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 1611;
- Processor: Intel Core i7-920, 2.67 GHz, 1.25V, 4 x 256 KB L2, 8MB L3 (Bloomfield, C0);
- Thermal interface: Tuniq TX-2;
- 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 polished heat-spreader) with the multiplier set at 21x and “Load-Line Calibration” enabled to 3.95 GHz using the weakest cooling system of the today’s testing participants with the fan in quiet mode. The nominal processor Vcore was increased to 1.35 V in the mainboard BIOS.
The memory voltage was at 1.64 V and its frequency was around 1.5 GHz (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 7 RTM x64 operating system. We used the following software during our test session:
- Real Temp 3.30 RC11 – to monitor the processor core temperature;
- Linpack 64-bit with LinX shell version 0.6.1 – to create maximum CPU load (two test cycles, 5 Linpack runs in each cycle with 3072 MB RAM capacity involved);
- RivaTuner 2.24 – to visually control temperature changes (with RTCore plugin);
- Everest 5.02.1850 beta – to monitor fans rotation speeds;
- CPU-Z 1.52.2 – 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 8-10 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 19.8-20.3 °C.
For comparison purposes we included the results for five additional super-coolers. Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme-1366 RT and ThermoLab BARAM to estimate the cooling efficiency of the CoolAge X120TF. Zalman CNPS10X Extreme – to compare against Zalman CNPS10X Quiet. Xigmatek Thor’s Hammer with heatpipe direct touch technology to compare against Evercool Transformer 4 with the same technology. Here are the photos of above listed coolers and their thermal compound imprint from the Intel Core i7 base:
The fifth cooler included is our ultimate reference Thermalright IFX-14 (with evened out base). We added it to compare against everyone else. So, we ended up with eight cooling solutions participating in our today’s test session.
Besides the default fans (if there are any included with the coolers), all testing participants were tested with one and two Thermalright TR-FDB-2000 fans working in quiet mode at 820 RPM, moderate mode at 1320 RPM and at maximum rotation speed of 2040 RPM. The fan rotation speed was adjusted and controlled by our special controller.