Antec ISK 300-65 Mini-ITX Case

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TEST RESULTS - continued

A. With Stock Case Fan: Intel Heatsink, fanless

The temperatures quickly soared to extreme levels. Amazingly, with the stock fan on low, the system did not crash when the CPU stabilized at 90°C. However, few users would be comfortable with the CPU running so hot. This setup does not provide good enough cooling.

Stock Case Fan + Intel Heatsink, fanless
Fan
dBA@0.6m
CPU
GPU
low
23
90°C
68°C
med
32
80°C
65°C
24°C ambient

With the case fan set to medium, CPU temperature improved a bit but it would still be considered too hot by most users. The noise level was also too high. It is clear that the stock Intel heatsink is not suitable for fanless cooling of the E7200 processor in this case. Perhaps not in any case.

Could we get better cooling at higher fan speed but with a quieter fan? How about a Noctua?

B. With Noctua 80mm fan: Intel Heatsink, fanless

Noctua fans are priced high and have a repulation for very good acoustics. The Noctua NF-R8 substituted for the stock Antec fan is rated for lower speed and noise than the Antec. It also comes with elastomer plugs for softmounting to prevent vibration from entering the case and causing extra noise.

Since variable control over the fan speed was wanted, when the TriCool fan was removed, the hole on the back panel for its 3-position switch was used to jury-rig a Zalman Fanmate 2 variable fan controller in place with a some double-sided sticky tape. The long cables of the Zalman controller made for an even bigger wiring challenge, but it all got stuffed away reasonably well.


Noctua NF-R8 mounted with soft plugs.


A pair of small needle nose pliers were needed to pull the rubbery plugs through the mounting holes.


Zalman Fanmate 2 fit neatly in place of the 3-position TriCool fan switch.

Noctua NF-R8 Fan Measurements
Voltage
SPL1
dBA@1m
SPL2
dBA@0.6m
RPM
12V
30
32
1970
9V
22
25
1530
7V
16
19
1200
5V
12
14
900
Stock Antec TriCool
High
38
43
2700
Medium
27
32
1780
Low
19
23
1150
High - 5V
14
17
920

At the lower speeds that we're most interested in, the Noctua is several decibels quieter: At 1150rpm (equivalent to the LOW setting on the Antec fan), the Noctua is 3 dBA quieter from 1m, and 4 dBA quieter from closer up. The overall character of the Noctua's noise is much less obtrusive. There is some tonal whine at higher speeds but at 1150rpm, it's nice and smooth.

Would running this fan at 7V improve on the cooling performance compared to the stock fan on low? In a word, no. The noise level was much lower, but the temperatures remained unchanged. Increasing the fan speed to 9V gave better results, but still not really acceptable, and the noise level became too high anyway.

Noctua NF-R8 fan Case Fan + Intel Heatsink, fanless
Fan
dBA@0.6m
CPU
GPU
7V
19
91°C
68°C
9V
25
82°C
66°C
24°C ambient


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