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Puget Systems Serenity Core i5 HTPC Review - Essentially Silent

Author: Ryan Shrout
Subject: Systems
Manufacturer: Puget Systems

Inside the Serenity HTPC

While the exterior was pretty much all Antec, let's see what Puget was able to modify on the interior to make it unique.

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The first thing to see is that when removing the top of the case and looking at the panel there is quite a bit of noise dampening installed that is used to keep vibrations down and to prevent the fan and hard drive noise from the system hardware from escaping. 

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Looking down at the hardware you can see the machine is built in a very organized manner and the cables are neatly hidden away from view to improve appearance and airflow. 

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The Scythe air cooler uses an oversized fan so that it can rotate at lower speeds and retain good air flow, keeping the system quite under load.  The DDR3-1333 memory that Puget used was low profile and heatsink-less indicating pretty modest performance timings.

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This empty bay allows the user to upgrade their system with two additional hard drives if they desire.

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The optical bay actually holds both the ASUS Blu-Ray burner as well as the HDD container (more on that below).

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The Intel 320 SSD is mounted below the optical drive and benefits the HTPC by being completely silent.

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You might be wondering where the 1.5TB WD hard drive is hiding and the answer is inside this noise dampening enclosure.  This enclosure was lined with some very heavy foam insulation that easily kept the noise from the spinning disk in check while still keeping the drive cool enough to be reliable.

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Here you can see the wrapped heatsink on the hard drive itself. 

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The Seasonic power supply adds another fan into the equation but it remains pretty silent with a 90% efficiency rating.

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Even the front the case has noise dampening material on it - Puget Systems was sure to include it anywhere it might benefit the user.

Okay, let's see how the system performs and what our sound levels looked like.

November 8, 2011 | 05:19 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 | 07:39 AM - Posted by Sharpe (not verified)

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

November 10, 2011 | 06:45 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 | 11:05 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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