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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

Software and Settings

 

The first bit of software we were sure to use was CPU-Z. As this is the most widely used software for gauging the CPU and memory parameters, we chose to stick with what works. We will be using version 1.77.0 64-bit for the duration of this system, as we do not believe in updating software when we have such a long time planned to keep the playing field as equal as possible. This way, a cooler tested today, and one a year or so from now, will all display the same voltages and settings. We also verified this works well with our system, and updates can also bring bugs which would skew results provided by this software.

 

 

The next bit of software we will be using is AIDA64. More specifically, we are using AIDA64 Engineer version 5.75.3900. We have tried using PRIME95, as well as OCCT, and we feel that AIDA64 is good for a few reasons. First of all, PRIME needs another software suite to produce any readings other than the test being ran. As for OCCT, it took the CPU thermally past reality at times and is not always repeatable in its results. Therefore, we opted for AIDA64, and due to the free versions of its suites, anyone can run the stress testing we use, as well as the settings used within the software.

 

The last suite we use for our testing is REALTEMP. We grabbed the latest build for our needs, and after calibrations runs, found it not only to match what we see in AIDA64, but it also keeps a lowest and highest temperature right there in plain view. When it comes to delivering our thermal results, we will be taking an average of the four cores highest temperatures during stress testing.

 

For audio results in our charts, we will be using a handheld sound level meter. Our meter is held a foot away from the rear of the CPU cooler, and whatever the reading on the meter, this is what we will be reporting in the charts. We also will be using the "dB" scale, which is standard decibels, versus the dB(A) scale cooler manufacturers use, which is an adjusted level, and for some is harder to associate with real-world sounds around them.

 

When it comes time to run our testing, we only open up a pair of CPU-Z windows, one of them on the CPU tab, and the other on the memory tab, just to ensure our CPU and memory are running as they should be, and to verify the CPU voltage applied in each test. We run one instance of REALTEMP, as it displays everything we need, right there in one window. As for AIDA64, we open the suite, click on the Computer icon, and click on the Sensor icon after that. This gives us a full display of temperatures from all readable sensors on the motherboard. This software also allows us to watch the fan speeds of all fans connected to the Maximus VII Hero. Lastly, we can also see all of our voltages in real-time, and even keep an eye on power draw all on one window.

 

When it comes time to stress the processor, we click on Tools along the top of the AIDA64 window and select the System Stability Test. This opens an additional window, and in this window we keep the Stress CPU, Stress FPU, Stress cache, and the Stress system memory boxes all checked. For our usage, we also remove the motherboard, CPU, and SSD temperatures from the graph, so that what we do see displayed is the four individual core results through the thirty-minute durations of our testing.

 

The last bits you will need to know about our testing environment, is that no matter the season or the time of day, we control both the ambient temperature as well as the humidity. Thermally, the testing room is kept between 23 and 24 degrees Celsius at all times, which stabilizes our results. As for our humidity levels, we are raising it to 50 percent this time around, as this is more common and healthier than keeping it at lower values as we did previously.

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