Building a Cool and Quiet PC

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Multiple Configurations for the VIA C3

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the CPU used for this series of tests is a VIA C3 800MHz CPU running with a 133MHz FSB. 256MB of PC133 SDRAM is used, along with a WD 200BB 7200 PRM hard disk, an Afree 10x ATA/33 DVD drive and a 3.5″ floppy disk drive. I ran the test under Windows ME at 1024×768/16bit at 85Hz and used the integrated sound supplied with each Mainboard (VIA for the Soyo, C-Media for the Asus). I would have used a lower resolution, since I feel it would be more common for a system of this class to use 800×600, except some of the tests I ran require the higher resolutions. Just goes to show you that sometimes you really should pick the test based upon the market the product is intended for, but I think these days we are set in a mode of looking for the ultimate performance under the latest most intensive programs.

I first started off testing with the Asus CUV4X-V mainboard that VIA supplied with the CPU – a full featured, full size, ATX Socket 370 Mainboard using the VIA PM133 chipset with the S3 Savage 4 AGP 4X graphics integrated into the chipset and an above average C-Media AC97 sound chip. The VIA PM133 is probably one of the best chipsets to mate up with the VIA C3 since it offers not only a good 3D graphics engine based on the S3 Savage 4, but it also supports using an AGP 4X card if you wish to upgrade for better performance or fill specific needs. An Intel 810 or 815 chipset would also be a very good choice, as its graphics performance is very similar. It uses a bit less CPU when using the integrated graphics, but also has a bit less 3D performance. I normally do my testing on a bench, and I was a bit curious as to how well the Coolermaster passive heatsink would perform, since I did not have the luxury of air flow across it from the power supply exhaust fan. But the temp was about (using an Infrared sensor) 46C for the CPU and 66C for the chipset, even in a room with an ambient temp of almost 90F.


CoolerMaster Passive cooler on the Asus CUV4X-V

I then installed an nVidia GeForce II MX 200 32MB AGP card. This is easy, as you just install it in the AGP slot and the integrated video is automatically fully disabled. I chose that video card for its up to date capabilities, low cost, low current draw and minimal heat output using just a passive cooler on the video chip. Next, I tested using the Soyo 7EVM Micro ATX Mainboard using the VIA PLE133 chipset installed in a Micro ATX case. The PLE133 chipset uses a Trident based graphics engine that is not designed for graphics intensive programs or games, supports only AGP 2X mode and does not support an AGP slot like the PM133 does. Both the PLE133 and PM133 use part of the system memory as dedicated video memory, and it can be adjusted on the PM133 to a large enough size to meet the demands of most graphics programs.


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