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Testbed and Methods

Since the new Thermaltake PW 850i ProWater is designed to be used inside a system case, we tested it and its today’s competitor only inside a closed system case with the mainboard in vertical position.

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

  • Mainboards:
    • Gigabyte GA-X38-DQ6 (Intel X38), LGA 775, BIOS F9d beta;
    • ASUSTek P5K Deluxe/WiFi-AP (Intel P35), LGA 775, BIOS 0812
  • Processors:
    • Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 (3.0GHz, 1.3125V, 6MB L2 cache,4x333MHz FSB, Wolfdale, C0)
    • Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 (3.0GHz, 1.25V, 2x6MB L2 cache, 4x333MHz FSB, Yorkfield, C0)
  • Thermal interface: Arctic Silver 5 (for all coolers)
  • Graphics card: HIS Radeon HD 4850 GDDR3 512MB / 256bit, 725/2275MHz
  • Graphics card cooler: Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 + Turbo Module
  • 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: Samsung HD501LJ (SATA-II, 500GB storage capacity, 7200rpm, 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: System case: ASUS ASCOT 6AR2-B Black&Silver (ATX) with 120mm ~960RPM Scythe Slip Stream fans for air intake and exhaust (the fans are installed on silicon spindles)
  • Control and monitoring panel: Zalman ZM-MFC2
  • Power supply: Enermax Galaxy EGA1000EWL 1000W (a default 135mm fan for intake; and 80mm fan for air exhaust)

All tests were performed under Windows XP Professional Edition SP3. SpeedFan 4.34 was used to monitor the temperature of the CPU and mainboard, 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 was 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 with OCCT (OverClock Checking Tool) version 2.0.0a in a 30-minute test with maximum CPU utilization, during which the system remained idle in the first 1 and last 4 minutes of the test:

I performed at least two cycles of tests and waited for approximately 20-25 minutes for the temperature inside the system case to stabilize during each test cycle. The stabilization period in an open testbed took about half the time. Despite the stabilization period, the result of the second test cycle was usually 0.5-1°C higher. The maximum temperature of the hottest CPU core of the four in the two test cycles was considered the final result (if the difference was no bigger than 1°C – otherwise the test was performed at least once again).

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 temperatures varied between 26.0-26.5°C. It is used as a staring 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.

The noise level of each cooler was measured according to our traditional method described in the previous articles with the help of an electronic noise meter – CENTER-321. The subjectively comfortable noise level was considered ~34.5dBA and is marked with a blue dotted line in the diagram. The ambient noise from the system case without the CPU cooler didn’t exceed 33.5dBA when measured at 1m distance.

We will be comparing Thermaltake PW 850i ProWater against the extremely efficient Thermalright SI-128 SE air cooler that sells for half the price of the liquid-cooling system. For the sake of fair experiment we used it with the same fan as the one on Thermaltake PW 850i ProWater radiator:

Since there are no holes on the fan frame (it has plastic spindles), we used a rubber band besides the traditional wire clips to hold the fan in place. We tested Thermalright SI-128 SE with the Thermaltake fan working in two modes: at minimal rotation speed of ~1310RPM and at maximum speed of ~2370RPM.

Well, let’s check out the results now.

 
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