When it comes to testing a heatsink, I generally try to thrash the system while monitoring temperatures. 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 consist of 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. Arctic Silver 5 is the TIM being used (after a 3-day burn-in) and the test system will be a closed case setup to more accurately reflect the conditions that you would use yourself.
While I have tested many different coolers in the past, I kept my comparisons for this article in the realm of heatpipe coolers. We have already established that this relatively new cooling technology provides a very solid foundation for heatsink performance, usually allowing between a 10-12C differential between idle and load states. But then again, we are also introducing a Peltier to the mix with the Monsoon unit.
After testing is completed I can only say, "WOW!" I had expected nice performance just from looking at the spec sheets, but I was truly surprised to find only a 4 degree difference between idle and load. Add to this that even those temperatures are noticeably lower than the other heatpipe coolers and it looks as if we have a sure winner on our hands.
Also of note is one of the biggest drawbacks to Peltier cooling; their tendency to die with no prior notice. In the case of the Vigor Gaming Monsoon II, even if the Peltier dies, the heatpipe cooler is still in place and will continue to cool your processor adequately. Not as well as when the Peltier is working, but you won't have to worry about killing your processor just because the TEC decides to fly south for the winter. Additionally, if the Peltier does die, an alarm will sound from the monitoring device to let you know that there is a problem.