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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

Stock Fan and Thermal Testing

 

cpu-cooler-testing-methodology-october-2016_11

 

The charts in our reviews that say "Stock" in the header will be using the following parameters. For this testing, we use the system as many building a new system would. By this, we mean that we leave almost everything in the BIOS at default values. What we have done is gone into the BIOS, first applying optimized defaults, then rebooting and returning to the BIOS. The second stop in the BIOS is so we can set the XMP profile active on our memory, and at the same time, we verified that the fan profiles are all set to PWM control. We then made sure after another reboot, to return to the BIOS and save this profile to be certain things remain the same for every cooler we test, and it also makes our job a bit easier, swapping between profiles when the time comes to adjust settings for various tests.

 

As to the image you see above, this is what we start with. You see the processor is downclocking as it should at idle, as we used a balanced profile in Windows power management. While using the stock LGA1150 cooler for reference and basic stability testing, we can see that the CPU is only utilizing 0.867V at this time. The idle temperatures are slightly above our ambient room temperature, and AIDA64 on the right is displaying a ton of information, but more poignantly, we can see the CPU fan is spinning at 1064 RPM.

 

 

The thermal charts for "Stock" settings will display a loaded temperature, which is the average of all four cores of our 6700K, after 30 minutes of AIDA64 stress testing. During this 30 minute run, we keep an eye on the fan speeds, and once the speed has reached its maximum point of the testing, it is then that we grab the sound level meter and get our results for the audio results as well. Again, this is with PWM control enabled, allowing the manufacturers work to shine, and not crippling the fans and cooler performance with the 7.5V we used for this metric in the past.

 

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This chart shows the results obtained with our "Stock" testing methodology, and we were sure to add "PWM" into the header as well, to make it obvious what we are showing. Along with the stock Intel LGA1105 cooler, we went back to the Thermaltake NiC C5 for our single tower cooler of choice. The reasoning behind this is that it was one of the most affordable, no interference single tower coolers on the market, and it also affords excellent performance as it ships with two fans on it.

 

We then used the Noctua NH-D15 as it is one of the best, and most well-known of the dual tower coolers on the market. We also chose this cooler for its limited sound levels. The last cooler we wanted to bring forward from the older options is the Corsair H80i GT. This is to show what a single 120mm radiator based AIO is capable of, and it also allowed us to showcase how we will be using the software, when available, for control of such coolers.

 

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We explained when it is that we grab the audio results from our stress test, which usually happens fifteen to twenty minutes into the stress test. At that point, making sure to be a foot away from the back of the cooler, or away from the second fan if applicable, we obtain the results you can see in this chart. For reference, the Noctua fans were spinning at 732 RPM; the Corsair fans were spinning at 989 RPM in Quiet Mode, 1187 RPM in Balanced Mode, and 2200 RPM in Performance Mode. As for the Thermaltake cooler, its fans topped out at 1624 RPM, and the fan on the Intel stock cooler was turning at 1741 RPM.

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