Fractal Design Core 500 Mini-ITX Chassis

Viewing page 5 of 7 pages. Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next


System Configuration:

  • Intel Core i5-4690K processor - 3.4 GHz (3.8 GHz with Turbo Boost), 22nm, 84W
  • Scythe Kotetsu CPU cooler
  • ASUS Z97I-PLUS motherboard - Intel Z97 chipset, mini-ITX
  • ASUS Strix GeForce GTX 980 graphics card - 2048 CUDA cores, 1178 MHz clock (1279 MHz with GPU Boost), 7010 MHz memory
  • Kingston HyperX Genesis memory - 2x4GB, DDR3-1600, C10
  • 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 Ultimate operating system, 64-bit

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 in two states: idle, and load using Prime95 (2/4 instances, 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 85°C (at 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 (400 RPM), and the GPU fans are off by default. The system fan(s) are connected to controllable fan header(s) and are set to a variety of speeds using SpeedFan. This gives us a good idea of what the stock fan(s) sound like at different speeds with minimal interference from other sources.

Before fan testing, a comparison of the two different drive mounting systems is warranted. With all the fans turned off or set to minimum speed, the measurable difference between our SSHD mounted at the front and side is minor with the front position registering about half a decibel lower. However, the vibration-based noise produced with the drive at the front is more pronounced, as evidenced by the sharp 120 Hz tone corresponding to the drive's 7200 RPM motor. When secured on the side of the chassis, it's slightly louder but the sound generated is spread out more evenly along the spectrum. The side position makes drives sound less conspicuous and is preferable for component compatibility as well.

Baseline Noise Level
(Idle, CPU fan at 400 RPM, GPU fans off)
Fan Setting
Avg. Fan Speed
SPL @1m
17 dBA
400 RPM
17 dBA
520 RPM
17~18 dBA
620 RPM
18 dBA
810 RPM
21 dBA
960 RPM
25 dBA
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle left/front of case in vertical orientation (top fan facing mic).
Ambient noise level: 10~11 [email protected]

As the Core 500's lone stock fan is a mere 1000 RPM model, it's not capable of making much noise. In fact, it doesn't start to make a measurable impact on our system until set to 50% speed. The machine remains relatively quiet up to 80%, and even at top speed produces a modest 25 [email protected]

Up close, the stock fan emits slight undesirable clickiness but as it's embedded inside the chassis and masked by the other components, the resulting sound is benign and unlikely to offend even the most golden-eared observers. The noise produced is smooth and gentle without a hint of tonality.

Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Next

Cases|Damping - Article Index
Help support this site, buy from one of our affiliate retailers!