Testing Methodology

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.

Thank You!

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.
Ease of Installation Performance Results
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  • chaos215bar2 - Monday, February 4, 2013 - link

    I'm not sure why you got the impression that the H220 couldn't compete. Overall, I got the impression that the H220 was one of the best coolers reviewed. It just sacrificed a little performance for a significant reduction in noise.
  • ypsylon - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    I would jump into H220 immediately. Drooling on it since first news appeared. Unfortunately there is small issue - nobody selling this thing in Europe. I inquired in few places across EU and so far nobody is eager to jump on it. Importing it from US is out of the question as I could build full custom loop for money spend on H220+S&H+VAT+2.5% duty fee. Still I have ~40 days ahead before planned WS switchover. If I can get H220 in that time I would, otherwise going with H100i + 4 AeroCool BlackSharks. Not interested in AIO 140/280.
  • Nickel020 - Monday, February 11, 2013 - link

    Actually, highflow.nl already has it on pre-order and usually offers quite reasonable shipping rates across Europe:

    More shops should be listing it once it actually becomes available.
  • BrightCandle - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    Its not uncommon for a custom loop to get down to +25C at load, so these bigger radiator designs are starting to get really close to the performance of going fully custom at a lot less cost and hassle.
  • ShieTar - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    Sure. Now if those would just be provided for the 225W GPU instead of the 77W CPU, they might get actually relevant for a gaming computer.
  • pcfxer - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link


    This man ^^^^^ has got it. Why the hell aren't they hooking these up to GPUs? Does a closed loop kit for GPUs even exists? I've had one video card die from a heavy HSF combo and I still hate seeing that much flex in card.

    A closed loop setup is literally perfect for this. Any pump noise and fan noise from that would be worth it (if still reasonable, I normally hunt for options on SPCR).
  • Death666Angel - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    There is the "Arctic Cooling Accelero Hybrid" and you can buy mounting kits for these CLCs to install on your GPU of choice. No full body CLCs I am aware of other than that. And since there are so many different layouts and removing the heatsink of most graphics cards voids the warranty, the market seems very small compared to these CPU CLCs.
  • Runamok81 - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    With the help of custom brackets from triptcc.com modders have been installing closed loop GPU coolers for years.
  • Jeaux Bleaux - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    From the article you didn't read; "At CES, the H220's pump was demonstrated keeping a pair of GTX 680s and an i7 cool."
  • MadAd - Friday, February 1, 2013 - link

    1- Corsair dropped the ball with me with my H60 recently. The pump was shrieking until i installed a fanmate to limit it to about 2k rpm (my friends coolit works at about 4k normally). The through board fittings were so sloppy I had to find 4 small washers to brace the board against the clamp or suffer less pressure on the cpu mount and to cap it all the fan they supplied committed both sins of a bad silent fan, high turbine noise AND a ticky motor noise. Probably one of the worst fans ive ever owned (and ive spend hundreds on specialist panaflos, scythes etc through the years).

    2- I would like to see reviews of these done in a fully loaded system too. That puny board with no GPU does not represent a normal PC at all. Yes punypc is good for isolating just the cooling hardware, so why should this matter? Theres a part of these ongoing reviews that seems to have been overlooked, someone using consumer friendly closed loops are likely using this for case cooling in some way too, thus a fully loaded system running a gaming bench say, would add heat to the system and show thes coolers in a different light, eg where they start to break down.

    Thats the enthusiast end, on the other end with the growth of ITX and shelf size PCs my mind is not whether I can cool something in isolation, its whether I can use a single 120mm closed loop to do the whole system. 1 fan for the whole box, and that cant really be replicated in that test pc there either.

    Just a few thoughts, no complaints, im more than happy with the reviews here. Thanks again for all the hard work.

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