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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Quiet PC Serenity Nano review: gaming PC engineered to provide maximum efficiency and low noise


The compact gaming PC is possibly the most difficult category of PC to keep quiet. While it's possible to build a tiny PC without fans or moving components, combining small size with competitive performance is next to impossible – especially when that performance is being poured into the graphics engine of a PC. (See also best gaming PC.)

There is no room for sound-proofing material and no space for large, slow-moving cooling fans – the best type for quiet and efficient cooling. All that you can do is select the quietest components available and hope for the best. This is largely what Quiet PC looks to have done with the Serenity Nano.

This system is powered by an Intel Core i5-4670K, overclocked from 3.4 GHz to 3.8 GHz, which is hardly an overclock at all considering this is the rated Turbo speed of the processor. But this approach does avoid increasing the cooling requirements to the extent that noisy, high-speed fans would be required. Quiet PC has chosen the Noctua L9i cooler for the CPU, which is specially designed to cause minimal audible noise, if not designed for extreme overclocking. We would advise against purchasing this system and pushing the CPU frequency higher unless you really know what you're doing.

The PC also uses a quiet 750W FSP Aurum Modular power supply. This may seem vastly over-specified considering the maximum power draw of the PC, which we measured at 330W, but keeping the power supply at under 50% maximum load enables it to run much more quietly than one which is straining near its full capacity.

A Palit GTX 770 Jetstream graphics card is installed, which features not two, but three cooling fans of its own. And when these kick in you can most definitely hear them. Placed as they are so close to the edge of the case, there's little you can do to mute them once in full flow. However, this card does deliver a little more performance than a standard GeForce GTX 770, enabling the Serenity Nano to outperform all but the mighty Mesh in our gaming tests, despite its modest processor settings.

Externally, the Serenity Nano looks almost identical to both Dino PC's Microraptor GTX 770 and YoyoTech's Warbird RS4.0 as all three share the same CoolerMaster Elite 130 Mini-ITX system case. Quiet PC's PC offers broadly the same features too, but costs well over £200 more and comes with no optical drive as standard. While it does run quietly when not playing games, its limited overclocking potential and high price may be too much of a drawback to many.

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