Testbed and Methods
To check out the efficiency of the Zalman TNN500A, I assembled in it a system of the following components:
- Intel Pentium 4 2400MHz@3600MHz (800MHz FSB overclocked to 1200MHz), with the nominal Vcore;
- ASUS P4C800 Deluxe mainboard;
- PowerColor RADEON X800 Pro graphics card;
- 2x256MB Kingston HyperX PC3500 DDR SDRAM, CL2.0;
- IBM DTLA 305020 HDD (15GB, 5400rpm).
I performed my tests in several operational modes:
- “Idle” mode: Windows’ Desktop is on the screen, no applications running;
- “VGA Burn” mode: a bot match in Unreal Tournament 2004 in 1600x1200 resolution with forced 4x full-screen antialiasing and 16x anisotropic filtering;
- “CPU Burn” mode: two copies of BurnP6 running;
- “HDD Burn” mode: hard disk defragmentation running.
I took down the temperatures after half an hour of the system working in each of the modes. The CPU temperature was monitored with the help of Motherboard Monitor of the latest version; the temperatures of the GPU and the graphics card’s PCB were read by RivaTuner; the HDD temperature was reported by DTemp.
The room temperature, the air temperature inside the case and the temperature of the graphics memory chips was measured with a Fluke-54 II thermometer.
I had no desire to lose a good hard disk drive in case the test went awry, and I only found one drive with support of S.M.A.R.T. and temperature monitoring, which could be sacrificed. So, I performed each of the tests twice: the first time I put down the temperatures of the system components and the hard drive when it was installed into the “cooling basket”, and the second time I put the drive on the ledge of the side panel and only measured the temperature of that drive.
So, here are the results of the tests:
Let’s go through the components one by one. The CPU’s 45-46°C in the Idle mode and 63°C under a load is an excellent result for a processor overclocked to 3.6GHz and cooled by an absolutely noiseless cooling system. The Zalman TNN500A gets the maximum possible score in this item.
The temperatures of the GPU and the graphics memory are 50-51°C in the Idle mode and 77-78°C under a load. This is not a catastrophe, but still very hot. For example, with the standard cooling system, the RADEON X800 Pro was 60-65°C hot under a load (see our article called PowerColor RADEON X800 PRO Graphics Card: Modification, Extreme Overclocking and a Duel against Leadtek GeForce 6800 GT).
So, while the Zalman TNN500A handles the RADEON X800 more or less successfully, I wouldn’t dare to install a more powerful graphics card into it.
The TNN500A has a serious chronic defect in its graphics card section: heat pipes only transfer heat off the GPU, while many graphics cards have hot memory chips that require active cooling at least. But installing a fan to blow at the memory chips on the graphics card means losing the main property of the TNN500A – its absolute noiselessness.
The temperature of the hard disk in the “cooling basket” with heat pipes was 44°C in the Idle mode and 57°C after half an hour of defragmentation. This is not just “too much”, that’s close to a catastrophe! I wonder what the temperature of a faster and higher-capacity drive is going to be here, if the old DTLA came under a threat of overheat. Obviously, the heat pipes are not efficient here, and quite naturally: there’s no fan to blow at them, and air circulates very slowly inside the case, mostly due to convection.
The situation changed dramatically as soon as I installed the drive onto the ledge of the side panel: 38°C Idle temperature and 44°C Burn temperature! Heat generated by the drive is immediately handed over to the side panel through that ledge and the thermal condition of the device gives no cause for concern. Installation of several hard disk drives on the ledges of the side panel doesn’t provoke any worsening of the thermal situation: the devices won’t heat each other up, but will give all their heat to the side panel immediately.