Articles: Cooling

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Testing Methodology

The system was assembled “as is”. That is, we didn’t change the default speeds of the preinstalled fans and performed our tests in a closed and fully assembled case at a constant ambient temperature, maintained with the help of an air conditioner in our lab. During the system assembly, we made sure that all the cables inside the case are arranged in such a way as to avoid their hindering air circulation. AT the same time we didn’t strive for an absolutely perfect assembly: we just used a few buckles. For better airflow optimization we moved the front panel in-taking fan a little bit up.

We assembled the following system inside our Tai-Chi case:

  • Intel i955XBK mainboard;
  • Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 3.2GHz CPU (Smithfield core);
  • 2 x 512MB Kingston KHX5400D2/512 DDR2 SDRAM;
  • ATI Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition 256MB graphics card;
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 200GB hard disk drive;
  • DVD-RW optical drive from Samsung.

This is a high-end platform in a high-end case. We are going to find out how well the built-in water-cooling system from Thermaltake will cope with the hot dual-core Intel CPU. For a more illustrative comparison we will also provide the results for the Armor case with the same primary components on the charts below (read our roundup called Roundup: Six System Cases from Thermaltake for more details on the Armor case). The system inside the Armor case was also equipped with the Thermaltake Big Typhoon CPU cooler. This will allow us to clearly estimate the improvements they made in the new Tai-Chi case and to conclude whether or not it is worth additional $300.

We performed our tests in the following modes:

  • Idle
  • CPU Burn (two copies of the CPU Burn utility running)
  • HDD Burn (two sets of files, a 7GB folder with small files and a 40GB folder with large movie files, are being copied simultaneously from one partition of the drive to another)
  • VGA Burn (Unreal Tournament 2004 is running with the maximum graphics quality settings)

We read the temperatures of the CPU and mainboard with the Intel Desktop Utilities version 2.1 shipped with the mainboard; the temperatures of the graphics card’s PCB and of the graphics processor were read with RivaTuner. The temperature of the hard disk drive was read with HDD Thermometer tool.

The room temperature was 21°C at the time of our tests and remained constant throughout the entire test session.

The temperatures of the system components are read only after they have fully stabilized.

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