Articles: Cooling

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Testbed and Methods

We tested our today’s participants in two modes: in a closed system case and in an open testbed. In the former case the mainboard is set vertically and the “tower” coolers are turned horizontally, while in the latter case the mainboard sits horizontally on the desk and the coolers are installed vertically. Our testbed was identical for all coolers throughout the test session 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: Arctic Silver 5;
  • Graphics card: XFX GeForce GTX 285 1024 MB, 648/1476/2484 MHz;
  • Memory: 3 x 1GB Corsair Dominator TWIN3X2048-1800C7DFIN (1800MHz / 7-7-7-20 / 2.0V);
  • 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;
  • System case: 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 Enermax Magma fan at ~900RPM fan on the side panel;
  • Control and monitoring panel: Zalman ZM-MFC2;
  • Power supply: Thermaltake Toughpower 1500W W0218 (with a default 140 mm fan).

All tests were performed under Windows Vista Ultimate Edition x86 SP1. We used the following software during our test session:

  • Real Temp 2.90 RC12 – to monitor the processor core temperature;
  • RightMark CPU Clock Utility 2.35.0 – to control processor thermal throttling;
  • Linpack 32-bit with LinX shell version 0.5.5 – to create maximum CPU load (two test cycles, 15 Linpack runs in each cycle with 1600 MB RAM capacity involved);
  • RivaTuner 2.22 – to visually control temperature changes (with RTCore plugin).

So, the complete screenshot during the test session looks as follows:

I decided to replace the formerly used SpeedFan with RealTemp program that reports a 4°C lower

The stabilization period for the CPU temperature between the two test cycles was 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 or open testbed 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 stayed at 21-21.5°C.

The noise level of each cooler was measured after 1:00AM in a closed room about 20sq.m big using CENTER-321 electronic noise meter. The measurements were taken at 3cm, 1m and 3m distance from the noise source. During the acoustics tests all three 120-mm case fans were slowed down to ~720 RPM. In this mode the background noise from the system case measured at 1m distance didn’t exceed ~32.7 dBA, and the loudest fan was the 140-mm fan of the system power supply. When the system was completely powered off, our noise meter detected 30.8 dBA (the lowest on the charts is 30 dBA). The subjectively comfortable noise level is around 34~34 dBA.

Now let me say a few words about the today’s main competitor. They say that if this cooler had appeared 5 years ago, many well-known cooler manufacturers would have gone bankrupt by now. Well, it is ThermoLab BARAM:

We tested this super-cooler with two Scythe Slip Stream 120 fans in two modes: in quiet mode at 860 RPM and at maximum fan rotation speed of 1890 RPM. The fans were installed for air intake-exhaust. Of course, we didn’t touch the default Thermaltake TMG IA1 fan. However, Scythe Kama Angle was tested not only with the default fan, but also with a higher-speed Scythe Slip Stream 120 fan at 1890 RPM. The fan rotation speeds shown in the diagrams are the average readings reported by SpeedFan, and not the official claimed fan specifications.

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