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These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording
system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to
LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no
audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent
a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.
Each recording starts with ambient noise, then 5~10 second segments of product
at various states. For the most realistic results,
set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then
don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.
The Chenbro SR30169 offers pretty much everything one would want in a small
server case including four hot-swappable bays, door lock, chassis intrusion
detector, and modular design that makes upkeep painless. It's also very sturdy,
especially the drive cage and trays, which inhibit vibration better than most
retail cases. And while it's not designed with aesthetics in mind, it's far
from ugly. The silver mesh front is handsome against the black background, especially
in the dark when its illuminated by the blue hard drive LEDs.
On the down side, the awkward internal layout is strong evidence that cooling
was not a priority in the SR30169 design. The main intake is severely restricted,
especially when all the drive bays are in use, and the way airflow is directed
is convoluted and ineffective. On heavy load, it has difficulty dealing with
CPU heat, but then most small server CPUs aren't subject to that much stress.
The power supply isn't the best choice for the 24-7 operation of a server as
its efficiency is poor compared to most retail models. However, for a bundled
PSU, it's hard to complain too much. It provides enough power and produces very
One obvious way to improve both efficiency and cooling is to replace the stock
PSU with a picoPSU
and external power brick of appropriate rating. This would allow, in one
fell swoop, the use of a much larger, more efficient CPU heatsink/fan, including
12cm fan towers, and far higher energy efficiency.
The closest match among all the other mini-ITX cases we've reviewed is the
Li PC-Q18, which has four internal 3.5" hot-swap bays and room
for two more drives elsewhere. It's a bit of a tossup between the sturdy Chenbro
and the Lian Li, which is slicker, especially inside. The PC-Q18 sells for $130~150
without a PSU.
The Chenbro SR30169 is a prototypical OEM case, which is mostly a good thing
when it comes to small server enclosures. It does away with all the unnecessary
bells and whistles found on typical consumer mini-ITX cases, putting all the
emphasis on the important things. It's well built, functional, and easy to assemble.
The power supply is rather basic but it gets the job done quietly. The SR30169
is selling for about US$150, a reasonable price for those who would rather
try their hand at a DIY small server rather than a splurge on a pre-built NAS
Our thanks to Chenbro
for the SR30169 case sample.
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Articles of Related Interest
Silverstone ML05 mini-ITX HTPC Case
SilverStone Grandia GD07 & GD08 Media Center Cases
Fractal Design Node 605 HTPC Style Case
SilverStone Sugo SG09: SFF microATX Case
Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced Mini-ITX Case
Lian Li PC-Q18: The Perfect Mini Server Case?
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this article in the SPCR Forums.
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