Puget Delivers a Quiet Core Duo PC

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June 30, 2006 by Devon Cooke

Product
Custom-built Low-Noise Core Duo PC
Manufacturer
Puget Custom Computers
Selling Price
~US$2350 (~US$1800 without Solid State Drive)

With the possible exception of Apple's iMac, very few modern performance, off-the-shelf systems are really quiet — at least not by SPCR standards. And, even if a company sells a model or two that is quiet, it is nearly impossible to know which systems they are. The big system manufacturers — Dell, Gateway, HP, etc— sell only a few base models whose noise characteristics vary considerably depending on what components are chosen. Listening to the system in a retail store is no help; the ambient noise is simply too loud to gauge how it will sound at home.

Most people who want a system that they know will be quiet end up building their own. The extra time and tinkering required is often well worth the effort. But not everyone has the time, skill or interest to DIY. This is where Puget Custom Computers comes in. Puget offers several systems that are built specifically with low noise in mind.

They're more than just talk, too. Last year, we looked at an extensively customized, 100% fanless system from Puget that was so quiet we could barely measure it. It's pretty tough to top that, but with a price tag of US$3700, it was more of a showpiece than a practical system.

This time around, they've put together a system that promises to be quiet without going to excess. It's based on the efficient Core Duo processor, priced in the range that you would expect for a top-tier system. Puget's standard lineup of quiet computers is also in this price range.


The system is double-boxed — standard with all Puget systems.


Custom-fitted foam blocks provide ample padding, and a large accessory box holds all the extras.


All of the accessories included with the individual components — even AOpen's noisy stock heatsink.

As is standard for Puget, the system arrived double boxed. The outer box was sturdy and plain white, without any branding. A brief note reminding users to keep the boxes intact was affixed to the top flap, but there were no other identifying marks on it. The box was well-padded with sturdy foam packing material that allowed about two inches of space on all sides. Inside, the original manufacturer's box for the case — for our system, a SilverStone TJ-08 — was used to ensure that the system was just as snug in the inner box.


Good advice, but hard to follow if you don't have a lot of storage space.


This message was pasted to the outside of the accessory box.

SPECIFICATIONS

The following components were installed in the system:

PUGET CUSTOM COMPUTER CONFIGURATION
Motherboard
AOpen i945GTm-VHL
CPU
Intel Core Duo T2400 1.83 GHz
CPU Cooling
Thermalright Ultra 90 Heatsink
RAM
2 x Super Talent SODIMM PC2-5400 1024MB
Case
Silverstone TJ08 (Black)
Power Supply
Seasonic S12 Series 500W Power Supply
Hard Drive
Super Talent 2.5 inch 8GB IDE Flash Drive
Samsung MP0804H 80GB 5400RPM Notebook Hard Drive
Video Card
GigaByte GeForceFX 7600GS 256MB PCI-E
CD/DVD-RW
Plextor PX-716SA/SW 16x Dual Layer DVD±RW SATA
Operating System
Windows XP Pro OEM SP2

Based on these specifications alone, the system already promises to be fairly quiet, but Puget has done more than simply assemble the parts. Two minor modifications have been made to ensure that the system will be as quiet as possible without overheating:

  1. Both stock case fans have been removed, and the rear fan has been replaced with a soft-mounted Scythe S-Flex fan (model SFF21E) undervolted to 5V.
  2. The two expansion slot covers below the graphics card have been replaced with open grills to ensure that the fanless video card is adequately cooled.

Thanks to these modifications, there are only three sources of noise in the system: The fan in the power supply, the undervolted case fan, and the notebook drive. The optical drive is also a source of noise, but only when it is in use.



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