Yeong Yang "Mars" YY-5603 mid-tower case

Cases|Damping
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ASSEMBLY AND TESTING

Setting up a test system in the Yeong Yang Mars case was pretty straightforward. The instruction sheet is nothing more than a bunch of drawing with minimal instructions, so if you never assembled a system before, you do have to take some care but overall, it's a piece of cake.

I decided to install a known system in this case. The AOpen / AMD A64 assembled in the ARM Systems Silent Foundation Kit Review was chosen. Because the A64 754 CPU socket is located more in the middle of the board rather than the top edge in P4 boards, the CPU side duct would not be aligned perfectly over it. (This case really does follow Intel guidelines, which of course are geared for their motherboards. AMD XP boards probably have very similar CPU positioning as current P4 boards, however.) My other system known by SPCR readers is the Intel / P4-2.8 system used for the Silverstone SST-LC01 review. It had been really frustrating to work with during that review, so I decided it was better left for HS testing (which has been its main function in the lab all along).

Once everything was all installed, I found that about half of the CPU cooler was visible through the duct, which ended about 1" above the fan of the heatsink. Not ideal, but good enough. The installation went very smoothly and I had the box up and running in less than an hour, thanks to Windows XP Pro being already loaded on the HDD.

The finished system:


No access to route power cables behind the motherboard mounting panel, but impedance to airflow from the bottom front vent through the case is still extremely low.

I mentioned that the problem of no filters for the side vents is easy to fix. My better half, who is an inveterate sewer and textiles hobbyist, found this mesh screen material in a home hobby store: It was labeledSculptor's Mesh. Something like half a square meter cost less than CA$10.


Stiff enough to hold its shape but easily cut with a pair of scissors and shaped by hand.


It's not beautiful on the inside but hardly visible at all from the outside.
Some airflow impedance is inevitable but it's an acceptable price for dust prevention.

TEST RESULTS

The system as set up to be stable with minimal noise. The CPU cooling fan was set at 6V; the case fan was set to 5V. Initially, the Samsung 3.5" 80G drive was used.

Conditions during testing:

  • Test room: 10' x 10' x 8' office, carpeted; moderately damped.
  • Ambient room temperature: 25°C
  • Ambient noise: 18 dBA

CONFIG 1: With Samsung SP0802N desktop hard drive

NOISE: The measured noise of the system was 27 dBA/1m from the front, 28 dBA/1m from the left side and 29 dBA/1m from the back. It was very quiet. The noise was dominated by the soft fffffff wind turbulence of the 120mm fan, which has very little bearing or buzzing noise. There was also some low frequency hum, mostly from hard drive vibrations. At full CPU load, the Panaflo fan in the PSU may have ramped up above its 5.5~6V low load level; it was very hard to hear if it did. With the drive seeking, peaks jumped about 2~3 dBA above those numbers. This noise was subdued but clearly audible. All in all, an innocuous noise signature that would be perfectly acceptable for most people.

COOLING: Idle temperatures were determined by starting the machine from cold and allowing the temps to come to a stable point. Folding refers to having the machine run folding@home for Team SPCR for >20 minutes. Full load temperatures were generated by running CPUBurn for >20 minutes.

Activity
Idle
Folding
Full Load
CPU diode
38°C
52°C
61°C
Motherboard sensor
38°C
41°C
43°C

These temperatures are perfectly within safe limits. Note that the ambient temperature in the test room was several degrees higher than in many pervious system or case tests. With a cooler room, you'd see lower temperatures.

The hard drive and PSU exhaust temperatures were also monitored. The drive's diode temp output as monitored by Dtemp did not change with CPU load. An external sensor was used to verify the Samsung's HDD sensor, which has been reported as being inconsistent by users in the SPCR forums. The hard drive temperature was also measured at the highest point during a ~5 minute long defragmentation. None of the results are any cause for concern.

Item
Idle
Full Load
Defrag
Samsung HDD diode
36°C
36°C
38°C
Samsung HDD sensor
38°C
39°C
45°C
PSU exhaust
34°C
41°C
34°C

CONFIG 2: With Samsung MP0402H notebook hard drive

The desktop Samsung drive in the above system added a quiet but audible low frequency hum to the noise signature that became annoying after a while. I have used nothing but elastic suspended HDD systems for two years, so that the low frequency noise of HDDs really jumps out at me. I happened to have this new Samsung MP0402H (5400 RPM, 8 MB cache) notebook drive on loan from our sponsor FrontierPC, so I thought I'd give it a try. Norton Ghost was used to clone the original disk so the OS environment was identical.

