Our ambition at MonsterLabo is to provide the PC hardware community with a new generation of computer cases. Designed with an innovative approach focused on the cooling itself, our first commercial product – The First – is a compact chassis with a passive and dual cooling solution. Compatible with (high-end) standard electronics components, The First is meant to run passively or silently with an optional low speed fan. As long-term gamers and pc builders, we especially know that benchmarking and reviews are critical steps for the community. Our final products will be sent to renowned media, online magazines and reviewers as of end of September. More info coming soon. However, we couldn’t resist the temptation to share our first bench tests results with you in the meantime. As benchmarking is an endless ongoing work, we will add content to this section as soon as new tests are performed. Here is what we’ve done so far.
Benchmarking is a field that requires expertise, methodology, hardware and quite a lot of time. At MonsterLabo, we humbly recognize Benchmarking is not our field of expertise nor our focus. The results shown hereunder are only there to give you a first appraisal of The First performances. They present some intrinsic limitations:
- Our case is the only cooling solution tested so far
- With only one electronics configuration
- With only one benchmarking software (AIDA 64 Extreme)
- With both CPU and GPU fully loaded
This work will be completed over time by our additional tests and professional reviews. Don’t hesitate to leave comments and give us constructive feed-back. We’ll take them into account with great pleasure.
The First, our first product
Cooling is one of the most critical part of any high-performance computer. However, the vast majority of computer cases are conceived regardless the type of cooling solution used. In consequence, cooling providers are required to design compact systems with limited heat exchange areas and efficiency. Powerful and noisy fans are often required to compensate this lack of optimization. At MonsterLabo, we decided to think the other way around and focus first on the cooling solution. Our obsession was “What would be the best cooling to combine high-end performance computing with passive, or at least silent operations?”. Once achieved, we build a compact case structure around it. With this design approach, we managed to push the limits of passive and silent cooling to unprecedent levels.
MonsterLabo cooling solution has a specific feature, its large-scale 3 kg heatsink. It is composed of aluminium fins (“Radiator”) assembled with numerous heat pipes. Directly connected to the electronics cards through the “Exchangers”, these heat pipes transfer the heat dissipated by the chips to a remote location, where it can be easily released into the ambient environment. Various aspects have been optimized to allow passive/silent operations:
- Natural convection maximization thanks to a large fin pitch and the “chimney effect”.
- Heat pipes efficiency maximization thanks to short heat transfer paths and the help of gravity.
This heatsink key characteristic lies in the mutualization of the cooling for CPU and GPU cards. Since both usually do not run fully loaded at the same time, heat dissipation cycles are smoothed and the heatsink size reduced. A slot for an optional low-speed fan (120 or 140 mm) is also foreseen to increase air flow and even lower temperatures. In any case, the air always goes bottom-up.
Electronics – Set up 1
The first electronics configuration we stressed is composed of the following elements:
- MB: MSI B250I Gaming Pro AC
- Processor: i7-6700k
- GC: GTX 1080
- Storage: SSD
- PSU: SFX Focus Gold SGX-650 (semi-passive)
- Optional fan: Noctua 140mm NF A14 PWM
Other configurations will be tested in our lab and results shared in the coming months.
Passive design performances highly depend on airflow speed (with or without fan) and pressure drops (air intakes). To give you a better understanding of these impacts, we tested several variants of the initial configuration.
- Airflow (3): no fan at all, fan at 50% (764 RPM) or at 100% (1440 RPM)
- Air intakes (3): case closed, semi-opened or fully opened
Full Loaded, Simultaneously
In regular bench tests, CPU or GPU cooling solutions are fully independent and can be tested separately. In our case, the heatsink cooling capacity is shared between the CPU and GPU. Although we also tested CPU and GPU separately, we decided to showcase our bench test results with both components fully loaded, simultaneously and continuously. This situation is extreme and only happens for short periods of time in most real-life applications. The following results are conservative.
We used AIDA64 Extreme to perform this session of bench tests. In this version of AIDA, CPU, GPU and FPU are simultaneously tested. For each mechanical variant, the testing procedures consisted in 2 separate sessions of 30 minutes with a rest period of 10 minutes in between.
In Game Tests
Testing procedures were similar, except we played for hours, so we had the time to repeat each test at least 10 times 🤓 Better work hard, bitches! We started first with Doom 2016, since we wanted to complete it before the release of Doom 2018. We played it “fanless” in 1080p.
We then switched to Far Cry 5. We wanted to bench the sh** out of this silent beast. We played it silently in 2560 x 1080 with open chassis.
The tests were performed under ambient temperatures of 26°C-30°C (79°F-86°F).
We choose not to present absolute temperatures in the absence of comparison points. The following tables and graphs present average temperature differences (Delta T) under average power loads (Power).
The reference configuration is the “closed” case. With the use of a low speed fan, important temperatures drop can be observed, ranging from 10°C-15°C at 764 RPM to 20°C-25°C at 1440 RPM.
Several additional tests were performed with equivalent power loads after removing the bottom part and the whole cover. These modifications increase fresh air intake and allow temperatures to drop from 4°C to 8°C.
Results show that forced fan convection remain the main lever to decrease components temperatures. A few additional degrees can also be recovered by improving the air intake in the bottom part of the cover. There is little difference between semi-opened and fully-opened case.
The results presented here above were obtained in a “stressful” situation where both CPU and GPU were fully loaded without any temperatures limit. Considering a maximum temperature increase of 50°C between Tc/Tj and the ambient environment, the cooling capacity of The First can be summarized as follows:
These results show the “thermal power” cooling capacity ranging from 190W in fanless to 265W in silent mode. In real life, CPU and GPU usually work alternately. Since they are not fully and continuously loaded at the same time, the “electrical power” cooling capacity can be significantly extended towards 300+ W configurations.
Here are a few potential configurations compatible with The First:
Future Design Improvements
These tests were helpful to define our next design improvements, both in passive or active cooling conditions. In the short-term, air intakes will be redesigned to improve passive cooling. Fresh airflow can be optimized by increasing the number of holes in the bottom part of the cover, helping components temperatures to further decrease by several degrees. This potential improvement will be prototyped, tested, qualified during the forthcoming months and introduced, if relevant, in the next release of the product. In the medium term, we will gradually introduce accessories, such as a 200 mm fan top case add-on. In the long term, we have also spotted several design improvements for our 2019-2020 product roadmap. These design changes will expand the scope of use of our case.
We will perform additional tests as time permits. Here is a non-exhaustive list of comparative tests that we will try to do in the coming months:
- Cooling: – MONSTERLABO: 120 mm vs. 140 mm Fan – ZALMAN: FX70 Fanless CPU cooler – Other air or liquid cooling solutions
- Configurations: – GPU: 1060 & 1070 – GPU: New RTX generation
- Case: – SFF case to be determined