Quiet PC Serenity Z77 Value review
Raw performance takes a back seat to efficiency and silence, making for a tempting left-field choice
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.
|Warranty||2 yr return to base|
|Total hard disk capacity||256GB|
|CPU family||Intel Core i5|
|CPU nominal frequency||3.40GHz|
|Processor socket||LGA 1155|
|HSF (heatsink-fan)||Gelid Tranquillo Rev. 2|
|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 sockets free||2|
|Memory sockets total||4|
|Graphics card||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards?||no|
|3D performance setting||Low|
|Graphics chipset||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Number of graphics cards||0|
|Hard disk||Crucial M4 SSD|
|Hard disk usable capacity||238GB|
|Internal disk interface||SATA 6Gbit/s|
|Optical disc technology||Blu-ray reader/DVD writer combo|
|Chassis||Nexus Prominent R|
|Case format||Full tower|
|Dimensions||212 x 530 x 505mm (WDH)|
|Power supply||Zalman 2M450-GS|
|Power supply rating||450W|
Free drive bays
|Free front panel 5.25in bays||3|
|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 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|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||49fps|
|3D performance setting||Low|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||1.01|