The PlayON! HD has potentially got space for two drives and with only one being supported we had assumed that A.C. Ryan were aiming to keep the insides as cool as possible when playing media under load. The inclusion of a 40mm fan is always a concern for us because once I see one incorporated into any device I immediately shudder at the possible ramifications of noise penalities.
As this is a media center designed for use in a living room environment we felt it was a good idea to crack out the noise testing equipment and we rushed the unit off to our laboratory.
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 obviously we don’t need a computer chassis, so we have taken the AC Ryan PlayON! into our test room and are playing 1080p MKV content from the internal Hard drive – James Cameron’s Avatar which we ripped for this test from our Bluray disc. A 17 inch LCD panel was hooked up via HDMI to the PlayON! unit.
To cause a little more work for the unit we raised our 25c guideline setting to 32c to more accurately mirror a warmer ‘living room’ environment. dBa was measured between 30 minutes and 90 minutes of use – the maximum results were recorded.
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 idling the unit can sleep in a very quiet dBa mode rating just over ambient in our room thanks to low fan speeds. Under load however the unit can become noticeable, which is why we tested this scientifically after experiencing some noise, real world.
We wouldn’t assume this would be an issue for most people, but if you have sensitive ears this might become a little irritating, we expect noise from our computers, but a device like this should be quieter. The next revision of this unit should really incorporate a larger, slower spinning fan.