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Testbed and Methods

We performed all Noctua NH-C14 tests inside a system case with a removed side panel. Here is our testbed configuration:

  • Mainboard: Gigabyte GA-X58-UD9 (Intel X58 Express, LGA 1366, BIOS F5h from 11/26/2010);
  • 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 Cooling MX-2;
  • Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 5770 1 GB GDDR5 128 bit, 850/4800 MHz;
  • 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 900 RPM; back panel: two Noiseblocker NB-BlackSilentPRO PL-1 fans at 900 RPM; top panel: standard 200 mm fan at 400 RPM; side panel removed);
  • 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” enabled to the modest 4.24 GHz. The nominal processor Vcore was increased to 1.36875 V in the mainboard BIOS:

Turbo Boost and Hyper-Threading technologies were disabled during our test session. The memory voltage was at 1.64 V and its frequency was 1.42 GHz (7-7-7-16_1T timings). 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 operating system. We used the following software during our test session:

  • Linpack 64-bit with LinX shell version 0.6.4 – to create maximum CPU load (5 Linpack runs in each cycle with 4750 MB RAM capacity involved);
  • Real Temp GT 3.60 – to monitor the processor core temperature;
  • CPU-Tweaker 1.5 – to visually monitor temperatures and frequencies using graphics.

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

The CPU was loaded with two consecutive Linpack x64 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 the annoying 23.4-23.8 °C.

We are going to compare Noctua NH-C14 against three coolers: Thermaltake BigTyp 120 VX – as one of the most effective coolers in the past, copper Deep Cool Killer Whale Premium - as one of the most effective top-coolers today, and the magical Thermalright Archon - as the most effective air-cooler out there:

  

Both top-coolers were tested only with their default fans, and Archon was tested with two Thermalright TY-140 fans installed for air intake/exhaust towards the back panel of the system case

Moreover, besides the tests with one and two default fans, Noctua NH-C14 was also tested with a pair of Thermalright TY-140 and Scythe Slip Stream 140 fans:

 

We used a special controller with ±10 RPM precision to manage the rotation speed of all fans in our today’s test session.

 
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