Cooling and Noise
These are two subjects that are normally of great interest to users of compact machines. Cooling is always a concern because of the confined space and low levels of noise are often critical as the machine is often a show piece media centre.
Shuttle has used their I.C.E. system for the SZ68R5. The I.C.E. was one of the first heat pipe cooling systems and has been a major part of Shuttles success. Only in the last few years have we seen sealed water systems offer any real competition to the efficiency of the heat pipe design.
The standard cooling works well in the SZ68R5 with a 92mm Fan that runs between 900 and 3800 RPM. The fan is connected to a 4 pin PWM and can be controlled from the Bios where there are settings from full to ultra-silent. The default fan setting is a smart mode which lets the machine vary the speed as the processor temperature fluctuates. The Bios setting can be overridden in windows using applications like Speedfan, which seems to work well.
The I.C.E. fan and the powersupply are the only areas of assisted cooling in the SZ68R5, every thing else relies on passive heat sinks. Both the VRM and Southbridge are passively cooled.
Here is a simple graph showing how the cooling system performed for us. The ambient room temperature was 20c durning our tests and the ‘Game’ values were recorded while playing Battlefield 3 for 30 minutes.
And in the same environment here is a graph of the noise levels. The background room noise was 29db and the recorded levels include noise from the 570 GTX graphics card.
Next we tried to measure the I.C.E. fan noise level in isolation. Using Speedfan we set the fan speed to different RPM levels and measured the noise level in decibels.
We considered the standard fan as quite noisy when raised above its lowest levels, this could easily be replaced by something much quieter, but you would probably lose the ability for the Bios to auto adjust its speed.
Please bear in mind that our measuring equipment is not scientific and these statistics are only meant as a rough guide.