SPCR's Updated 2012 Small CPU Heatsink Test Platform

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TEST METHODOLOGY SUMMARY

Key Components in LGA1155 Heatsink Test Platform:

  • Intel Core i5-2400 Sandy Bridge core, LGA1155, 3.1 GHz, 45nm, 95W TDP, overclocked/volted to 3.6 GHz and 1.300V.
  • Intel DP67BG ATX motherboard. P67 chipset.
  • Kingston SSDNow V 30GB 2.5" solid-state drive. Chosen for silence.
  • OCZ Platinum Extreme Low Voltage DDR3 memory. 2 x 2 GB, DDR3-1333 in dual channel.
  • Seasonic X-400 SS-400FL 400W ATX power supply. Passively cooled.
  • Arctic Silver Lumière: Special fast-curing thermal interface material, designed specifically for test labs.
  • Noctua 140 mm fan (used when possible with heatsinks that fit 140x25mm fans)
  • Nexus 120 mm fan (used when possible with heatsinks that fit 120x25mm fans)
  • Nexus 92 mm fan (used when possible with heatsinks that fit 92x25mm fans)

The systems are silent under test conditions, except for the CPU cooling fan(s).

Normally, our reference fans are used whenever possible, the measured details of which are shown below (note these measurements were taken in open air, the noise levels vary a bit when mounted on heatsinks, especially at higher RPM).

Reference Noctua 140mm fan
Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
SPL@1m
Speed
12V
28~29 dBA
1250 RPM
9V
21 dBA
990 RPM
7V
15~16 dBA
770 RPM
6V
13 dBA
660 RPM

Reference Nexus 120mm fan
Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
SPL@1m
Speed
12V
16 dBA
1100 RPM
9V
13 dBA
890 RPM
7V
12 dBA
720 RPM

Reference Nexus 92 mm fan
Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
SPL@1m
Speed
12V
16 dBA
1470 RPM
9V
12 dBA
1150 RPM

Measurement and Analysis Tools

  • Extech 380803 AC power analyzer / data logger for measuring AC system power.
  • Custom-built, four-channel variable DC power supply, used to regulate the fan speed during the test.
  • 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.
  • Various other tools for testing fans, as documented in our latest fan test roundup.
  • SpeedFan, used to monitor the on-chip thermal sensors. The sensors are not calibrated, so results are not universally applicable. The hottest core reading is used.
  • Prime95, used to stress the LGA1366 CPU heavily, generating more heat than most real applications. 8 instances are used to ensure that all 4 cores (with Hyper-threading) are stressed.
  • CPU-Z, used to monitor the CPU speed to determine when overheating occurs.
  • Thermometers to measure the air temperature around the test platform and near the intake of the heatsink fan.

Noise measurements are made with the fans powered from the lab's variable DC power supply while the rest of the system was off to ensure that system noise did not skew the measurements.

Load testing was accomplished using Prime95 to stress the processor, and the graph function in SpeedFan was used to ensure that the load temperature is stable for at least ten minutes. The temperature recorded is the highest single core reading. The stock fans were tested at various voltages to represent a good cross-section of airflow and noise performance.

The ambient conditions during testing were 10~11 dBA and 21~23°C.



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