Lenovo Tab 4

Android tablets have been waning since the surge in popularity of 2-in-1s, but Lenovo’s Tab 4 series of tablets are an indication that there’s still life in the sector yet.

With an 8 and 10-inch model, these two slates don’t look to set the world alight with breakneck speeds or an insane sales proposition. But these could fill the void in the low to midrange of tablets that’s currently dominated by Amazon and its Fire tablets.

Each running Android Nougat, stocked with adequate specs to chew through most apps and games, as well as a surprisingly premium design language makes the Tab 4 8 and Tab 4 10 ones to look out for – especially since they are launching for as low as $109 (about £87, AU$141) and $149 (about £119, AU$193) respectively.

Design

Designed primarily as a tablet for kids, the Tab 4 range is strikingly good-looking. Coated with glass on both sides, it looks as if it can do just as well in the hands of just about anyone looking for a palm-friendly slate. 

Each is trimmed in plastic, featuring all of the necessary buttons to make operating the volume and powering on and off simple. We were especially surprised to find that a few of the tablets in the range feature a fingerprint sensor. The Tab 4 8 Plus has one embedded directly into the side-mounted power button, while the 10 Plus has one located on the front, much in the way that many smartphones do.

Other desireable traits have made their way to the Tab 4 series, like USB-C connectivity, dual speakers with Dolby Atmos support, a microSD slot and quite a large battery in each. 

Compared to the Amazon Fire HD 8, there’s no contest: Lenovo’s new tablets simply look and feel better in the hand.

Performance

After a brief time testing, we can confidently say that the performance output in these tablets will be sufficient for most. Of course, it does depend on your usual work (or play) load. 

Each size has a plain and “Plus” option. The perks for opting for the Plus have almost entirely to do with specs and thankfully do not alter the design of the tablets, aside from the fingerprint sensors.

The Tab 4 8 and 10 feature a Qualcomm MSM8917 quad-core processor, a 1280 x 800 display, 2GB of RAM. And the Plus varieties amp things up to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, like the Moto G5 Plus, a 1920 x 1200 screen, as well as 3GB and 4GB configurations.

What’s really nice to see is that each and every tablet in the range comes preloaded with Android Nougat. This feature alone will see these devices being more competent than most at multitasking and saving battery with its enhanced Doze mode that analyzes battery usage patterns to improve its performance.

Lenovo is also angling the 10-inch tablet as a productivity device. Heck, it even has a “Productivity Mode” that turns the operating system into something that looks more like Chrome OS than Nougat. To utilize this, the company offers a keyboard that nestles the tablet, then auto-pairs with it via Bluetooth.

In terms of battery capacity, each Tab 4 8 has a 4850mAh cell inside and the Tab 4 10 has a whopping 7000mAh battery. Either tablet you’re interested in, you’re getting a truly massive amount of battery here.

Early verdict

As stated before, the specs may not completely blow the door open compared to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, though these certainly serve a purpose in the tablet market.

The Tab 4 tablet series is a confident stroke of engineering prowess that certainly sticks out from the crowd and its low price point only helps its case.

It’s not too common anymore that you can find a feature-packed tablet that’s well-built, let alone four variations of said tablet. As such, we really look forward to testing these slates more in-depth for the full review closer to their May release.

MWC (Mobile World Congress) is the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry, stuffed full of the newest phones, tablets, wearables and more. TechRadar is reporting live from Barcelona all week to bring you the very latest from the show floor. Head to our dedicated MWC 2017 hub to see all the new releases, along with TechRadar’s world-class analysis and buying advice about your next phone.

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Lenovo's Yoga 720 brings a bit of game with discrete GTX 1050 graphics

Lenovo’s Yoga 720 belongs to a new breed of mainstream laptops that pay respect to PC gaming, e-sports, and Twitch streaming. Users who may not want an official gaming laptop (such as Lenovo’s own Legion) may still want some extra GPU power, and the Yoga 720 can bring it with optional, discrete Nvidia GTX1050 graphics—the mobile part, not the desktop part. Granted, you won’t find it at the base model’s $1,099 price, but that would be too much to ask. 

