Articles: Cooling

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Cooling Efficiency and Acoustic Performance

During Linpack tests inside a closed system case using the “weakest” cooling system of the today’s testing participants  we managed to overclock our 45 nm quad-core processor to 3.7 GHz (+23.3%). The nominal processor Vcore was increased to ~1.4875 V in the mainboard BIOS (+29.3%). During the tests in Far Cry 2 game the CPU remained stable up to 3.95 GHz (+31.7%) at 1.525V (+32.6%) Vcore:

Linpack 32-bit

Far Cry 2

Before we start discussing the obtained results, let me make a few things clear. So, all tested cooling solutions employing Heat-pipe Direct Touch technology were installed in their most efficient position, i.e. with the heatpipes directed along the processor socket locking lever (parallel to the power supply unit). Then we found out during the test session that we could win 2°C under maximum workload in Linpack by simply replacing the default plastic clip retention of Xigmatek HDT-S1284 and OCZ Gladiator Max coolers with the Crossbow kit. However, Xigmatek HDT-SD964 didn’t show any improvement with the replaced retention. Nevertheless, the results on the diagrams below are given for all three coolers tested with Crossbow retention instead of their default one.

 The efficiency tests are summed up on the diagram below:

Xigmatek HDT-SD964 being the last in this race was pretty predictable. Small heat dissipating surface and wide aluminum inserts between the heatpipes in the base of the cooler do not let this solution catch up with the leading group. However, I have to say that HDT-SD964 only lost 2°C to the next contestant – OCZ Gladiator Max, though the latter is way quieter. Frankly speaking, Gladiator didn’t impress us with its efficiency. Its heat dissipating surface may be too small for this cooler to reveal its potential to the full extent. With a powerful Scythe Kaze Maru fan OCZ solution gets 3°C more efficient inside a system case, and 4°C more efficient in an open testbed.

And the third cooler with heat-pipe direct touch – Xigmatek HDT-S1284 – turned out the best of the three solutions tested today. It is not dramatically ahead of the other two testing participants, but it is still ahead. High heatpipes density in the base and large effective heatsink surface help Xigmatek solutions win this race. With a 140-mm Scythe fan this solution runs as efficient in an open testbed as the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme (with the same fan). Not bad, considering that Xigmatek HDT-S1284 is about $15 cheaper and is already bundled with a fan, while Ultra-120 eXtreme comes without one, so you will have to purchase it separately.

Now let’s check out the acoustic performance of our today’s testing participants:

As you see, the coolers’ noise levels do not go beyond the subjective comfort zone only with the fans at their minimum speed. During high CPU utilization when the fans speed up to their maximum, the coolers become very noticeable against the background of a quiet system case. Moreover, Xigmatek HDT-SD964 is way too loud.

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