Articles: Cooling

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Testbed and Methods

The coolers were tested on an open testbed as well as in a system case with the following configuration:

  • Mainboard: ASUS P5B Deluxe/WiFi-AP (Intel P965 chipset, LGA775, BIOS 1101)
  • Chipset cooler: Thermaltake Extreme Spirit II (~2500rpm)
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 (2400MHz, 1.2875V, 266x4MHz FSB, 2x4096KB L2 cache, Kentsfield B3)
  • Thermal interface: Fanner 420 (Stars)
  • Graphics card: Sysconn GeForce 8600 GTS (256MB, 128-bit, 675/2016MHz)
  • Graphics card cooler: Arctic Cooling Accelero S2 in passive mode
  • Memory: 2 x 1024MB Corsair Dominator TWIN2X2048-9136C5D DDR2 SDRAM (SPD: 1142MHz, 5-5-5-18, 2.1V)
  • Disk subsystem: Hitachi HDT725032VLA360 (SATA-II, 320GB storage capacity, 7200rpm, 16MB cache, NCQ)
  • Optical drive: NEC ND-4571A DVD-burner
  • System case: ASUS ASCOT 6AR2-B Black&Silver with two 120mm Sharkoon Luminous Blue LED (980rpm) system fans and a Cooler Master fan(120mm, 800rpm) a on a side panel
  • Power supply: Enermax Galaxy EGA1000EWL 1000W with a 135mm intake fan at 850rpm and 80mm outtake fan at 1650rpm.

Note that compared with the previous test sessions performed in our lab, the system configuration is very different this time and it certainly affects the results. Namely, we have intake and outtake fans with lower rotation speeds and hence lower level of generated noise and the side panel fan is connected via a resistor lowering its rotation speed. Moreover, we modified the PSU cooling system that used to be pretty loud. As a result, the background noise of our system case without the processor cooler fan has now dropped to ~34.1dBA (it used to be ~36dBA).

The CPU was overclocked to its maximum with the weakest of the testing participants. As a result, the reference point was set at 3204MHz with 1.45V Vcore:

All tests were performed in Windows XP Professional Edition Service Pack 2. SpeedFan 4.32 was used to monitor the CPU temperature, reading it from the CPU sensor. The CPU was heated up with OverClock Checking Tool version 1.1.0 in a 25-minute test when the system remained idle during the first and last 4 minutes of the test.

The mainboard’s automatic fan speed management was disabled for the time of the tests in the mainboard BIOS. The thermal throttling of the Intel Core 2 Duo processor was controlled with RightMark CPU Clock Utility version 2.25. We determined the thermal throttling rate of our processor experimentally: it began to skip clock cycles at 82°C and higher temperatures.

I performed at least two cycles of tests in each mode and waited for 25-30 minutes for the temperature to stabilize during the tests in closed system case. During the tests on an open testbed we took half the time for temperature stabilization. The maximum temperature of one of the four processor cores in the two test cycles was considered as the final result (if the difference was not bigger than 1°C – otherwise the test was performed at least once again). Despite the stabilization period, the result of the second test cycle was usually 0.5-1°C higher.

The ambient temperature during the test session was controlled with an electric thermometer that could monitor temperature changes over the period of up to 6 hours. The room temperature remained at 26°C during the tests (as marked on the charts with a vertical red line). I would like to add that the cooler fan rotation speeds on the diagrams are provided according to the monitoring readings and not by the fan specifications.

Taking into account he price segment of the XIGMATEK HDT-S963 cooler, we selected a well-known Cooler Master Hyper TX solution as its primary opponent for this test session. Hyper TX was taken as is, without any modifications or additions to it. This is an efficient and pretty inexpensive cooler from the mainstream price range (the recommended price sits around $22). Besides, we have also included the results of one of the super-coolers we tested before – Scythe Infinity – that will serve a reference point for our analysis.

So, let’s check out the obtained results.

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