Articles: Cooling
 

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Testbed and Methods

All the today’s testing participants were benchmarked in two testbeds built with the following components:

  • Mainboards:
    • ASUS P6T Deluxe (Intel X58 Express), LGA 1366, BIOS 1702;
    • Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-DS4H, Socket AM2+, BIOS F7;
  • Processors:
    • Intel Core i7-920, 2.67 GHz, 1.25V, 4 x 256 KB L2, 8MB L3 (Bloomfield, C0);
    • AMD Phenom II X4 965 3.4 GHz, 1.4 V, 4 x 512 KB L2, 6 MB L3, (Deneb, RB-C3);
  • Thermal interface: Tuniq TX-3;
  • Graphics cards:
    • HIS Radeon HD 5850 1024 MB, 725/4200 MHz;
    • ZOTAC GeForce GTX 275 896 MB, 633/1452/2268 MHz;
  • Memory:
    • DDR3 PC3-12800 3 x 2 GB OCZ Platinum Low-Voltage Triple Channel (Spec: 1600MHz / 7-7-7-24 / 1.65 V);
    • DDR2 2 x 1 GB CSX DIABLO CSXO-XAC-1200-2GB-KIT (Spec: 1200 MHz / 5-5-5-16 / 2.4 V);
  • System HDDs:
    • 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;
    • Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS (SATA-II, 640 GB, 7200 RPM, 32 MB cache, NCQ);
  • System cases:
    • 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);
    • Thermaltake Strike MX (two Noiseblocker NB-BlackSilent XL1 fans at 1020 RPM on the bottom front and top back panel; side panel removed);
  • Control and monitoring panels:
    • Zalman ZM-MFC2;
    • Zalman ZM-MFC3;
  • Power supply units:
    • Zalman ZM1000-HP 1000 W (with a default 140 mm fan);
    • Thermaltake Toughpower XT 850 W (with a default 140 mm fan).

During this test session the CPU overclocking was limited by the least efficient cooler in its fan’s quiet mode. AMD processor was overclocked to 4.08 GHz with a multiplier and slight increase in the bus frequency (the Vcore was raised to 1.525 V). Intel processor was overclocked to 3.9 GHz with 21x multiplier and “Load-Line Calibration” enabled. The processor Vcore in this case was increased to 1.34375 V in the mainboard BIOS:

 

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:

  • Everest 5.02.1925b – to monitor AMD CPU core temperature and fans rotation speeds;
  • Real Temp 3.39b2 – to monitor Intel processor core temperature;
  • Linpack 64-bit with LinX shell version 0.6.4 – to create maximum CPU load for AMD processor (fifteen Linpack runs with 1400 MB RAM capacity involved) and Intel processor (5 Linpack runs with 3584 MB RAM capacity involved);
  • RivaTuner 2.24 – to visually control Intel core temperature changes (with RTCore plugin);
  • CPU-Z 1.52.2 – to monitor processor core voltages and frequencies.

So, the complete screenshots during the test session looked as follows:

The CPUs were 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. Besides, we will also provide the detailed temperature readings for all four processor cores together with their average in a separate table. 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 22.8-23.2 °C.

The noise level of tested coolers was measured after 1:00 AM in a closed room about 20 m2 big using CENTER-321 electronic noise meter. The noise level for each cooler was tested outside the system case when the only noise sources in the lab were the cooler and its fan(s). The noise meter was installed on a tripod and was always at a 200 mm distance from the cooler fan rotor. To measure the noise we set the cooler onto a 45 mm stand made of polyurethane foam material on top of a desk. The lowest noise reading our noise meter device can register is 29.8 dBA and the subjectively comfortable noise level in these testing conditions was around 35 dBA. The fan(s) rotation speed was measured in the entire supported range using our controller by changing the voltage.

Our today’s hero, Tuniq Tower 120 Extreme, will compete against the best cooler with heatpipe direct touch technology – Xigmatek Thor’s Hammer and our reference solution – Thermalright IFX-14 with evened out base. These coolers were tested with one and two Thermalright TR-FDB-2000 fans working in quiet mode at 810 RPM, moderate mode at 1360 RPM and at maximum rotation speed of 2000 RPM:

 

Besides the tests with its default fan, Tuniq Tower 120 Extreme will also be tested with one and two Thermalright TR-FDB-2000 fans. One of these fans was installed instead of the default Tuniq fan, which the second one was installed on the outside of the heatsink for air exhaust:

That’s pretty much all I could say about our testing methodology for today. Let’s check out the cooling efficiency and acoustic performance of the new solution now.

 
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