Articles: Cooling

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Testbed and Methods

We tested Sunbeamtech Core-Contact Freezer  and its competitor in two modes: in an open testbed when the mainboard sits horizontally on the desk and the coolers are installed vertically, and in a closed system case with the mainboard in vertical position.

Our testbed was identical for all coolers and featured the following configuration:

  • Mainboard: DFI LANPARTY DK X48-T2RS (Intel X48), LGA 775, BIOS 10/03/2008
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 (3.0GHz, 1.25V, 2x6MB L2 cache, 4x333MHz FSB, Yorkfield, C0)
  • Thermal interface: Gelid GC1
  • Graphics card: ZOTAC GeForce GTX 260 AMP2! Edition GDDR3 896 MB / 448 bit, 648/1404/2106 MHz
  • 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: Western Digital VelociRaptor (SATA-II, 300GB storage capacity, 10,000RPM, 16MB cache, NCQ)
  • HDD silencer and cooler: Scythe Quiet Drive 3.5”
  • Optical drive: Samsung SH-S183L SATA-II DVD RAM & DVD±R/RW & CD±RW
  • System case: ASUS ASCOT 6AR2-B Black&Silver (ATX) with 120mm ~900RPM Scythe Slip Stream 120 fans for air intake and exhaust (the fans are installed on silicon spindles), and the same fan at ~900RPM fan on the side panel. We applied noise insulation.
  • Control and monitoring panel: Zalman ZM-MFC2
  • Power supply: Thermaltake Toughpower 1500W W0218 (with a default 140 mm fan)
  • Monitor: 24" BenQ FP241W (Wide LCD, 1920 x 1200 / 60 Hz)

All tests were performed under Windows Vista Ultimate Edition x86 SP1. SpeedFan 4.37 was used to monitor the temperature of the CPU and mainboard chipset, reading it directly from the CPU core sensor and to monitor the rotation speed of the cooler fans:

The mainboard’s automatic fan speed management feature as well as CPU power-saving technologies were disabled for the time of the tests in the mainboard BIOS. The CPU thermal throttling was controlled with the RightMark CPU Clock Utility version 2.35.0:

The CPU was heated up using Linpack 32-bit with LinX shell version 0.5.3. The RAM capacity was set at 1536MB and the test cycle included 15 runs:

Since we ran the test twice with 20/10-minute idle period between the runs for the system to cool down and temperatures to set in, the relatively short actual testing period was quite enough for the maximum processor temperature to become stable.

This is the complete screenshot for your reference:

I performed at least two cycles of tests for each cooling system. I took the maximum temperature of the hottest processor core for the results charts.

The ambient temperature was checked next to the system case with an electronic thermometer that allows monitoring the temperature changes over the past 6 hours. During our test session room temperature stayed at 24°C. It is used as a starting point on the temperature 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.

We uses several criteria to find a rival for Sunbeamtech Core-Contact Freezer cooler. First, it had to be a cooler of comparable price (as you know Sunbeamtech Core-Contact Freezer is priced at $36 retail). Second, it had to be a tower-cooler of similar design. Third, it had to be a solution that our regular readers were well familiar with. The Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme tower cooler was a great choice except the price point. Unfortunately, the prices of Thermalright solutions are pretty high. In particular, the cooler that I have just mentioned, costs about $60, which is 50% more expensive than the price of Sunbeamtech Core-Contact Freezer. So, I decided to go with another familiar cooler – ZEROtherm ZEN FZ120 with the MSRP of $40:

Quite a rival, isn’t it? I would like to remind you that last summer this solution proved to be a highly efficient and easy to use air-cooling system for CPUs. Moreover, we replaced its default fan with a 9-blade Scythe Slip Stream 120 in two operational modes: in quiet mode at 850 RPM and maximum 2060 RPM.

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