Announced Monday at Mobile World Congress and shipping in April, the Yoga 720 remains true to its flagship roots by offering a strong selection of features for its size. Your CPU choices go up to Intel 7th-generation Kaby Lake, and you can get up to 16GB of DDR4 RAM. Storage options encompass traditional HDDs up to 1TB or SSDs up to 512GB. 

lenovo yoga 720 15 inch keyboard detail Melissa Riofrio

The Lenovo Yoga 720 has a full-size keyboard as well as a fingerprint reader for Windows 10 authentication.

The 15.6-inch IPS display has a resolution of up to 4K Ultra HD (3840×2160). While that incredible crispness is tempting, you may not want to run it on that resolution all the time, as it uses more battery life. Lenovo estimates the Yoga 720 will last up to 8 hours at UHD, but up to 9 hours if you drop to FHD (1920×1080). 

Connectivity stays on trend with USB 3.1 Type C and Thunderbolt (using the Intel controller). You also get active pen support and a fingerprint reader for easy Windows 10 authentication. In an early briefing, Lenovo told us that product managers consciously chose that mode of authentication because users were familiar with it through smartphone use. It’s also cheaper and easier to integrate a fingerprint reader than to shoehorn Intel’s RealSense camera (for facial recognition) into a slim-bezeled unit. 

lenovo yoga 720 15 inch right side ports Melissa Riofrio

The Lenovo Yoga 720 offers a USB-C port with Thunderbolt as well as the older USB-A for legacy devices.

Of course, the Yoga 720 also offers the fun of using the laptop in clamshell, tent, or view modes simply by rotating its two halves around its 360-degree hinge. I wouldn’t recommend using this 4.4-pound machine as a tablet unless you could rest it on a table or your lap, but it’s a very nice option to have, especially in cramped quarters such as a commuter train or airplane. As the flagship Yoga product, the 720 promises great flexibliity, and now, with the discrete graphics option, great power. 

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Samsung's Next Gear VR HMD Includes A Tracked Controller

Samsung is firing back at Google’s Daydream VR system. The electronics company revealed that its third-generation consumer-grade VR HMD features a tracked controller. Google just lost its biggest advantage.

During Samsung’s presentation at Mobile World Congress 2017, the Korean electronics giant announced the Samsung Gear VR with Controller, which, as you probably guessed, includes a motion controller like the one that Google provides with the Daydream View HMD.

The Gear VR controller features buttons for home, back, and volume control. It also includes a clickable trackpad like the one found on the HTC Vive controllers, as well as a trigger on the back. Samsung loaded the controller with an accelerometer, gyrometer, and magnetic sensors to offer limited motion control. When not in use, the Gear VR controller fits into a strap inside the headset so you don’t lose it.

“At Samsung, we are focused on setting and exceeding the standard for VR experiences, making them even more accessible and delivering the highest in quality,” said Younghee Lee, Executive Vice President of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics. “The Gear VR with Controller expands our VR ecosystem to help consumers get more engaged and immersed in VR content – whether it’s games or videos.”

The Gear VR controller opens possibilities for VR games and interactions that were previously not possible on Oculus’s mobile VR platform, such as first person shooters and interactions in which you grab items in the virtual world. The controller should also simplify navigating Oculus Home.

Oculus said many developers are already working with the controller, so there will be content built to suit it on the release date. The small selection of developers with early access to the controller SDK are developing more than 70 titles, and several of them will launch alongside the new HMD. Oculus plans to release the Gear VR Controller SDK to all developers in “a few weeks,” so expect that list to expand soon. Oculus also confirmed that Samsung’s controller is compatible with all 550+ existing Gear VR titles.

