Testbed and Testing Methodology
We performed all cooler tests inside a closed system case. Here is our testbed configuration:
- Mainboard: Gigabyte GA-X58A-OC (Intel X58 Express, LGA 1366, BIOS F5c from 09/06/2011);
- Processor: Intel Core i7-980X Extreme Edition, 3.33 GHz, 1.225 V, 6 x 256 KB L2, 12 MB L3 (Gulftown, B1);
- Thermal interface: ARCTIC MX-4;
- Graphics card: Asus Radeon HD 6770 DirectCU Silent (EAH6770 DCSL/2DI/1GD5) GDDR5 128 bit, 850/4000 MHz (with a passive heatsink from the DeepCool V4000 VGA cooler);
- Memory: DDR3 3 x 2 GB OCZ Platinum Low-Voltage Triple Channel (Spec: 1600MHz / 7-7-7-24 / 1.65 V);
- 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).
We overclocked our six-core processor (with its default non-lapped heat-spreader) with the multiplier set at 25x and “Load-Line Calibration” (Level 2) enabled to 4.3 GHz. The nominal processor Vcore was increased to 1.3875 V in the mainboard BIOS:
Turbo Boost and Hyper-Threading technologies were disabled during our test session. The memory voltage was at 1.5 V and its frequency was 1.38 GHz with 7-7-7-16_1T timings (Extreme profile). All other parameters available in the mainboard BIOS and related to CPU or memory overclocking remained unchanged.
All tests were performed under Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1 operating system. We used the following software during our test session:
- CPU Stress Test (CST) version 0.18b – to load the processor (matrix # 15, 10-12 minutes);
- Real Temp GT 3.64 – to monitor the processor core temperature;
- CPU-Tweaker 1.5 – to visually monitor temperatures and frequencies using graphics;
- Gigabyte Easy Tune 6 B11.2303.1 – to monitor voltages.
So, the complete screenshot during the test session looks as follows:
The CPU was loaded with two consecutive CST 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 CPU core for the results charts. Moreover, we will also provide a table with the temperature readings for all cores including their average values. The ambient temperature was checked next to the system case with an electronic thermometer with 0.1 °C precision that allows hourly monitoring of the temperature changes over the past 6 hours. The room temperature during our test session varied between 24.5-24.7°C.
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). The fan(s) rotation speed was adjusted in the entire supported range using our in-house controller by changing the voltage with 0.5 V increment.
We are going to compare Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO against a cooler from Thermalright with almost the same retail price – Thermalright True Spirit ($29.95) tested with one default fan:
Both coolers were tested in the default PWM model of their fans (600-1600 RPM for Hyper 212 EVO and 1100-1700 RPM for True Spirit) as well as at additional rotation speeds starting at 1000 RPM with 200 RPM increments.
Now let’s check out the obtained results.