System Setup and Quiet HSF’s

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Due to the extreme differences in design of the HSF’s that will be a part of this study, it became necessary to deviate from our normal system. We will be using the Antec SX-840 large mid-tower case because of the size of the Silverado and the very nature of the Quiet heatsinks themselves. We have found that acceptable airflow and temperatures could not be attained in a mini or smallish mid-tower case when running a top of the line heat producing CPU.

Another deviation is our choice of fans, in order to be true to the spirit of this study we swapped out the four standard case fans and replaced them with quiet Panaflo L1 80 mm fans that produce 24 CFM’s at a noise level of 21 dBA’s.

As we desired to give the quiet HSF’s a true workout, we choose the Epox 8K7A+ DDR motherboard along with an Athlon 1.4 GHz CPU running VCore voltage at 1.85. All the standard items were included that you would expect to find in a high-end fully loaded system including 512 Mbytes of Crucial PC2100 DDR memory.

The procedures for this study will follow our normal pattern and our tests are conducted under real world conditions, but this time, in a closed steel case that is cooling friendly. We use a mix of software that best reflects the usage patterns of the majority of computers used day in and day out.

We run our tests for a consecutive four day period. To record temperatures, we employ Award Bios, Via Hardware Monitor and a heat sensor applied next to the CPU’s core from the DigitalDoc5. The room temperature of 74 degrees Fahrenheit or 23 degrees Celsius is maintained +/- four tenths of a degree.

The mix of software as always consisted of business and accounting applications, a varied combination of utilities, AutoCAD Lite, graphic intensive packages, 3D games, surfing the net and burning our favorite CD’s.

Fifty readings per day are taken for a total of 200 separate readings, with the high and low readings for each day removed leaving a total 192 readings. This method is referred to as a Weighted Average. The entire procedure was repeated for each of our Quiet HSF’s.

The heatsink fans used are the stock fans supplied by the individual manufacturers of the HSF’s under study. It is important to note, that a number of the HSF’s are sold with devices that allow the user to decrease the voltage of the stock fans even further. We did not use them as we felt that the stock fans were sufficiently quiet and in all honesty, running them for four consecutive days with all the Sound Dampening material we installed, our feeling was that the system was as quiet as we wanted to risk!!!

Note: On all the HSF’s in our study we used Artic Silver II Thermal Compound as the heat transfer agent between the core of the CPU and the HSF’s as is our normal practice. We did not use any supplied thermal compounds/pastes or phase change or any kind of thermal pad. Heat is a major concern and nothing available today surpasses Artic Silver II (my personal educated opinion) in the transfer of heat from the CPU.

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