Zalman TNN-300 Fanless PC Enclosure System

Cases|Damping
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NOISE RECORDINGS

These may be a bit superfluous, as the noise of this system is basically determined by the HDD you install in it. However, they were made, and sometimes they do provide more insight than our narrative descriptions and SPL measurements.

MP3: TNN-300 w/Seagate Momentus 7200.1 on Sorbothane: <20 dBA@1m

MP3: TNN-300 w/Samsung P80 HDD on Zalman rubber cyliners: 23 dBA@1m

MP3: TNN-300 w/Seagate Momentus 7200.1 & NF6800GT w/ Arctic Cooling NV5 HSF: 27 dBA@1m

HOW TO LISTEN & COMPARE

These recordings were made with a high resolution studio quality digital recording system. The microphone was 3" from the center of the front panel. The ambient noise during all recordings was <20 dBA. It is best to download the sound files to your computer before listening.

To set the volume to a realistic level (similar to the original), try playing this Nexus 92mm case fan @ 5V (17 dBA@1m) recording and set the volume so that it is barely audible. Then don't reset the volume and play the other sound files. All tone controls and other effects should be turned off or set to neutral. For full details on how to calibrate your sound system playback level to get the most valid listening comparison, please see the yellow text box entitled Listen to the Fans on page four of the article SPCR's Test / Sound Lab: A Short Tour.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Zalman TNN-300 is successful in meeting its own specifications regarding cooling and noise performance. When used as recommended, this integrated case, cooling system, power supply and remote control work as advertised by the manufacturer. This accomplishment in itself is something to celebrate in the hyperbole-amok world of PC component marketing.

The micro-ATX board limitation will be a sticking point for some, but for most potential buyers and users, it's a non-issue, as there is much integration of both features and performance on many m-ATX motherboards these days. The resulting small size, lower weight, and "cute" look (compared especially to the TNN-500AF) will be considered huge benefits by most. The design and required assembly are not without hiccups, but in the big scale of things, they are relatively minor, and hopefully will be resolved with continuously development by Zalman.

This iteration of the TNN system has appeal in today's home entertainment PC market. Virtually no noise, good cooling performance and good user ergonomics translate into a piece of equipment many people could picture in their den, next to a big HD television, perhaps as a HTPC. It could certainly work well as a music / video file server, even if you wish to tuck it away out of sight. It could also serve well as a silent network server in a small office where there's no room for large server machines.

The Zalman TNN-300 is a nice piece of engineering. We like it.

PROS

* HDD is the only source of noise.
* Cooling is generally excellent.
* Ergonomics and visual appeal are good.
* Conveniently located memory card reader.
* Lots of spare parts included.
* Passive PSU is efficient.
* Remote control included.
* Assembly is not difficult considering the complexity.

CONS

* Price is not low.
* VGA card installation flaw is nasty.
* So are the motherboard thermal blocks.
* No audio I/O in front.
* Not good w/ common Intel processors.
* WAF may still not be great.

>>> Sidebar on the iMon Remote Control System <<<

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Much thanks to Zalman USA for the opportunity to review this product.

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest

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