Testing Methodology

Although the testing of a cooler appears to be a simple task, that could not be much further from the truth. Proper thermal testing cannot be performed with a cooler mounted on a single chip, for multiple reasons. Some of these reasons include the instability of the thermal load and the inability to fully control and or monitor it, as well as the inaccuracy of the chip-integrated sensors. It is also impossible to compare results taken on different chips, let alone entirely different systems, which is a great problem when testing computer coolers, as the hardware changes every several months. Finally, testing a cooler on a typical system prevents the tester from assessing the most vital characteristic of a cooler, its absolute thermal resistance.

The absolute thermal resistance defines the absolute performance of a heatsink by indicating the temperature rise per unit of power, in our case in degrees Celsius per Watt (°C/W). In layman's terms, if the thermal resistance of a heatsink is known, the user can assess the highest possible temperature rise of a chip over ambient by simply multiplying the maximum thermal design power (TDP) rating of the chip with it. Extracting the absolute thermal resistance of a cooler however is no simple task, as the load has to be perfectly even, steady and variable, as the thermal resistance also varies depending on the magnitude of the thermal load. Therefore, even if it would be possible to assess the thermal resistance of a cooler while it is mounted on a working chip, it would not suffice, as a large change of the thermal load can yield much different results.

Appropriate thermal testing requires the creation of a proper testing station and the use of laboratory-grade equipment. Therefore, we created a thermal testing platform with a fully controllable thermal energy source that may be used to test any kind of cooler, regardless of its design and or compatibility. The thermal cartridge inside the core of our testing station can have its power adjusted between 60 W and 340 W, in 2 W increments (and it never throttles). Furthermore, monitoring and logging of the testing process via software minimizes the possibility of human errors during testing. A multifunction data acquisition module (DAQ) is responsible for the automatic or the manual control of the testing equipment, the acquisition of the ambient and the in-core temperatures via PT100 sensors, the logging of the test results and the mathematical extraction of performance figures.

Finally, as noise measurements are a bit tricky, their measurement is being performed manually. Fans can have significant variations in speed from their rated values, thus their actual speed during the thermal testing is being recorded via a laser tachometer. The fans (and pumps, when applicable) are being powered via an adjustable, fanless desktop DC power supply and noise measurements are being taken 1 meter away from the cooler, in a straight line ahead from its fan engine. At this point we should also note that the Decibel scale is logarithmic, which means that roughly every 3 dB(A) the sound pressure doubles. Therefore, the difference of sound pressure between 30 dB(A) and 60 dB(A) is not "twice as much" but nearly a thousand times greater. The table below should help you cross-reference our test results with real-life situations.

The noise floor of our recording equipment is 30.2-30.4 dB(A), which represents a medium-sized room without any active noise sources. All of our acoustic testing takes place during night hours, minimizing the possibility of external disruptions.

<35dB(A) Virtually inaudible
35-38dB(A) Very quiet (whisper-slight humming)
38-40dB(A) Quiet (relatively comfortable - humming)
40-44dB(A) Normal (humming noise, above comfortable for a large % of users)
44-47dB(A)* Loud* (strong aerodynamic noise)
47-50dB(A) Very loud (strong whining noise)
50-54dB(A) Extremely loud (painfully distracting for the vast majority of users)
>54dB(A) Intolerable for home/office use, special applications only.

*noise levels above this are not suggested for daily use

Introduction & the LiqMaxFlo 360mm AIO Cooler Testing Results
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  • meacupla - Wednesday, February 14, 2024 - link

    Does the 60mm fan on the CPU block change speed at all? Is it tied to the pump speed, is it fixed, or does it have its own power connector?
  • incx - Wednesday, February 14, 2024 - link

    After the bs they pulled with Liqtech TR4 coolers (see GamersNexus etc for coverage) I wouldn't trust that company with my dirty socks. Had two of them fail in a row each within a year, after which I switched back to air with a Noctua and blacklisted Enermax for life.
  • ballsystemlord - Wednesday, February 14, 2024 - link

    Their story is rather sad considering how good they are at making fans.
  • MartenKL - Thursday, February 15, 2024 - link

    Strange that the Arctic Liquid Freezer II is represented by the 240 model and not the comparable 360-model.
  • PeachNCream - Thursday, February 15, 2024 - link

    Anandtech - The internet's number one site for reviews of manufacturers' desktop PC coolers and the occasional USB storage solution!
  • back2future - Thursday, February 15, 2024 - link

    [ Yes, and there's more interest in AMD Zen 6, 2.5d Interconnects, ~3-2nm(?), also
    'https://www.anandtech.com/show/21242/amd-ryzen-7-8... ' ]
  • SanX - Friday, February 16, 2024 - link

    Why waste more and more energy for nothing? Now almost a kW, soon will be two. Let they heat water in the tank.
  • PeachNCream - Saturday, February 17, 2024 - link

    I don't think home computers will ever require 2kW. Most household electrical wiring would not support that sort of demand which is fortunate since gaming PCs are already wastefully stupid enough.
  • SanX - Sunday, February 18, 2024 - link

    Most homes have laundry and air conditioners and that's 240V. Now you can put your PC into attic or basement, fiber optic HDMI at 8k costs almost nothing
  • PeachNCream - Sunday, February 18, 2024 - link

    While there might be a very limited number of people willing to run a dedicated 240V line somewhere and then run fiber to another location in their home, that won't do much for people that live in apartments or rental properties. Also attics tend to be quite hot in the summer so a PC located there will likely require additional cooling if the attic doesn't already have it. There is not a sufficiently large potential market with the vast majority of computing shifting to phones or other portable hardware already reducing the appeal of mainstream desktops let alone a hypothetical 2kW system that is, to be quite frank, just a games machine.

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