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, again after a continual looping of the 3DMark2001 demo, and once more after a nice Quake III Deathmatch. 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.
Thermaltake SHARK Aluminum Case (Supplied by Thermaltake)
ABIT AV8 Motherboard (Supplied by ABIT)
AMD Athlon 64 FX-53 Processor @ 2.4GHz (Supplied by Newegg.com)
512MB OCZ PC3500 Platinum DDR Memory (supplied by OCZ)
Sapphire Radeon X800 XT PE (supplied by Sapphire)
Western Digital 80GB SATA Hard Drive
Arctic Silver 5
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 1.55v and memory was set to 2.7v. Temperatures are measured at idle after 15 minutes of no activity, after a continuous demo looping of 3DMark2001, and finally after a Quake III Deathmatch.
After looking at the results, it is hard to argue the merit of a water cooling system, and this Swiftech variety holds a lot of promise. I have found that some of the good coolers do better at load levels, but seldom give much of an advantage at idle. With the H20-120 we see a noticeable 2C degree difference when compared to a very workable Thermaltake air cooler. Add to this the significant differences when tested during gaming situations and we have a clear-cut winner in this little contest.
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