Articles: Cooling

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Testbed and Methods

We tested the new cooling system from Arctic Cooling inside a closed system case. Our testbed was identical for all coolers throughout the test session and featured the following configuration:

  • Mainboard: ASUS P6T Deluxe (Intel X58 Express), LGA 1366, BIOS 1303;
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-920, 2.67GHz, 1.25V, 4 x 256KB L2, 8MB L3 (Bloomfield, C0);
  • Thermal interface: Arctic Cooling MX-2;
  • Graphics card: ZOTAC GeForce GTX 260 AMP2! Edition 896MB, 648/1404/2430MHz (1030RPM);
  • Memory: DDR3 3 x 1GB Corsair DOMINATOR TWIN3X2048-1800C7DFIN (Spec: 1800MHz / 7-7-7-20 / 2.0V);
  • Disk subsystem: Western Digital VelociRaptor (SATA-II, 300GB storage capacity, 10,000RPM, 16MB cache, NCQ);
  • HDD silencer and cooler: Scythe Quiet Drive 3.5”;
  • Optical drive: Samsung SH-S183L;
  • System case: Antec Twelve Hundred (default 120mm fans replaced with Scythe Slip Stream 120 fans at 800RPM; 120-mm Scythe Gentle Typhoon at 800RPM installed on the lower front of the case; standard 200-mm fan at 400RPM at the top of the case);
  • Control and monitoring panel: Zalman ZM-MFC2;
  • Power supply: Zalman ZM1000-HP 1000W (with a default 140 mm fan);
  • 24" BenQ FP241W monitor (Wide LCD, 1920x1200/60Hz).

To increase the total system heat dissipation and make it the testing conditions a little harder for the participating cooling solutions we overclocked our quad-core processor to 4.01GHz and increased its Vcore to 1.36875V:

The system RAM was working at 1524MHz with 8-8-8-18 timings and 1.55V voltage. The graphics card is already pre-overclocked to frequencies higher than those of the reference GeForce GTX 260. Unfortunately, only the graphics memory could be overclocked further. The GPU frequency refused to go up even when we raised the voltage from 1.06V to 1.12V. The resulting operational frequencies for our graphics card equaled 648/1404/2430MHz. Before we started the tests we cleaned the cooling system of our reference GeForce GTX 260 (the card has been working in our testbed for about 3 months by then) and replaced the thermal interface with a fresh layer of Arctic Cooling MX-2.

The testing programs were installed under Windows Vista Ultimate Edition x86 SP1. We used DirectX libraries (from March 2009) and GeForce 185.68 drivers. We used FurMark version 1.6.5 to warm up the graphics cards. It was launched for 15-minute runs in stability test window mode in 1280x1024 resolution:

Judging by the load it creates for the graphics cards, it could be compared to Linpack. In other words, the graphics cards are very unlikely to run so hot in games.

We used the irreplaceable RivaTuner v2.24 (created by A. Nikolaichuk aka Unwinder) to monitor the frequencies and temperatures of our GeForce GTX 260. So, the complete screenshot during the test session looks as follows:

The tests were run at least twice. The temperature stabilization period between the two test cycles was about 10-12 minutes. The ambient temperature was checked next to the system case or open testbed with an electronic thermometer with 0.1°C precision that allows monitoring the temperature changes over the past 6 hours. During our test session room temperature stayed at 23.5-24°C.

The noise level of each cooler was measured after 1:00AM in a closed room about 20sq.m big using CENTER-321 electronic noise meter. The measurements were taken at 1m and 3m distance from the closed system case. During the acoustics tests all five 120-mm case fans were slowed down to ~520 RPM. In this mode the background noise from the system case measured at 1m distance didn’t exceed ~33.3 dBA. When the system was completely powered off, our noise meter detected 30.8 dBA (the lowest on the charts is 30 dBA). The subjectively comfortable noise level is around 34.5~35 dBA.

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