Quiet PC Serenity Z77 Value review
Raw performance takes a back seat to efficiency and silence, making for a tempting left-field choice
Review Date: 21 Aug 2012
Reviewed By: Mike Jennings
Price when reviewed: £757 (£908 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
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.
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.
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.
Author: Mike Jennings
presumably this would make a good base for a media centre? are the on-board graphics good enough for blu-ray? any other recommended components?
By paulmck on 21 Aug 2012
they could have added a fanless card like the Sapphire Ultimate HD 7750 1GB GDDR5. but I guess the reason they haven't is because if people want to add a card it leaves a bit more freedom to choose after market and save on the price of including it in the first place.
the intel 4000 should handle blu-ray
By mr_chips on 21 Aug 2012
"the SSD is held in place with rubber washers"
Is to counter the vibrations from the rotating flash chips?
By whisk on 21 Aug 2012
rofl good spot whisk
the square chips spinning could vibrate so much they could shake the case apart if not dampened ;)
or maybe it is to help prevent shock transfer damaging the solid state device leading to data loss when the read pin scratches the non-existent magnetic platters if the case or surface it is on gets bashed.
By mr_chips on 22 Aug 2012
Low level stress
I wish all PC makers published sound levels in the specs of their systems. With the aim of getting quite and powerful, rather than just powerful.
Not only is there an eco warrior argument for having power efficient systems, but I believe the low level hum PCs make causes a low level of stress in the workplace. Just a theory.
Most PC builders don't seem to low noise as part of their design remit.
If your tablet PC (or iPad) suddenly made as much noise as most desktops do. You would think something was wrong.
By Michael on 22 Aug 2012
- Bloom.fm: 20 buyers show interest in London music startup
- Forget monitors: your next display may be mist or bubbles
- Heartbleed: the race to reissue security certificates
- Computing in schools "not only about code"
- School coding: why one teacher training programme failed
- Q&A: the importance of coding, from a non-coder
- Mark Shuttleworth interview: Taking Ubuntu beyond desktops
- Surveillance panic could lead to restrictive data laws
- Multipath routers: the easy way to faster broadband?
- DIY broadband: how one remote not-spot went wireless
- How to check your identity hasn’t been sold to the hackers
- Tim Cook: this is how much TV has changed since the 70s
- Westminster wins the .London battle
- 20 years of PC Pro: from deep pan pizza to virtualisation
- Five reasons why the Apple Watch leaves me cold
- Apple Watch, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus: Tim Cook's Apple back with a bang?
- BT Home Hub 5: how to get maximum speed
- 20 years of PC Pro: one-star reviews (including "the worst tablet we've ever seen")
- 20 years of PC Pro: our best covers
- Why we've closed the PC Pro forums