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Puget Systems Serenity Core i5 HTPC Review - Essentially Silent

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Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: Puget Systems

Looking at the Exterior

Introduction

We have had some really good experiences with Puget Systems pre-built PCs in the past and a little while ago, the company sent us a modestly priced HTPC based on the Serenity line of systems.  Based on the Intel Core i5 Sandy Bridge platform, the Serenity has a lot of customizations that help keep the computer quiet that are unique. 

With a cost hovering around $1800 though, does the Serenity offer enough to consumers?

The Serenity Home Theater PC

The Puget Systems Serenity line actually spans small form factor chassis, HTPC designs and even standard desktop ATX designs, one of which we have previously reviewed.  Today we are going to be showing you the HTPC form factor that could fit in your home theater furniture (if you have some hefty space available).  Let's look quickly at the specifications before we dive into the design.

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  • Intel Core i5-2500K
  • ASUS H67 Motherboard
  • 4GB DDR3-1333 Memory
  • 120GB Intel 320 SSD
  • 1.5TB Western Digital Caviar Green HDD
  • ASUS 12x Blu-Ray Burner
  • Windows 7 Home Premium x64

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Continue reading our review of the Puget Systems Serenity HTPC!!

The chassis design of the Puget Serenity HTPC comes from the Antec New Solution Series 2480 though you will see soon that the interior has been modified quite a bit.  This case can fit a mATX motherboard and full size graphics cards, though with the HTPC target and lower noise/power consumption, much of that space is unused. 

The front of the chassis includes USB and audio connections for easy access.

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The left side has some exhaust areas...

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While the right hand side has two very quiet 120mm fans to bring in cool air to the system. 

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The back of the case isn't as sexy though it is where all the magic happens.  A Seasonic power supply holds everything together.

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Looking at the back plane on the ASUS H67 motherboard you can see quite a few of the features it offers including HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA and DVI video output options, analog and digital audio, FireWire, eSATA, USB 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet.  What is missing?  For us, an HTPC should probably include wireless network connectivity as well.  

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Finally, on the bottom of the Antec case you'll find four very strong rubber feet to keep vibration and noise from moving from the PC chassis to its stand, etc.

Now, let's open up the Serenity and see what Puget Systems has added.

November 8, 2011 | 02:19 PM - Posted by Buyers (not verified)

For any DIY'ers interested in building this setup on their own, Ryan's estimate of $1400 is about right. I NewEgg'd the same parts (as best i could) for ~$1,320+shipping. Was the cooler the Scythe Big Shuriken 2? And which Seasonic PSU? I priced an M12II-620 (way overkill, but both a cheap and good psu).

A couple notes:
1)Newegg has the silver version of the case that includes a 380W PSU (Antec EarthWatts) and 2 tri-speed 120mm fans which are silent on low speed (assuming same fan as in my 300 case). The pictures in the article also only show a single 120mm Scythe side fan. Not replacing these would save ~$105.
2)Currently HDD prices are inflated due to flooding. Assuming prices come back down when that's over, the price for a 1.5TB will drop $50 or more.
3)The Corsair Force Series 3 120GB offers better performance for cheaper price. Save $30 over the Intel SSD.

So, stock PSU and fans, and better/cheaper SSD brings the price down to $1,185 +shipping, AcoustiPack (~$30), and hdd damping box. A little less when HDD prices come back down.

November 9, 2011 | 04:39 AM - Posted by Sharpe (not verified)

Shouldn't a HTPC be able to do run 24p properly?

November 10, 2011 | 03:45 PM - Posted by Justice (not verified)

So.... where's the testing of bluray and HD decoding? It's a HTPC after all right?

November 21, 2011 | 08:05 PM - Posted by Gyser (not verified)

I personally had Ironside computers build an HTPC for much less than this. They don't sell it on their website, but they did such an awesome job on my desktop that I figured I might as well ask them. Turns out they can custom build them for you, and they build a really nice one for me for about $1100. and it does everything I need for a HTPC. Check them out yourselves at IronsideComputers.com.

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