We haven’t seen the new Gear VR in person yet, but the image Samsung provided suggests the company deleted the overhead strap from the previous headset. The loops for the strap on the rear and top of the headset are absent in the image–although that could be photoshop trickery. The overhead strap is one of the Gear VR’s primary advantages over the competition. It would be silly for Samsung to remove that feature.   

Samsung said the Gear VR with Controller is compatible with the same list of phones as the previous version, which includes the Galaxy S7 and S6 series smartphones and the Galaxy Note 5. Just like the previous iteration, the new Gear VR includes an adapter to switch the headset’s USB interface from micro USB to USB Type-C.

Samsung did not reveal the price of the headset or when it will hit the market.

  Samsung Gear VR with Controller   Controller
Dimension / Weight 207.8 x 122.5 x 98.6mm / 345g Dimension / Weight 108.1 x 48.1 x 38.2mm / 64.3g
Optical Lens Φ42, FOV 101º x6.25 Control & Function Touchpad (Clickable), Trigger, Home Key, Back Key, Volume Key
Sensor Accelerometer, Gyrometer, Proximity Sensor Accelerometer, Gyrometer, Magnetic
Compatibility Galaxy S7, S7 edge, Note5, S6 edge+, S6, S6 edge Battery AAA Battery * 2ea (1000mAh, average 2 hours of daily use will last for 40 days)

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Best iPad apps 2017: Download these essential apps now 

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The best free iPhone apps 2017

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Hands-on Preview: Samsung Galaxy Book

Samsung came oh so close with the TabPro S.

It was supposed to be a Surface killer, a Windows 10 tablet that was just as good at desktop duty as it was as a media machine.

It mostly succeeded, too – but the price was a little too high, the keyboard wasn’t the best and if you wanted to plug something in… well, you were basically out of luck.

Now it’s time for round two, and it comes with the new name. Enter the Galaxy Book, a 2-in-1 that looks to improve on the initial effort and finally shut down the Surface for good.

Does it manage it? Tough to say after only a brief hands-on session, but I definitely walked away impressed. Here’s why.

SAMSUNG GALAXY BOOK DESIGN: SKINNY SLATES

The Galaxy Book comes in two flavours: a bite-size 10.6in and a full-fat 12in.

Both are metal-bodied, glass-fronted slates with keyboard covers that turn them into work-ready laptops, but at 8.9mm and 7.4mm respectively, they’re perfectly portable when used on their lonesome.

Those screens might be larger than the average tablet, but at 640g and 754g, you’ll barely notice them in a bag when it’s time to head outside.

They might not be quite as stylish as the glass-backed Galaxy Tab S3, but I’m not sure you’d actually want glass on such a large slate. It’s just asking for trouble, isn’t it?

There’s still room at the sides for a microSD card slot and USB C ports at the sides, at least – one on the 10.6in and two on the 12in. The TabPro S made do with one, and we didn’t think that was enough – so the 12in Galaxy Book looks on track to be our favourite of the pair.

SAMSUNG GALAXY BOOK PERFORMANCE: POWER ME UP

The 12in model has the edge when it comes to power, too. The 10.6in uses a low-power Intel m3 CPU, which will be fine for most desktop duties but may struggle when it comes to more serious lifting, like Photoshop.

Its bigger brother has room for a much more powerful Core i5 chip. I threw a high-resolution image file into Photoshop CC and it handled it without turning into stutters mess – not bad at all for a near silent running tablet.

You get the latest Kaby Lake version of Intel’s silicon, too, which should be fairly frugal when it comes to battery life. Either way, you’re looking at around ten hours between trips to a plug socket, but the larger laptop should be able to squeeze out an extra 30 minutes.

Both models have 4GB of RAM, but the 10.6in Book makes do with 64GB of onboard storage. The 12in version gets a choice of SSDs, starting from 128GB.

