When it comes to testing a heatsink, I generally try to thrash the system while monitoring the emperatures. Since we're talking about a cooling solution that has the processor as its primary concern, I find it easiest to simply run it at 100% load and monitor in the background. This simple method lets me see just what a cooling solution can do and also lets us know where we should consider spending our hard-earned upgrade dollars.
Before getting into the meat of the matter, though, let's take a quick look at the test system:
AMD Athlon FX-53 Processor @ 2.4GHz (Supplied by Newegg.com)
DFI LANParty UT nF4 Ultra-D Motherboard
2x512MB Mushkin "Redline" PC3200 Memory (Supplied by Mushkin)
GeCube X1900XTX Graphics Board (Supplied by GeCube)
Thermaltake PurePower 600w PSU (Supplied by Thermaltake)
Testing will be monitoring temperatures at both idle and at load. The processor is running at default speeds but still manages to put out 94 watts of heat. Voltage of the CPU is 1.55v and testing temperatures were a consistent 22C.
When I began testing and noted the idle temperatures, I was a little concerned that this cooler would not be up to speed with other models available. While not totally out of line, they were a little higher than other sinks that fall into the "Performance" category. That changed, however, when I ran the processor through a 100% load series of testing. Even the low speed of the fan allowed for temperatures that were more than acceptable. This is mainly due to the use of the heatpipe technology we talked about earlier.
I was even more impressed with the differential between idle and load temperatures. While the Thermaltake and asetek units produced better idle temperatures, their differential between the two states was in the vicinity of 16 degrees Celsius. Compare that to the 10C and 11C results garnered from this Gigabyte cooler and we see a very solid level of performance.