Our testing methods
The mini-ITX Casewarmer I've been using of late is taking the day off. Let's have a look at the specs of my personal system, which is loosely based on the Sweet Spot configuration in our July System Guide:
|Processor||Intel Core i5-4690|
|Memory||16GB Crucial Ballistix Sport DDR3-1600 (2x 8GB DIMMs)|
|Graphics card||EVGA Nvidia GeForce GTX 760|
|Storage||Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD, Samsung Spinpoint F1 750GB HDD|
|Power supply||Seasonic Platinum Series SS-660 XP2|
|CPU cooler||Intel OEM CPU cooler|
|Wireless networking||Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205|
|Sound card||Asus Xonar DG|
|OS||Windows 8.1 Pro|
This build is pretty typical of the system most TR readers use, according to the results of our latest hardware survey. Let's see whether the Bravo can keep it cool.
I relied on three software tools to test the Type-01 Bravo:
Each test cycle included the following phases:
The tests and methods we employ are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, join us on our forums to discuss them with us.
The Asus Z97-A motherboard that I'm using inside the Type-01 has pretty sophisticated fan control features, a relief when compared to the finicky firmware of the MSI A88XI AC that I used for previous case reviews. As part of my setup process, I ran Asus' automatic fan profiling utility in order to create profiles for the Bravo, and I set the Fan Xpert software to use the "Standard" fan mode. I repeated the same procedure when I reinstalled the case inside the Obsidian 450D.
The ambient temperature in my office at the time of my tests was 72°F (22.2°C).
Here are the temperatures for my test system's components, plotted over time:
And here are the minimum and maximum temperatures that each component reached:
Expecting a knockout punch from either corner? Sorry to disappoint. Both the Bravo and the Obsidian 450D keep the system inside plenty cool. Most of the temperatures for each case fall within a couple degrees of one another. The Bravo did keep my mechanical hard drive cooler overall, but the Obsidian 450D punched right back by keeping the SSD chillier. Let's see if either case can break this tie by delivering better acoustic performance.
To determine how loud the Bravo gets, I'm once again relying on the iOS app dB meter. These results don't have lab-grade accuracy, but they do provide an idea of the Bravo's relative loudness when compared to other cases I've tested.
According to the app, the noise floor in my office with no appliances, HVAC equipment, or other computers running is about 30 dBA. To gather my numbers, I took readings from the front, sides, and top of the Bravo, and I repeated this procedure for the 450D. I positioned my phone 6" from the cases for each reading.
Yet again, things are too close to call. Both of these cases are quiet runners.
Subjectively, the Type-01 Bravo was next to silent at idle. I couldn't hear the 200-mm front fan without putting my ear right up against the front panel, and the rear-mounted 140-mm unit produced a gentle, broad-spectrum whoosh. The Bravo got a little coarser under load, though. Due to the vented side and top panels, my CPU and GPU coolers became clearly audible, even though the case fans didn't get much louder. A better CPU cooler than the Intel stock unit might have helped here, but the open design of the Bravo will make any noisy component obvious.
The Bravo's un-dampened drive trays can also transmit vibrations from mechanical storage. I noticed this problem with the mechanical hard drive I installed. This drive made the left side panel vibrate, resulting in the worst kind of PC noise: a loud, pitched hum that was difficult to ignore. Corsair cases feature rubber grommets in their tool-free drive sleds for just this reason, and I wish XFX had followed suit in the Bravo.
While the noise results I collected suggest a tie between the cases, I have to hand the subjective crown to the Obsidian 450D. The 450D's open top panel still allows a fair amount of CPU and GPU noise to escape, but its solid side panel provides more noise dampening than the Bravo's fully vented one. Also, the 450D's rubber-dampened hard drive sleds prevent the kind of sympathetic vibration that plagued the Bravo.
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