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TweakTown CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology

By: Chad Sebring | Editorials in Cases, Cooling & PSU | Posted: Oct 6, 2013 6:09 am

The Test System Components




The main, and most important component of the new test system, is the retail version of the Intel i7 4770K. You can see that batch number of the CPU, but many out there will tell you it's far less relevant to the overclocking potential than on any previous series of processors. As far as 4770K processors go, we definitely found a top-end chip to use in this system.




We of course needed a motherboard to run the 4770K, and we went to ASUS for this. While we had originally asked for the Maximus VI Extreme, after some discussion back and forth, we opted for the Sabertooth Z87, which you are looking at now. Reason being is that the board in the image offers many thermal sensors in the motherboard as well as an extra three sensors that we can attach anywhere we want to. As for the Tactical Armor, it will be left in place for testing, but we have found that some coolers will have to mount differently just to fit the Armor on both the top and bottom of the motherboard.




We also originally contacted Corsair to supply some memory for this system, but we had since found that the Vengeance Pro series of memory has heat spreaders on them that caused issues with some of the cooler mounting. Instead of making them naked and taking the risk of ripping an IC from the PCB, we decided that the G.Skill kit was much better suited for our needs, both in speed capabilities to work the IMC of the 4770K, as well as having the removable tops to allow coolers to pass over the top.




To power the system we stuck with the same SilverStone PSU that has given us two years of dedicated and unwavering service. We chose the Strider Gold Evolution in the 850W flavor so that we would have plenty of power, could take advantage of the wiring modularity to keep things clean, and due to the fact that it is more than enough power for our needs, so we should never stress this PSU beyond the scope of its 80 PLUS Gold rating.




For finite control of the fans of the CPU coolers in our testing, we opted to slide the Adjust 108 from Fractal Design into the ODD bay. The reason behind this is so that we can set the fans speeds outside of the BIOS to ensure that there is no oddities or adjusting going on during tests. With the capability of 36W per channel, and the fact that this will allow fan adjustments from 6.75V to 11.98V, it will suffice for our needs quite well.




Not necessarily a component that is vital to the functionality of any of the others, we have also installed a pair of chassis fans this time around. The older testing was done on the X-Frame from InWin, and it provided no such love to the design. With the newer D-Frame now in play, we added a pair of Corsair CO-9050002-WW, AF120 Quiet Edition fans. There were two reasons for this choice. One was the super low noise level of 21dBA that will allow these fans to spin in near silence. The second and most important was to provide some airflow to the chassis much like a normal tower chassis would have, as well as giving large passive solutions a better chance in our charts.

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