At least the Asus motherboard is passively cooled, which – together with the large case fans – should have made for a fairly quiet system. In reality, however, the Diablo MaXcore is noisier than you might expect. This is due to several factors, the most annoying of which is that Wired2Fire has chosen to install the ”optional” chipset fan over the large copper heatsink on this ”passively cooled” board.
This fan is only included for use in water-cooled cases or other scenarios where there is no airflow over the motherboard; even on Asus’ own website there is a paragraph about the P5N-D’s “fanless design”. With the Antec Three Hundred providing more than adequate airflow, all Wired2Fire has achieved is added noise pollution. If it was done for stability, then the company should really switch to using another motherboard, preferably one with a decent selection of ports while it’s at it.
To get the system down to unobtrusive noise levels, you’ll want to set the large 140mm case fan to ‘low’ using its own hardware switch, and activate the motherboard’s Q-Fan2 functionality to reduce the RPM of the Wired2Fire 120mm fan at the Three Hundred’s front and the processor’s stock cooler. Though Wired2Fire obviously recommends leaving everything at its original settings, changing the settings of these fans will not void your warranty.
At the revised fan settings, temperatures remained within fail-safe parameters, with the overclocked CPU not going above 65 degrees. And though the MaXcore was now by no means silent, it was acceptable for a gaming system. Ideally, you’ll want to specify the optional Thermaltake Golden Orb II CPU cooler, which adds an extra £22 but should be far quieter than Intel’s. And since neither the dual-slot graphics card nor the power supply exhaust warm air into the case, we’d go so far as to say the unnecessary Northbridge-heatsink fan can safely be disconnected – though you’ll need to check with Wired2Fire before taking this last step.
Getting back to the rest of the PC, fortunately there’s nothing else to really complain about. If I was being particularly picky, I might have wished that one of the case’s remaining 5.25in drive bays be filled with a card reader and media bay (including e-SATA) as standard, but some users won’t care.
Moving on, the black heat spreaders on the two sticks of Corsair 800MHz DDR2 memory go well with both the motherboard’s black PCB and the black metal shroud of the factory-overclocked BFG-Tech GeForce GTX 260. A Sony/NEC SATA DVD-writer takes care of optical media, with LabelFlash (an equivalent to LightScribe) offering laser-labelling on compatible discs, while the Western Digital 500GB Caviar SE16 with 16MB cache is a reliable but unremarkable choice for permanent storage.