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We will build a couple of test systems and run some
basic benchmarks and examine in detail the thermal performance of these
Pentium M systems. We will also experiment with various configurations to answer
some burning questions:
- Just how cool does a 21W CPU run?
much current does a Pentium M system draw under full load?
well do the default cooling systems work and are they quiet enough?
- Will the stock coolers work well enough to be run passively?
third-party cooling solutions be more efficient than the default
- Will third-party cooling solutions allow the CPU to be passively cooled?
Since the Pentium M CPU runs so cool, we're going to utilize the quietest hardware
available. If our goal is to build a fast and extremely quiet system, the
ancillary hardware shouldn't drown out the CPU cooler. Our test system will be based on the following hardware, all of which is
The test platform is an open system not enclosed in a case.
Intel Pentium M 755 - 2.0GHz Dothan core - TDP is 21W, MP
Sapphire ATI Radeon 9600Pro passively cooled video card (AGP)
Mushkin PC3200 Level II - 2 x 512MB DDRAM @ 2-2-2-5, 333MHz
Samsung MP0402H 2.5" 5400rpm, 8MB cache notebook
hard drive, decoupled with Sorbothane blocks (<17 dBA/1m)
Seasonic Super Silencer 300W (rev A1) PSU modded with 5V Panaflo M1A
Arctic Silver Ceramique Thermal Compound
Two-level metal platform with rubber damping feet. Motherboard on top; other
CPUBurn processor stress software
Motherboard Monitor 188.8.131.52 software to track CPU temperature
and fan speed
Angel power monitor used to measure system power usage
Pentium M test platform. Note the 2.5" notebook drive on top of the FDD.
Each motherboard was tested using the same components.
Only the board and the various heatsinks
Due to the DFI CPU cooling setup,
we were not able to use typical aftermarket CPU cooling hardware. Much
of the DFI testing was done with the stock heatsink. Prior to all testing, the heatsink was installed
as per the manufacturer's and Arctic Silver's instructions.
No benchmarks or thermal tests were run until system stability was assured by
running the Prime95 Torture Test
(v23.8) for 8 hours and Memtest86 (v3.20)
for at least 24 hours.
Each thermal test was run for
30 minutes even though temperatures generally stabilized within 15 to 20
minutes. Each test was repeated three times on consecutive mornings to check
consistency. All results were within 1-2°C of each
other and the average readings are included in the charts.
No tests were run unless the ambient temperature was at the reference
level of 71°F (21°C)
* All temperatures in degrees Celsius.
* Diode: Reading from Pentium M 755 CPU diode via Motherboard Monitor.
Diode was calibrated on each board using the standard SPCR
CPU Diode Calibration method.
* Temp Rise refers to the difference between ambient temperature and
the diode reading. .
* °C/W refers to the °C rise per watt of heat
dissipated by the CPU.
systems were easily assembled as each motherboard uses standard components laid
out in the usual "ATX" style. The low profile mPGA479 ZIF socket was a pleasure to use. I found
the camming action of rotating a little screw 180° easier than using the typical locking lever.
The Pentium M is the first CPU without an integrated heat spreader that I've used in years. So
it was with some trepidation that I installed the AOpen
heatsink for the first time. I flashed back to my AMD Thunderbird days and listened
carefully for that stomach churning cracking sound as I put pressure
on the heatsink, but everything went just fine. The DFI heatsink was even easier
to mount, due to the no-fuss springloaded screws.
This comment is relevant mostly for reviewers, but... One nice thing about the small, exposed core of the Pentium M: It takes just a tiny bit of thermal interface goop to cover
the CPU core, which is also faster and easier to clean
compared to an integrated heatspreader. This was a consideration during the extended testing of these boards. It seemed like I was
swapping the motherboards every time the wind changed directions.
Both builds went perfectly with each system reaching POST on the
first boot. I flashed the BIOS of each board to the latest revision and then installed Windows
XP sp2. After Windows was installed I loaded the latest Intel chipset drivers
and then installed the NIC drivers from the supplied driver disk. Once connected to the web, all the Microsoft OS updates were installed. Then, a minor amount of GUI configuration, and on to the benchmarks.
Each system in stock configuration. AOpen on top, DFI on bottom. Notice difference
in heatsink size.
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