NZXT Source 530 Full Tower Case

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System Configuration:

  • AMD A10-6800K APU - 4.1 GHz, 32nm, 100W, socket FM2
  • Scythe Mugen Max CPU cooler
  • Asus F2A85-M Pro motherboard - AMD A85X chipset, microATX
  • Asus Strix GeForce GTX 980 graphics card - 165W
  • Kingston HyperX LoVo memory, 2 x 4GB, DDR3-1600 in dual channel
  • Seagate Desktop SSHD hybrid drive - 2TB, 7200 RPM, 8GB NAND Flash, SATA 6 Gbps
  • Cooler Master Silent Pro M700 power supply - 700W, modular, ATX
  • Microsoft Windows 7 operating system - Ultimate, 64-bit

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.

Before any measurements, a small modification to the case was made. A foam block was taped to the 5.25 inch drive bay just out of view of the side window. While drive vibration wasn't an issue (at least when using a single drive cage), pressing down on the left side panel, particularly near the center, made the system noticeably quieter, possibly because the panel doesn't fit as tightly against the chassis as it should. This simple addition helped steady the panel, improving both the sound quality and measurable noise level.

Baseline Noise Level
(Idle, CPU fan at 400 RPM, GPU fans off)
Fan Speed Setting
Avg. Fan Speed
SPL @1m
15 dBA
670 RPM
16 dBA
900 RPM
19~20 dBA
1050 RPM
23~24 dBA
1190 RPM
26 dBA
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle left/front of case.
Ambient noise level: 10~11 [email protected]

With the rest of the system's fans running at minimum speed, the case fans don't make an acoustic impact on the noise level of the machine until about 40% speed (670 RPM). They remain fairly quiet until approximately 1000 RPM, becoming significantly louder beyond this point as the speed increases. At full speed they emit 26 [email protected], which is moderate, but reasonable for a tower with only two fans.

The included fan is the FN V2 120 mm, the same used in the Source S340. It has a delightfully smooth sound with a broadband acoustic profile. Much of the noise it produces is in the medium frequency range between 250 and 1000 Hz and it's bereft of tonality at all speeds. While the Source 530 is a well-ventilated performance-oriented case, that didn't stop NZXT from equipping it with one of the best sounding stock fans on the market.

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