I’m still in the school of thought that anyone taking photos with a tablet are worse than the devil himself, but they too are covered here. You get a 5MP snapper on the 10.6in version, but the 12in model gets a superior 13MP rear camera with autofocus. It’s a big improvement, although I won’t be able to make a proper comparison until I get final review units a little closer to launch.

SAMSUNG GALAXY BOOK DISPLAY: HIGH-RES HERO

Samsung is no stranger to AMOLED screens, so it’s hardly a surprise to see one here – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still brilliant.

The 12.6in panel has a 2160×1440 resolution, which is more than enough to make your photos look crisp and text look perfectly sharp for reading at arms’ length. Viewing angles are spectacular as always, and colours are unquestionably punchy.

You also get that feature du jour, HDR. If you can feed it compatible content, you’ll get incredibly bright, vivid video that uses the OLED panel’s vibrant colours to full effect – and keeps dark hues and blacks looking inky at the same time.

It looks stunning in action, and even if there’s not a huge amount of content out there for the PC right now, there’s plenty on the way. Good old HD videos looks pretty great too, so you won’t feel too left out while you wait for HDR to arrive in earnest.

The 10.6in version isn’t quite so well-equipped, with a 1920×1280 resolution TFT screen. It won’t play nicely with HDR content, either.

I didn’t spend as much time with this as the larger AMOLED model, so won’t be making a judgment call on image quality just yet, but if you like your films to have deep blacks and high contrast, it might be worth saving up for the 12.6in version.

SAMSUNG GALAXY BOOK KEYBOARD: JUST MY TYPE

Samsung has spent a lot of time redesigning the TabPro S’s overly shallow keyboard, and the flip-out ‘board unveiled alongside the Galaxy Book is a massive improvement.

The keys have plenty of travel, superfluous function buttons have been removed, and a backlight has been added for night time working. I can’t see why you wouldn’t want to pair the Galaxy Book with one.

The magnetic pins that hold the tablet in place also dock it with the keyboard, instead of using Bluetooth. That means no faff when it’s time to type – just connect and start bashing those keys.

The touchpad felt a lot more responsive than I remember the TabPro S being, but again I’ll need to wait until I’ve got both side-by-side to see how much of an improvement Samsung has made.

The whole thing is more flexible this time around, with two different angles to tilt the screen for working at a desk, or leaning over the screen with a stylus in hand, just like an easel. And speaking of styluses…

SAMSUNG GALAXY BOOK S PEN: BIGGER AND BETTER

I doubt you’d find a single Surface owner that would give up their device for one that didn’t have a stylus – it really makes all the difference to artists, graphics pros and designers. It’s great for note taking, too.

That’s why the new S Pen, updated for 2017 with a chunkier barrel for better grip, makes all the difference in the Galaxy Book. It’ll come bundled in the box, even though there’s no room inside either tablet to store one.

The larger barrel makes it much easier and more natural to grip, and the 4096 pressure levels worked perfectly with Adobe Photoshop. Samsung has teamed up with other big name software devs to make sure it’ll work properly at launch, so your favourite apps should play nicely with it. You still don’t need a battery, which is a big advantage over the Surface Pro, but the S Pen still comes with a shortcut button for jumping straight into Samsung’s Notes app.

The redesigned rubber nib made a huge difference in terms of feel, too. I’ve always noticed the difference when drawing on a screen with other tablets, but this is a close to actually scribbling on paper as I’ve seen so far.

SAMSUNG GALAXY BOOK INITIAL VERDICT

The Galaxy Book looks like a tablet I could happily use all day for work, then detach the keyboard and binge on Netflix into the early hours. Which is kind of the point.

The screen is gorgeous, especially if you feed it some HDR content. The S Pen and refined keyboard are both genuinely useful too; they work flawlessly with established Windows programs like Photoshop, and are handy for however you like to take notes.

Twin USB C ports on the 12.6in version are great inclusions too – even if it means packing a dongle.

