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Usually the beige box that houses all your PC components is the least remarkable part of a system, but not so with the Poweroid 1204. This is the first PC to hit the shores of the UK based on the Zalman TNN 500A. So why is this case so special? Well, for starters it’s not beige, but much more importantly, it is completely noiseless.
The silent operation has been achieved using some very unique construction methods, as even the sides of the case act as large heatsinks. Internally the design is also very different and Zalman has fitted a custom made fan-less power supply. But the most impressive aspect of the TNN 500A is the heatpipe configuration used to cool the processor and graphics card.
Heatpipes have been used in laptops for a good few years now and are designed to dissipate heat by transferring it away from the areas generating it. As far as the TNN 500A is concerned, the heat is transported from the CPU and graphics card to the sides of the case, which, due to its construction acts as a massive heatsink and dissipates the heat out in to the surrounding room. You might wonder why this hasn’t been done before and the easy explanation is that it’s a very expensive and complicated solution. The TNN 500A on its own is expected to cost over £815 inc VAT, which is very expensive for a PC case. But for those that want a near inaudible PC this is the way forward and one of the only options available.
The nosiest components fitted, are the two optical drives and the hard disk. Even though Poweroid has used one of the new Western Digital hard drives with fluid dynamic bearings to reduce noise further, you can still hear it, but only faintly. Poweroid hasn’t stopped here though, as the hard drive is mounted in a special cradle that prevents any operational vibrations from spoiling the silence.
The TNN 500A is no looker; in fact it’s more reminiscent of a small pedestal server than your average PC case, especially as you can move it around the room on its four wheels. These can be retracted in favor for four massive rubber stands that are designed to remove any vibration noise from the PC onto the surface it’s standing on. There are even two large carry handles on the top if you want to pick the whole unit up.
It is a shame that Zalman hasn’t managed to add some kind of cover panel around the drive bays as it looks quite messy when you open the front door. Behind the door you’ll find two USB 2.0 ports as well as power and reset buttons. There’s even a third button that allows you to switch on a set of blue LEDs that light up the inside of the TNN 500A. Unfortunately the LEDs are not bright enough to illuminate the whole of the case internals and it seems like a curious addition that adds to the cost of an already expensive solution.
Compared to what I am used to seeing, the 1204 looks quite messy inside, but with the design limitations and the long heatpipes, it would be very hard to make it tidy internally. But tidy internals are less of an issue with this case, since there is no airflow that can be obstructed and thus reduce system cooling. As the TNN 500A has a door at the front and back, all cables are routed through special openings below and above these. There are four in the bottom and four in the top at both the front and the back so you’ll have plenty of access for all sorts of cabling.
Trusted Reviews is part of the Time Inc. (UK) Ltd Technology Network