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Testbed and Testing Methodology

We performed all cooler tests inside a closed system case. Here is our testbed configuration:

  • Mainboard: Asus Crosshair V Formula (Socket AM3+, AMD 990FX/SB950, BIOS 0903);
  • Processor: AMD FX-8150 (Zambezi, 8 cores, 3.6 GHz, 8 MB L2 + 8 MB L3);
  • Thermal interface: ARCTIC MX-4;
  • Memory: DDR3 3 x 2 GB OCZ Platinum Low-Voltage Triple Channel (Spec: 1600MHz / 7-7-7-24 / 1.65 V);
  • Graphics card: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 560 Ultra Durable (GV-N56GOC-1GI), 1 GB GDDR5 256 bit, 830/1660/4008 MHz;
  • System drive: OCZ Agility SATA II SSD 60 GB, 2.5” (OCZSSD2-1AGT60G);
  • System case: Hiper Osiris. Three Scythe Kama Flow 2 120 fans (SP1225FDB12L) at 930 RPM;
  • Control and monitoring panel: Zalman ZM-MFC3;
  • Power supply: Thermaltake ToughPower XT 850 W (with a 120 mm fan).

We overclocked our eight-core processor (with its default non-lapped heat-spreader) with the multiplier set at 21.5x to 4.3 GHz. The nominal processor Vcore was increased to 1.28125 V in the mainboard BIOS. The memory voltage was at 1.65 V and its frequency was 1.6 GHz with 8-8-8-16_1T timings. Voltage stabilization during overclocking was set at High and 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 OCCT Perestroika 4.1.0 beta 1 to create heavy load and monitor processor temperatures. We used “Linpack” loading mode for 19 minutes (including 1 minute for temperature stabilization in the beginning and 3 minutes in the end of the test. The total allocated memory capacity was 2600 MB:

The CPU was loaded with two consecutive OCCT 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 25.0-25.2°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 had really hard time finding competitors for Prolimatech panther cooler. The thing is that Thermalright True Spirit ($29.95) and HR-02 Macho ($39.95) turned out incompatible with Asus Crosshair V Formula, because during their installation their retention brackets conflicted with one of the heatsinks on the voltage regulator components and prevented us from installing the cooler. At the time of tests we also had Zalman CNPS12X ($99), Phanteks PH-TC14PE ($89) and Thermalright Archon ($74.95) in the lab. The latter appeared to be the closest to Prolimatech Panther in design and price, so it will be the primary competitor in our today’s test session:

 

Thermalright Archon was tested only with one default Thermalright TY-140 fan. Prolimatech Panther was tested not only with one default fan, but also with another Red Vortex 12 LED fan attached to its heatsink in the entire rotation speed range.

Now let’s check out the obtained results.

 
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