Keyboard and connectivity were our two issues with the TabPro – two things Samsung has addressed with the Galaxy Book. This could be the Surface alternative we’ve been waiting for – if the price is right.

With a while to go before launch, and no word from Samsung on how much one will cost, we’ll just have to wait for a full review to see how it stacks up against Microsoft’s game-changing convertible.

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How to: Build a silent PC

There’s no getting around the fact that today’s computer chips get incredibly hot. Despite all manner of efficiency improvements over the past few years, if you pack that many fast-switching transistors into such a small space, the end result is going to be a concentrated hotspot. Not only do the processor, graphics card and power supply all need active cooling, but your case will also have at least one fan it to shift airflow over the components and out the back.

The CPU has been a famous hotspot for a long time, and has been the target of increasingly larger and more efficient heatsinks, as well as water-cooling systems, in an attempt to cut noise. These improvements have been largely successfully too – the latest heatsinks and liquid-cooling products are far more effective and quieter than Intel’s reference coolers, or indeed any heatsinks from ten years ago too. 

Meanwhile, graphics cards have seen some leaps forward in terms of both efficiency and cooler design, so much so that many Nvidia models can now run at modest loads with their fans switched off. Fanless power supplies are readily available too, and the latest silent models can dish out over 500W while still sporting 80Plus badges, which is enough power for most single-GPU systems. 

Over the next few pages, we look at how to build a silent PC that’s also equipped for lengthy gaming sessions, maximising the effects of conduction and convection. However, we’ll also cover numerous ways to cut down the noise in your existing PC, taking sound readings to see which options offer the best bang per buck.

The right parts

Creating a silent PC is theoretically fairly easy – you just need to remove any parts that create noise, such as fans, pumps and hard disks. What isn’t so easy is then providing enough cooling for your hardware. We had to make two very small compromises with our PC build – there’s a fan on our graphics card and a single 120mm case fan. As Nvidia’s Pascal GPUs are so efficient, though, we decided to use a GTX 1060, which can actually turns off its fans for the majority of the time, allowing us to create a powerful gaming PC that only requires a little fan-assisted cooling in games. 

We also include options for building totally a fanless system, but since gaming audio would likely drown out any noise from this graphics card anyway, we felt it was worth making these two small compromises in order to build a system capable of 2,560 x 1,440 gaming in the latest games, rather than mediocre performance even at 1,920 x 1,080.

Secondly, ditching all your fans can be dangerous in a high-end system, but you can have fans spinning slowly and creating airflow without being audible. More importantly, on a particularly hot day, a passive cooling system may not be sufficient to deal with the heat. In order to avoid stability issues under all conditions, it’s important to include one fan that can kick in if the machine gets too toasty – think of it as a fail-safe. Anyway, without further ado, let’s look at the hardware.

CPU and heatsink

Intel Core i7-6700K – $459
intel.com.au
Nofan CR95C IcePipe – $200
www.nofancomputer.com

With the thermal design power (TDP) of even top-end Intel Skylake CPUs dipping below 100W, there’s plenty of options for dealing with the heat produced by a stock-speed processor. To push our theory to the limit, we’ll be using a Core i7-6700K – the most powerful Intel CPU available with a TDP of less than 100W. Sadly, all the current Broadwell-E CPUs have TDPs of 140W, which is asking too much of any fanless CPU coolers short of using a massive external water-cooling radiator. That’s an option, of course, but in this feature we focus on keeping all the hardware inside the case and minimising costs.

There are plenty of examples of super-large heatsinks being able to passively cool CPUs, and they rely on the principle of convection. 

You have a couple of options here, but the most popular one is Nofan’s CR-95C IcePipe. This huge heatsink uses 160 small heatpipes to create a massive surface area that’s effectively cooled by convection in your case. With a TDP limit of 95W, it should be able to cool an Intel Core i7-6700K, which has a TDP of 91W. 

