Orbital Computers C100024 Sep, 2015 By: Randall S. Newton
First Look Review: Quiet workstation provides good power without overclocking.
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I gently opened the box containing the Orbital Computers C1000 workstation and lifted it into place on my desk. Next, I hooked up my favorite 28" HP monitor and my trusty Logitech keyboard and mouse. After double-checking that everything was plugged in, I switched on the power supply first, then the computer's on/off button. The button glowed blue, but the monitor remained black. I switched from the NVIDIA K4200 connection to the motherboard's built-in video connection. This time, I got as far as the firmware pre-boot — but no further.
It turns out somebody at the shipping company didn't follow instructions. "We put a 'This Side Up' sticker on the box for a reason," said company owner Danny Payne, who answered when I called the general tech support number for help. Payne was right about improper handling being the source of the problem; the box had been placed sideways on my porch, despite the sticker. Both the NVIDIA graphics processing unit (GPU) and the Intel solid-state drive (SSD) had become unseated during the machine's 300-mile journey from Puyallup, Washington, to my office. A side note: It is not uncommon for Payne to answer the phone on tech support; social media sites including Trust Pilot often cite receiving Payne's personal help when calling tech support.
Once I reseated the cards, the boot-up was fast and Windows 7 was live on the screen. But I had to choose between fitting both cards into PCIe slots correctly and getting the plug-in (external) ends of each card to fit snug against the back of the case. Perhaps delivery was not the only issue; either the motherboard was too close to the edge of the case or the case we received was a tiny bit off-spec. I didn't want to force the boards to sit property in a review computer, which someone at the factory could have done at assembly.
The Orbital C1000 workstation features an attractive case from Fractal Design.
What I noticed first about the C1000 was how quiet it was. My six-year-old workhorse of a personal workstation sometimes sounded like a recording of ocean waves, with fans for the central processing units (CPUs), the multiple hard disk drives (HDDs), and the power supply switching on and off. The Orbital C1000, in contrast, came equipped with an Intel 750 Series (NVME) SSD, so it's free of HDD clatter. In addition, because there are no moving parts in an SSD, that means no fan to generate noise.
The Orbital C1000 is housed in a Fractal Design Define R4 case, which is lined with sound-deadening material. It includes two large, whisper-quiet external fans, front and rear, plus two Noctua CPU fans I never heard, even when I ran the workstation with the access panel removed. The Corsair RM750 power supply has a fan but it only runs when the machine uses more than 40% of its rated wattage. This is one quiet computer!
Although my review model was outfitted with an air-cooling system for the CPU, Orbital offers a water-cooling system as an option on this model. According to the company, with the C1000 air cooling offers similar performance to water cooling, but is same price as water cooling and more reliable in that there are fewer moving parts that can break. I would suggest you only consider water cooling if using the C1000 in an extreme environment where heat is a constant issue.
The Orbital C1000 uses a Noctua air-cooling system (visible at upper left) on the Intel Core i7 CPU.