Articles: Cooling
 

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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 21 and “Load-Line Calibration” enabled to 3.93 GHz (+47.4%) using the weakest cooling system of the today’s testing participants. The nominal processor Vcore was increased to 1.3375 V (+11.5%) in the mainboard BIOS.

The memory voltage was at 1.62 V and its frequency was around 1487 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 0.6.0.2 – 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 1.51 – to monitor the CPU frequency and Vcore.

So, the complete screenshot during the test session looks as follows:

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 unusually high and stayed at 26.5-27 °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). To measure the noise we set the cooler onto a stand made of polyurethane foam material on top of a desk and the noise meter was always at a 25 cm distance from the cooler. The rotation speed of the coolers fan(s) varied in the entire supported range by changing the voltage with the help of an independent controller. The lowest noise reading our noise meter device can register is 29.8 dBA and the subjectively comfortable noise level is at 35 dBA.

We are going to compare the three testing participants discussed today against another two cooling solutions. First of all, it is Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme-1366 RT ($60), because it will be interesting to compare it against Cogage TRUE Spirit. Besides, this cooler costs about the same as Cooler Master Hyper N620, which measn that it can become the direct competitor to the latter. The second cooler we added into our today’s test session is Thermalright IFX-14. Both cooler were equipped with one and two Noiseblocker NB-Multiframe MF12-S3HS fans ($23) working in quiet mode at 1120 RPM and at maximum rotation speed of 1760 RPM. All three new coolers discussed today were also tested with the same fans, besides their default ones. In case of two fans, they were installed for air intake-exhaust:

Now let’s proceed to the test results and their analysis.

 
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