Articles: Cooling

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Testbed and Methods

The new Thermaltake cooling system and its only opponent were tested in the following system:

  • Mainboard: ASUS P5K Deluxe/WiFi-AP (Intel P35 chipset, LGA775, BIOS 0603)
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 (2400MHz, 1.2875V, 266x4MHz FSB, 2x4096KB L2 cache, Kentsfield B3)
  • Thermal interface: Arctic Silver 5
  • Graphics card: Sysconn GeForce 7900 GS GDDR3 (256MB, 256-bit bus, 575/1710MHz) with Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 in passive mode;
  • Memory: 2 x 1024MB Corsair Dominator TWIN2X2048-9136C5D DDR2 SDRAM (SPD: 1142MHz, 5-5-5-18, 2.1V)
  • Disk subsystem: Samsung HD501LJ (SATA-II, 500GB storage capacity, 7200rpm, 16MB cache, NCQ)
  • Optical drive: Samsung SH-S183L SATA-II DVD RAM & DVD±R/RW & CD±RW drive;
  • System case: ASUS ASCOT 6AR2-B Black&Silver with a 120mm 980rpm Sharkoon Luminous Blue LED system fan for air intake and a 120mm 1140rpm Scythe Minebea fan for air exhaust;
  • Power supply: Enermax Galaxy EGA1000EWL 1000W (a 135mm 850rpm fan for intake and a 80mm 1650rpm fan for exhaust)

The quad-core Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 (2400MHz) processor with polished-off heat-spreader was overclocked to its maximum frequency with the today’s tested liquid-cooling system running in the quietest fan mode. The resulting frequency was 3267MHz at core voltage increased to 1.5V:

According to monitoring data from CPU-Z, SpeedFan and Everest, processor Vcore equaled 1.47V. Vdimm was increased to 2.25V, and other mainboard voltages remained default. CPU Voltage Reference parameter was set at 0.63x in the mainboard BIOS, and CPU Voltage Damper – enabled. The automatic fan rotation speed control system (Q-Fan) was disabled in the mainboard BIOS.

All tests are performed in Windows XP Professional Edition Service Pack 2. SpeedFan 4.34 Beta 34 was used to monitor the temperature of the CPU, reading it from the CPU core sensor. I would like to point out specifically that the new version of this utility has significantly corrected processor temperature readings towards higher values. So, compared with the previous SpeedFan version 4.33 the processor temperature readings rose by 18-19ºC.

The data from SpeedFan matched the readings from Core Tempt v0.95 utility. The thermal throttling of our test CPU activated at 100 ºC (determined empirically). For our Intel Core 2 Quad processor it was controlled with RightMark CPU Clock Utility version 2.30.

The CPU was heated up with OverClock Checking Tool version 1.1.1b in a 60-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 20 minutes for the temperature inside the system case to stabilize during each test cycle (the case side panel was open). For the above mentioned reasons we didn’t run any tests in an open testbed. The maximum temperature of the hottest CPU core in the two test cycles was considered as the final result (if the difference was not 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 cooling system was measured according to our traditional method described in the previous articles. The subjectively comfortable 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 34dBA when measured at 1m distance.

The ambient temperature was monitored with an electronic thermometer that allows monitoring the temperature changes over the past 6 hours. During our test session room temperatures stabilized at around ~24°C. It is used as a staring point on the diagrams. Note that the fan rotation speeds for the liquid-cooling system and the processor cooler are shown in the diagrams as the average readings reported by SpeedFan, and not as the claimed fan specifications.

Since we are going to test the Big Water today, its opponent will be the Big Typhoon from Thermaltake, namely Thermaltake Big Typhoon 120 VX supercooler:


Juts like the liquid-cooling system the cooler was tested inside the system case with the open side panel, i.e. in identical conditions. We used two fan modes for Thermaltake Big Typhoon 120 VX: quiet mode (~1320rpm) and maximum efficiency mode (2000rpm).

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