Testbed and Methods
To test the coolers from CoolerMaster, Gigabyte and Zalman we decided to utilize two of our test-systems we use for testing graphics cards: the one based on Intel Pentium 4 560 microprocessor.
The system was configured as follows:
- Intel Pentium 4 560 CPU (Socket 775, 3.60GHz, 1MB L2 cache);
- Intel Desktop Board D925XCV;
- 2x512MB Micron Technology PC2-4300 (533MHz) DDR2 SDRAM;
- ATI RADEON X800 XT Platinum Edition graphics card;
- Microsoft Windows XP Pro SP2, DirectX 9.0c;
- ATI CATALYST 5.1;
- Motherboard Monitor;
- S&M 0.3.2a (155);
- Half-Life 2, special demo;
- WMV Media Encoding;
- SpeedFan 4.2.1;
This time we decided not to overclock microprocessors in an attempt to find out which cooler is better, but to monitor and log chips’ temperatures while they were performing demanding tasks or running special software designed to test stability and thermal dissipation. Temperature logging allowed us to see how efficiently the cooler can transfer heat off the CPU as well as to reveal peak temperatures.
We used open testbed to test the coolers, we did not use actual PC cases because every case has different airflows inside and our review would not be absolutely representative. Temperature in the lab was around 18 – 19 degrees Celsius (64.4 – 68 degrees Fahrenheit).
Testing procedures were as follows:
- We ran S&M software to heat up the CPU for about 7 minutes for each cooler;
- We encoded 1080p HD WMV footage called The Magic of Flight (The Magic of Flight) into 1Mb VBR, 640x480 WMV file using Windows Media Encoder software.
- We ran our custom 2-minute demo recorded on d3_c17_12 map of Half-Life 2 for two times.
The most quiet CPU coolers among participated were CoolerMaster Hyper 48 KHC-L91 as well as Zalman CNPS7700-Cu (when set to work on minimal speed). Both could not be distinctly heard when our test bed was operating: PSU cooler, GPU cooler and HDD definitely did so lot noise that both CPU coolers seemed to be utterly quiet in front of all those devices. Zalman’s CNPS7000 was a bit noisier: on minimal speed it was louder than the CNPS7700. But that still was a very silent operation.
Unfortunately, when set to maximum speed, both Zalman coolers turned out to be pretty noisy.
Gigabyte’s 3DRocket PCU-22SE was very noisy when set to maximum rotation speed of 2900rpm and moderately noisy when the special cable decreased it to 2400rpm.