Testbed and Methods
We are going to test the cooling efficiency of our today’s testing participants and their competitors in the following testbed:
- Mainboard: ASUS P6T Deluxe (Intel X58 Express), LGA 1366, BIOS 1804;
- Processor: Intel Core i7-920, 2.67 GHz, 1.25 V, 4 x 256 KB L2, 8MB L3 (Bloomfield, C0);
- Thermal interface: Arctic Cooling MX-2;
- Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 5850 1 GB GDDR5, 725/4000 MHz;
- Memory: DDR3 3 x 2 GB OCZ Platinum Low-Voltage Triple Channel (Spec: 1600 MHz / 7-7-7-24 / 1.65 V);
- System HDD: Western Digital VelociRaptor (SATA-II, 300 GB storage capacity, 10,000 RPM, 16 MB cache, NCQ) inside Scythe Quiet Drive 3.5” silencer and cooler chassis;
- System case: Antec Twelve Hundred (front panel: two Noiseblocker NB-Multiframe S-Series MF12-S1 fans at 900 RPM and Scythe Gentle Typhoon fan at 900 RPM; back panel: two Scythe SlipStream 120 fans at 900 RPM; top panel: standard 200 mm fan at 400 RPM);
- Control and monitoring panel: Zalman ZM-MFC2;
- Power supply: Zalman ZM1000-HP 1000 W (with a default 140 mm fan).
During this test session we managed to overclock our 45nm quad-core processor (with polished heat-spreader) with the multiplier set at 21x and “Load-Line Calibration” enabled to 3.97 GHz using the weakest cooler of the testing participants. The nominal processor Vcore was increased to 1.35 V in the mainboard BIOS.
The memory voltage was at 1.62 V and its frequency was around 1.5 GHz (7-7-7-14_1T timings). All other parameters available in the mainboard BIOS and connected with CPU or memory overclocking remained unchanged (set to Auto).
All tests were performed under Windows 7 RTM x64 operating system. We used the following software during our test session:
- Linpack 64-bit with LinX shell version 0.6.4 – to create maximum CPU load (5 Linpack runs in each cycle with 3584 MB RAM capacity involved);
- CPU-Z 1.53 – to monitor processor core voltage and frequency;
- Real Temp 3.50 RC6 – to monitor the processor core temperature;
- Everest 5.30.1999b – to monitor default fans rotation speeds.
So, the complete screenshot during the test session looks as follows:
The CPU was loaded with two consecutive Linpack 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 processor core of the four for the results charts. The ambient temperature was checked next to the system case with an electronic thermometer with 0.1 °C precision that allows monitoring the temperature changes over the past 6 hours. During our test session room temperature was at 24.8-25.2 °C.
Besides, we also included the best tower-cooler out there – Noctua NH-D14:
The latter was tested with two 140 mm Noctua NF-P14 fans. Besides, Noctua NH-D14, like all other testing participants, was also tested with one and two 120 mm Thermalright TR-FDB fans in three speed modes: in quiet mode at 800 RPM, moderate mode at 1200 RPM and at maximum rotation speed of 1600 RPM. The fan rotation speeds were set with the help of our controller with ±10 RPM accuracy.