Articles: Cooling

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Testbed and Methods

Scythe Ninja Copper cooler and two of its today’s competitors were tested on an open testbed as well as in a closed system case with the following configuration:

  • Mainboard: ASUSTek P5K Deluxe/WiFi-AP (Intel P35), LGA 775, BIOS 0705
  • Processors:
    • Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 2667MHz, 1.35V, L2 4096KB, FSB: 333MHz x 4, (Conroe, G0)
    • Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2400MHz, 1.2875V, L2 2 x 4096KB, FSB: 266MHz x 4, (Kentsfield, B3)
  • Thermal interface: Arctic Silver 5
  • Graphics card: HIS Radeon HD 3870 graphics card (GDDR4 512MB/256bit, @864/2520MHz)
  • Graphics card cooler: Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 + Turbo Module
  • Memory:
    • 2 x 1024MB DDR2 Corsair Dominator TWIN2X2048-9136C5D (1142MHz / 5-5-5-18 / 2.1V)
    • 2 x 1024MB DDR2 CSXO-XAC-1200-2GB-KIT DIABLO (1200MHz / 5-5-5-16 / 2.4V)
  • Disk subsystem: Samsung HD501LJ HDD (SATA-II, 500GB storage capacity, 7200rpm, 16MB cache, NCQ)
  • Optical drive: Samsung SH-S183L RAM & DVD±R/RW & CD±RW burner (SATA-II)
  • System case: ASUS ASCOT 6AR2-B Black&Silver (ATX) with 120mm ~960RPM Scythe Minebea fans for air intake and exhaust, and a 120mm ~940RPM GlacialTech SilentBlade GT12025-BDLA1 fan on a side panel
  • Power supply: Enermax Galaxy EGA1000EWL 1000W (a 135mm 850RPM fan for intake).

All tests were performed in Windows XP Professional Edition Service Pack 2. SpeedFan 4.34 Beta 38 was used to monitor the temperature of the CPU, reading it from the CPU core sensor:

Its readings matched those from the Core Temp 0.96 utility. The mainboard’s automatic fan speed management system was disabled for the time of the tests in the mainboard BIOS. The CPU thermal throttling was controlled with RightMark CPU Clock Utility version 2.30:

The CPU was heated up with OCCT (OverClock Checking Tool) version 1.1.1b in a 23-minute test with maximum CPU utilization, during which the system remained idle in the first and last 4 minutes.

I performed at least two cycles of tests and waited for approximately 20 minutes for the temperature inside the system case to stabilize during each test cycle. The stabilization period in an open testbed with the mainboard in horizontal and coolers in a vertical position took about half the time. The maximum temperature of the hottest CPU core out of the two/four in the two test cycles was taken as the final result (if the difference was no bigger than 1°C – otherwise the test was performed at least once again). Despite the stabilization period, the result of the second cycle was usually 0.5-1°C higher.

The noise level of each cooler was measured according to our traditional method described in the previous articles with the help of an electronic noise meter – CENTER-321. The subjectively comfortable noise level of 36dBA is marked with a dotted line in the diagram; the ambient noise from the system case, without the CPU cooler, didn’t exceed 33.4dBA when measured at 1m distance.

The ambient temperature was checked with an electronic thermometer that allows monitoring the temperature changes over the past 6 hours. During our test session room temperatures stabilized at around 25°C. It is used as a staring point on the diagrams. Note that the fan rotation speeds as shown in the diagrams are the average readings reported by SpeedFan, and not the official claimed fan specifications.

It is quite logical that we decided to compare Scythe Ninja Copper against the regular Scythe Ninja (Plus) cooler with aluminum heatsink plate array. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the regular Ninja in the lab at the time of tests. However, it was really no problem at all, as we had a very “similar” OCZ Vindicator cooler, which will be one of the today’s testing participants, too. Besides, it will also be interesting to see how the new Scythe Ninja Copper performs against the today’s air-cooling solutions leader – Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme cooler, which actually costs about the same as the anniversary edition solution from Scythe.

All coolers were tested with two types of fans. First of all, each of the participants was tested with Scythe Ninja Copper fan – the Scythe Slip Stream 120 working at ~860RPM (according to the monitoring report). After that we tested the coolers with Noctua NF-P12 fan from the Austrian manufacturer. It was rotating at ~1380RPM. During the last test cycle the coolers worked with a pair of Noctua fans each: one installed for air intake and another one – for exhaust:

Now we are all armed and ready, so let’s get down to the results!

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