Testbed and Methods
All tests were performed 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 1606;
- Processor: Intel Core i7-920, 2.67 GHz, 1.25V, 4 x 256 KB L2, 8MB L3 (Bloomfield, C0);
- Thermal interface: Arctic Silver 5;
- Graphics card: ZOTAC GeForce GTX 260 AMP2! Edition 896 MB, 648/1404/2108 MHz (1030 RPM);
- Memory: DDR3 PC3-12800 3 x 2 GB OCZ Platinum Low-Voltage Triple Channel (Spec: 1600MHz / 7-7-7-24 / 1.65 V);
- 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);
- Optical drive: Samsung SH-S183L;
- System case: Antec Twelve Hundred (front panel: two Noiseblocker NB-Multiframe S-Series MF12-S1 fans at 820 RPM and Scythe Gentle Typhoon fan at 840 RPM; back panel: two Scythe SlipStream 120 fans at 840 RPM; top panel: standard 200 mm fan at 400 RPM at the top of the case);
- Control and monitoring panel: Zalman ZM-MFC2;
- Power supply: Zalman ZM1000-HP 1000 W (with a default 140 mm fan).
During this test session we managed to overclock our 45nm quad-core processor with the multiplier set at 21x and “Load-Line Calibration” enabled to 3.9 GHz (+46.1%) using the weakest cooling system of the today’s testing participants in quiet fan mode. The nominal processor Vcore was increased to 1.325 V (+10.4%) in the mainboard BIOS.
The memory voltage was at 1.62 V and its frequency was 1500 MHz (7-7-7-14_1T timings). All other parameters available in the mainboard BIOS and connected with CPU or memory overclocking remained unchanged (set to Auto).
All tests were performed under Windows Vista Ultimate Edition x86 SP1. We used the following software during our test session:
- Real Temp 3.30 RC10 – to monitor the processor core temperature;
- Linpack 32-bit with LinX shell version 0.6.1 – to create maximum CPU load (two test cycles, 15 Linpack runs in each cycle with 1624 MB RAM capacity involved);
- RivaTuner 2.24 – to visually control temperature changes (with RTCore plugin)
- CPU-Z 1.52 – to monitor processor core voltage and frequency.
So, the complete screenshot during the test session looks as follows:
The CPU was loaded with two consecutive Linpack test runs with the settings as indicated above. The stabilization period for the CPU temperature between the two test cycles was about 10 minutes. We took the maximum temperature of the hottest processor core of the four for the results charts. 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 was at 22.1-22.4 °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 25 cm distance from the cooler. To measure the noise we set the cooler onto a 45 mm stand made of polyurethane foam material on top of a desk. 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 33 dBA. The fan(s) rotation speed was measured in the entire supported range using the new controller revision by changing the voltage.
During this test session Asus Axe Square AMAzing didn’t need a competitor with similar top-design concept, and very soon you are going to find out why. Asus triton 88 will be competing against the reference Thermalright IFX-14. We didn’t level out its base, but to ensure more secure contact we used two additional metal washers about 1.2 mm thick for each of its retention screws. Thermalright IFX-14 was tested with one, two and three Noiseblocker NB-Multiframe MF12-S3HS fans working in two rotation speed modes: very quiet 940 RPM and at maximum rotation speed of 1880 RPM. The fans were installed for air intake and exhaust:
We tested Asus Triton 88 with one and two same additional fans (besides the default one):
Now let’s proceed to the test results and their analysis.