Recently we have changed our method of measuring noise levels. When testing computer components we have built a specialised system inside a Lian Li chassis with no case fans and have used a fanless cooler on the processor. We are using a heatpipe based passive power supply and an Intel SSD to keep noise levels to a minimum. The motherboard is passively cooled and we use a Sapphire HD5670 Ultimate Edition graphics card which is also passively cooled. Ambient noise in the room is kept as low as possible. We measure from a distance of around 1 meter from the chassis and 4 foot from the ground to mirror a real world situation.
Why do this? Well this means we can eliminate secondary noise pollution in the test room and concentrate on only the components we are testing. It also brings us slightly closer to industry standards, such as DIN 45635.
To test today we don’t need this PC system so we have taken the MSI Wind U160 netbook into our laboratory and have loaded it with 720p HD content. dBa was measured between 30 minutes and 90 minutes of use – the maximum results were recorded. Temperatures were maintained at 30c. The room rates as 21dBa – the air conditioning unit in the far corner of the room causes this. We use a Digital Sound Level Noise Decibel Meter Style 2.
KitGuru noise guide
10dBA – Normal Breathing/Rustling Leaves
20-25dBA – Whisper
30dBA – High Quality Computer fan
40dBA – A Bubbling Brook, or a Refridgerator
50dBA – Normal Conversation
60dBA – Laughter
70dBA – Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA – City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA – Motorcycle or Lawnmower
100dBA – MP3 player at maximum output
110dBA – Orchestra
120dBA – Front row rock concert/Jet Engine
130dBA – Threshold of Pain
140dBA – Military Jet takeoff/Gunshot (close range)
160dBA – Instant Perforation of eardrum
When idle, the Wind U160 is basically all but silent, but after 45 minutes of watching HD content, the cooling system generates a considerable amount of noise to make sure the CPU remains within guidelines. It is clearly audible under load, but nothing that should annoy potential customers. CPU temperatures can hit 78c under full load, so it does get relatively hot around the chassis in this area.
To test the battery we mixed up a fairly regular ‘real day’ set of conditions. We used Microsoft Office, browsed the net, typed and replied to emails, watched some videos and even encoded a few video files for use online.
We managed to squeeze just over 10 hours out of the machine which is extremely impressive, but short of the 15 hours that MSI claim. Perhaps using MSI’s preconfigured ‘ECO mode’ might extend the life span further but it was very hard to see the screen with this enabled. We used the ‘balanced power’ mode and set the screen brightness to around 50-55 percent.
Power consumption is a measily 14 watts under normal load, which means that this machine is certainly not going to hit your electricity bill hard, even if you use it all day.