Nofan IcePipe A43-H67 Silent PC review

16 Jun 2011

True silence - and we really do mean silence – from a remarkable passively cooled PC. Many will consider the premium well worth paying

Price when reviewed: 
1,122(£1,123 inc VAT)
5

Many PCs have arrived in the PC Pro Labs claiming to be silent, but despite seeing clever cooling and case modifications, we usually find a pesky fan or two somewhere to spoil the ambience. Not so with this one. Remember the name Nofan: set up by the founder of Zalman, its IcePipe A43-H67 Silent PC does things differently.

For starters, despite a full-fat Core i5-2500K processor it’s completely passively cooled, and the interior is dominated by the most ridiculous heatsink we’ve ever seen. The Nofan CR-100A cooler measures a massive 220mm across, and more closely resembles a hamster wheel than a piece of cooling equipment. Its donut shape houses scores of metal fins designed to dissipate heat from the Sandy Bridge processor.

Nofan IcePipe A43-H67 Silent PC

The chassis has no case fans of its own, instead relying on a meshed front panel to allow air to drift inside. The 400W Nofan power supply is fanless too, instead being built around an aluminium heatsink. There’s understandably no graphics card – silence and gaming don’t tend to mix – with the integrated chip inside the processor taking charge of displays, and there’s no sign of a crunching hard disk, either. Instead, Nofan has installed Windows 7 Home Premium on a 120GB OCZ Vortex 2E SSD, which makes up in silence what it loses in capacity.

The result is startling. We’re used to hearing so-called quiet systems emit at least a low hum, so to put an ear to the side of the Nofan and hear absolutely nothing was something of a strange experience. It’s so quiet you’ll need to rely on the lights on the front to tell when it’s on; even with the side panel removed we could discern only the tiniest hint of the electric whine of the PSU’s capacitors.

Nofan IcePipe A43-H67 Silent PC

That cooler does more than only eliminate noise. The Core i5-2500K idled at 36°C, and under full load from our benchmarks rose to a comfortable 75°C. That’s nowhere near its thermal limit, and lower than we see from many actively cooled processors. Power consumption was also excellent, with an idle power draw for the entire PC of only 33W. Under load, that rose to a mere 124W.

Details

Price ex VAT £935
Price inc VAT £1,122
Overall rating 5
Performance 4
Features & Design 6
Value for Money 4

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 120GB
RAM capacity 4.00GB

Processor

CPU family Intel Core i5
CPU nominal frequency 3.30GHz
Processor socket LGA 1155
HSF (heatsink-fan) Nofan CR-100A

Motherboard

Motherboard Gigabyte H67MA-UD2H
Motherboard chipset Intel H67
Conventional PCI slots free 0
Conventional PCI slots total 1
PCI-E x16 slots free 1
PCI-E x16 slots total 2
PCI-E x1 slots free 0
PCI-E x1 slots total 2
Internal SATA connectors 5
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR3
Memory sockets free 2
Memory sockets total 4

Graphics card

Graphics card Intel Integrated graphics
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting Low
Graphics chipset Intel Integrated graphics
DVI-I outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
DisplayPort outputs 1
Number of graphics cards 1

Hard disk

Hard disk OCZ Vertex 2E
Capacity 120GB
Internal disk interface SATA/300

Drives

Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader/DVD writer combo

Case

Chassis Nofan CS-60
Case format Full tower
Dimensions 180 x 410 x 425mm (WDH)

Power supply

Power supply Nofan P-400A
Power supply rating 400W

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 0

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 6
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port yes
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 8

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 2
Front panel memory card reader no

Operating system and software

OS family Windows 7

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 33W
Peak power consumption 124W

Performance tests

3D performance (crysis) low settings 40fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.94
Responsiveness score 0.97
Media score 0.96
Multitasking score 0.90