Closing the Loop: Contained Liquid-Coolers from Corsair and NZXT Comparedby Dustin Sklavos on December 26, 2012 12:01 AM EST
If you've been keeping up with our case reviews, our testing methodology for the fans here is going to seem relatively similar in some ways. Our test system may seem a bit unusual in more than a few ways, but stick with me and I'll explain why I put it together and tested it the way I did.
|Fan and Radiator Testing Configuration|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-2700K overclocked to 4.4GHz @ 1.4V|
|Motherboard||Zotac Z77-ITX WiFi|
|Graphics||Intel HD 3000 IGP|
|Memory||2x4GB Corsair Value Select DDR3-1333|
|Drives||Kingston SSDNow V+ 100 64GB SSD|
|Power Supply||Corsair CX430|
|Enclosure||BitFenix Shinobi XL Window|
The processor, with its healthy voltage boost and overclock, throws a pretty substantial amount of heat at our cooling system. Testing with an i7-2700K at stock speeds would defeat the purpose; Intel's own stock cooler can handle that, we want to "separate the men from the boys" so to speak.
I needed a case that could produce adequate airflow, handle all of the different cooling systems without much trouble, and did not include any sound dampening features. You might be surprised at just how difficult that was to find, but BitFenix came to the rescue and sent over a Shinobi XL. BitFenix's enclosure didn't get the best review when I tested it, but it's actually ideal for this testbed. I removed every case fan but the front intake, which I ran at 5V to prevent it from affecting acoustics while still providing adequate airflow.
Since a dedicated GPU wasn't needed, one wasn't used. This prevents a graphics card from generating additional heat or noise or deflecting airflow.
Thermal and acoustic test cycles were done the same way as our case reviews. First, the system is left powered and idle for fifteen minutes. At this point the sound level is tested, room ambient temperature is recorded, and idle temperatures are recorded. Then eight threads of small FFTs in Prime95 are run for fifteen minutes, and load temperatures are recorded.
Each cooler was tested using its available presets; the PWM-controlled Corsair H60 had its fan speed metered by the motherboard.
Before moving on, we'd like to thank the following vendors for providing us with the hardware used in our roundup.
- Thank you to iBuyPower for providing us with the Intel Core i7-2700K.
- Thank you to Zotac for providing us with the Z77-ITX WiFi motherboard.
- Thank you to Kingston for providing us with the SSDNow V+ 100 SSD.
- Thank you to Corsair for providing us with the CX430 power supply.
- Thank you to BitFenix for providing us with the Shinobi XL Window enclosure.