Well, it's time to get to the meat of the matter at hand. We've chatted about how the manufacture and layout should create an effective cooling solution, so now we need to see if it can work for real. To start off, let's take a peek at the victim of the testing today.
We'll be using an X-Micro T4200 video card to see if this new cooler has any real benefit. But remember, we're looking at for two benefits in this testing scenario. We want to see if the Thermaltake cooler can work better than the stock model, AND we want to see if it will allow us to overclock any higher than before.
Here's the test system we'll be using:
Athlon XP 1800+
512MB Crucial PC2100 DDR
X-Micro Impact T4200 Video Card (w/ Arctic Silver II)
Seagate Barracuda IV 40GB Hard Drive
Hitachi CM814 21" Monitor
Windows XP Professional
VIA 4-in-1 drivers v4.38
nVidia Detonator v28.32
Testing will be very simple, but should prove to be effective as well. We'll start off with the stock cooler on the video card and then let the system warm up after a normal boot. When the temperature stops rising, we'll take the temperature for our idle test result. Then we'll take a run through the 3DMark2001SE Benchmark and record the highest temperature during the test. With the sheer frame rates and data flow that occur during this set of tests, it will do quite a job of heating up the video board. After we're through with that, we'll let the system cool back to ambient, mount the Thermaltake unit and then repeat the testing process.
Before we start, let's look at the ambient temperature:
This is the temperature that was recorded after the thermal probe was attached to the video card and it was mounted within the system. Both coolers started from this same temperature so results will be fair across the board.
Temperature - Idle
The top picture is the stock cooler since it was tested first. The bottom picture shows the idle results with the Thermaltake cooler in place. We're looking at a 1.6C degree improvement with the copper cooler from Thermaltake. Considering that we sometimes rave about a single degree better performance with CPU HSF setups, can the same be said about a video card cooler?
Let's put the video card through a bit of a thrashing and see what happens.
Temperature - Load
This time we ended up with a result that was even better than before! While 2.3C degrees may not seem like a lot, it does make a difference. Not only will it possibly make our overclocking better, it will also help you extend the life of your video card.
With extra cooling, one would expect to be able to get some improvement in the overclocking department as well. Though we are pretty close to the theoretical ceiling in the video board's capability to run higher clock speeds, we're going to try anyway.
If you'll recall from the review of the X-Micro T4200 board, we were able to bring in a very respectable overclock speed of 310MHz core and 610MHz memory. After installing the Thermaltake cooler, we were able to squeeze out a little bit more performance. Our end result this time around was 315/610. I was really surprised that the board was able to make even this much more power. And remember, the speeds that are recorded as the best are all without any visual artifacts. If any glitches are noted, then the core is taken down a notch until there are none.