Archive: SPCR's Unique Heatsink Testing Methodology

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Reference Fans

Our reference fan is either a Nexus 80, 92, or 120 fan, as required by the heatsink under review. These are some of the quietest fans on the market, but that's not why they were chosen. There are other fans as quiet as or quieter than the ones from Nexus, but there's one reason to prefer the Nexus fans over the others: Over the past two years, these fans have been used countless times in dozens of SPCR reviews. They are reference fans not because we chose to use them, but because we did use them.

Some readers may feel that the choice of reference fan is incorrect or that more than one fan should be used. In addition to the reason mentioned above, there are several compelling, simple reasons for us to use the Nexus fans:

  • They are well known by many and not impossible to get in most places in the world.
  • They are quiet compared to most fans at 12V, hard to hear at 9V and virtually silent below this level.
  • They represent the low airflow that is often necessary for quiet computing.
  • We happen to have a small bunch of them on hand.
  • Using more than one fan means double the time spent testing. Too much time is already spent at this task. Besides, the whole point is to use a single reference fan.

Each of the reference fans has been carefully profiled below using our standard fan testing methodology, and more detailed results for the 80mm and 120mm fans can be found in recent SPCR fan roundups. Results for the 92mm model can be expected to follow within the next month or two.

Noise and Airflow Characteristics: Nexus 80
Voltage
Noise
RPM
CFM
12V
20 dBA@1m
1540 RPM
22 CFM
9V
~19 dBA@1m
1130 RPM
14 CFM
7V
<18 dBA@1m
840 RPM
10 CFM
5V
<18 dBA@1m
530 RPM
5 CFM

Noise and Airflow Characteristics: Nexus 92
Voltage
Noise
RPM
CFM
12V
21 dBA@1m
1380 RPM
28 CFM
9V
~19 dBA@1m
1060 RPM
22 CFM
7V
<18 dBA@1m
820 RPM
17 CFM
5V
<18 dBA@1m
570 RPM
11 CFM

Noise and Airflow Characteristics: Nexus 120
Voltage
Noise
RPM
CFM
12V
22 dBA@1m
1080 RPM
47 CFM
9V
~19 dBA@1m
850 RPM
35 CFM
7V
<19 dBA@1m
680 RPM
27 CFM
5V
<19 dBA@1m
490 RPM
16 CFM

Heat Source: CPU on Motherboard

Our standard test platform uses an Intel Pentium D 950 processor. While this is far from the cutting edge in terms of performance, it is an ideal choice for a heatsink test bed because it puts out considerably more heat that Intel's more recent Core 2 Duo chips, ensuring that the top heatsinks are given something sufficiently difficult to cool.

The Pentium D 950 is rated for 3.4 GHz clock speed, 1.2V core voltage, and 130W TDP. However, detailed testing of our test bench showed that the processor (along with some small losses in the VRMs on the motherboard) did not consume more than 78W under full load. This 78W figure will be used when calculating thermal efficiency.



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