Comparative Testing

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According to Cooler Master’s product information, the new Aero 7+ is “the ultimate upgrade solution”. Let’s find out. I will be testing the Aero 7+ on the same AMD Athlon XP-2400+ platform I use for all heatsink evaluations. This computer is an open chassis rig running at stock speeds and voltages. In addition to testing the Aero 7+ HSF as a unit, I will be evaluating both the heatsink/shroud and Aero V blower by themselves on several other popular heatsinks and fans.

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Test computer components:

  • Epox 8RDA+ nForce2 motherboard with 3129 BIOS
  • AMD Thoroughbred XP-2400+ @ 2000 MHz and 1.65 Vcore
  • 256 MB Corsair XMS PC3500C2 DDR RAM (3-2-2-2.0) 2.77 Vdimm
  • Antec SmartPower 400 watt PSU
  • 80 GB Western Digital SE 7200 RPM HD, Plextor CD-R/W, FDD
  • Gainward Geforce4 MX 440 AGP
  • nForce2 onboard NIC and sound
  • Windows XP Pro SP-1 (with all critical updates)
  • nForce2 Universal drivers 2.03
Measuring equipment used:
  • Ambient air – Barnant Model 115 digital thermometer (accuracy +/- 0.4º C)
  • CPU core – Barnant Model 115 digital thermometer (accuracy +/- 0.4º C)
  • Calibration – ASTM-T mercury precision thermometer (accuracy +/- 0.1º C)
  • Extech Model 407736 digital sound level meter (accuracy +/- 1.5 dB)
  • FLUKE 87 III True RMS digital multimeter (accuracy VDC +/- 0.05%)
Both digital thermometers were single point field calibrated to within +/- 0.2º C with the 3-point calibrated precision thermometer at 25.0º C before testing.

The ambient air temperature was measured with a thermocouple mounted on the end of a laboratory thermometer located beside the Aero 7+ blower (or over the top of the axial fans). This provides an accurate temperature of the air entering the HSF.

The CPU core surface temperature was measured with a calibrated 0.010” thermocouple (Omega #5TC-TT-K-30-36-SMP-M) attached to the side of the CPU die with Arctic Alumina epoxy. This provides much greater accuracy and repeatability than relying on either the in-socket thermistor or on-die thermistor temperatures reported in the BIOS or via MotherBoard Monitor 5. Because the actual CPU core temperature is being more accurately measured, this temperature may seem unusually high to some. The in-socket temperature as reported by MotherBoard Monitor 5 is also listed for comparison.

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The CPU was fully loaded by running the distributed computing application Folding@Home 24/7. Idle temperatures were recorded 1 hour after a cold boot into Windows XP and load temperatures were recorded multiple times over a minimum 24 hour period and then averaged. The ambient air temperature remained constant at 23.0º C +/- 1º C.

Before mounting the Aero 7+, both the CPU and heatsink base were cleaned with isopropyl alcohol. I rub a little Arctic Silver 3 into the base with a gloved finger and then apply a very thin coat of AS3 to the CPU core. I remounted the Aero 7+ many times over the course of two weeks to insure consistent results. I continue to use AS3 to be consistent with previous testing; however I have found that the newer Arctic Silver Ceramique and Shin Etsu G751 thermal compounds produce slightly better results.

I evaluated the Cooler Master Aero 7+ heatsink and fan shroud combination without the Aero V blower, using three popular axial fans (80 mm Panaflo L1A, 80 mm Panaflo H1A and 80 mm Delta SHE). Next I tested the Aero V blower by itself on two popular mid-range heatsinks; the classic Thermalright AX7 and the new Thermaltake Volcano 11+.

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(Aero V blower on AX-7 heatsink)
Cooler Master Aero 7+ Heatsink Fan - Cases and Cooling 24
(Aero V blower on Volcano 11+ heatsink)

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