Testing Methodology

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.

Thank You!

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.
Software: Corsair Link and NZXT Kraken Control Performance Results
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  • schulmaster - Friday, December 28, 2012 - link

    The most aberrant result of this review, at least in my opinion, is how the H80 and H100 compare. Presumably similar 120mm Fans, but differing by a significant factor in cooling area, the H100 should not be performing at H80 levels under load, let alone below.
    Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8HsjgtMzEg

    Linus runs a test series, with the variable of 120mm Fan quality removed, using top-of-the -line cooling on all contenders; and the h100 unsurprisingly performs 15+ degrees better than the H80 under OC load. I don't know wherein the testing parameters, on either side, emerged the resulting discrepancy of this magnitude. However, I would diversify the bonds of my research before discounting the H100 as a pragmatic enthusiast cooling solution. Perhaps Linus' using of a real- world-esque environment, ie only average cable management in a closed chassis contributed?
    Reply
  • Foeketijn - Friday, December 28, 2012 - link

    For all the people who may be too enthusiastic about high end air coolers.
    These things are harder to compare than you might think, in all the reviews I've seen it's all about the temp delta /Noise ratio. Funny thing is, a watercooler throws it's heat right out your case while a lot of warmth of your air cooler is circulated back to cool your heat-generator with preheated air. That's probably why almost every watercooler review has some comment about "why you should go for an similarly priced air cooler" and that being followed up by an actual owner of an watercooler (probably "closed loop" since the few DIY watercooler owners really understand the amount variables in hand) countering with his or her trial and having much better real life results.

    A disadvantage is that the radiator blocks the airflow. So without the different fan in the equation there is less air going through your case. How much this shall impact the performance is strongly dependent on how much heat is being blocked (or how much heat is being produced not including the CPU and how much airflow is left)

    Bottom line, comparing an watercooler (an air cooler with water as an heat transporting medium ; ) ) with an air cooler is almost impossible without testing several case builds and probably a really vague conclusion.

    That being said, this is the right website for such an endeavor! An while I'm at it, I support the comments about missing some feedback about rotor noise and the 30 db floorlevel of the sound-o-meter. Great review tho, when you want to decide which CLWC to buy.
    Reply
  • Khenglish - Friday, December 28, 2012 - link

    What were the fan speeds with the thicker radiators? The 38mm rads will need either push-pull or have high rpm fans to push the air through.

    I would have liked to have seen performance with the IHS removed. Someone who decides to go with a water cooling setup is more likely to remove the IHS. It's well known that IVB has CPU die - IHS connection issues, and the variance between IHS quality among IVB's makes it difficult for people to compare their results to yours. Even with a good IHS, removing it still makes a big difference. The thermal resistance drop makes a big difference, especially when pushing the voltage and clocks. I lost ~5C when I removed the IHS from my 580 (1.25V). An IVB's gains should be even larger.

    Your results are pretty terrible for liquid cooling setups, and it would be nice to know how much of that was due to the IHS, or if these liquid cooling setups just aren't very good.
    Reply
  • riottime - Saturday, December 29, 2012 - link

    i had placed 2 orders for the corsair h55 on newegg when this article appeared. :)

    they just arrived yesterday. i put one on my tuban 1090t amd system (stock speed) and i5 3550 intel system (also stock speed). i got them mainly to reduce the system noise not to overclock my processors with. so far they're doing just that i'm happy to report. :P

    the manual/instruction that comes with it is atrocious. i recommend going on youtube and search for 'corsair h55 install' before you start installing it on your system.
    Reply
  • TekDemon - Sunday, December 30, 2012 - link

    I think you guys might have to check the mounting and test again because the H80i definitely shouldn't be outperforming the H100i assuming the H100i isn't defective. I mean, your own H100 vs H80 review has the H100 clearly winning and they're the same coolers minus the link.

    I honestly would suggest double checking your mounting and testing with a higher heat load since a i7 @ 4.4Ghz and 1.4V hardly really shows the benefits of an H100. I would point out that in your previous review the CPU was clocked at 4.8Ghz. If the H80i still manages to beat the H100i then either Corsair has upgraded the fan setup on the H80i such that the push-pull is managing to beat out the H100's stock 2 fan configuration or there's just something wrong with your H100i.

    I would also point out that the H100i can be upgraded to a 4-fan configuration while the H80i is maxed out in it's stock configuration, I have an internally mounted H100 (non-i) with 4 fans on it and it's probably about as high performing as you can get with an all internal compact setup.
    Reply
  • Reservoir_Dog - Sunday, January 20, 2013 - link

    Cannot understand the temp results, i mean, whats, 4.5 under load?
    4.5 deg celcius??
    With the H80i and a 2600K @ 4.2 ghz i get 60 deg celcius with the same test
    So is it too hot then?
    Reply
  • chesbrougha - Thursday, March 07, 2013 - link

    I have an X40 and it is not cutting it with a 3930k. I am thinking that it might be because I can't figure out how to change the profile as there is no mac software (install windows then change back to mac??). Anyone have any ideas?

    I am thinking about changing to the H100i but think I will run into the same issues
    Reply
  • soulcipher - Tuesday, September 30, 2014 - link

    Apologies for digging up an old thread, however I joined as I wanted to share my experience with the product and the company. I'll be blunt and to the point. I am using NZXT X40.

    The company lie about case compatibility. Their head of Tech Support has stated in an email to me they do not test these on any cases but their own. This makes their compatibility list totally false as I found out a few months ago. I am using an X40.

    I have a Corsair Carbide 500R and their compat guide states rear placement. Their head of tech stated in an email to me he had the case in front of him, and it fits fine. It took me sending him a video and photos to admit he had 'got it wrong' and that it doesnt fit. They have offered no compensation, and advised me to chop my case up to make it fit. I based my purchase of my current case on the statements NZXT made regarding the compatibility. When I first got it, I assumed I was doing something wrong and dumped it elsewhere in the case. However for top placement, it doesn't provide effective enough cooling, it needs rear placement with ideally, a push/pull config, so when I went back and revisited this notion, I contacted NZXT regarding to see what was going on.

    Disgusting customer service, and would most definitely never buy NZXT products again. For anyone saying i'm lying, i'll happily disclose the emails. The product works, its quiet and does an ok job at keeping the CPU cool, but they have lied about it being compatible and offer nothing to compensate for making people out of pocket from their false guidance.
    Reply

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