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QMicra, Config 1 (System Fans @ 12V) Idle: 28 dBA@1m:
QMicra, Config 1 (System Fans @ 12V) Load: 30 dBA@1m: One
Meter, One Foot
QMicra, Config 2 (System Fans @ 7V) Idle: 24 dBA@1m:
QMicra, Config 2 (System Fans @ 7V) Load: 28 dBA@1m: One
Antec NSK3300, Config 1 (System Fan @ L): 24 dBA@1m: One
Meter, One Foot
Antec NSK3300, Config 2 (Rear Fan swapped to Nexus @ 5V):
23 dBA@1m: One
Lian Li PC-101, Config 1 (No Intake Fan): 24
dBA@1m: One Meter,
Lian Li PC-101, Config 2 (Intake Fan @ 5V): 26
dBA@1m: One Meter,
HOW TO LISTEN & COMPARE
These recordings were made
with a high resolution, studio quality, digital recording system and are
intended to represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.
Two recordings of each noise level were made, one from a distance of one
meter, and another from one foot away.
The one meter recording is
intended to give you an idea of how the subject of this review sound in
actual use one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a
computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches
of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the
subject. For best results, set your volume control so that the ambient
noise is just barely audible. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not
be audible if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we
couldn't record it either!
The one foot recording is
designed to bring out the fine details of the noise. Use this recording
with caution! Although more detailed, it may not represent how the subject
sounds in actual use. It is best to listen to this recording after you
have listened to the one meter recording.
We said at the beginning that the QMicra is a niche product, and we stand by that
assessment. Its niche is performance-oriented users who want something small
and quiet but refuse to make cooling or performance sacrifices to achieve it. Those who want to stuff
four drives and SLI into a portable box may find just what they're looking
for in the QMicra. It will be smaller and lighter than most of the alternatives.
It might even be quieter. But, in absolute terms, it won't be small, it won't
be light, and it won't be quiet compared to what is possible with a more modest
system. Ordinary users for whom one drive is plenty and external graphics are
optional can find much smaller, quieter, and cheaper alternatives by looking
to existing SFF barebones systems.
Overall, the cooling performance of the QMicra is not bad, although users will
be hard-pressed to stuff a high-end system into it without accepting a fairly
high minimum noise level. From a noise perspective, it's fairly good so long
as its thermal limits are respected. The Pax Mate damping material, the rubber
sealing strips, the grommets, and the unique hard drive harness all do their
part to improve noise quality, even if they cannot make it quieter. In
this respect, the QMicra is similar to the
Antec P180, which sounds nicer than most cases, even though
it may not measure much quieter.
Unfortunately, there a few niggling details that prevent us from wholeheartedly
recommending the QMicra. The front intakes are too restricted to provide optimal
airflow, and cooling suffers because of it. Fit and finish was also a bit
of an issue, which is a shame since there is considerable attention to detail
in the design. Details like the rubber sealing strips or the
silicone grommets are not implemented as well as they could be, and this detracts
from the overall quality of the case. It would be nice to see the sealing strips
glued down, and softer grommets that surround the whole shaft of the screw.
However, the biggest strike against the QMicra is the price. As mentioned at the beginning of this review, its closest competitor may be the
Silverstone SG01 Evolution, which we have not reviewed, and which we'd probably find lots to nitpick at. However, it can be found on line for just ~$130 and it has more of the look most buyers expect of a high end case. A $330
case is probably acceptable for a large, well-equipped, extreme high end case, but the QMicra (case only without power supply or fans) looks like a pretty hard sell at that price. Perhaps the price will change if PC Design
Lab can grow its niche enough to mass produce the case.
Many thanks to PC
Design Lab for the QMicra sample.
* * *
Articles of Related Interest
Shuttle SD11G5: Pentium-M SFF PC
Lian Li PC-101: Aluminum *Can* be Quiet!
Antec P150 mid-tower case w/ Neo HE 430 PSU
Antec NSK3300 mini-tower
Cases: Basics and Recommendations
* * *
this article in the SPCR Forums.
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