ZEROtherm CoolMaxx 2000 GPU Cooler

Cooling
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TEST METHODOLOGY

Our test procedure is an in-system test, designed to determine whether the cooler is adequate for use in a low-noise system. By adequately cooled, we mean cooled well enough that no misbehavior related to thermal overload is exhibited. Thermal misbehavior in a graphics card can show up in a variety of ways, including:

  • Sudden system shutdown, reboot without warning, or loss of display signal
  • Jaggies and other visual artifacts on the screen.
  • Motion slowing and/or screen freezing.

Any of these misbehaviors are annoying at best and dangerous at worst — dangerous to the health and lifespan of the graphics card, and sometimes to the system OS.

Test Platform

Measurement and Analysis Tools

  • CPUBurn processor stress software.
  • FurMark stability test to stress the GPU.
  • GPU-Z to monitor GPU temperatures..
  • A custom-built variable fan speed controller to power the system fan
  • PC-based spectrum analyzer: SpectraPlus with ACO Pacific mic and M-Audio digital audio interfaces.
  • Anechoic chamber with ambient level of 11 dBA or lower


A summary of how our video card/cooler test platform is put together can be found here.



Our test card, a Radeon HD 4890.

GPU coolers are tested on a HIS Radeon HD 4890 Turbo Edition, one of the most power hungry single GPU cards on the market, drawing almost 150W by our estimates. The stock heat plate is left on to cool the memory chips and the voltage regulators as the 4870/4890 series requires good VRM cooling and the VRM heatsinks included with most aftermarket VGA coolers are usually too small to be ineffective.

Our main test consists of FurMark stability test running in conjunction with CPUBurn to stress both the graphics card and processor simultaneously. This combination produces more CPU/GPU stress than a typical gaming session. As our test system has very limited airflow, our results are not indicative of a real-world situation, but rather a worse-case scenario. If the heatsink in question can cool the card and its components adequately in this environment it means there will be some degree of thermal headroom when deployed in a more conventional situation. GPU temperatures are recorded using GPU-Z. On our HD 4890 test card, there are three main on-die sensors, as well as three on the primary voltage regulators. We average the results of each set of sensors.

The cooler is tested at various speeds to represent a good cross-section of its airflow and noise performance. Noise is measured and recorded with our test system on with the heatsink installed. Our mic is positioned at a distance of one meter from the center of the case's left side panel at a 45 degree angle.

Reference Comparison Results

Fan Voltage
SPL@1m
Avg. Core Temp
Avg. VRM Temp
Accelero S1 (2 x Nexus 92mm 1500rpm)
12V
16 dBA
85°C
114°C
10V
15 dBA
91°C
128°C
Accelero S1 (2 x Scythe 100mm 1500rpm)
12V
21 dBA
93°C
116°C
11V
19 dBA
94°C
117°C
10V
17 dBA
96°C

123°C

9V
16 dBA
97°C
126°C
8V
15 dBA
98°C
132°C
Scythe Musashi
12V
23 dBA
85°C
109°C
10V
19 dBA
90°C
117°C
9V
17 dBA
93°C
125°C
8V
15 dBA
97°C
131°C
7V
14 dBA
102°C
142°C
Zalman VF1000 LED
12V
22 dBA
91°C
121°C
10V
22 dBA
96°C
133°C
9V
20 dBA
100°C
139°C
8V
19 dBA
102°C
145°C
7V
17 dBA
106°C
152°C
Ambient temperature: 23°C
Ambient Noise Level: 11 dBA
(12 dBA with the test system on)



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