Exterior and Interior
Unboxing the Vacuum from its well-protected packaging reveals an understated but handsome chassis from Lian Li. As with most of this manufacturer’s products, the PC-A05 is made from 100% aluminium, a material renowned for its superior heat dissipation.
At the front of the box we find a Samsung Blu-Ray / DVD-RW drive and a large power button. Below this is a recessed reset button, and the front-panel connectors. These consist of two USB ports (one of which is USB 3.0) and two audio jacks; one for headphones and one for a microphone.
At the rear of the case we find a plethora of connectivity. 8 USB ports are provided (two of which are of the 3.0 specification), there are a couple of PS2 connectors which you can use if your peripherals are from the dark ages and the graphics card provides DVI, DP and HDMI video outputs.
Along the top of the machine we see a large opening almost directly above the CPU cooler. This is covered by a black fan guard and allows heat to rise out of the case by convection.
Inside the case however is where things start to get interesting…
Dominating the interior of the Vacuum is the colossal Nofan CR-95C IcePipe CPU cooler. This is at least twice the size of a conventional heat sink and measures a little over 22cm across. Chillblast has carefully chosen a motherboard that has its primary PCI Express slot lower than the norm, populating it with a Sapphire Radeon 6670 graphics card. This “Ultimate Edition” features DisplayPort, DVI and HDMI ports and supports three screens via Eyefinity. It is one of the most powerful solutions available that is capable of being cooled without the help of any fans.
The Asus F1A75 motherboard is a full ATX model and makes use of the A75 chipset’s extensive contemporary features. Each of the six SATA ports are 6Gbps capable for example, and the board supports Crossfire, USB 3.0 and up to 32GB of memory. Unusually for an A75 motherboard there are no supplementary display outputs for the A8’s integrated graphics, but Chillblast has cleverly enabled the on-chip GPU anyway, and combined it with the discrete card in a Crossfire configuration. As we will find out later, this boosts video performance noticeably compared to running with the discrete GPU alone.
Plugged into the F1A75 is 8GB of Corsair memory, made up of two 4GB modules. This leaves two slots free for future expansion. CPU wise, Chillblast has fitted the A8 3870 – AMD’s fastest socket FM1 processor. Running at 3.0GHz, this quad core solution offers solid general purpose performance, and flexes its muscles over the similarly priced Core i3 competition when it has a chance to use all four of its cores – for example when encoding video, running a rendering workload or encoding audio.
At the bottom-front of the case we find the power supply; yet another passive product, this time made by Silverstone. 400W may not sound like a lot, but it is more than enough for a PC of this specification. Whilst idling the Vacuum pulls a diminutive 42W from the wall, whilst at full load this increases to a still very impressive 177W so the PSU is not even close to being stressed in this machine.
Directly above the PSU we find the Vacuum’s sole means of storing data – a 120GB Solid state drive. Unless you are lucky enough to store most of your data on a NAS or server, this isn’t going to be enough space for everything. We therefore recommend you consider opting for either a larger drive (240GB SSDs are now surprisingly affordable) or you will have to give up some of the machine’s low noise credentials and fit a conventional disk. Quiet yet speedy drives do exist, an example of which is the new Seagate Spinpoint ST1000DM005 (formally the Samsung F3 HD103SJ). Despite our grumbles about a lack of overall space, however, we understand why Chillblast hasn’t provided a conventional storage drive as standard – had this been included, the machine’s status as a truly noiseless PC would have been called into question.
The final component making up the Vacuum is a Samsung Blu-Ray combo drive. This drive allows you to read and write DVDs and CDs, and watch Blu-Ray films using the bundled PowerDVD software.