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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  • AngelOfTheAbyss - Monday, February 4, 2013 - link

    Either you like closed loops or you don't.

    Personally, I like them because you can move the heat from the cpu to the outside of the chassi without having to disperse the heat inside the chassi before wenting it.

    One of my machines is a 3930K@4.3 in a Antec P190 chassi with a H100 using 2x120 (push) + 2x140mm (pull) fans on the rad which make it really quiet.

    Unless you suffer from pump grinding (see WLW WL on overclock), the pump should barely be audible (i have had to patch my two H100's but not the H80).

    Note also that most comparable air-coolers weigh alot and don't employ top-down fans.

    In my htpc (Antec ISK 310-150 EC + A10 5800K), I put a big shuriken due to space constraints, couldn't figure out how to mount a closed loop (bummer).
  • rms8 - Monday, February 4, 2013 - link

    I love the articles here!

    Regarding the reviews of the current market of self contained H2O coolers....I have a custom H20 setup with an XSPC CPU block & RX360 rad, Swiftech pump and Intel i7-2600K.

    I have BIOS setup to run the CPU at 1.6Ghz when idle, but will ramp up to 5.2Ghz depending on needs. At idle the temps are in the 26-28 degree range with no fans running. When running Prime95, it will run at upper 60-'s/lower 70's with fans maxed out.

    I really don't know how good this is compared to some off the shelf self contained setup.
  • jasonelmore - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    It's a shame the Swiftech H220 got taken off the market due to patent infringements. It was the only Closed Loop cooler that i'm interested in.

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