Cooler Comparison Testing
Cooler Testing Methods
To best gage the quality of the system coolers under review, system CPU temperature and cooling system audio measurements were taken with the CPU idle and under load. To replicate CPU idle conditions, the system was rebooted and allowed to sit idle for 30 minutes. To replicate a stress system load, a combination of LinX and FurMark were run over a 1 hour period with LinX running for 500 loops with Memory set to All and FurMark running at 1280×1024 resolution and 2x MSAA in stress test mode. After each run, the system was shut down and allowed to rest for 10 minutes to cool down. Then the CPU heat plate was removed, cleaned, and remounted to the CPU with fresh thermal paste applied. This procedure was repeated a total of six times for each cooler – 3 times for the stock speed runs, and 3 times for the overclocked speed runs.
Temperature measurements were taken directly from the CPU thermistors using RealTemp v3.70. For both the idle and load temperatures, the highest recorded value in the application were used for the run. Note that the temperature values are reported as deltas rather than absolute temperatures with the delta value reported calculated as CPU temperature – ambient temperature. Sound measurements of the system cooler where taken with the sound meter placed 3 feet away from the system with all other devices in the room silenced. The Sound Meter Pro applet on a Samsung Galaxy S3 mobile phone was used to measure decibel level.
CPU Stock Speed Testing
The CPU stock speed testing was conducted with the BIOS defaults set for the CPU and Turbo Mode disabled, equating to a 3.4GHz CPU speed, 1600MHz memory speed, and 100MHz base clock. The Intel Speedstep functionality remained enabled for the duration of the testing to get realistic CPU idle performance conditions.
At stock CPU settings, both the H110 and H90 cooler performed well. Both units beat out the H80i's performance with the H110 matching the performance of the test bench cooling system. Both the H90 and H110 units were run with fans at full speed with the H110 coming in at a slightly louder volume than the H90. However, neither unit was loud at all because of their use of 140mm fans.
CPU Overclocked Speed Testing
The CPU overclocked speed testing was conducted with known stable settings from a previous board review for the CPU and Turbo Mode disabled, equating to a 4.4GHz CPU speed, 1960MHz memory speed, and 105MHz base clock. The Intel Speedstep functionality remained enabled for the duration of the testing to get realistic CPU idle performance conditions.
Board voltage settings were configured as follows:
- CPU Core Voltage – 1.2750
- CPU I/O Voltage – 1.150
- DRAM Voltage – 1.6255
- System Agent Voltage(SA) – 1.0850
- CPU PLL Voltage – 1.7500
- PCH 1.05 – 1.0995
In the overclocking tests, the 140mm-based units really came into their own. The H90 unit ran the CPU only slightly hotter than the test bench cooler, while the H110 actually beat the performance of the test bench cooler by a full two degrees Celsius. It seems that both coolers are designed for performance even with the questionable nature of the 1/4 channel runs and the radiator thickness.