SPCR's 2012 Graphics Card/Cooler Test System

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Storage: Corsair Force GT 120GB

An SSD is a good investment whether you're playing games or just testing hardware. Applications load up lickety-split and they are completely silent. The Corsair Force GT is a popular model, one of the many SandForce SF-2281 based solid state drives on the market and one step down from the Corsair Force GS. This particular drive is a manufacturer refurbished model that can often be found at a considerable discount.

CPU Cooler: Thermalright HR-02 Macho (prototype) & Scythe Slip Stream (500 RPM)

The Thermalright HR-02 Macho is one of the best heatsinks available and we were fortunate enough to receive a prototype sample that never made it to market. Its performance isn't nearly as good as the final product but it's good enough to cool our Core i3 chip with only a 500 RPM fan, a Scythe Slip Stream. Even at full speed, the SY1225SL12SL is one of the quietest and smoothest sounding case fans available, so no control is necessary.

System Fans: 2 x Antec TrueQuiet 120

For our build we wanted to hit a very low noise level while also having the option of increasing system airflow for fanless graphics card/coolers. Antec's TrueQuiet 120's aren't the best performers but they have truly excellent sound quality and padded corners that inhibit vibration. They have a decent range as well, almost inaudible in our case at ~600 RPM and fairly loud at the top speed of ~1130 RPM. As the Define R3's intake fan mount uses a clip system designed square frames, we had to add some adhesive foam to the sides to create a snug fit. The two fans were connected to the motherboard and controlled via SpeedFan.

2012 GPU Test System Assembled

Our finished platform is a fine example of a quiet PC with good airflow and plenty of room for long graphics cards, even dual GPU versions. Airflow is mostly unimpeded, running front to back.

The Define R3 doesn't have tons of room behind the motherboard tray but it is sufficient as long as the thicker cables aren't tied together.

Power Consumption Comparison

System Measurements: Old GPU Test System
(AMD Radeon HD 4200 IGP)
CPU Load
System Power (AC)
System Power (DC)
System noise level: 13 [email protected]

System Measurements: New GPU Test System
(Intel HD 2000 IGP)
CPU Load
System Power (AC)
System Power (DC)
System noise level: 12~13 [email protected]
(stock fans at ~580 RPM)

The new GPU test system is substantially more energy efficient with a 16W savings when idle and a massive 50W reduction on load. Furthermore, the Core i3-2100 is actually considerably faster than the previous Athlon II X3 435 despite having one less physical core so it's less likely to bottleneck a discrete graphics card in any 3D tests we conduct.

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