Test Results And Conclusion
How We Test
We continue to use our reference PC with its reference overclock for case testing, apart from replacing the X99S XPower AC with the X99S Gaming 7. That replacement has allowed us to compare tighter "Standard ATX" cases, since the XPower motherboard is oversize.
Noise is measured .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.
Drivers And Settings
|Chipset||Intel INF 22.214.171.1249|
|CPU||4.2GHz (42x 100MHz) @ 1.2V Core|
|Motherboard||Firmware 17.8 (02/10/2015)|
|RAM||XMP CAS 16 Defaults (1.2V)|
|Graphics||Maximum Fan for Thermal Tests | Nvidia GeForce 347.52|
The Noctis 450 presented several testing challenges, which began with its reliance on the CPU fan header and fan for proper speed control. Our CPU cooler is too small to operate properly with its fan slowed, and doing so would have produced improper noise results when comparing other systems. Bypassing the CPU fan from the N450's controller didn't work, as the most easily-reached fan on the rear panel didn't slow at all, though the front fans then had an operating range of 840 to 1200 RPM. That's not to say there's anything wrong with NZXT's fan control method, only that it's not a good pairing with our test hardware. We suggest using a larger CPU cooler, or a less power-hungry CPU, or a liquid cooling system to take full advantage of NZXT's fan controller design.
Another test problem was that normalizing temperatures inside the N450 took four hours; most of the previously-tested cases only took around two hours. The CPU temperature climbed by around 1 degree every 10 minutes during the last two hours of testing, but the GPU temperature climbed by 1 degree total before these temperatures were recorded.
Noise levels were far better than heat levels, though the well-featured Noctis 450 is still a little noisier than the cheap Z11 Neo.
Those last two hours of "heat soak" also took a toll on the N450's acoustic efficiency.
In spite of its apparently-reasonable price, the "heat soaking" problem with our specific hardware kept the Noctis 450 from reaching its optimal performance-value rating. We might be willing to give up a little value for the sake of added features however, and the N450 includes a motherboard fan-control extender that would probably be best paired with a higher-capacity CPU cooling system.