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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

Software and Settings


Testing is a really simple matter, and I planned to make it so anyone out there can replicate my results with just a few downloaded applications. First you will need CPU-z 1.66.1 to confirm the processor speed and voltage, as well as confirming the memory speed and timings. Something else that is now incorporated is a cache or ring bus speed that is addressed in CPU-z as the NB speed in the memory tab.


Next we decided that to follow the thermal results, RealTemp 3.70, as it is likely the most accurate measuring tool of the actual core temperatures inside of the CPU. To read the fan speeds and thermal probes, we have chosen to use AIDA64 3.00.2590 because it was the latest release when the test system was built. On a side note, we will not be updating any of this software for the entirety of this test system to take out any variables or additions that may cause a fluctuation in our results.


All of our testing is done at 24C with a degree margin of error (23.5C to 24.5C is allowable) and the humidity is controlled between 40 - 50%, both in winter and summer testing.




What we will be addressing as the "stock" level of the cooler testing is more of a plug and play concept. The theory here is to see how the CPU cooler in question will perform out of the box, using everything it was designed to do, to try to maintain a comfortable level of both temperatures and noise with the use of Speed Step, C-States, and PWM control of the fans (when applicable). This gives an idea of what the cooler is capable of under conditions that a lot of our readers will be using the coolers, and will provide a base number to get an idea of the coolers efficiency to rid the CPU of its heat.


At this time we will be using a profile in the motherboard to be sure that this level of testing is always exactly the same. In this profile, we left the fan controls set to allow the PWM control of the fans speeds, and the only thing we changes was the voltage supplied to the CPU. Instead of letting the motherboard fluctuate this voltage, we will be using the solid and stable voltage of 0.95V, while the CPU runs at 3500MHz with all cores active.


As for other things in this level of testing that will play a part in the thermals we track, the memory is running at 1600MHz at CAS 11 (default memory SPD values). The VTT is automatically set to 1.016V and the System Agent voltage is resting at 0.816V for all of the stock level testing we do. As for the results in the image, this is what we saw with the stock Intel cooler that was provided with the 4770K, and you can see why the right CPU cooler is so important with these new processors.




For the "overclocked" settings, even here things are very easy to set up. Going back to the BIOS we changed to manual settings for the overclocking, but only needed a couple of steps to get my settings stable. First thing I did was to set the multiplier to 45. The reasoning behind why we stopped here was twofold. First there is the amount of heat that gets produced when overclocking these processors. The second and more important reason for us was that this is the average overclock achievable by most 4770K CPUs. Once the CPU speed is set, we then addressed the memory by activating the XMP profile allowing the sticks to run at 2666MHz at CAS 11. The last thing to do is to find the baseline for the CPU voltage to be able to be stable in all testing we can throw at it before we ever moved into the actual testing. We have found the voltage at this level to be fully stable at 1.140V with the CPU speed set to 4500MHz and the Ring Bus sitting at 3900MHz. Again we set this to a profile so we can just flip back and forth between stock and overclocked conditions, and as long as the ambient temperature and humidity is similar, we can replicate these results time and time again.

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