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Test System And Acoustic/Thermal Performance

Four Full Tower Cases From $150 To $600
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Test System

Test Hardware
CPU Intel Core i7 920 @ 2.66 GHz
Motherboard Asus Rampage II Extreme
Graphics Cards 2 x AMD Radeon HD 4870 512 MB
Hard Drives 1 x Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 500 GB, 1 x Samsung SpinPoint F1 1TB
Memory Corsair Dominator Triple-Channel 6 GB ( 3 x 2 GB) DDR3-1333) Kit

Thermal Performance

For each chassis, we took three thermal readings. Two came from Extech’s TM200 dual type-K thermometer and the third was read through AMD’s Catalyst Control Center software. One of the readings from our digital probe measured ambient temperature at a position in the chassis horizontal to the LGA775 processor socket, not taped to any surface in the case, therefore measuring air temperature. The other lead was kept between two fins in Intel’s reference Core i7 heatsink measuring its surface temperature. The third reading, of course, reflects GPU core temps of the first Radeon HD 4870 in a CrossFire configuration.

At idle, the Antec Twelve Hundred maintains the lowest ambient temperature, but Cooler Master’s HAF delivers a slightly lower CPU heatsink temperature. The Cooler Master-based system also registered a GPU temperature lower than any of the other cases.

At load, a condition we established by running a Prime95 torture test and 3DMark Vantage looped three times, the Twelve Hundred again boasted the best ambient case temperature. But the Cooler Master HAF 932 shows the best CPU heatsink temp one more time. That number is backed by a GPU temp of 80 degrees C—the lowest of any of the four configurations.

Acoustic Performance

In order to measure the acoustic performance of our quartet, we used an Extech Model 407768 sound level meter set to A-weighting with a range set between 30 and 80 dB, and the slow preset for more averaged results. The meter was placed 1 m away from the front of each chassis at the same height from the floor (fans at the top of taller chassis could potentially alter results).

At idle, it’s little surprise that ABS’ Canyon 695 is the quietest case in the roundup. Its triple-chamber design and acoustic insulation effectively keep the pricey case whisper quiet, even if ABS can’t help the Radeons inside from buzzing away. Under load, the ABS retains its monopoly on quiet running with a score lower than any of the other three cases at idle.

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