Quiet ATX Gamer, R5 Version

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Stress Testing: CPU-centric

We dispensed with lower power states and conducted only the higher power tests.

System Measurements
System State
Define R4
Define R5
Video Encoding
Prime95x8
Video Encoding
Prime95x8
CPU Fan
340 RPM
650 RPM
340 RPM
650 RPM
CPU
53°C
64°C
53°C
63°C
MB
33°C
33°C
33°C
32°C
SSD
27°C
24°C
32°C
35°C
HDD
33°C
33°C
33°C
32°C
GPU
38°C
38°C
38°C
38°C
15 dBA
14 dBA
System Power (AC)
106W
131W
106W
131W
System fans at 500 RPM (minimum), GPU fans off (auto).
Ambient temperature: 21°C.

This was an underwhelming result. The main points to note are:

1. The SSD mounted behind the motherboard in the R5 ran hotter: 5°C during video encoding, and 11°C hotter during maximum CPU load. It's easy to see why. The SSD received airflow mounted in the front of the R4, and ran cooler under the higher load because the CPU cooler fan provided a bit more peripheral airflow. In contrast, when mounted behind the motherboard, the SSD is isolated from airflow and affected somewhat only by the temperature of the CPU. The highest temperature was just 35°C, way below the 70°C maximum operational limit specified by Kingston.

2. There was a measured 1 dBA difference in noise level but it may be too small to be clearly audible to everyone.

Stress Testing: GPU-centric

Again, because we've already presented data on all the various power states in the original article with the R4, we go straight to Prime95x2 + FurMark results. As before, a custom fan profile was used in GPU Tweak to start the GPU cooler fan at 35% when the GPU reaches 60°C, then 38% fan speed at 85°C, and finally, 60% at 99°C

System Measurements
Prime95x2 + FurMark
System State
Define R4
Define R5
GPU Fan Speed
990 RPM*
1630 RPM (auto)
950 RPM
1600 RPM (auto)
CPU Temp
63°C
61°C
64°C
61°C
MB Temp
46°C
44°C
47°C
45°C
SSD Temp
26°C
26°C
36°C
36°C
HDD Temp
36°C
36°C
36°C
35°C
GPU Temp
85°C
72°C
87°C
73°C
18~19 dBA
25 dBA
17 dBA
25 dBA
Power (AC)
291W
290W
291W
290W
*Speed adjusted to keep GPU temperature under 85°C.
CPU fan at 650 RPM, system fans at 500 RPM (minimum).
Ambient temperature: 21°C.

There was a difference in the GPU fan speed according to the monitoring utilities, but it is probably too small to make any acoustic difference. The GPU ran 2°C hotter in the R5, and that system also measured upwards of 2 dBA quieter. This is definitely audible.

When we reverted the GPU fans to default automatic control, the fan speed kicked up by more than 600 RPM, with almost identical results in both cases: Extra cooling for the CPU and MB, while the GPU core itself received 13°C of relief. The noise level increased to 25 dBA, in both cases; any differences in the case fan levels were swamped by the noise of the GPU fans.

Fan Swap?

We noted that the stock Fractal R4 case fans could be upgraded with quieter fans. Is it worthwhile to try that with the quieter R5 fans? Let's compare the R4 and R5 fans to the Antec TrueQuiet 140 we suggested as an upgrade candidate before. These are new measurements with each fan soft-mounted by itself outside the case, with the mic 1m away from the intake side of the fan. (The Antec fan's top speed is just under 800 RPM, which is why its 870 RPM box is blank.)

FANS COMPARED
RPM
R4
R5
Antec TQ140
870
19.4
17
-
750
15.6
14
15
500
13.5
12.5
12*
*We measured 11 dBA in our last 140mm fan roundup, but readings at such low levels are easily affected by outside noise, which could be higher this time around, and there could be a sample variance.

This is a revelation. The stock R5 fan is at least as quiet as the Antec TrueQuiet 140, which is one of the quietest we've measured. So there's no benefit at all to swapping out the R5 fans. They are as quiet any 140mm fans we've heard.

An Extra Fan

Since the case fans are actually at a level lower than the dominant sound source at load, would adding another fan help cooling and perhaps reduce GPU fan speed/noise without increasing the overall noise of the system? It was worth trying.


140mm fan from R4 on floor vent to blow air up to the Strix GTX 980.

The first trial was with one of the fans from the R4 mounted on the floor vent directly below the VGA card, to blow fresh air up to it. The fan speed was kept at the same 500 RPM as the other two fans. The result was puzzling: There was perhaps a half dBA rise in noise at idle and no change at maximum load, and only a tiny reduction in GPU and PCH temperature, just a couple degrees, not enough even to be out of the margin of measurement error. Is the bottom intake too impeded by the close proximity of the floor beneath? We didn't investigate further.

Moving on to trial 2: This time, the bottom HDD cage was removed, and an Antec TQ140 mounted in the front under the stock intake fan.


Antec TQ140 fan added to front, with HDD cage removed.

Here, we saw a positive result. Temperatures of all the components dropped by several degrees while overall noise was unchanged. Heartened by this, the GPU fan profile was changed ever so slightly, down to 37% speed (a drop of 1%) at 80°C. Only the GPU temperature rose, by just 3°C, but the slight change in GPU fan speed was enough to drop the overall SPL down a bit as well, to 16.3 [email protected] Now this is a gaming system we can definitely live with!

Define R5 System Measurements
Prime95x2 + FurMark
System State
2 case fans
3 case fans
GPU Fan Speed
950 RPM
950 RPM
900 RPM
CPU Temp
64°C
61°C
61°C
MB Temp
47°C
43°C
43°C
SSD Temp
36°C
36°C
36°C
HDD Temp
36°C
36°C
36°C
GPU Temp
87°C
81°C
84°C
17 dBA
17 dBA
16.3 dBA
Power (AC)
291W
291W
291W
CPU fan at 650 RPM, case fans at 500 RPM (minimum).
Ambient temperature: 21°C.


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