ARM Systems StealthPC P4-3.2 Powerhouse
A PC as loaded as this one is should perform at the top of the current pecking order. The StealthPC P4-3.2 delivers very high performance in the benchmarks, with median scores for similarly equipped systems. The latest benchmark test suites from Futuremark and Sisoftware were used.
The performance of the memory subsystems is just shy of the highest theoretical maximum achieved with this type of dual channel RAM (PC3200 CL2), and not far off from the very highest speed currently available (PC4000 CL3).
The file system benchmark is one place where performance is slightly off the mark. This is predictable, given the Seagate Barracuda SATA V drive's performance compared to the fastest offerings from other companies. However, the Barracuda V still remains quieter than the others, which explains ARM Systems' choice for the StealthPC line. Steve Collins says they are currently reviewing new SATA drive options from Hitachi/IBM, Samsung and others.
The Stealth UltraQuiet PC - P4-3.2 by ARM Systems is by far the most powerful quiet PC we've yet examined. The raw performance of the system is very high, yet the noise performance is low enough that it could easily be used as a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) in many studios. Recording studios, both professional and amateur, often spend many thousands of dollars on sound containment cabinets specially designed to quiet their DAWs. With a system like this ARM Stealth UltraQuiet PC, perhaps such cabinets would become unnecessary.
It is also a gamer's dream machine, given the high power of the ATI-9800XT video card, the dual-channel memory, the hyperthreaded P4-3.2 processor and the RAID config of the SATA drives. From a gamer's point of view, the machine would have to be considered a sleeper, akin to a road machine moddied for maximum performance while looking most stock from the outside. (Although its weight isn't exactly inviting for gamers interested in toting their rigs to LAN parties.)
The system is certainly more power than any ordinary non-gaming PC user needs, but I have to admit that even though I pushed the system only while running benchmarks, the smooth super-quick responsiveness on on even the most balky Windows operations is kind of addictive, especially with the low noise in normal use.
SPCR old timers have a basic truism about quiet computers: You can have any two of the following -- low noise, high performance, or low price -- but not all three. (Just a variant of "You can't have your cake and eat it too".) While the Stealth UltraQuiet PC - P4-3.2 does not break our old truism, it bends it somewhat. The machine's acoustics at maximum load does not break records, but stays below ARM Systems' own self imposed standard of no more than 30 dBA at the user position. During ordinary use, it is about as quiet as any commercial production PC available.
Given the high attention to detail, out of the box plug-and-play ease, top quality construction, extended warranty and top service (by general consensus in the SPCR forums), and apparent absence of serious competition (for computers that are both quiet and powerful), the $2700 price tag represent excellent value. Your own pocketbook, DIY competence (or lack thereof), and sense of values will determine whether you agree, of course.
It's a solid, bleeding-edge PC with excellent acoustics at a fair price. Highly recommended.
Much thanks to ARM Systems for the opportunity to play with this powerful machine.
A Note to Gamers: This machine is obviously great for gaming, but ARM also offers a line of gaming rigs that look more the part, with greater emphasis on performance than on noise.
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