Viewing page 1 of 5 pages. 1 2 3 4 5 NextSPCR's Updated 2012 Small CPU Heatsink Test Platform
June 5, 2012 by Lawrence Lee
From time to time we here at SPCR toy with the idea of updating older test
platforms with new hardware despite the extra time and effort required to retest
previously reviewed components. Generally, we avoid the practice unless things
break down or there are overwhelming reasons to enact a change, like if the
hardware is no longer representative of what is used by the majority of the
Old AMD small heatsink test platform.
Our small CPU heatsink testbed is such a platform, consisting of an Athlon
II X4 630 installed on a 785G chipset motherboard. Though there was nothing
physically wrong with this setup and the power draw is still appropriate for
more compact coolers, AMD has been more or less been on the sidelines as the
mini-ITX motherboard form factor rises in popularity. The superb energy efficiency
of Intel's recent processors has resulted in several manufacturers churning
out Intel mini-ITX boards, first for LGA1156 and now for LGA1155, while only
a handful of AMD AM3/FM1 models are available today. With Intel being the overwhelmingly
dominant choice for small motherboards in small cases requiring small heatsinks,
shifting our small CPU heatsink test platform to Sandy or Ivy Bridge was an
easy decision. We are still happy with testing heatsinks in an open test environment
to rule out external factors like case layout and system airflow.
New Intel LGA1155 small heatsink test platform.
For the CPU, we opted for the Intel
Core i5-2400, a quad core Sandy Bridge chip with a moderate TDP of 95W.
One advantage it has over the X4 630 is its higher throttling temperature; the
processor reduces in frequency at approximately 100°C, about 25°C higher
than the Athlon II on the old platform, allowing us to collect results for less
capable coolers at low fan speeds (even though it is not advisable to run it
like this for long durations). A dual core 65W Core
i3-2100 was considered but as its power draw is considerably lower,
we figured that better heatsinks would be bottlenecked, making it difficult
to determine superior performance.
Screenshot: Intel Desktop Utilities.
For the motherboard, we chose the Intel
DP67BG which has temperature sensors for the memory and VRM area, often
lacking in most motherboards. This will give us an idea of how well each heatsink
cools the components surrounding the CPU socket. It's also equipped with multiple
controllable fan headers so we can finely adjust the fan speeds of temperamental
PWM fans that don't react well to voltage control.
A multimeter is used to measure the current passing through the EPS12V/AUX12V connector to determine the power pulled from the CPU.
While the Core i5-2400 is a 95W chip, at stock settings, the CPU and motherboard
together have an overall power consumption ~25W lower than our old Athlon II
X4 platform at full CPU load. Tapping the EPS12V/AUX12V +12V line using a shunt
resistor, we found the CPU was only pulling 60~65W (it also draws some power
from the main ATX12V plug as well). This in itself isn't significant, but conditions
inside a SFF case with limited airflow are more thermally demanding than out
in the open, so it was decided that the power draw should be increased through
overclocking/overvolting to compensate.
CPU screenshot: Core i5-2400 at 3.6 GHz, 1.300V.
After trying several different settings, we settled for a Turbo Boost multiplier
of 36x and a CPU voltage of 1.300V. Overclocked, the draw on the AUX12V line
varies between 77W and 83W depending how hot the VRMs get this depends
on the cooling effect of the CPU cooler under test, of course while the
entire system consumes 130~136W AC measured at the wall.
Aside from the hardware changes, the rest of our test setup and methodology
remains mostly unchanged. Fan speeds are adjusted using a custom built external
voltage controller with a multimeter measuring the voltage to ensure precise
control. 3-pin/4-pin fans are connected to an adapter with a separated RPM sensor
header that is connected to the motherboard to report the fan speed, though
we also have a Tachometer
and Stroboscope at our disposal.
To christen our new test platform, we re-tested four past favorites, the Noctua NH-L12, Scythe Big Shuriken, Scythe Samurai ZZ, and Scythe Kozuti.
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