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CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology (October 2016)

By: Chad Sebring | Editorials in Cases, Cooling & PSU | Posted: Oct 28, 2016 4:42 pm

The Components

 

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The most important component of a CPU cooler test rig has to be the CPU. In this system, we have opted for the mainstream CPU of choice these days and went with the Intel i7 6700K LGA-1151 processor. This CPU was obtained through standard retail channels, and we are playing the same silicon lottery everyone else is. This CPU is not a cherry-picked product, nor was it binned to get something special, it is an average CPU that anyone would get.

 

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In case you wanted to see the HIS and marking associated with it, we provide you with this image as well. You can see the bin if you feel it still has some bearing on a good clocking chip or not, but the point here is to show we have a regular CPU; no lapping was done, nor have we de-lidded it. We use it as it arrived, as Intel intends.

 

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While we would have loved to use the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme, the cost is prohibitive for it to be considered mainstream. We opted to use the ASUS Maximus VIII Hero instead. With a much better price point and a comprehensive BIOS layout with plenty of options for our needs, this Intel Z170 motherboard will do just fine for our needs.

 

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Rather than opting for just two RAM sticks as we have in the past, we realize many are populating all of the DIMM slots these days, so we figured it best to follow suit. We have chosen the Patriot Viper 4, the PV416G300C16QK sticks to be exact, for a couple of reasons. First off, 3000MHz is easily attained on most 6700K CPUs but is not so extreme that we have too much stress on the IMC, skewing CPU temperatures.

 

The second reason we chose this kit is that they match the motherboard well and have removable tops. This way, if needed, we can still populate the slot nearest the CPU cooler, but stay under the cooler, as long as the coolers are designed to allow it.

 

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We also move from Windows 7 of our last system to Windows 10 this time around. For our needs, Windows 10 Home has everything we need in an OS, and we will be using this in 64-bit, not 32-bit. As for the install itself, no changes are made to the way it works, but we have disabled a few things like Cortana and other "features" along these lines which Microsoft thinks we cannot live without.

 

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To house the OS, we opted for the 480GB Corsair Neutron XTi. If for nothing else, it matches the red and black theme of both the motherboard and the open air chassis we use with our system.

 

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Even though we do not need much as far as GPU power is concerned, we were pleased to accept this gift from MSI. What you are looking at is the MSI GeForce GTX 1060 6GB OC video card. Again, we chose this sample due to the dual fan layout and its silence in operation when the fan curve is adjusted slightly. This way we can take audio readings and not have the video card causing issues with "silent" CPU coolers.

 

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Just in case we find a need for one, we were sure to keep a fan controller in the rig. There may come something that requires supplemental power, but with the ASUS Maximus VIII Hero's fan header layout, we likely will never have the need for the Reeven Polariz RFC-04, but with its easy to adjust voltage and digital readout, it seemed the perfect candidate.

 

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We also need a stable supply of power to this system, and while this PSU is overkill for our needs, we still chose this Thermaltake unit. The Toughpower DPS 1050W is nearly silent when drawing our load of power from it. The main reason we chose this unit is that it is silent as we draw load from it, and of course, the red accents play well into the build.

 

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With everything in place inside of the INWIN D-Frame we used previously, you can now see why we stuck with all of that red. We like the open air chassis as it does not impose restrictions to the intake or the exhaust of the cooler, and we do not get heat buildup either. We do use a pair of Corsair CO-9050002-WW (AF120 Quiet Edition) fans to introduce some airflow toward the coolers. We continue using these from the old system as their 21dB noise rating makes sure they do not affect our audio results.

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