Review: ARM Quiet PC (with pictures)

Info & chat about quiet prebuilt, small form factor and barebones systems, people's experiences with vendors thereof, etc.

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Review: ARM Quiet PC (with pictures)

Post by Spastic » Sat May 22, 2004 10:32 am

Long time SPCR reader, first time poster. After getting fed up with my obnoxiously loud homebuilt Athlon XP 1.7+, I gave it to my girlfriend and decided to build myself a new machine. I did a lot of reading here and was getting a good idea of what heatsink, fans, etc I'd need to get. Then I read the review of the ARM foundation kit and thought "hey, why not just let somebody else do the case work for me". Unfortunately, that kit still wasn't available.

However, just for the hell of it I tried outfitting one of their complete Stealth PC systems. As it turns out, they stocked all exact models of the parts I was planning on getting (motherboard, processor, ram, etc). I've built all my computers for the last 8 years or so, but since they had everything I was planning on getting anyway I decided to just let them do it, so I'd actually have a warranty and everything.

The ARM webpage lets you pick basically every component on the computer, and has a continuously updated total cost. Pretty cool, but it also makes it easier to max out all the options. I was thinking "oh, I'll only get a 2800+", but then I flipped it to a 3200+ and the price only went up 80 bucks or so and I was like "ah, what's 80 bucks". Pretty soon the machine was about 700 bucks over what it started at, but I decided to just suck it up and go with it. One slightly crappy thing is that you can't actually do your whole order online. You just spec it out and submit it, then they call you and confirm the details and get your credit card info. However Roy, the guy who takes care of that, is really cool.

I was really excited about getting my new system, but unfortunately there was a delay. It turns out that during the burn-in they do there, one of the memory modules failed and they didn't have any replacements in stock (I picked the top of the line memory). So that delayed it a week or so, but Roy did throw in a nice APC surge protector to make up for it. The computer came packaged very well. When I got it out of the box I could hear something rattling around inside so I opened it up. It turns out that one of the clips that holds the two sides of the Zalmann VGA cooler in place had fallen off. There didn't appear to be any damage, so I just put it back on.

The system seems very well built, with all the cables and such secured well and heavy things like the VGA cooler secured to the case. The OS was updated with all the latest drivers and everything when I got it, so I just set up Windows with my user name and everything and started playing games right away. I don't have any sound measuring equipment, so all I can say is that it seems very quiet to me. It is certainly not inaudible, but I can leave it on when I go to bed without any problems (and it's right by my head). It is quieter than the Dell 8xxx I have at work, which I always thought was pretty quiet. The case never feels warm, even after a long session of Far Cry. After running 3DMark03, the CPU temp was 56C, case 28C, and I got 3895 3DMarks.

Here's the basic details on my system:
CaseType: ARM STEALTH UltraQuiet MT w/RamAIR Duct/2x120 Fans/Black
PowerSupply: 400W ARM STEALTH UltraQuiet PS - Factory Modified Zalman
Motherboard: ASUS A7N8X-E Deluxe
Processor: AMD 512K ATHLON-XP 3200+ 400MHz FSB
CPUFan: STEALTH Level-4 Ultra Quiet: w/3xHeatPipe CuHS/UQ fans/Acoustipack Foam
Memory: 512MB Ultra Performance DDR400 PC3200 CL2 Low-Latency SDRAM DIMM w/Heat-Spreaders (Quantity: 2)
HardDrive: 160GB SATA/150 Samsung SpinPoint 7200RPM 8MB Cache
VideoCard: 128MB DDR ATI Radeon 9600XT SVGA w/TV & DVI Out
CDROM: 52x32x52 ASUS CDRW w/SW/QuieTrack NR Technology
The total price for that was about 1800 bucks, with the free shipping for SPCR readers.

Well, that's about all the info I can think of right now. If anyone has any questions, go ahead and ask.

(BTW, the wireless card I added, everything else in there is stock)


Ralf Hutter
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Post by Ralf Hutter » Sat May 22, 2004 11:15 am

Very pretty!

ARM sure does a nice job, eh? It almost makes me wish that I didn't build my own stuff. I'd certainly go with ARM if I was buying pre-built.

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Post by edz » Sat May 22, 2004 1:51 pm

How are the fanmates kept in position?

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Post by Spastic » Sat May 22, 2004 4:21 pm

The fanmates are held on with velcro.

Jim Byram
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Post by Jim Byram » Sun May 23, 2004 5:55 pm

Wonder what happened to the baffle between the top holes and the rear of the power supply. Is this the evolution of the testing at ARM? The factory-punched holes look real nice.

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I love mine too!

Post by stratos » Wed Jun 16, 2004 8:52 am

I would just like to chime in and reiterate what spastic has said. I am almost in the same boat as him, long time reader infrequent poster. I just got my ARM stealth powerhouse PC last week. I had indented on building my own. But if building computers is not one of your hobbies then it takes a lot of time and research to get it right. I have too many hobbies as it is, so I took the easy way out.

After reading the Mike's review on the Stealth Powerhouse, I decided that was just what I was looking for. The unit I ordered is almost identical to the one in Mike's review. Except mine has 1GB of RAM and two 80GB spinpoints. It was a nice coincidence that ARM is just 15minutes away from where I live. I got to go up and meet Roy and tour their facility when my computer was done. Spastic pretty much covered everything so I do not have too much to add. Let me just say that ARM customer service is top notch and I could not be happier with the computer. It super quiet and yet will run FarCry with all the bells and whistles turned on with no problem. I have my computer room in an un-air-conditioned room in an attic. Needless to say the ambient temps up there are rather warm (~78 or soon hot days). Even on days like that after a long session of FarCry, its just as Spastic said I never see CPU temps over 56C. Note: since the case is so quiet I don't even bother to but it under the desk, so it is also probably getting better air circulation as well.
Last edited by stratos on Wed Jun 16, 2004 9:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by stratos » Wed Jun 16, 2004 8:59 am

Jim Byram wrote:Wonder what happened to the baffle between the top holes and the rear of the power supply. Is this the evolution of the testing at ARM? The factory-punched holes look real nice.
When I went to pick up my system I asked Roy about that (mine did not have it either) He said that until the could have a cover to keep someone from setting something over those intake holes on top, they would not put the baffle in. I guess they have to plan for the dumbest end user. He also comented that when the did work it out I could contact them and get it free, which seemed pretty cool.

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