Puget Systems Serenity Pro Review: The stealth ninja of performance desktops
Puget Systems’ Serenity Pro is so named because it’s “extremely quiet,” according to the company. The Serenity line is optimized for extra-quiet operation, employing such solutions as Gelid’s Tranquillo Rev2 silent cooling system, a case coated with sound-dampening foam, and a special “quiet case fans upgrade,” which replaces stock fans with extra-quiet ones.
In other words, this system is like the stealth ninja of performance desktops.
Our review model, which costs $2660 as configured, sports a third-generation Intel Core i7-3770K processor, 16GB of DDR3 RAM, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 graphics card. The Serenity Pro also has two hard drives—a 240GB Intel 335 Series SSD, and a 2TB Western Digital HDD. The system comes with Blu-ray burner, a wireless networking card, and CyberLink PowerDVD 12 Ultra, and runs a 64-bit version of Windows 8 Pro.
The Serenity Pro is the fastest PC we’ve tested on WorldBench 8 to date. In our WB8 benchmark tests, the system scores 121 out of 100, which means it’s 21 percent faster than our testing model (which sports a third-generation Intel i5 processor). It’s also about four percent faster than our second-fastest WB8 PC, the Digital Storm Aventum (which scored 116 out of 100 on WB8).
So yeah, the Serenity Pro is an excellent overall performer.
The system also performed well in individual tests: in the PCMark 7 productivity test, the Serenity Pro scored 5730. By comparison, the Aventum scored 4937, while our testing model scored 4638. In our audio encoding test, the Serenity Pro was the only computer we’ve tested that broke 200 seconds, encoding audio in just 193.6 seconds. By comparison, the Aventum took 214.7 seconds to encode the same clip, while the testing model took 202 seconds.
Puget Systems designed this particular Serenity build for digital photography editing. The WinBench Photoshop benchmark results reflect excellent performance for photo editing. The 51.6 score for GPU accelerated effects is the highest score for any system to date, as is the 224 for overall image editing.
The Serenity Pro also performed exceptionally well on our graphics tests. In our Dirt Showdown test, the Serenity Pro managed 140.7 frames per second (1366 by 768 pixel resolution, maximum-quality settings), while the Aventum managed just 129.5 fps on the same test.
Also, while the Serenity Pro isn’t the speediest starter (it takes approximately 27.1 seconds to start up), it is faster than its competitors. The Aventum, for example, takes a whopping 48.2 seconds to start up, while our testing model takes a less-than-impressive 31.5 seconds.
Design & Interior
The Serenity Pro comes packaged in a large Antec P183 V3 tower. This tower has a gunmetal-gray brushed metal finish on the front plate, as well as both sides, and features a locking front door that covers the optical drive, power and reset buttons, and the card reader bay—just in case that’s important to you. The front door, when locked, leaves three USB 3.0 ports and microphone and headphone jacks open.
The Serenity Pro’s case is attractive, if a little large for the system. The front metal plate has Antec’s logo embossed in the upper right corner, and Puget Systems’ Serenity logo painted in the lower right corner. The door features parallelogram-shaped vents along the right side. When you open the door, the front of the system is all diagonally-slashed plastic vents. Here, you’ll also be able to access the system’s power and reset buttons, Blu-ray optical drive, and 12-in-1 card reader bay with additional USB 3.0 port.
Both sides of the Serenity Pro’s case are solid brushed metal. The top of the tower is solid, save for a chevron-shaped vent near the back (through which peeks a fan). The back of the system is where most of the ports are found, on both the motherboard and the graphics card.
The motherboard has six USB ports (four USB 3.0, two USB 2.0), a combination mouse/keyboard PS/2 port, a DisplayPort, an HDMI out, a S/PDIF out, a DVI out, a VGA out, Gigabit Ethernet, and support for 7.1 surround sound. The graphics card has two DVI outs, an HDMI out, and a DisplayPort, and below the graphics card there are four more USB ports (two USB 3.0, two USB 2.0) as well as an eSATA port. The Serenity Pro has a total of 10 USB 3.0 ports and four USB 2.0 ports.
The left side of the Serenity Pro’s case slides off easily, after you take out two thumbscrews. Inside, the tower is roomy and uncluttered. Wires and cables are neatly tucked into black mesh tubing, and a silent Gelid Solutions Tranquillo Rev2 cooling system takes up a moderate amount of space.
For upgraders, here’s what’s open and (relatively) accessible: two PCI slots, one PCIe x16 slot, one PCIe x1 slot, two RAM slots (dual channel), and two 3.5-inch bays. There also appears to be two empty 5.25-inch bays under the system’s optical drive, but these come packed with foam.
There are two empty and accessible PCI slots, as well as one empty PCIe x16 slot and one empty PCIe x1 slot. There also appears to be two empty 5.25-inch drive bays under the system’s optical drive, though these come packed with foam. For
The Bottom Line
The good news is that the stealth ninja of performance desktops is equal parts stealth and ninja—the Serenity Pro is both super-quiet and an excellent overall performer. The bad news is that stealth ninja-ness is a bit pricey, though it won’t totally break your bank.
There’s not much to complain about with the Serenity Pro. It’s a great performer, it’s quiet, and it’s easy to upgrade. The tower is a bit big for the components inside it, but perhaps that just adds to the system’s quietness. If you’re looking for a discreet powerhouse (there are no flashy LEDs or plexiglass panels in this system), the Serenity Pro will tiptoe its way into your heart (and under your desk).