Articles: Cooling
 

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Testbed and Methods

We tested the coolers using the following hardware parts:

  • Mainboards:
    • ABIT AN8 SLI (nForce 4 SLI chipset, Socket 939, BIOS v.2.0)
    • ABIT AA8-DuraMAX (Intel 925XE chipset, LGA775, BIOS v.2.5)
  • Processors:
    • AMD Athlon 64 3200+ (2000MHz, 1.40V, 512KB L2 cache, Cool&Quiet Disabled, Venice core, E6 stepping)
    • Intel Pentium 4 506 (2666MHz, 533MHz FSB, 1MB L2 cache, SL8J8 Philippines, Prescott core, E0 stepping)
  • Memory:
    • 2 x 512MB Corsair TWINXP1024-3200C2 PC3200 DDR SDRAM (SPD: 400MHz, 2-2-2-5_1T)
    • 2 x 512MB Corsair TWIN2X1024A-4300C3 PC4300 DDR2 SDRAM (SPD: 533MHz, 4-3-3-8)
  • Graphics card: Sapphire Radeon X800 GTO2 (PCI Express x16, 256MB GDDR3, 540/1240MHz, 16 pixel processors)
  • Graphics card cooler: Zalman VF900-Cu (~1320 RPM, 18.5dBA)
  • Disk subsystem: Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 (ST3160812AS 2AAA, SATA-II, 160GB storage capacity, 7200rpm, 8MB cache)
  • System case: ASUS ASCOT 6AR2-B Black&Silver + an intake 120mm system fan Coolink SWiF (~1200rpm, ~24dBA) + an exhaust 120mm system fan Sharkoon Luminous Blue LED (~1000rpm, ~21dBA)
  • Power supply: MGE Magnum 500 (500W) + 80mm GlacialTech SilentBlade fan (~1700 RPM, 19dBA)

The tests were performed in Windows XP Professional Edition Service Pack 2. We used the same thermal paste with all the coolers and disabled the automatic fan speed management systems in the mainboards’ BIOSes.

SpeedFan version 4.28 was used to monitor the temperatures and fan speeds:

The CPU was heated up by running the FPU test from S&M version 1.8.0 (alpha) at 100% load for 15 minutes.

I also loaded the processors with SuperPI mod.1.5 by calculating pi to 32 million decimal places; this task takes a little less than 29 minutes on the described testbed. I guess this is enough to evaluate a cooler’s efficiency in a closed system case as well as on an open testbed. The temperature was read from the sensor integrated into the CPU. As usual, we control the thermal throttling of the Prescott-core Intel Pentium 4 processor by means of ThrottleWatch 2.02.

The coolers were tested under identical conditions, in a closed system case and on an open testbed. The system case was put into the niche of a computer desk and its 120mm system fan on a side panel was disabled. So, the cooling conditions in the system case were somewhat worse in comparison with our earlier tests. The room temperature remained constant at 25-26°C.

The tower-like coolers were positioned vertically on the open testbed and horizontally in the system case. Except for the Noctua NH-U12 on the AMD platform, all the coolers were installed in such a way that their airflow was directed towards the rear panel of the system case where a 120mm fan was located. The Zalman CNPS8000 was installed with the ends of its heat pipes towards the rear panel of the case, too.

 
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