Articles: Cooling
 

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Technical Specifications and Recommended Pricing

Testbed and Methods

We tested the new cooling systems 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 2101;
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-920, 2.67GHz, 1.25V, 4 x 256KB L2, 8MB L3 (Bloomfield, C0);
  • CPU cooler: Noctua NH-D14 (Noctua NF-P14 fan at 900 RPM);
  • CPU thermal interface: Arctic Cooling MX-2;
  • Memory: DDR3 PC3-12800 3 x 2 GB OCZ Platinum Low-Voltage Triple Channel (Spec: 1600MHz / 7-7-7-24 / 1.65 V);
  • Graphics cards:
    • Diamond Radeon HD 4890 1 GB/256 bit XOC, @925/4200 MHz (1.310 V);
    • ATI Radeon HD 5850 1024 MB, @900/4800 MHz;
  • System HDD: Western Digital VelociRaptor (SATA-II, 300 GB storage capacity, 10,000 RPM, 16 MB cache, NCQ) inside Scythe Quiet Drive 3.5” silencer and cooler chassis;
  • Backup HDD: Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EADS (SATA-II, 1000 GB, 5400 RPM, 32 MB, NCQ);
  • System case: Antec Twelve Hundred (front panel: three Noiseblocker NB-Multiframe S-Series MF12-S1 fans at 900 RPM; back panel: two Scythe SlipStream 120 fans at 900 RPM; top panel: standard 200 mm fan at 400 RPM at the top of the case; case closed);
  • Control and monitoring panel: Zalman ZM-MFC2;
  • Power supply: Zalman ZM1000-HP 1000 W (with a default 140 mm fan);
  • Monitor: Samsung 305T Plus.

To increase the total system heat dissipation and make the testing conditions a little harder for the participating cooling solutions we overclocked our quad-core processor to 4 GHz and increased its Vcore to 1.36875 V in the mainboard BIOS. The memory voltage was at 1.64 V and its frequency was around 1.55 GHz (7-7-7-14_1T timings).

The testing programs were installed under Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate RTM x64. We used DirectX End-User Runtimes libraries (from February 2010) and Catalyst 10.3 beta and GeForce/ION Driver 196.34 beta graphics card drivers. We used 12 runs of FireFly Forest test from the semi-synthetic 3DMark 2006 suite in 2560x1600 resolution to warm up the graphics cards. We enabled anisotropic filtering 16x:

Besides, we additionally used FurMark version 1.8.0 burn test that was launched for about 20 minutes in stability test mode in 2560x1600 resolution:

We used MSI Afterburner version 1.5.1 and RivaTuner version 2.25 alpha to monitor the frequencies and temperatures of our cards.

The tests were run at least twice for each type of load. 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 around 24.8-25.1°C.

The noise level of each cooler was measured after 1:00 AM in a closed room about 20 m2 big using CENTER-321 electronic noise meter. The noise level for each cooler was tested outside the system case when the only noise sources in the lab were the cooler and its fan(s). The noise meter was installed on a tripod and was always at a 150 mm distance from the cooler fan rotor. The mainboard with the graphics card equipped with the tested cooler was placed at the edge of the desk on a sheet of polyurethane foam. The lowest noise reading our noise meter device can register is 29.8 dBA and the subjectively comfortable noise level in these testing conditions was around 37 dBA (do not mix it up with low noise level). The fan(s) rotation speed was adjusted in the entire supported range using the new controller revision by changing the voltage with 0.5 V increment.

The today’s testing participants and the reference graphics card coolers were tested in three fan speed modes: automatic mode, at maximum speed and at average speed. During our test session the VRM components of the cards voltage regulators were topped with Thermalright VRM2 and VRM4 heatsinks without a fan (passive mode).

 
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