Review: FrontierPC's Silent XP2500+ system

Complete|Mobile Systems
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December 12, 2003 by Mike Chin

Product:
Frontier PC Silent XP2500+
Manufacturer:
Frontier PC Vancouver, BC, Canada
Price:

CA$777 (at time of publication, without OS)
Windows XP Pro, add CA$200
Windows XP Home, add CA$130

The trend towards quieter computers had its genesis in Europe and is probably most developed there, with standards and regulations established by many enlightened government agencies. The US follows next, due to the sheer size of its market. Canada ranks below these areas, but there are some signs of progress. (Surely we can hear the noise as well as everyone else!) Many Canadian computer stores sell quiet PC components from Zalman, Seasonic, and others. Very few offer complete prebuilt PC systems, however.

Frontier PC in Vancouver, BC is one of the rare exceptions. This long established brick-and-mortar store offers a good range of quiet components as well as complete mid-tower systems based on either Intel or AMD processors. They also avalable through their online store, in configurations that can be easily customized by the buyer. Frontier says their target for quiet computers is under 30 dBA at 1 meter distance from the front panel, and most of their configurations range around the 25 dBA mark in idle or light use.

While this noise spec is not in the championship class reached by a tiny number of fanless systems (such as the Hush Mini-ITX), it is substantially quieter than average white box systems that range 35~50 dBA at 1 meter. Being based around Intel or AMD processors, Frontier PC's silent models are also substantially more powerful than VIA Mini-ITX based systems (such as the Hush Mini-ITX) and compare favorably in performance against conventional boxes.

Frontier PC supplied a sample of one of their quiet systems for review, one they describe as a Value System meant for general home or office computing. The details of this system are as follows:

  • Chenbro Gaming Bomb Xpider case
  • Asus A7V8X-X AMD ATX motherboard, VIA-KT400 chipset
  • AMD Athlon XP2500+ (Barton) processor 333FSB 640K Cache
  • Kingston DDR 256MB PC3200
  • Samsung SP0411N 40G IDE 7200RPM hard drive, 3-year warranty
  • Seasonic SS-300FS 300W ATX12V power supply
  • Arctic Cooling Super Silent Copper 2 TC CPU heatsink/fan
  • Arctic Cooling Case Fan Pro TC
  • AOpen GeForce 4 MX440-SE 64M DDR w/TVout
  • LG 48X CD-RW / 16X DVD-ROM combo drive
  • OS options, fully installed: Windows XP Pro, $200; Windows XP Home $130.

The sample was delivered with Windows XP Pro installed. No mouse, keyboard or monitor were included, as options are endless and each buyer will have his own preferences.

All of the components are value products. That is, while they don't represent current top performance, they offer very good value for money. In most cases, the performance is within ~80% of the best mony can buy but at a sub-$1000 price almost any PC buyer can afford rather than the multi-thousands you'd spend on a cutting-edge machine. Most of the components are also products recommended by SilentPCReview.

The Chenbro Gaming Bomb Xpider case (reviewed here in Nov) which houses the system has a bold, distinctive appearance. The sample provided has a darkish blue bezel against a black overall finish. It is the plastic bezel that is the most distinctive aspect of its appearance. There are three other bezel color options: green, gray, and orange. The blue and gray colors seem reasonably suitable for most environments.

Whether you like it or not, the bezel design is distinctive. The colors are fun. But as our November review revealed, Chenbro's slightly whacky-looking Xpider case is a serious exercise in airflow optimization and tool-free user-friendliness. As minimal airflow resistance and solid construction are keys to a quiet computer, the case is a good choice by Frontier PC.



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