Technical Specifications and Recommended Pricing
Testbed and Methods
The tests were performed in a closed system case. Our testbed was configured as follows:
- Mainboard: Gigabyte GA-X58A-OC (Intel X58 Express, LGA 1366, BIOS F5c from 9/6/2011);
- Processor: Intel Core i7-980X Extreme Edition, 3.33 GHz, 1.225 V, 6 x 256 KB L2, 12 MB L3 (Gulftown, B1);
- CPU cooler: Thermalright Archon (TY-140, 600-1260 RPM);
- Thermal interface: ARCTIC MX-4;
- Memory: DDR3 3 x 2 GB OCZ Platinum Low-Voltage Triple Channel (Spec: 1600MHz / 7-7-7-24 / 1.65 V);
- Graphics cards:
- MSI Radeon HD 6950 Twin Frozr III 1GD5 Power Edition/OC, 1 GB/256 bit, 940/5600 MHz;
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 580 Super Overclock, GDDR5, 1.5 GB/384 bit, 930/1860/4400 MHz;
- System drive: RAID-0 of 2 x Kingston V-series SNV425S2128GB SSD (SATA-II, 128 GB, MLC, Toshiba TC58NCF618G3T controller);
- Drive for programs and games: Western Digital VelociRaptor (300GB, SATA-II, 10000 RPM, 16MB cache, NCQ) inside Scythe Quiet Drive 3.5” HDD silencer and cooler;
- Backup drive: Samsung Ecogreen F4 HD204UI (SATA-II, 2 TB, 5400 RPM, 32 MB, NCQ);
- System case: Antec Twelve Hundred (front panel: three Noiseblocker NB-Multiframe S-Series MF12-S2 fans at 1020 RPM; back panel: two Noiseblocker NB-BlackSilent PRO PL-1 fans at 1020 RPM; top panel: standard 200 mm fan at 400 RPM);
- Control and monitoring panel: Zalman ZM-MFC2;
- Power supply: Xigmatek “No Rules Power” NRP-HC1501 1500 W (with a default 140 mm fan).
Both graphics cards are equipped with unique cooling systems boasting higher efficiency and lower noise than the corresponding reference graphics card coolers:
We are going to compare the cooling efficiency and acoustic performance of the new Arctic offerings against these two products. We increased the GPU and graphics memory frequencies in order to increase the graphics cards heat dissipation and make the testing conditions more challenging for our today’s participants.
The testing programs were installed under Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1. We used DirectX End-User Runtimes libraries (from November 2010), as well as AMD Catalyst 11.9 and Nvidia GeForce 285.38 beta graphics card drivers. We used five runs of Aliens vs. Predator game in 1920x1080 resolution and with maximum image quality settings, 16x anisotropic filtering and 4x antialiasing to warm up the graphics accelerators:
With the settings we used this test loads even a powerful graphics accelerator very heavily, but can’t damage it, which could be the case with FurMark (that is why we decided not to use this benchmark fully in our test session). Nevertheless, we tested both graphics cards at maximum fan speeds of both Arctic coolers in FurMark version 1.9.1 with the following settings:
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 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 24.6-25.0°C. We used our in-house controller to adjust the rotation speed of all cooler fans except for the Gigabyte graphics card.
The noise level of each cooler was measured between 1:00 and 3:00 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. The noise meter was installed on a tripod and was always at a 150 mm distance from the cooler fan rotor. The tested cooling systems were 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 36 dBA (do not mix it up with low noise level).
Now let’s check out the results of our tests.