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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  • spidey81 - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    This article was to test the performance of the coolers at a certain clock speed. However, I think you would find that when pushing the overclock higher you would see some coolers wouldn't be able to keep the temps in check while others could. There's a difference between efficiently transferring the heat and the amount of heat capable of being transferred. That's why the D14 and TRUE are popular among overclockers who push higher than what we see in this test. To that end, the 240mm or 280mm closed loop coolers will also be able to handle higher overclocks.

    In this (http://www.overclock3d.net/reviews/cases_cooling/s... review of the H220, you can see that on the socket 2011 cpu the air coolers weren't able to maintain the extreme overclocks like the closed loop coolers could.
    Reply
  • spidey81 - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    sorry, link broke. http://tinyurl.com/cu24bwk That should work better :) Reply
  • epoon2 - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    You meant that as the load/watt/heat produced by CPU increases, the order in this graph http://images.anandtech.com/graphs/graph6916/54390... changes?

    but in the above test, the fans are at constant, max speed already ... I know what you mean but I just can't figure out the science/reason behind why your scenario would happen.
    Reply
  • BrightCandle - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    Two key factors are at play:
    1) the amount of watts of heat the solution can dissipate at a given delta temperature to the air.
    2) the thermal interface performance to the CPU itself and hence what temperature the CPU is running at.

    Water is cooling the water block but then water itself is above ambient temperature. This often means the ambient temp CPU effectively sees is higher compared to what it was with air. But water warms and cools much faster than air by volume, and it can hold a lot more energy. Combining water with a substantially larger area to exchange its heat to air and you get a solution that cools better given a large number of watts of heat but does less well on low wattage where air cooling fits and is sufficient.

    A 2600k pulls about 170W over clocked. A 3930k can be over 300W. 170W is about the point to consider water but you need an overspecced loop to show any advantage at all. Passed 200 watts however and water takes a clear lead and air stops being able to do the job.
    Reply
  • epoon2 - Saturday, April 27, 2013 - link

    Assuming the water pipes dissipates negligible heat, the role of the water system is equivalent to that of the thermal compounds: to transfer energy and heat to the sink and radiator.

    The difference in rate of heat exchange between the metal pieces and the external environment becomes the key.

    In an open air test, the rankings should remain the same as amount of heat generated by the CPU increases. In the real world , the performance of air coolers depends on the effectiveness of the case's heat exchange system..
    Reply
  • A5 - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    For future reviews, I wouldn't mind seeing the Xigmatek SD1283 tested. A lot of people recommend it for people who want something better than the CM Evo but don't want to spend Noctua money. It typically runs ~$50 so it fits that niche price-wise as well. Reply
  • A5 - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    I guess I meant the silly-named "Dark Knight 2" when I wrote this. Didn't know they had 2 different SD1283s. Guess I wouldn't mind seeing the cheaper, non-coated "Gaia" as well. Reply
  • Dr_b_ - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    Does the U12 have socket 2011 mounting capability? Reply
  • epoon2 - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    http://www.noctua.at/main.php?show=productview&... Reply
  • Dr_b_ - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    thanks 4 link. NH-D14 is really too big, blocks a socket in my x79-UP4 gigabyte. U12 looks like it might work here. Reply

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