 Seated User Position (~0.6m)
20
20
21
28
Ambient conditions: 30°C, 10 dBA - Sleep Mode Power: 4.3W
Max safe temps - CPU: >80°C, GPU: >90°C, HDD: >55°C

1. Noise

This PC is very quiet at idle or low load, regardless of ambient temperature (at least up to 30°C). The measured sound pressure level of under 16 dBA@1m at idle and during HD video play is excellent, close to the 15 dBA@1m target for a Silent PC by SPCR Certification standards. High CPU load had very little effect on the overall noise; the dual-fan CPU cooling system handles the increased load with only a 2 dBA increase in noise.

From up close, there is a touch of audible intermodulation or pulsing, most likely due to the two fans on the graphics card running in tandem. There are some audible tonal effects in the midband, but the level is low enough not to be bothersome.

The noise rises steadily over time when full GPU + CPU load is applied. Almost all of the noise gain, to 26 dBA@1m at 30°C ambient, comes from the video card fans, which speed up to provide more cooling as the GPU gets hotter. When the CPU/GPU loading was done at the natural summer room temperature in the anechoic chamber, 25~27°C, the maximum noise of the system was 24 dBA@1m. It would not be unrealistic to expect even lower overall maximum noise levels with cooler ambient conditions.

The overall noise signature at maximum system load is mostly broadband, with some tonality. No rapid up/down changes in fan noise/speed were noticed with the video card; the ramp up to 26 dBA took about 2 minutes after the load was applied. The PSU fan may have kicked in at full system load, but its effect was entirely masked by the video card fan noise.

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 NZXT H2, which is designed for placement on the floor; few users would put it on top of the desk.

When accessed, occasional chatter from the the hard drive can be heard, but at a very low level, with peaks getting no higher than 1 dBA@1m above the norm. Placed on a carpeted floor under a desk, any noise from the PC at low or moderate load is very unobtrusive.


Frequency spectrum of the AVADirect Quiet Gaming PC with GTX680 shows a tonal peak at ~230 Hz. SPL is low but there is a bit of intermodulation pulsing audible from close up.


At full system load, the tonal peak is at 250~500 Hz, caused by the GPU cooler fans.

2. Cooling

The temperatures of the various components stayed within safe limits throughout most of the testing. This PC is well cooled, particularly the GPU. All the components will remain cool enough to keep running indefinitely at full load in normal use at up to 30C ambient temperature. The CPU temperature is fine when only the CPU is loaded, but with the GPU and CPU simultaneously maxed out, after about 40 minutes of steady torture, the CPU temperature did exceed Intel's defined "safe temperature" mark of 80°C by 2°C. By turning the CPU fan off manually and allowing the CPU to get even hotter, I established that CPU throttling begins around 84~85°C on this system. Keep in mind that the CPU/GPU torture test performed here exceeds the power load of any game or application you can throw at the system in normal use. It is highly unlikely that you will be able to achieve long term power draw (and heat) of >300W AC without resorting to the kind of artificial torture test used here.

3. Power

The modest idle state AC power consumption of 59W is hardly changed from the first AVADirect sample system. The maximum CPU/GPU load power of 324W is actually lower than that of the previous AVADirect system. The Seasonic X-660's 80+ Gold efficiency helps keep the power consumption down. In sleep mode, AC power dropped to just 4.6W.

4. Performance

No conventional performance benchmarks were run on the system. The high performance characteristics of the Intel Core i7-3770K Quad-Core , the nVidia GTX680 graphics card and the OCZ Vertex 3 120GB SSD are well documented elsewhere on the web. There were no performance problem of any kind encountered during our testing. Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit provides a mature, smoothly operating environment, with full access to the 8 GB of installed RAM. The boot time of 32 seconds (from power button press to actual usability at the desktop) made possible by the SSD is excellent.

PDF Copy of SPCR Certification report on AVADirect Quiet Gaming PC

CONCLUSIONS

The AVADirect Quiet Gaming PC with GTX680 is an extremely capable gaming computer capable of running any current game title at high screen resolution and high frame rates. It is certainly the most powerful SPCR-certified PC to date, as of late August 2012. In idle, the low noise design of the ASUS DirectCPU II OC GTX680 allows the system to run at the surprisingly low SPL of just 16 dBA@1m, 2 dBA quieter than the previous already quiet gaming system from AVADirect. While not as quiet as the Certified Silent PCs offered by other SPCR partners, AVADirect's offerings address the serious gamer who wants both high performance gaming and low noise for other tasks. Placed on a carpeted floor next to or under a desk, this SPCR certified Quiet PC from AVADirect system will take on all comers not equipped with dual GPUs, while making very little noise to interfere with gameplay or other high demand video processing.

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Quiet Gaming PC page at AVADirect
The SPCR-certified PC Program

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Comment on this article in the SPCR Forums.



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