ARM Systems StealthPC P4-3.2 Powerhouse

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Jan 21, 2004 by Mike Chin

Stealth UltraQuiet PC - P4-3.2
ARM Systems
US$2700 preloaded with Windows XP Pro

It has been well over a year since our first quiet prebuilt system review, on the Stealth XP 2000+ PC by ARM systems. We gave it two thumbs up for excellent performance and very low noise, and concluded that it is "an attractive, viable option for those who seek a ready-made quiet PC." Since that time, we have added a few more prebuilt and barebones quiet system reviews. Awareness of noise as an issue among PC makers has certainly risen, but you still can't go to any system builder, small or large, and order or buy a quiet PC. The number is growing but it is still pretty small.

In the meanwhile, ARM Systems has been quietly expanding and improving their StealthPC line. Their approach has not changed dramatically. To reiterate the summary from the original review,

ARM Systems is a veteran amongst quiet PC makers, having offered their line of build-to-order Stealth "Noise-Reduced" PC systems for three years (over four years now). A systems integrator established in northern California since 1986, ARM Systems does business with customers all over the US, both corporate and private. Their Stealth systems were introduced in response to consumer demand, and have been refined continuously. Due to this steady evolution, ARM Systems say that their current offerings are quieter than the original model, despite being many times more powerful. Both AMD and Intel processors are offered in their Stealth line

The subject of the current review is a loaded-to-the-gills P4-3.2GHz system with just about every performance feature you can throw into a desktop PC. The SPCR question about such a powerful machine, of course, is whether it can really be quiet.

A post was made in the SPCR forums about a visit I made to ARM Systems' facility in late November last year:

I was in SF briefly after Comdex last week to visit my parents. ARM is only ~50 mi north of where they live, so I took a drive up for a quick visit. They were really busy but took a bit of time to show me around. They have a 10,000 sf facility. They showed me a fully loaded P4-3.2G system being tested for a game development customer. I mean LOADED to the gills:

  • 2 GB of very high speed RAM
  • 4 HDDs,
  • ATI-9800XT,
  • 24-bit sound card
  • 2 optical drives
  • etc.

They said it had been running a commercial burn-in program for 48 hrs -- the temps were amazingly low AND I could only hear the thing whirring quietly from about a meter away after they turned all the printers and the HVAC system off. I guesstimate 25-28 dBA/1m. Amazing thing is that it is in an Evercase 4252 case -- with 120mm back fan -- which seems too small to handle all that... but they have engineered it somehow!

I hope a review of this model can happen soon. It's possible that my guesstimate of its noise is low because of the higher office ambient noise; I'll know for sure when I have it in my lab. In any case, I think it could fairly be called the silent answer for gamers. But 4 drives?!

The PC on hand is not identical to the one described above, but it is not far off. The main difference is the amount of RAM (there's less) and two hard drives instead of four. Here are the details:

ARM UltraQuiet Mid-Tower w/NS Acoustic Foam / RamAIR Duct / 2x120 Fans / Black
Power Supply
ARM Factory Modified Zalman 400W APFC
Intel D875PBZLK: P4 800FSB 2Ch DDR400 w/SATA-R
0, 1 / Gb LAN / USB 2
Intel P4 3.20GHz HT 800MHz FSB - w/512k Cache
System Cooling
STEALTH Level-5 XtremeQuiet: 3x HeatPipe CuHS / UQ
fans / Acoustipack Foam
512MB total: Two (2) 256MB HyperX DDR400 PC3200 CL2 Low-Latency SDRAM DIMM w/Heat-Spreaders
HDD Controllers
Onboard 2-Ch SATA w/RAID 0 & 1 (2xHD) + 2Ch
Hard Drives
Two 80GB Seagate Barracuda SATA V - 8MB Cache
Video Card
256MB DDR ATI Radeon 9800XT w/SVGA/DVI/TV-Out
DVD Drive
16xDVD Sony
52x24x52 Sony IDE CDRW
Other Drive
3.5 Floppy
7.1 Creative SB Audigy-2 ZS Platinum w/2xFireWire &
Front Panel I/O Breakout
Operating System
Windows XP Pro SP1, fully updated
ARM Gold 331 Limited Warranty Program 3 YR Parts/1
YR Onsite
US$2700 configured with Windows XP Pro

The ARM Systems StealthPC line is infinitely customizable with their EZ Configurator ordering system. The review sample is obviously a high-end product with leading-edge performance. Of course, you are curious about what this beast looks like. In a word, it's a sleeper:

It's a handsome, black unit based on a customized variant of the Evercase 4252 case. A new blue logo distinguish the ARM Stealth PC.

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