Testbed and Methods
I took two coolers from different price segments as opponents to the four products from Spire in today’s tests. These two are a Hyper TX from Cooler Master that costs $22 (for details see our article called Originality or Efficiency? Cooler Master Mars, Eclipse and Hyper TX Cooling Solutions Reviewed) and a Thermaltake Big Typhoon in its standard version with a 1400rpm fan (for details see our article called Four CPU Coolers from Thermaltake Tested). The Typhoon costs $38-40.
As for the Spire coolers, I tested the VertiCool IV with its stock fan as well as with an identical additional fan installed for exhaust. The Fourier III and IV were tested with their fans facing upwards (by default) as well as downwards to the CPU. The 120mm system fan opposite the CPU socket was installed for exhaust and intake, respectively.
The coolers were tested on an open testbed as well as in a system case with the following configuration:
- Mainboard: ASUS P5B Deluxe/WiFi-AP (Intel P965 chipset, LGA775, BIOS 1101)
- Chipset cooler: Thermaltake Extreme Spirit II (~2500rpm)
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 (2400MHz, 1.2875V, 266x4MHz FSB, 2x4096KB L2 cache, Kentsfield B3)
- Graphics card: Sysconn GeForce 8600 GTS 256MB/128bit (running at 670/2016MHz)
- Graphics card cooler: Arctic Cooling Accelero S2 in passive mode
- Memory: 2 x 1024MB Corsair TWIN2X2048-9136C5D DDR2 SDRAM (SPD: 1142MHz, 5-5-5-18, 2.1V)
- Disk subsystem: Hitachi HDT725032VLA360 (SATA-II, 320GB storage capacity, 7200rpm, 16MB cache, NCQ)
- Optical drives: NEC ND-4571A DVD burner
- System case: ASUS ASCOT 6AR2-B Black&Silver with two system fans from Cooler Master (120mm, 1180rpm, 21dBA) and one 120mm fan Sharkoon Luminous Blue LED (1000rpm)
- Power supply: MGE Magnum 500 (500W) + 80mm GlacialTech SilentBlade fan (~1700rpm, 19dBA)
The peak CPU frequency was limited by the efficiency of the weakest cooler as well as by the extremely hot summer weather. The quad-core CPU was overclocked only to 2900MHz (a frequency gain of 20.8%) without a voltage increase.
The mainboards’ automatic fan speed management is disabled for the time of the tests. The thermal throttling of the Intel Core 2 Duo processor is controlled with RightMark CPU Clock Utility version 2.25.
All tests are performed in Windows XP Professional Edition Service Pack 2. SpeedFan 4.32 is used to monitor the temperature of the CPUs, reading it from the CPU sensor. The CPU is heated up by means of OverClock Checking Tool version 1.1.0 in a 25-minute test in which the system remains idle in the first and last 4 minutes.
The TAT program I had used earlier in my cooler reviews can heat an Intel Core 2 Quad up by 2-4°C more than the OCCT does, but the OverClock Checking Tool is more practical and issues an error message if the CPU is unstable. The TAT goes on working under such conditions.
I perform at least two cycles of tests and wait for 25-30 minutes for the temperature to stabilize during each test cycle. The maximum temperature of the hottest CPU core in the two test cycles is considered as the final result (if the difference is not bigger than 1°C – otherwise the test is performed once again). Despite the stabilization period, the result of the second cycle is usually 0.5-1°C higher.
The ambient temperature was monitored by means of an electric thermometer and remained at 27.5-28°C during the tests (there was a temperature of 32-34°C outdoors). The fan rotation speed is shown in the diagram as reported by monitoring tools.