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Puget Systems announced last week the creation of Puget Labs with grand plans to test and benchmark products, publish the results for all the world to see, and offer up explanations as to why a particular brand of RAM or hard drive or videocard or whatever didn't make the cut for one of the boutique builder's systems. Puget's goal is complete transparency between the system builder and its customers, and by taking this approach, we felt it was only a matter of time before the fireworks start to fly. It took just two days.
To be clear, company founder and president Jon Bach reiterated to us on more than one occasion that Puget's intent isn't to stir up any hornets' nests and get into fights with manufacturers, it just wants to hold manufacturers accountable. If you think that's lip service, think again, because Puget just called out Gigabyte for "misleading" customers with its "Silent-Cell" technology.
Puget tested and benchmarked Gigabyte's GV-R677SL-1GD videocard, which is a Radeon HD 6770 graphics cards Gigabyte passively cools with a giant heatsink. Since there are no fans, there should be no noise, right? Not so fast. During testing, Puget noticed a "distinct 'tick'" coming from the graphics card whenever it rendered frames under a heavy load. The same thing was heard in Gigabyte's passively cooled 6750 card, but not in PowerColor's Radeon HD 5750, which is also passively cooled and is "the staple of our Serenity PC" (see our review of the Serenity here).
Gigabyte acknowledged the electrical noise to Puget, ruling out a batch issue or defective cards, but explained that the noise levels were acceptable and wouldn't be fixed. Puget feels otherwise.
"Is the Gigabyte 6770 Silent Series a quiet videocard? Yes. You can use this videocard to make a very quiet computer system," Puget explains. "Is it quiet enough for use in the Puget Systems Serenity? Absolutely not. If we were to use this videocard in our Serenity systems, it would be much louder than the rest of the system combined... If Gigabyte is going to call something silent, we think it should be silent. At Puget Systems, we feel one of our responsibilities is to hold the manufacturers accountable to their claims, and in this situation, we feel the Gigabyte description of Silent-Cell is misleading to the consumer."
Give a listen to this 1-minute YouTube video of all three cards (PowerColor 5750 and Gigabyte's 6750 and 6770 cards, all passively cooled) Puget posted and then tell us if you think Puget has a point or is making a mountain out of a mole hill.