Articles: Cooling

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Thermal Performance

So, the Vantec Stingray STG-100 water-cooling system is impressive at first sight. It looks superb, is cleverly designed and well packed with accessories, and doesn’t need much skill from the user to get installed. Yet we can’t give you our final opinion about it without first checking it in practice.

So, we assembled a testbed using one of the hottest processors available, a Socket AM2 Athlon 64 FX-62 with a clock-rate of 2.8GHz. As we said above, the Stingray STG-100 can be easily installed on the newest mainboards with Socket AM2.

The testbed we assembled consisted of the following parts:

  • AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 CPU (Socket AM2, 2.8GHz, 2x1MB L2 cache)
  • ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe mainboard (Socket AM2, NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI)
  • 2 x 1024 MB DDR2-800 SDRAM (Mushkin XP2-6400PRO, 4-4-4-12)
  • NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GS graphics card
  • Maxtor MaXLine III 250GB hard disk drive (SATA-150)
  • Microsoft Windows XP SP2

We tested the liquid cooling system at the default frequency of the CPU as well as in overclocked mode. In the latter mode we increased the CPU clock rate to 3075MHz with a voltage increase to 1.5V. Unfortunately, the Vantec Stingray STG-100 didn’t allow us to reach higher frequencies, which was somewhat disappointing because we had achieved the same clock rate with an air cooler. So, the STG-100 is not any more efficient than classic solutions in terms of the maximum achievable overclocking result.

The CPU temperature was being monitored with ASUS’ PC Probe II utility during the test.

The CPU was loaded by running the S&M utility which is surely the best tool for this purpose available today. We also ran the SuperPi benchmark to find what the CPU temperature would be under a high, but not extremely high, single-core load.

Testing a liquid cooling system is different from testing an air cooler. Old methods don’t work here. It takes quite a lot of time for the whole amount of liquid (there’s 1 liter of it in the STG-100) to warm up. It’s about 2-3 hours in this case. So, the temperature data given below were recorded after the system had worked for 3 hours in the specified mode.

The radiator of the Vantec Stingray STG-100 system is supposed to be placed outside the computer case, so the system transfers heat from the CPU and other components from the inside to the outside of the system case. It means that the type of the testbed (open or closed) may affect the test results a little. We performed our tests on an open testbed.

So, here are the results:

The Vantec Stingray STG-100 keeps the CPU real cool as you can see. Its noise characteristics are superb, too. Unlike many air coolers, this liquid cooling system works almost noiselessly. There is some very little noise from the pump and the external fan, but you can additionally reduce it by adjusting the pump performance.

Unfortunately, we cannot compare the results of the Vantec Stingray STG-100 with other liquid cooling solutions because there is currently a shortage of Socket AM2 compatible off-the-shelf liquid coolers. But we can offer you the results of a Z7U7414002 model cooler from AVC for comparison: the Athlon 64 FX-62 is 50°C hot with this cooler under normal load and 63°C hot under high load. When the processor is overclocked, these temperatures increase to 55°C and 75°C, respectively. So, water cooling is preferable in this case. The STG-100 liquid cooling system can ensure comfortable conditions for the CPU with high heat dissipation without worsening the user’s acoustic comfort.

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