Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced Mini-ITX Case

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Test Results: Intel HD 3000 IGP

System Measurements
System State
Idle
CPU + GPU Load
CPU Fan
6V
9V
9V
9V
12V
Front Fan
Off
9V
12V
9V
9V
Side Fan
Off
7V
7V
9V
7V
CPU Temp
38°C
88°C
88°C
86°C
87°C
PCH Temp
34°C
59°C
59°C
59°C
59°C
HD Temp
37°C
33°C
34°C
35°C
34°C
System Power (AC)
34W
153W
153W
152W
152W
SPL@1m
17~18 dBA
24~25 dBA
25 dBA
27 dBA
28~29 dBA
Ambient temperature: 21°C.

Sitting idle, the test system was easy to cool with the CPU, PCH and hard drive temperature staying under 40°C with the CPU fan running at only 6V and both system fans inactive. The noise produced was completely innocuous and measured a low 17~18 dBA@1m. Load testing was wrought with problems. We tried to do without the noisy side fan but even with both the CPU and front fan at full speed, the CPU exceeded 92°C, causing it to throttle down intermittently. After testing various fan speed combinations, we settled on the CPU and front fan at 9V and the side fan at 7V.

Even in this fan speed configuration, the CPU temperature was very high but there was little we could do while maintaining a reasonable noise level. Increasing the front fan or CPU fan speed further did almost nothing. Increasing the side fan speed helped the CPU cool down but only by 2°C and this reduction was accompanied by a 2~3 dB bump in noise level.

Our best performance:noise fan speed configuration was not too bad, resulting in a fairly smooth sounding system. The tonality of the side fan, which was terribly annoying in our baseline testing, was more or less covered up by the other components in our system. Still, a noise level of 24~25 dBA@1m for a system running only on integrated graphics is quite poor. While the case certainly has airflow problems, it's clear that the Noctua NH-L9i needs a lot of help to deal with the heat output of a Core i5-2500K.

Test Results: ASUS Radeon HD 6850

System Measurements
System State
Idle
CPU + GPU Load
CPU Fan
9V
9V
12V
12V
9V
Front Fan
9V
12V
9V
9V
9V
Side Fan
7V
7V
7V
9V
12V
CPU Temp
40°C
FAIL
FAIL
89°C
91°C
PCH Temp
37°C
68°C
66°C
65°C
68°C
HD Temp
34°C
45°C
46°C
47°C
46°C
GPU Temp
40°C
90°C
90°C
90°C
90°C
GPU Fan*
1620 RPM
2710 RPM
2710 RPM
2700 RPM
2710 RPM
System Power (AC)
63W
N/A
N/A
281W
281W
SPL@1m
24~25 dBA
25 dBA
31 dBA
32 dBA
33~34 dBA
*GPU fan speed set manually to achieve a GPU temperature of ~90°C
Ambient temperature: 21°C.

To our surprise, adding an HD 6850 to our test system had no measurable effect on the noise level when idle. The 6850's minimum fan speed was completely drowned out by the rest of the system. On load, a GPU fan speed of ~2700 RPM was required to keep the temperature at a steady 90°C, regardless of how we manipulated the rest of the fans in the system. Fan speed increases were necessary however, as the presence of a moderately powerful discrete graphics card created more challenging thermal conditions for the CPU.

The fan speeds used on our IGP test system, resulted in CPU throttling. Pushing the front fan to 12V was completely ineffective, while raising the CPU fan to maximum speed slowed the throttling frequency but it didn't eliminate it completely. A boost to both CPU and side fan speed was required to get the system fully stable. In the end, the lowest SPL we managed to coax out of the system was 32 dBA@1m. The PCH and hard drive temperature were also substantially higher than on our IGP test system.

The HD 6850 fan gave the system a rougher acoustic profile but we wouldn't go so far as to describe it as unpleasant. The noise extra noise was distributed over a wide frequency and wasn't particularly tonal except for a spike at about 370 Hz on load. The load noise of 32 dBA@1m was quite high however; we use a system configuration with a similar power draw for testing microATX towers and a typical result is ~25 dBA@1m. This is the type of price you pay for going with a much smaller chassis.



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