Radiator Performance 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.

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.

The performance spread at stock CPU speeds remained tight between the three radiator setups with the XSPC RX360 slightly outperforming both the single and dual Swiftech MCR 320-QP radiator configurations. However, the temperature delta difference under load between the single Swiftech MCR 320-QP and the XSPC RX360 is a mere 2 degrees Celsius. This indicates that the none of the radiators are really being taxed by the heat load generated by the stock speed CPU. The Corsair H110 unit remains competitive because of its dual-fan, 140mm radiator.

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

This get a bit more interesting with the temperature delta numbers under load with the CPU overclocked. The performance spread between the three radiator configurations continued to remain tight at a 4 degree difference between the best and worst performer. The single Swiftech MCR 320-QP radiator's performance lagged the dual radiator configuration by 3 degrees Celsius and the XSPC RX360 radiator by 4 degrees Celsius. I expected the dual Swiftech radiator configuration and the XSPC radiator configuration to remain close, but the performance of the single Swiftech radiator configuration was surprising. The dual Swiftech and XSPC configurations have similar heat dissipation characteristics due their similarity in cooling surface volume – two of the Swiftech MCR 320-QP radiators about match the thickness of the single XSPC RX360 radiator.

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