System Review – PC-Club Silencerby Jarred Walton on March 28, 2005 12:05 AM EST
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IntroductionDepending on your technical prowess, configuring and building a PC can take as little as a few hours or as much as weeks of angst and hair-pulling as you try to decide what's best. Our Buyer's Guides are meant to help with choosing the components, but there are still quite a few people who prefer to get a built-to-order system that runs out of box. All of the large OEMs provide such systems, but their quality, features, customization, etc. are often more limited. PC-Club has sent us a complete system for review that offers many unique features, and so we've put it through the paces.
In terms of direct competitors, the best market for the Silencer is probably the Small Form Factor arena. The case is taller and deeper than most SFF designs, but it's also flatter and offers more in the way of expansion. More importantly, however, is that noise levels are a primary consideration. The case is actually a micro-ATX form factor, so at the very least, it will take up less space than your typical mid-tower chassis. One of the advantages for end users is that the components are all off-the-shelf parts, so upgrading or replacing components shouldn't pose a problem. Then again, you don't usually buy a pre-built system if you're really concerned about upgrading and tweaking the internals.
Given the similar target audience, we're going to run the Silencer system through the same review process that we use in evaluating SFF cases. We'll even provide some benchmarks with the included hardware as well as with the SFF platform hardware, just to see how it compares. Suffice it to say, if you're looking for something out of the norm, the Silencer is an interesting product that addresses a growing desire of computer owners. What audience does it target? The name should give you a clue.
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yacoub - Sunday, May 29, 2005 - link"If you lack such amenities and live in an area where indoor temperatures can break 90 C,"
90 degrees Celcius?! LOL!! :D
JarredWalton - Friday, August 26, 2005 - linkOops... fixed.
finbarqs - Friday, April 1, 2005 - linkI stand neutral on this situation. Perosonally, I'm not into small computers, but i think that the Pentium M is an incredible platform, offering insane performance for such low clock speeds. (Instructions per clock?) but anyway, expensive to say the least... But it WAS a good idea to offer the Pentium M to the mass market....
JarredWalton - Wednesday, March 30, 2005 - linkPC-Club asked us to review their Silencer. Find me another Pre-built Pentium M system from anyone on the market - I'm not aware of any. If HP, Dell, Micron... whoever asks us to review a system, we'll do our best to accommodate them. Besides, PC-Club is not exactly small - there are over 50 retail outlets scattered across the US, although the majority are in CA.
michael2k - Wednesday, March 30, 2005 - link#17: Statistically speaking, most people are average, so "the 75% of the hard core" would probably be more like the "10% of the readership".
So this box is targeted towards the "30% average" who can't build a better box. My numbers are made up of course, but it's true that statistically the average probably can't build a decent PC.
Besides which, if I wanted a PC for 25% of the cost, 60% of the performance, and even quieter, I would buy a Mac mini, and Anand has very thoughtfully reviewed one for us.
deathwalker - Wednesday, March 30, 2005 - link#16...its a good thing our federal government doesn't ever violate us!!....PC club? Lord where will we go next when we get desperate. I imagine the 75% of the hard core Anantech followers could do as good or better. How is it these jokers get space on this valuable tech. info website? I suppose next time i throw a box together I will write my name on it in crayon and send it in for a review.
ElFenix - Tuesday, March 29, 2005 - linktechnically, you're supposed to remit sales tax to your local taxing authority on mail order purchases. when i worked at dell they pounded into us that you cannot tell people they save money because they don't have to pay sales tax. doing so is a violation of federal law.
Zepper - Monday, March 28, 2005 - linkYes, PC club should have wired the case's LCD into the +5VSB circuit and/or provided battery backup for it. Any tech that can find his butt with both hands should have been able to figure that one out. But I still like the Athenatech A100 series - hard to beat for the price.
. But when I'm building something that will total that much perhaps a Chenbro or Enermax Venus caae would have been a better choice.
JarredWalton - Monday, March 28, 2005 - linkJust in case this isn't clear (#12), I *DO* like the system. The problem is that when a system is close to getting everything right, it just makes the areas where it falls short more noticeable. If I were actually buying the system, I'd go with the CoolerMaster case and two Seagate/Samsung HDDs. Also, $100 for assembly is generally less than I charge people. For a full PC setup with OS and software, I typically charge $150 unless it's a close friend/family member.
#9 - Yes, you can build something reasonably silent on your own. I sort of take that as a given. Although I think you'll often pay more in the end, people that like to build their own PCs aren't really the target market for this system.
#10 - The point on taxes was that depending on location, it can add a lot. If you buy online from a site that doesn't have a retail presence in your state, you don't get hit with taxes. (I.e. Newegg is in CA and NJ, so if you live elsewhere you don't get taxes added in.) Now granted, you're *supposed* to pay taxes on these items anyway, but I don't know anyone that does. :p
#11 - I absolutely stick with my assessment of the Fuji S5000. Of course, the graininess is really a big problem when you're doing closeups. For pictures of people and such, you won't notice it much. Tweaking the colors and such also tends to make the graininess show up more, but it's necessary at times. It's not a *terrible* camera, but there are better alternatives in the price range.
#13 - The PSU is standard. My comment on the "usually a 200W" is related to the case purchased separately, i.e. at Newegg. The comments on the speakers and sound I agree with. I don't think an Audigy 2 ZS is necessary for most people, and it is an option at PC-Club (for $100 - retail version).
*Whew!* I think that covers everything. Again, I think PC-Club did a good job with this system, but there are still flaws and I feel it's my job as a reviewer to point them out. I hope that my article convinces them to offer an Athlon 64 flavor in the near future, as I think that would be a better alternative for gaming.
blckgrffn - Monday, March 28, 2005 - linkI would be pretty pissed if I got this computer, too. The components seem to be mismatched... having owned a Falcon-Northwest, I can attest to the fact that people who don't buy a dell or an emachine are going to be very picky about the system that they paid a good premium for. Any system from any OEM that wants to be considered elite needs to be well thought out and well implemented. I remember looking inside my Falcon and just saying wow about the cable management, the fans were quiet but pushed a good amount of air, and all of the components were at home with each other - unlike having a Raptor and a crazy loud fan in a SFF PC. That is just dumb and makes you wonder what they were thinking. Also, there was an allusion to a Power Supply upgrade just for Anandtech - a video card like that pretty much crys out for a 250watt+ QUALITY powersupply, not just a generic 200 watt one.
I admit the price looks good for this system considering the components, but do not forget that it is supposed to be a gaming box - why wasn't there at least a Audigy 2zs thrown in for good measure? Ridiculous, as well as the speaker choice for a $2,000 system. I think that the FragBox from Falcon-NW is a very good SFF PC alternative, or if you don't care about size grab a good deal on an XPS.
This article was a nice bit of fresh air, it seems that too many reviews (not here, really, but in general) seem to overlook flaws rather than point them out. If I wanted to hear about how great a product was, I would read their marketing BS.
Thanks you Mr. Walton for an honest review.