Test Results And Conclusion
Today’s review uses the same Mini ITX reference platform as past reviews, with no changes to the standard hardware.
Test System Components
|Test System Configuration|
|Sound||Integrated HD Audio|
|Network||Integrated Gigabit Networking|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce 353.30|
|Chipset||Intel INF 10.0.27|
We measure noise .5m from the case's front corner, on the side that opens. The numbers are corrected to the 1m industry standard—used by many loudspeaker and fan manufacturers—by subtracting six decibels.
|Prime95 v27.9||64-bit executable, Small FFTs, 4 threads|
|3DMark 11||Version: 18.104.22.168, Extreme Preset: Graphics Test 1, Looped|
|Real Temp 3.40||Average of maximum core readings at full CPU load|
|Galaxy CM-140 SPL Meter||Tested at 1/2 m, corrected to 1 m (-6 dB), dBA weighting|
Additionally, the test duration for today’s review was two hours at full load, and the ambient air temperature for the test was maintained at approximately 26°C (78.8°F).
Although the PC-Q34 is designed to be a cool and silent case by way of its fan-optional design, that very same design was intended for use with larger, tower-style coolers, which draw cool air in from the sides and then force it out the rear. However, our Mini ITX test platform uses a down draft style cooler which pulls air in from above and forces it down across the motherboard. While this design is usually more compact and helps cool the motherboard, it most often requires something else to circulate cool air through the case in order to achieve optimum performance.
Although it’s not the hottest running case we’ve tested, it does lead most of the comparison cases by a pretty wide margin. It seems that with our particular configuration, the PC-Q34 experiences a large buildup of heat from both a CPU/GPU cooler dumping hot air back into the case and nothing else to help push it out. The good news is that this is likely the worst case scenario for this case, and those numbers ought to see quite an improvement with the use of a better suited CPU cooler or an exhaust fan.
Without an extra fan to make noise at idle speeds, the PC-Q34 is the quietest case in the list at idle speeds, even managing to push the lower limits of our sound meter. However, its vented side panels do little to stop the noise at full fan speed, which also makes it one of the loudest cases in our list.
All of that extra heat and noise really puts a dent in the PC-Q34’s efficiency, but where does that leave us in terms of value?
The $80 base MSRP of the PC-Q34 allows it to regain some ground in our value figures, only being outdone by two other cases with significantly lower price tags. Note: Even though the base configuration isn’t available yet in the United States, we elected to use its price in our value calculations since it falls in line with the other cases we’ve tested, and would otherwise distort the comparisons.
The PC-Q34 faired pretty well for a no-frills case with no fans and a poor cooling configuration, and still performed well enough to earn our seal of approval.