Puget Delivers a Quiet Core Duo PC

Complete|Mobile Systems
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The cover comes off to reveal a neatly built system that shows every sign of being quiet. Both the CPU and the GPU are fanless, relying on the airflow generated by the power supply and the case fan to provide all the necessary airflow. Two 2.5" drives are hard mounted in regular drive bays using adapter rails. One of the drives is an 8 GB solid state flash memory drive that holds the operating system. The other is an 80 GB notebook drive (the work order: "Make sure it is Samsung brand").

Note the odd location of the CPU heatsink in the middle of the case.

Like some of AOpen's previous boards that use mobile processors, the layout of the motherboard is a little unconventional. The processor is located at the front of the board, as though it was designed as a BTX board. The board also uses SO-DIMMs — aka laptop memory — and only two slots are provided. Puget has populated the slots with two 1 GB modules, which is plenty.

Fortunately, the board is conventional where it counts: It uses a standard Socket 478 retention module. This means that Puget could replace the stock heatsink (which looks noisy and was included in the accessory box) with an aftermarket model. Their choice: A Thermalright Ultra 90, a smallish tower heatsink that is a step down from Thermalright's high end offerings. Given the modest heat output of the Core Duo, it should be good enough even without a fan.

At any rate, we sincerely hope that it is good enough, since the odd location of the CPU may make it difficult to cool. Remember how the side intake is likely to provide the bulk of the airflow? Visualize the position of that vent just below the video card. Now visualize the air flowing from that vent out through the two exhaust fans. Notice anything about the CPU heatsink? It's not in the path of the airflow. Whatever airflow runs across the CPU heatsink will have to come from the front vent which is farther away from the exhaust fans. We were able to feel some air flowing through the front vent when the system was running, so there was evidently some airflow for the CPU.

The motherboard requires laptop RAM.
The fan header on top provides 5 volts to the system fan.

Extra power supply cables are tucked neatly out of the way,
and special brackets allow two 2.5" drives to be mounted in standard drive bays.

Cabling was quite neat, with spare power supply cables tucked into an empty optical bay, and most of the other cables tied together at the bottom of the case. For the most part, cables were kept clear of the main air pathways.

Neatly tied cables at the bottom of the case.

One nice touch was the way the front panel cables were kept in place: Hot glue. All of the cables are hot glued in place so they cannot be dislodged during shipping or when careless users are poking around.

Front panel cables were hot glued in place.

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