There are some downsides to the CR95C, though, which are mainly due to its size. You’ll be limited to using low-profile memory that’s shorter than 32mm tall, and you won’t be able to install or remove it with the heatsink installed. Some motherboards may have heatsinks that are too tall to sit under the CR-95C as well, but those on our Asus Maximus VIII Ranger are quite sizeable and there was still around 12mm of additional clearance available. We measured a maximum height limit of 36mm for motherboard paraphernalia – any taller and you’ll risk these parts fouling the heatsink.

The CR-95C also reaches a long way down the motherboard. As a result, on our Maximus VIII Ranger, the heatsink ended up obscuring the top 1x PCI-E slot, but it did at least leave the 16x PCI-E slot clear – just. Our graphics card doesn’t come equipped with a backplate, which is just as well as it may have ended up touching the CR-95C. Finally, using a fanless cooler such as the CR-95C means you’ll need to choose your case carefully. You’ll need at least 7mm of clearance between the edge of your motherboard and the top of your case, although thankfully, this revised version of the heatsink is smaller than the original version, which had compatibility issues with some cases. 

Another consideration is ventilation – you want plenty of vents, especially in the roof, to enable convection to work its magic and allow the heat emitted by the cooler to escape – as hot air rises, it’s best for it to escape through the roof of the case, so a case with a minimum of two 120mm mesh vents in the roof directly above the heatsink will get you the best results.

GRAPHICS CARD

MSI GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G – $395
www.msi.com

We thought long and hard about our choice of graphics card. There are fanless cards available, but they usually use older, low-power GPUs, which will offer very limited performance. There are also large heatsinks for existing GPUs, but these can be tricky to install, plus they’re usually humongous and often require fans anyway. As we’ve already mentioned, using a large, fanless water-cooling radiator would work here, but you’d need at least a quad 120mm-fan model to passively cool a modern high-end GPU during lengthy gaming sessions.

There’s a much easier and cheaper solution to this problem, though, which is to take advantage of Nvidia’s highly efficient Pascal architecture. 

Many Pascal cards use heatsinks that can cool these GPUs passively at low to medium loads, and only require their fans to spin up under heavy loads in games. We’ve opted for an MSI GTX 1060 Gaming X 6G, which can switch off its twin fans under low loads – almost any new GTX 1060 does this, so there’s plenty of choice.

We’ll also be looking at how to fine-tune the fan response in MSI’s Afterburner tuning utility, in order to extend the fanless operating time, so the fans only spin up at maximum load. This tweak means that the GPU won’t throttle its performance, which is a real possibility if you use a third-party cooler in a completely fanless configuration.

Of course, this minimal use of active cooling does mean our PC won’t be 100 per cent silent all the time, but it’s a worthy compromise for a huge increase in performance. Alternatively, there are completely fanless options too, such as Palit’s GTX 750 Ti KalmX. Sadly, we couldn’t find any more recent or more powerful fanless graphics cards, but this situation may change once Nvidia’s new GTX 1050 is established, so keep your eyes peeled. If you want to opt for another model of graphics card, just make sure it offers a passive cooling mode – some cards don’t support passive cooling by default, although you may be able to force fanless operation using a utility such as Afterburner.

Motherboard and memory

Asus Maximus VIII Ranger – $249
www.asus.com.au

16GB 2666MHz GeIL Dragon RAM – $150
www.geil.com.tw

As we’ve already mentioned, the Maximus VIII Ranger is compatible with the Nofan CR-95C and the heatsink just about clears this motherboard’s primary 16x PCI-E slot too. Smaller motherboards may run into issues here, so we advise against opting for micro-ATX or mini-ITX motherboards. 

Another advantage of the Ranger is its ROG EFI. Specifically, if you want to have a modicum of active cooling for hot days or lengthy gaming sessions, Asus’ EFIs are great for tuning your case fans – you can make them switch off below certain temperatures, which we’ll discuss later. In addition, the Ranger has good heatsinks, so it should be able to cope in a passively cooled case. You can, of course, use any compatible motherboard, but it may not be able to tune the fans so precisely. 

