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.

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.

Fan and Radiator Testing Configuration
CPU Intel Core i7-2700K overclocked to 4.4GHz @ 1.45V
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z68MX-UD2H-B3
Graphics Intel HD 3000 IGP
Memory 2x4GB Crucial Ballistix Sport Low Profile DDR3-1600
Drives Kingston SSDNow V+ 100 64GB SSD
Power Supply Rosewill Hive 650W 80 Plus Bronze Modular
Enclosure BitFenix Shinobi XL Window

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. For air coolers, I added a Noctua 140mm rear exhaust fan and used the ultra low noise adaptor to ensure it didn't affect acoustics in any meaningful way. This is in line with the usage cases air coolers are designed for, and should be representative of the kind of airflow most users will have from their exhaust fan.

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; where presets weren't available, I tested using Gigabyte's standard motherboard PWM control as well as at 100%.

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 Gigabyte for providing us with the GA-Z68MX-UD2H-B3 motherboard.
  • Thank you to Kingston for providing us with the SSDNow V+ 100 SSD.
  • Thank you to Crucial for providing us with the Ballistix Sport Low Profile DDR3.
  • Thank you to Rosewill for providing us with the Hive 650W 80 Plus Bronze PSU.
  • Thank you to BitFenix for providing us with the Shinobi XL Window enclosure.
Spec Tables Primary Test Results
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  • DanNeely - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    In the last test it was 6C hotter than the worst cooler in this review. That would put the core temp in the high 90s and possibly result in thermal throttling.

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6830/cpu-air-cooler-...
    Reply
  • tsponholz - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    It would be nice to see this a baseline. Reply
  • Hrel - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    agreed, just mention the numbers outside of the graph, so it doesn't fuck up the comparative look. Reply
  • Torrijos - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    It's a little sad not to have the H110 on that test since it tends to be quieter than the X60 for the same level of performance. Reply
  • JustMoreFun - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    It's very sad that you up to now didn't test one of the Thermalright Coolers, as they are commonly referred to as being the reference when it comes to air coolers. Reply
  • davidthemaster30 - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    If the NH-U14S, was mounted so that it pushed air towards the top of the case, would it still block the PCIe slot? Reply
  • marc1000 - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    I don't believe it would fit inside the case in this position... it looks like it would go past the backplate. Reply
  • epoon2 - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    You should check with Noctua, they have an FAQ listing motherboard compatibility Reply
  • spidey81 - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    First I'd like to say that I thoroughly enjoy your articles. In your recommendation of the U12S/U14S over the D14 I think you may have missed something. At your current 4.4 Ghz overclock the smaller/cheaper heatsinks performed, let's say, more efficiently. However, wouldn't the D14 be able to handle a higher thermal load that come with higher overclocks? So it's kind of like you said, it depends on your usage. It would be interesting to see at what point in overclocking would the D14 become worth purchasing over it's smaller siblings. Reply
  • epoon2 - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    it scales in the same direction for all coolers as temperature increases, common sense or wrong? Reply

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