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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  • Beenthere - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    How many times can reviewers be duped by CLC hype and PR? Either the reviewers are technically challenged or ethically challenged... Being here to stay does not equate to be a rational choice.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    It's not hype. It's the fact that these products are growing both in number and popularity. More and more vendors are entering the race, so saying they're here to stay is technically correct, at least for the next couple of years. They're popular.

    I'm not sure what your beef with them is, either. Boutiques tend to prefer them over heavy air coolers and if the reliability was a serious issue, those boutiques would be less likely to run them.
  • iamezza - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    Beenthere is just a forum troll with no life.
    Every single comment he makes is deliberately inflammatory.
  • Treckin - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    Why aren't the Antec closed loop coolers ever mentioned/tested on Anandtech?
  • HisDivineOrder - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    The check didn't clear?
  • Dustin Sklavos - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    Cute! Honestly, they haven't been volunteered and Antec is in a weird transitional period. If you guys want to see the Antec stuff tested I'd be happy to, but it does look like more of the same Asetek kit.
  • Dustin Sklavos - Saturday, February 2, 2013 - link

    Well, check that. The H2O 920 has a fatter radiator than any of the other units I've tested. I may just have to get a couple of these monsters in for review after all.
  • Treckin - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    It is, however they ship different fans, and use a different waterblock. Additionally, they featured the software controlled fans and pump monitoring as well as an onboard decibel meter (who knows how accurate...).

    Also, the tubing is different between the other asetec units.

    I would certainly like to see those numbers if you could :)
  • resiroth - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    I have a mini itx computer so the thermals should if anything be worse, and I idle at 25C and load at 55C. Room temp is somewhere around 22C I guess. So basically the deltas are 3C idle 33C load. It's an i5 750 overclocked to 3.8ghz.

    No risk of a pump leaking (however small that might be)
    ~ Equal performance
    Much quieter in db
    Much nicer noise signature (a fan has a hum, more pleasant then a pump)
    Top down cpu coolers may have auxillary cooling effect on motherboard components

    Harder to install?

    Still interested in seeing these get better and better, but for now it seems like a worse air cooler which has no real benefits. I guess if you're upping the voltage loads just to get an extra 10% (and risk an early death of your chip at such extreme voltage increases) it could be useful, but why not take a 10% performance hit for fairly significant improvements in noise, stability, durability, price?
  • Death666Angel - Sunday, February 3, 2013 - link

    Maybe I missed it (I have been known to be blind at times), but you didn't mention what you are cooling with, did you?
    Also, you cannot compared your temps to any mentioned in this article, as you seem to do. :)

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