You also need memory that won’t clash with the huge cooler. Despite its size, the Nofan CR-95C does have a reasonable height limit for memory modules, but the 32mm limit rules out the likes of Corsair’s Vengeance LED memory. We ditched memory heatsinks entirely with our choice, and opted for GeIL’s low-profile 2666MHz Dragon RAM. 

Storage

512GB Samsung 850 Pro – $230
www.samsung.com.au

Once you’ve sorted out fan noise, the other key step on your quest for silence is ditching your hard disk and only using SSDs. Once you remove all the other noise sources, a hard disk can become the main sound producer in your case, and a highly annoying one too. There’s another reason not to use hard drives in a quiet PC too, which is heat. 

Hard disks don’t dish out the same level of heat as a CPU, of course, but they do produce significantly more heat than a typical 2.5in SSD, so using solid state storage is a double-edged sword in a quiet PC. Assuming you don’t use a NAS, completely ditching hard drives will mean spending a lot more money if you need a decent amount of storage space, but the prices of even 1TB solid state drives are coming down now. 

We used a 512GB Samsung 850 Pro in our system, but it’s also well worth considering the cheaper Evo model, which costs around $220 with a 1TB version costing under $450. The M.2 version of the 850 Evo is now slightly cheaper too, but unfortunately, despite the manual saying otherwise, the Maximus VIII Ranger doesn’t support SATA-based M.2 SSDs.

Case

Jonsbo UMX4 – $199
www.ple.com.au

Perhaps the most important decision you need to make when building a quiet PC is which case to use. We’ve mentioned that top roof vents are vital, and you ideally open mesh sections rather than angled panels, as the latter will only serve to hinder the convection movement of air in the case. Your case will also need at least 7mm of clearance above the top of the motherboard for the Nofan CR-95C heatsink, and ideally mesh sections in the base and front panel too. The more convection airflow you can achieve, the cooler your hardware, and if you choose a semi-passive graphics card (like ours), you’ll be able to keep its fans switched off for longer.

As well as convection, you also need to consider thermal conduction when buying a case. Lots of plastic should be avoided, and it’s worth investing in an aluminium case as opposed to steel. The former has a thermal conductivity rating nearly seven times higher than steel, and an entire PC case can end up acting like a radiator, adding to your PC’s ability to cool itself without fans. 

We searched for such a case and managed to find one that should not only perform handsomely but also costs under $200. The Jonsbo UMX4 is an ATX case with an aluminium outer shell plus large vents in the base and roof thanks to a bottom-to-top cooling arrangement, which is ideal for convection. The UMX4 is also big enough to accommodate the Nofan heatsink, with the top vent sitting directly above it to allow the heat to escape.

Power supply

Corsair RM550x 550W – $150
www.corsair.com

Many PSUs support semi-passive operation these days, from small SFX PSUs all the way up to 2KW monsters. 

At low loads, these power supplies switch off their fans, just like semi-passive graphics card coolers. In general, modern PSUs made by decent brands are very quiet anyway, even under moderate loads, but unlike graphics cards, there’s plenty of fanless PSUs from which to choose. Some of them have limited connectors and often limit the number of PCI-E plugs, though, so check the specs before you splash out, especially if you’re using a discrete graphics card. Our GTX 1060 only requires a single 6-pin PCI-E connector, so there was plenty of choice.

In the end, we opted for a Corsair RM550x 550W PSU. This power supply offers a Zero RMP fan mode when under low and medium loads, and the fan is only kicked into action when it’s needed. It has two 6+2-pin PCI-E connectors, so it could potentially power a dual-GPU system too, as long as its power requirements didn’t exceed 550W and it doesn’t use two PCIe power ports. It’s a modular unit, too, so that helps keep our case nice and tidy.

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