Quiet PC Serenity Z77 Value review

21 Aug 2012

Raw performance takes a back seat to efficiency and silence, making for a tempting left-field choice

Price when reviewed 
908
5

Quiet PC’s specialist systems don’t often turn up in the PC Pro Labs, but we've been impressed by machines such as the Nofan IcePipe A43-H67 - and the arrival of Ivy Bridge has given the firm headroom to balance processing power with the efficiency that’s so important to its philosophy.

The Serenity Z77 Value lives up to its name: when idling, it’s one of the quietest PCs we've ever tested. We had to press our ears against the case to hear any sound at all, and noise barely increased in stress tests. It’s no wonder it’s so quiet: the Gelid Tranquillo Rev. 2 cooler is extremely efficient, the SSD is held in place with rubber washers, the PSU is flanked by bumpers and held in place by a Velcro strap, and there’s sound-absorbing material throughout.

Quiet PC Serenity Z77 Value

A graphics card would work against all that. Instead, the Serenity uses the HD Graphics 4000 core inside Intel’s Core i5-3570K. It’s a big improvement over Sandy Bridge, but it’s never going to compete with discrete cards: it managed 25fps in our 1,600 x 900 Medium quality Crysis test; mid-range and high-end cards regularly top 100fps in the same test.

In other concession to silence, Quiet PC has left the processor at its stock speed of 3.4GHz. Its overall benchmark score of 1.01 is a tad slow compared to the pace we're used to seeing from overclocked chips, with the Chillblast Fusion Thunderbird scoring 1.18, but it's still more than enough power to handle virtually all desktop applications. The silver lining is a peak temperature of only 71°C.

Quiet PC Serenity Z77 Value

Storage is handled solely by the 256GB Crucial M4 SSD, which provided mixed results: it wrote large files at a relatively slow 387MB/sec - top drives score over 500MB/s- and its small file reading score of 14MB/s is under half the pace we measure from most drives. Performance improved in AS SSD, but it's clear this isn't a drive to buy for lightning-quick file transfers.

The Nexus Prominent R looks like a demure version of Cooler Master’s CM 690 II, even down to its roof-mounted SATA dock. That’s no bad thing: compared to the Chillblast, the Quiet PC looks classy. Build quality is good, and leaving out a graphics card makes for a spacious interior. The Gigabyte GA-Z77-D3H motherboard has pairs of free PCI Express x16 and PCI sockets, as well as a trio of empty PCI Express x1 slots and three spare SATA ports. Cables are tidied away, and the cooler doesn’t impede any DIMMs.

The lack of discrete graphics and overclocking mean the Quiet PC doesn’t compete for power, and there's an undeniable premium to be paid for low noise levels - this level of performance could be found cheaper elsewhere. However, the near-silent operation and 128W peak power draw make it a tempting alternative to its brasher, louder rivals.

Details

Price ex VAT £757
Price inc VAT £908
Overall rating 5
Performance 4
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5

Warranty

Warranty 2 yr return to base

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 256GB
RAM capacity 8.00GB

Processor

CPU family Intel Core i5
CPU nominal frequency 3.40GHz
Processor socket LGA 1155
HSF (heatsink-fan) Gelid Tranquillo Rev. 2

Motherboard

Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z77-D3H
Motherboard chipset Intel Z77
Conventional PCI slots free 2
Conventional PCI slots total 2
PCI-E x16 slots free 2
PCI-E x16 slots total 2
PCI-E x1 slots free 3
PCI-E x1 slots total 3
Internal SATA connectors 6
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR3
Memory sockets free 2
Memory sockets total 4

Graphics card

Graphics card Intel HD Graphics 4000
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting Low
Graphics chipset Intel HD Graphics 4000
DVI-I outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
Number of graphics cards 0

Hard disk

Hard disk Crucial M4 SSD
Capacity 256GB
Hard disk usable capacity 238GB
Internal disk interface SATA 6Gbit/s

Drives

Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader/DVD writer combo

Case

Chassis Nexus Prominent R
Case format Full tower
Dimensions 212 x 530 x 505mm (WDH)

Power supply

Power supply Zalman 2M450-GS
Power supply rating 450W

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 3

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 4
PS/2 mouse port yes
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 1
3.5mm audio jacks 6

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 3
Front panel eSATA ports 1

Operating system and software

OS family Windows 7

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 30W
Peak power consumption 128W

Performance tests

3D performance (crysis) low settings 49fps
3D performance setting Low
Overall Real World Benchmark score 1.01
Responsiveness score 0.95
Media score 1.09
Multitasking score 0.99