Closing the Loop II: New Liquid Coolers from Corsair and Swiftechby Dustin Sklavos on February 1, 2013 12:01 AM EST
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If you've been keeping up with our case reviews, our testing methodology for the fans here is going to seem relatively similar in some ways. Our test system may seem a bit unusual in more than a few ways, but stick with me and I'll explain why I put it together and tested it the way I did.
|Fan and Radiator Testing Configuration|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-2700K overclocked to 4.4GHz @ 1.4V|
|Motherboard||Zotac Z77-ITX WiFi|
|Graphics||Intel HD 3000 IGP|
|Memory||2x4GB Corsair Value Select DDR3-1333|
|Drives||Kingston SSDNow V+ 100 64GB SSD|
|Power Supply||Corsair CX430|
|Enclosure||BitFenix Shinobi XL Window|
The processor, with its healthy voltage boost and overclock, throws a pretty substantial amount of heat at our cooling system. Testing with an i7-2700K at stock speeds would defeat the purpose; Intel's own stock cooler can handle that, we want to "separate the men from the boys" so to speak.
I needed a case that could produce adequate airflow, handle all of the different cooling systems without much trouble, and did not include any sound dampening features. You might be surprised at just how difficult that was to find, but BitFenix came to the rescue and sent over a Shinobi XL. BitFenix's enclosure didn't get the best review when I tested it, but it's actually ideal for this testbed. I removed every case fan but the front intake, which I ran at 5V to prevent it from affecting acoustics while still providing adequate airflow.
Since a dedicated GPU wasn't needed, one wasn't used. This prevents a graphics card from generating additional heat or noise or deflecting airflow.
Thermal and acoustic test cycles were done the same way as our case reviews. First, the system is left powered and idle for fifteen minutes. At this point the sound level is tested, room ambient temperature is recorded, and idle temperatures are recorded. Then eight threads of small FFTs in Prime95 are run for fifteen minutes, and load temperatures are recorded.
Each cooler was tested using its available presets; the PWM-controlled coolers were tested at 30% and 100% using motherboard control.
Before moving on, we'd like to thank the following vendors for providing us with the hardware used in our roundup.
- Thank you to iBuyPower for providing us with the Intel Core i7-2700K.
- Thank you to Zotac for providing us with the Z77-ITX WiFi motherboard.
- Thank you to Kingston for providing us with the SSDNow V+ 100 SSD.
- Thank you to Corsair for providing us with the CX430 power supply.
- Thank you to BitFenix for providing us with the Shinobi XL Window enclosure.
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lowlymarine - Friday, February 1, 2013 - linkStill, I can't help but feel it would be worthwhile to include a couple of the more popular air coolers as well for comparison. The Noctua NH-D14 and Cooler Master Hyper 212+ are very popular units, and in the case of the former runs around the same price as some of the mid-range closed loop options. I think it would be illuminating to see how these options stack up against each other, for situations where clearance and so forth aren't major concerns.
Dustin Sklavos - Friday, February 1, 2013 - linkI'll get there. :)
Ratman6161 - Monday, February 4, 2013 - linkI recently replaced my Hyper 212+ with the H55 so I can sort of make that comparison. I'm running an i7-2600K@4.4Ghz so a fairly similar setup to the test rig in the article. With the 212+ I used to idle at 32 - 35 C and peak out at about 65 C running Intel Burn Test. With the H55 I idle at about 24 and the peak under load is around 53 - 55. But....I've made other changes too. With the liquid cooler I turned the my three 120 mm intake fans and case's 140 mm exhaust down to their minimum speeds and put the variable speed fan from the 212+ on the H55 in place of the constant speed fan that came with it.
The 120 mm intakes and the fan off the 212+ that's now on the H55 are all bios controlled and set to run at their minimum speeds unless the CPU temp goes over 50 C. However that condition is never met (i.e. it never does go over 50 C) unless I'm deliberately ramping things up with Intel Burn Test. FYI my goal is always the best overclock I can get with stock voltage. I don't get any better overclock than I did with the 212+ but it does run cooler and quieter due to all the fans now able to run at minimum speed basically all the time. Since I don't turn up voltage, something better than the H55 probably would not do any good in my particular circumstances and what I've basically achieved over the 212+ was a quieter system.
TreXor - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - link53° C at full load with a 4.4 GHz overclocked i7-2600 on a H55? lol...
Its time that you and all the other people that post ridiculous temps learn what programs to use to read out the real core temperatures. And its definitely not the software coming with your motherboard, reading out the CPU sensor in the socket...
althaz - Monday, February 4, 2013 - linkYeah, this is a great review, but it's mostly useless data without including good air coolers for comparison. Especially the Noctua NH-D14 (which is probably not the best anymore, but from what I've seen still offers superior performance per decibel to most closed-loop water coolers).
From Dustin's comments it seems we can expect some more stuff in the future, which will make this excellent review much more useful.
Jambe - Friday, February 1, 2013 - linkAh, Swiftech, makers of those eccentric heavy slabs of copper studded with helicoid aluminium pins. Nice to see them making new & competent products.
drfish - Friday, February 1, 2013 - linkLol, was thinking that same thing. Now THAT would make for a great read, all of the classic coolers over the years pitted against each other - mounting all of them "unconventionally" shouldn't be that hard, right? ;)
maratus - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - linkActually, Swiftech has gone full-H2O after that and was always high-regarded amongst watercooling enthusiasts. Ever since Swiftech Storm was introduced, they became a major source of high-quality CPU and universal GPU waterblocks for custom builds. They also are the biggest reseller of Laing pumps and offer exclusive PWM-controlled version of DDC. MCR rads were the best in their price range for low noise fans and it's nice to see all-in-one kits as they have much more potential customers. I just hope that Swiftech will be more like Asetek in future and less like DangerDen, if you know what I mean.
jasonelmore - Monday, August 12, 2013 - linkit was taken off the market due to patent infringements. gabe used someone else's design.
Aikouka - Friday, February 1, 2013 - linkDustin, with the following statement...
"The H220 itself is definitely a strong radiator, but Swiftech clearly tuned their fans for acoustics instead of performance."
...it sounded like you were faulting the fans on the H220 as the main reason why the H220 can't compete with the other offerings. Out of curiosity, would you be willing to try different fans on it to see it that helps? Obviously, those numbers wouldn't be able to be used in any official context, but it would be interesting to see!
Although, I will admit that the idea of suggesting ponying up another $12-25 per fan (Enermax Magma, Noctua PF-12, etc.) to make an already expensive product work better is a bit ballsy of a marketing tactic! ;)