When it comes to testing coolers, I have long been an advocate of using methods that measure the stresses of what the common user will come across. To this end I will maintain my usual test methods by measuring the temperatures at idle and after a continual looping of the 3DMark2001 demo. This will give us a good indicator of performance during slow periods of usage and also at roughly 80-85% CPU usage.
Before we get into the testing methodology used, let's take a peek at the test system.
Chenming ATX-602 Aluminum Case (Supplied by Hardware Cooling)
DFI LANParty NFII Ultra B (Supplied by DFI)
AMD Athlon XP 2500+ Processor @ 2.2GHz
512MB OCZ PC3500 Platinum DDR Memory (supplied by OCZ)
Sapphire Radeon 9800 Pro "Ultimate Edition" (supplied by Sapphire)
Western Digital 80GB Hard Drive
Arctic Silver III
Testing conditions will follow my standard guidelines concerning coolers. Ambient temperature is kept at a regulated 21C and the cooling system will be tested in a closed case. The processor voltage was set to 1.65v and memory was set to 2.8v. Temperatures are measured at idle after 15 minutes of no activity, and then again after a continuous demo looping of 3DMark2001. Since we're testing a cooling method that is designed with the overclocker in mind, we're just measuring the system at an overclocked speed of 2.2GHz. After all, how many folks are going to be cooling with water and then never boost the system speeds? I'm guessing not many so we'll test accordingly.
When compared with quality air coolers and another water cooling kit we see the Swiftech does a good job of holding its own. While the Thermaltake POLO 735 managed to edge it out in idle temperatures, it did so at a noise level that was considerably louder than this one. It also couldn't hold the lead when it came time to putting the processor under a bit of stress. With numbers like this and the low noise levels throughout testing, the Swiftech H20-8600 water cooling kit shows itself to be more than powerful enough to handle the task of cooling without bothering the ears.
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