Testbed and Methods
I tested the coolers on the following testbed:
- ABIT AN8 SLI mainboard (nForce4 SLI, Socket 939, BIOS v.2.0)
- AMD Athlon 64 3200+ (stepping E6 Venice core, 2000MHz, 1.40V, 512KB L2 cache, disabled Cool & Quiet)
- 2 x 512MB Corsair TWINXP1024-3200C2 DDR SDRAM (SPD: 400MHz, 2-2-2-5, 1T)
- MSI Radeon X1300 256MB graphics card (with passive cooling)
- Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 (ST3160812AS 2AAA) hard disk drive (SATA-II, 160GB capacity, 7200rpm, 8MB buffer)
- NEC ND-4551A Black DVD±R/RW & CD-RW drive (BIOS 1.08)
- ATX ASUS ASCOT 6AR2-B Black&Silver system case + a Coolink SWiF 120mm intake fan (~1200rpm, ~24dBA) + two 120mm Sharkoon Luminous Blue LED exhaust fans (~1000rpm, ~21dBA) on the back and side panels
- MGE Magnum 500 (500W) power supply with a 80mm GlacialTech SilentBlade fan (~1700rpm, 19dBA)
The tests were performed in Windows XP Professional Edition Service Pack 2. I disabled the fan speed management options in the mainboard’s BIOS.
To make the test tougher for the coolers, I overclocked the AMD Athlon 64 3200+ processor from its default 2000MHz to 2700MHz frequency at 1.6V voltage.
The temperatures and fan speeds were monitored with the help of SpeedFan version 4.28:
I used the S&M version 1.8.0 (alpha) utility to heat the CPU up for 15 minutes with the FPU test at 100% load.
S&M puts an unrealistically high load on the CPU, so I also tested the coolers with SuperPI 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. The temperature was read from the sensor integrated into the CPU. The room temperature was 22-23°C during the tests and is taken as the initial point in the diagrams.
I will compare the performance of the Noctua coolers with that of one of the best air coolers available, Thermaltake Big Typhoon (for details you can check our article called Four CPU Coolers from Thermaltake Tested). I also offer you the results of a standard boxed cooler from the AMD Athlon 64 3200+ processor for comparison: