NZXT Source S340 Mid Tower

Cases|Damping
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TESTING

System Configuration:


Test system device listing.

Measurement and Analysis Tools

  • Prime95 processor stress software.
  • FurMark stability test to stress the integrated GPU.
  • Asus GPU Tweak to monitor GPU temperatures and adjust fan speeds.
  • SpeedFan to monitor system temperatures and adjust system fan speeds.
  • Extech 380803 AC power analyzer / data logger for measuring AC system power.
  • PC-based spectrum analyzer: SpectraPlus with ACO Pacific mic and M-Audio digital audio interfaces.
  • Anechoic chamber with ambient level of 11 dBA or lower

Testing Procedures

The system is placed on load using Prime95 (large FFTs setting) and FurMark, an OpenGL benchmarking and stability testing utility. This puts more demand on the CPU and GPU than any real life application. Throughout testing, system temperatures, noise levels, and power consumption are recorded. During the load test, the system and GPU fans speeds are adjusted to various levels in an attempt to find an optimal balance between cooling and noise while maintaining a GPU temperature of 80°C (assuming an ambient temperature of 22°C).

Baseline Noise

For our baseline noise tests, the system is left idle, the CPU fan is set to its minimum speed under PWM control, and the GPU fans are off by default. The system fans are connected to controllable fan headers and are set to a variety of speeds using SpeedFan. This gives us a good idea of what the stock fans sound like at different speeds with minimal interference from other sources.


Our test drive, slightly modified.

Upon turning on the system, I was greeted by the ominous sound of hard drive vibration. The drive doesn't fit well in the cage and the thumbscrews, no matter how well tightened, are insufficient to keep vibration effects at bay. Mounting the drive at the very bottom of the case proved to be even louder. The only way I could think of to steady the drive was to tape foam strips to the sides. This made it much more difficult to slide the drive into place but the extra tension settled things down considerably.


Another modification to the front panel.

I also found that pushing against the front bezel helped mitigate some of the tremors caused by the hard drive. While it seemed failry securely attached to the frame, shoving a dense foam block into the gap made a measurable difference of 1~2 dB. For better aesthetics, the block can be pushed down into the hole until it's no longer visible.

Baseline Noise Level
(Idle, CPU fan at 400 RPM, GPU fans off)
Fan Speed Setting
Avg. Fan Speed
SPL @1m
0%
N/A
16~17 dBA
40%
620 RPM
18 dBA
60%
910 RPM
21 dBA
80%
1120 RPM
25~26 dBA
100%
1290 RPM
29 dBA
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle left/front of case.
Ambient noise level: 10~11 [email protected]

Though the modifications did help significantly, the baseline noise level with the CPU fan at minimum speed and everything else off is 16~17 [email protected], slightly higher than usual. The included fans start to contribute extra noise starting at near 40% speed (620 RPM). They stay reasonably quiet up to around 60% but get considerably louder past this point even with minor increases in RPM.

The subjective quality of the fans is excellent. The FN V2 is one of my favorite 120 mm case fans and it's not hard to see/hear why. They have a supremely smooth acoustics with a mostly broadband profile. Most of the noise they add to the system are in the midrange, between 200 and 1000 Hz, with barely a hint of tonality, even at speeds of 80% and higher. If you care about how the system sounds, you'd be hard pressed to find a superior stock case fan.



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