First of all, this new Samsung notebook drive is as quiet as the quietest 2.5" drive I've heard. It measures ~16 dBA/1m, on par with the Fujitsu 4200 RPM notebook drive that was in the Mappit A4F reviewed a while back. There is the tiniest bit of high frequency noise that disappears as soon as you put it in a case. Its seek noise is nothing more than a bit of fluttering perhaps even less than what you hear with a Seagate Barracuda IV that's well suspended.

Here's how it was mounted: Simply placed on top of the already mounted desktop drive, with a thin pad of foam between them.

NOISE: Surprisingly, the measured noise of the system hardly dropped, to 26 dBA/1m from the front, 28 dBA/1m from the left side and 28 dBA/1m from the back. Again, the noise was dominated by the soft fffffff wind turbulence of the 120mm fan, which has very little bearing or buzzing noise. Subjectively, the difference was very audible and significant, at least for me: The low frequency hum completely disappeared. Seek noise was much like that of may standard systems with elastic suspension Samsung SP and Seagate Barracuda IV desktop drives: Essentially inaudible. All in all, totally acceptable to me.

COOLING: The CPU and board temps are not repeated here because they're identical to the results with config 1.

The hard drive and PSU exhaust temperatures were also monitored. The hard drive temperature was also measured at the highest point during a ~5 minute long defragmentation. None of the results are any cause for concern.

Item
Idle
Full Load
Defrag
Samsung HDD diode
30°C
31°C
41°C
External HDD sensor
31°C
31°C
42°C
PSU exhaust
34°C
41°C
34°C

CONFIG 2: With Samsung MP0402H notebook hard drive and PSU Intake Duct

The top 3.5" bay was too much of an invitation to resist. I had to try a PSU fresh air duct. This concept is simple: The fan in almost all current PSUs is controlled by a thermistor that responds to temperature, speeding the fan up as temperature rises. If the PSU can be isolated from the heat generated by the rest of the system components and cooler outside air is fed to its intake vent, the PSU will not get as hot and its fan will speed up much less. Hence, it will run quieter and may even last longer with the reduced heat.

A piece of 1/2" thick closed-cell foam was cut to fit and wedged in as seen below to divide the case into two sections: The PSU and intake duct on top and the rest below.


Arrow shows intake airflow.


Arrow shows perfect position for Zalman fanmate1 controller.


The sculptor's mesh was also used on the 3.5" top drive bay, from which the actual cage was removed.
It would act as an intake vent for the PSU.

When the cover is closed, the CPU duct jams the foam "wall" flush against the bottom of the PSU. It is not an airtight fit, but the separation is enough to cause most of the heat from the bottom chamber to stay there instead of rising up to the PSU intake, and for most of the PSU intake air to come through the the open 3.5" bay in front.

Did it make any difference? One clear measurable difference was at the PSU output temperature: At max load, the exhaust air temperature was recorded at 39°C, down a couple degrees from 41°C.

Did this cause the fan speed to stay lower? A bit. The measured fan voltage at full load was 7V, slightly down form the 7.6V without the duct.

Did this make it quieter? If it did, it was not measurable. It was very difficult to hear any difference as well, with the fan being located at the back and the PC underneath the desk.

Ah well, it was worth a try, and it will probably keep the PSU fan going at least a bit slower all the time.

FINAL THOUGHTS AND CONCLUSIONS

The Yeong Yang Mars 5603 is a good performance oriented case. Its adherence to Intel's Thermally-Advantaged Chassis guidelines invites the use of very hot CPUs and graphic cards. But it so happens that the 5603 is also a good case for PC silencers. The excellent fan grills and low impedance airflow path combined with solid design and construction and a high level of attention to detail are welcome for quiet computing.

The high cooling capacity of the case is obvious from the tests conducted. While the test system is not the hottest combination of components available today, neither does it run cool. The sub-30dBA/1m performance and decent cooling with only one slow-spinning 120mm exhaust fan with no modifications to the case says a lot about this product. Air inflow at the front bezel vents could always be felt, so even with the impedance of the HDD cage, there is plenty of cooling airflow.

The only real downside for the serious silent PC enthusiast is the non-removable hard drive cage. If only the bottom rivets were screws, this case would provide every desirable feature of the highly regarded Evercase 4252 in a highly presentable, more user-friendly package. For the experienced modder, the silencing potential of this case is limited only by the imagination.

PROS

* Excellent I/O panel position with lots of features
* Roomy interior
* 120mm fans capability, front & back
* Good quality 120mm fan
* Very good case ventilation
* Rubber grommet HDD mounts
* Solid construction and design
* Good PSU mounting support
* Very functional bezel
* Great attention to detail
* Very good modding potential

CONS

* Riveted hard drive cage
* No space for hard drive suspension
* No dust filters on side vents
* Outer bezel is a bit hard, maybe resonant
* Plastic fan mounts

Much thanks to Yeong Yang Technology for the YY-5603 samples.

* * *

Discuss this this article in the SPCR Forums.



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