Articles: Cooling

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Testbed and Methods

We tested the cooling efficiency of new XIGMATEK and AURAS graphics card coolers in a closed testbed only. The testbed was configured as follows

We put together the following testbed for our experiments:

  • Mainboard: Gigabyte GA-X38-DQ6 mainboard on Intel X38 chipset (LGA 775, BIOS F8D)
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 (3.0GHz, 1.25V, 2x6MB L2 cache, 4x333MHz FSB, Yorkfield, C0)
  • Thermal interface: Arctic Silver 5
  • Graphics cards:
    • XFX GeForce 8800 GTX GDDR3 768MB / 384bit, @612/1566/2052MHz;
    • LeadTek GeForce 8800 GTS GDDR3 512MB / 256bit, @756/2052MHz;
  • 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)
  • 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 ~900RPM Scythe Minebea fans for air intake and exhaust, and a 120mm ~840RPM Scythe Slip Stream 120 SY1225SL12L fan on a side panel
  • Control and monitoring panel: Zalman ZM-MFC2
  • Power supply: Enermax Galaxy EGA1000EWL 1000W (a default 135mm ~850RPM fan for intake; 80mm ~1550RPM Noctua fan for air exhaust)
  • LCD 24” Acer AL2416WBsd monitor (1920 x 1200, DVI, 60 Hz).

Our quad-core processor was overclocked from the nominal frequency to 4GHz with the Vcore increased to 1.5825V. DDRII memory worked at 1066MHz frequency and 2.05V voltage.

The testing programs were installed under Windows XP Professional Edition SP2. We used DirectX 9.0c libraries, and ForceWare 171.16 graphics card drivers. The graphics cards were loaded up by running 3DMark06’s Firefly Forest synthetic test ten times in 1920x1200 with 16x anisotropic filtering and 4x FSAA activated. We overclocked the graphics cards and then monitored their temperatures using RivaTuner v2.0.6 utility. We performed at least two test cycles for each cooler and waited for 10-15 minutes for the temperature to stabilize between each test cycle. The ambient temperature remained at ~25°C during the tests and is used as a starting point on our results charts.

The noise level of each cooler was measured according to our traditional method using CENTER-321 electronic noise meter. The subjectively comfortable level of ~34.5dBA is marked with a blue dotted line in the diagrams; the ambient noise from the system case including a processor cooler didn’t exceed ~33.2dBA measured at a 1m distance.

Both graphics cards that will be used for our today’s tests are equipped with a reference cooler by default:


The default coolers didn’t limit the overclocking potential of the graphics cards, however, we couldn’t raise the maximum frequencies any further even with the most efficient cooling solutions of our today’s testing participants. The graphics cards were tested at the following frequencies:

LeadTek GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB

XFX GeForce 8800 GTX

I would like to add that we used the same Arctic Silver 5 thermal compound for all our testing participants.

Besides the reference coolers we have also included the results of one of the today’s best air coolers for GeForce 8800 GTX graphics accelerator – Arctic Cooling Accelero Xtreme 8800, and for GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB – Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 equipped with Turbo-Module. It is not an Arctic Cooling promotion. The thing is that there are hardly any really efficient and at the same time quiet coolers for graphics cards in the market these days.

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