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Operational Temperature

Now we have come to the practical tests of the AOpen XCcube EZ65. First thing I’d like to discuss is the operational temperature. Notwithstanding the manufacturer’s claims about the efficiency of the cooling solution, I had some concerns about powerful processors being normally cooled in such a small case. The barebone from AOpen may accommodate one or two very hot components, namely the central processor and the graphics card (which is optional).

As for the graphics card, it is cooled down quite well, according to our tests. The system case of the barebone has vent holes next to the AGP slot for the outside air to come in. The graphics card is thus constantly under a current of the cool outside air, which is enough for it to function stably. We tested an ATI RADEON 9700 PRO and NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti4600 and they were both stable in the AOpen XCcube EZ65 – no problems noticed.

Our CPU frying tests also revealed no problems, although we used one of the fastest CPUs of today, Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz. We had this processor under a maximum workload for 12 hours, but the system didn’t hang up or restart or show any other sign of instability. The noise from the system was awful during those tests, which is of course a disadvantage of the cooling solution.

The table below shows you the temperatures of the AOpen XCcube EZ65 during our “frying” tests. The system included the CPU, two 256MB Corsair XMS3200LL memory modules and a Western Digital 360GD hard disk drive (Raptor). We took the temperature data from the system thermal diodes with the help of the hardware monitoring program, so they are not free from the above-described peculiarities:

 

Max. CPU temperature

Max. System temperature

Max. CPU fan rotation speed

Idle

40 oC

49 oC

1457 rpm

Load

65 oC

60 oC

5670 rpm

When we installed an external ATI RADEON 9700 PRO graphics card, the temperatures grew a little higher.

 

Max. CPU temperature

Max. system temperature

Max. CPU fan rotation speed

Idle

44 oC

50 oC

1464 rpm

Load

67 oC

61 oC

5850 rpm

Note that the use of an external graphics card tells perceptibly on the CPU temperature. This is natural as the air coming to the CPU cooler is now coming from the heatsink of the graphics card. Anyway, we have no complaints about the stability of the AOpen XCcube EZ65.

Well… no, not really. When the system with the installed external graphics card was under the maximum workload, some problems still occurred. But they were not related to the hardware part of the XCcube. The threshold critical values for the temperatures in the hardware monitoring program that comes with the AOpen XCcube EZ65 are 69oC of the CPU and 60oC of the system. The program doesn’t allow adjusting these values. That’s why after the exhaust air temperature grew to 61oC (with the add-on graphics card installed) the monitoring system called alarm, turned its siren on and started throwing warning messages at me. The second problem I faced when using the AOpen XCcube EZ65 under high workloads was inoperability of the Corsair XMS3200LL memory with the minimal timings (2-2-2-5), although these very modules worked with such timings in other systems. It turned out the system cannot work with such aggressive timings under high temperatures. After I corrected them to 2-3-3-5, the stability problem vanished.

The relatively high temperature inside the case is alarming, too. Of course, it is long way from those 50-60oC as measured at the output, but it is high enough to become dangerous for the HDD. So, I don’t recommend using temperature-sensitive hard disk drives in the AOpen XCcube EZ65. We measured the temperature of the installed HDD; it was oscillating between 43-47oC. So, keep this in mind, too.

 
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