Lian Li PC-Q10 Mini-ITX Case

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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 Radeon HD 7870 DirectCU II - 150W TDP
  • 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 out of 4 possible threads, 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 or game. 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 and GPU fans are set to their minimum speeds. 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.

Baseline Noise Level
(Idle, CPU fan at 600 RPM,
GPU fans at 1040 RPM)
Fan Setting
Fan Speed
SPL @1m
16~17 dBA
620 RPM
17 dBA
880 RPM
19 dBA
1030 RPM
22~23 dBA
1210 RPM
26 dBA
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle.
Ambient noise level: 10~11 [email protected].

When the system fan is disabled and other fans set to minimum speed, our test system measures a very quiet 16~17 [email protected] The case fan can bring that figure up to a moderately loud 26 [email protected] at full speed and can hit any SPL in-between depending on the fan speed. A single moderate speed single 120 mm fan seems insufficient for a small cramped case but the healthy amount of available ventilation should help compensate.

The noise quality is poor. The stock fan is subpar, producing a prominent clicking sound at 50~100% speed that for, some reason, our mic fails to pick up. A low pitched hum starts at 50% speed as well but this dissipates as the fan ramps up. Being hard mounted to the front of the case, our 7200 RPM SSHD's vibrations can be felt and heard easily as evidenced by the tonal peak at 120 Hz.

If mechanical storage is a must, a low vibration 5400 RPM drive should be utilized. The drive placements on the bottom of the case are better but a 3.5" drive can't be used in combination with a dual slot graphics card. Swapping out a fan is easy enough but there's no simple solution to limit drive vibrations. Placing a block of stiff foam between the power supply and drive helps but not enough to change how the machine sounds.

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