Articles: Cooling

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Testbed and Methods

Besides the described coolers, I also tested a Thermaltake Big Typhoon (with its native 120mm fan rotating at ~1320rpm) and a Scythe Ninja (it was tested with the same fans as the Infinity) for the sake of comparison.

I checked out the flatness of the base of each cooler by the trace of thermal grease on a piece of glass. Each cooler had a flat sole. I used a 120mm Thermaltake fan (Thunderblade A1926 model) with a speed controller from Coolink (the speed could be adjusted from 1100rpm to 2000rpm, creating airflow of 42 to 78CFM) to test the Scythe Infinity with two fans at 1200rpm and to test the same cooler, the Scythe Ninja, and the Thermaltake Big Typhoon at max fan speed (2000rpm).

The tested was assembled out of the following components:

  • Mainboards:
    • ABIT AN8 SLI (nForce 4 SLI chipset, Socket 939, BIOS v.2.0)
    • ASUS P5B Deluxe/WiFi-AP (Intel P965 chipset, LGA775, BIOS 0711)
  • Processors:
    • AMD Athlon 64 3000+ (Venice core, E6 stepping, 1800MHz, 1.40V, 512KB L2 cache, Cool & Quiet disabled)
    • Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 (1866MHz, 266x4MHz FSB, 2x1024KB L2 cache, SL9SA Malay (Allendale, B2))
    • Intel Pentium D 920 (2800MHz, 200x4MHz FSB, 2x2048KB L2 cache, SL94S Malay (Presler, B1))
  • Thermal interface: Zalman CSL850 and Arctic Silver 5
  • Memory:
    • 2 x 512MB Corsair TWINXP1024-3200C2 PC3200 DDR SDRAM (SPD: 400MHz, 2-2-2-5-1T)
    • 2 x 512MB Corsair CM2X1024-6400C4 PC6400 DDR2 SDRAM (SPD: 800MHz, 4-4-4-12)
  • Graphics card: Chaintech GeForce 7950 GX2 1024MB (500/1200MHz)
  • Disk subsystem: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 (3320620AS, SATA-II, 320GB storage capacity, 7200rpm, 16MB cache, NCQ)
  • System case: ASUS ASCOT 6AR2-B Black&Silver + an intake 120mm system fan  Coolink SwiF (~1200rpm, ~24dBA) + two 120mm system fans Sharkoon Luminous Blue LED (~1000rpm, ~21dBA)
  • Power supply: MGE Magnum 500 (500W) + 80mm GlacialTech SilentBlade fan (~1700rpm, 19dBA)

The Chaintech GeForce 7950 GX2 was overclocked from its default frequencies to 570/1580MHz to make the test conditions somewhat harder because the air from the graphics card’s cooler remained in the system case. There was no sense in that on an open testbed and the graphics card was working at its default frequencies then.

The tests were performed in Windows XP Professional Edition Service Pack 2. I installed Nvidia nForce version 6.82 and Intel Chipset Drivers version, DirectX 9.0c (dated August 2006), and ForceWare 91.47.

SpeedFan version 4.30 was used to monitor the temperatures and fan speeds on the AMD platform. The temperature of the Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 was monitored with S&M 1.8.1 and, additionally, with Core Temp Beta (the latter program would report a 1.5°C higher temperature of each core than the former).

The CPU was heated up by running the FPU test from S&M at 100% load for 15 minutes. I also simulated a Game test mode by running 3DMark06’s Firefly Forest test with 16x anisotropic filtering and without full-screen antialiasing for 19 times.

The temperature was read from the sensor integrated into the CPU. The mainboards’ automatic fan speed management was disabled for the time of the tests. The thermal throttling of the Intel Core 2 Duo processor was controlled with RightMark CPU Clock Utility version 2.15.

The coolers were tested in a closed system case (which was equipped with two 120mm system fans for intake and exhaust and one 120mm fan on the side panel) and on an open testbed.

At least two test cycles were performed for each cooler in each test mode. I waited for 25-30 minutes for the temperature to stabilize during each test cycle. The stabilization period was two times shorter on an open testbed. The maximum temperature in the two test cycles was considered as the final result (if the difference was not bigger than 1°C). Despite the stabilization period, the results of the second test cycle were generally higher by 0.5-1°C.

The ambient temperature was monitored by means of an electric thermometer and remained at 18°C when I was testing the coolers on the AMD Athlon 64 and Intel Core 2 Duo platforms and 24-24.5°C during the tests on the Intel Pentium D platform (it took me a few weeks to complete this test session as I had to give up it for a while to do other tests).

Each diagram shows the results of my tests in two modes (in a system case and on an open testbed). The coolers are also divided into two groups: quiet mode and max fan speed.

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