Testbed Configuration and Testing Methodology
We tested all coolers inside a closed system case with the following configuration:
- Mainboard: Intel Siler DX79SI (Intel X79 Express, LGA 2011, BIOS 0537 from 07/23/2012);
- CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition, 3.3 GHz, 1.2 V, 6 x 256 KB L2, 15 MB L3 (Sandy Bridge-E, C1, 32 nm);
- Thermal interface: ARCTIC MX-4;
- Graphics card: AMD Radeon HD 7770 1 GB GDDR5 128 bit, 1000/4500 MHz (with a passive copper heatsink from the DeepCool V4000 VGA cooler);
- System memory: DDR3 4 x 4GB Mushkin Redline (Spec: 2133 MHz / 9-11-10-28 / 1.65 V);
- System drive: Crucial m4 256 GB SSD;
- 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 1020 RPM; back panel: two Noiseblocker NB-BlackSilent PRO PL-1 fans at 1020 RPM; top panel: standard 200 mm fan at 400 RPM);
- Control and monitoring panel: Zalman ZM-MFC3;
- Power supply: Seasonic SS-1000XP Active PFC F3 1000 W (with a default 120 mm fan).
We have slightly adjusted out testing methodology for the fanless SilverStone Heligon HE02. First of all, to test the cooler efficiency in passive mode we slowed down all 120 mm case fans to 600 RPM, in order to reduce the generated noise as much as possible and to eliminate the effect of the internal case airflow on the heatsink. After that we determined the maximum stable frequency of our overclocked processor step by step. We are going to dwell on it in the next chapter of our review.
As for the tests with the cooling fans, we used our standard methodology and all the case fans were rotating at their default speed. However, we overclocked our six-core processor with the clock generator frequency set at 125 MHz, the multiplier at 34x and “Load-Line Calibration” enabled only to 4.25 GHz. The nominal processor Vcore was increased to 1.365 V in the mainboard BIOS. After that we attempted to test the new cooler at even higher frequency and voltage settings, but with no lock. Turbo Boost was disabled during this test session, and Hyper-Threading technology was enabled to increase the heat dissipation. The memory voltage was at 1.65 V and its frequency was 2000 MHz with 9-11-10-28 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 SP1 operating system. We used the following software during our test session:
- LinX AVX Edition version 0.6.4 – to load the processor (memory - 4500 MB, Problem Size – 24234, two 11-minute cycles);
- Real Temp GT version 3.70 – to monitor the processor core temperatures;
- Intel Extreme Tuning Utility version 220.127.116.11 – for monitoring and visual control of all system parameters during overclocking.
So, the complete screenshot during the test session looks as follows:
The CPU was loaded with two consecutive LinX AVX 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 23.4-23.8°C.
We are going to compare the cooling efficiency of our SilverStone Heligon HE02 cooler against that of Thermalright TRUE Spirit 140 with one default TY-140 fan in two operational modes: at maximum rotation speed and in very quiet mode at 800 RPM:
We also tested our SilverStone Heligon HE02 with the same TY-140 fan. Also we tested it with two 120 mm Corsair AF120 fans in 800-1600 RPM range. The rotation speed of all fans was controlled using our special in-house controller by changing the voltage in 0.5 V increments: