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Thermal Chamber Heatsink Testing Methods

By: Chris Ramseyer | Editorials in Cases, Cooling & PSU | Posted: Oct 13, 2007 4:00 am



Using the methods we've explained earlier, we tested the two OEM coolers.



An image taken during the first test session during setup.




Temperature measured in Celcius, lower is better


At idle our two OEM coolers performed 18.4 and 20.2 Celsius warmer than the ambient air. At full load the numbers increased as they should to 26.9 and 28.4 C over ambient. I was surprised that the all aluminum AMD cooler performed better under load than the Intel cooler. It does appear however that the use of copper on the Intel cooler does help it stay cooler at idle.


Sound Pressure Level measured in decibels (db), lower is better


The acoustic tests caught me by surprise. I knew that the Intel coolers use an onboard thermal probe to adjust the fan speed based on ambient temperature but I was unaware that AMD uses a similar system. Because of this, testing for acoustics must be performed at the same time as the temperature testing; simply pushing 7 and 12 volts through the fans will not produce an accurate measurement.




The pavement has been laid and a blueprint for accurately evaluating the performance of CPU coolers is now set. Next week the first round of retail CPU coolers will make their way through the Thermal Environment Control Chamber and we will begin our quest to find the best air coolers available on the market.


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