Zalman's HD135 HTPC case: Gasping for air

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Thermals and noise comprise the core of most SPCR equipment reviews. A fairly hot system was put together to stress the thermal performance of the HD135 without going overboard. The base components are listed below.

ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard
One of the first AM2 motherboards we saw, this is also one of the hottest and most power hungry boards out there, thanks largely to the 32 full PCI Express lanes that it supports. The target market is high end gamers, so it's a bit of a mismatch for an HTPC case, but it does the job, and it's passively cooled to boot.

AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ processor
This was the hottest, fastest non-FX processor that AMD produced when the AM2 Socket was launched, and it's still the hottest AMD chips we've used to date. The TDP is rated for 89W, and for once we believe it — practical measurements have showed that the difference in system power between idle and load is almost 90W!

Corsair XMS2 2 x 1024MB DDR2 matched dual channel memory.

Western Digital Caviar SE 16 WD5000KS 500GB SATA 3.5" hard drive
One of the quietest 3.5" desktop drives we know of. At idle, it measures ~21 [email protected] The drive remained unused throughout testing; it was installed under the assumption that an HTPC needs at least one big media drive.

Seagate Momentus 7200.1 ST910021AS 100GB SATA notebook hard drive
The system drive. It's quieter than most 3.5" drives but noisier than most notebook drives thanks to the speedy 7,200 RPM spindle speed.

LG GSA-H22N DVD±RW drive

SilverStone Element Plus 500W
Not the quietest model on the market, but it's 80 Plus and it's the best we could find that was compatible with the case.

XFX GeForce GF6800XT 128 MB video card with Zalman VF900 VGA cooler at 5V. The SPL of this HSF at 5V measures 20 [email protected] It sounds a bit like a whispery rubbing of paper.

nMedia IceTank CPU Heatsink modified with a Nexus 92mm fan running at 12V
Zalman recommends their CNPS8000 heatsink, but it's a terrible performer, so we replaced it with this. There are better coolers than the IceTank for sure, but most of them are Tower coolers that will not fit in the HD135. The IceTank struggles with low airflow, so we didn't feel comfortable undervolting the fan below 12V.

Windows XP Pro SP2 was installed and fully updated, and our usual gamut of software tools installed:

Other tools:

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