Gigabyte G-Power 2 Pro CPU cooler

Cooling
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TESTING

Testing was done according to our unique heatsink testing methodology. A summary of the components, tools, and procedures follows below.

Key Components in Heatsink Test Platform:

  • Intel Pentium D 950 Presler core. Rated for 130W TDP. Under our test load, it draws 78W, which includes the efficiency losses in the VRMs.
  • ASUS P5LD2-VM motherboard. A microATX board with integrated graphics and plenty of room around the CPU socket.
  • Hitachi Deskstar 7K80 80GB SATA hard drive.
  • 1 GB stick of Corsair XMS2 DDR2 memory.
  • FSP Zen 300W fanless power supply.
  • Arctic Silver Lumière: Special fast-curing thermal interface material, designed specifically for test labs.
  • Our standard 120mm Nexus reference fan could not be used due to the integrated stock fan.

Test Tools

  • Seasonic Power Angel for measuring AC power at the wall to ensure that the heat output remains consistent.
  • Custom-built, four-channel variable-speed fan controller, used to regulate the fan speed during the test.
  • Bruel & Kjaer (B&K) model 2203 Sound Level Meter. Used to accurately measure noise down to 20 dBA and below.
  • Various other tools for testing fans, as documented in our standard fan testing methodology.

Software Tools

  • SpeedFan 4.33, used to monitor the on-chip thermal sensor. This sensor is not calibrated, so results are not universally applicable, but they should be comparable with the other tests we've done on this test bed. The current test system was put into service in January 2007.
  • CPUBurn P6, used to stress the CPU heavily, generating more heat that most realistic loads. Two instances are used to ensure that both cores are stressed.
  • Throttlewatch 2.01, used to monitor the throttling feature of the CPU to determine when overheating occurs.

Two iterations of CPUBurn were run simultaneously was used to stress both cores of the processor, and the graph function in SpeedFan was used to make sure that the load temperature was stable for at least ten minutes. All HSF are tested at four voltages: 5V, 7V, 9V, and 12V, representing a full cross-section of the fan's airflow and noise performance. The ambient conditions during testing were 18 dBA and 20°C.

TEST RESULTS

The cooling results were excellent. A temperature rise of just 13°C puts this cooler into world championship territory in an overclocker's arena.

Gigabyte G-Power 2 Pro
Fan Voltage / RPM
Temp
°C Rise
°C/W
SPL
(dBA@1m)
12V / 2200
33°C
13
0.17
37
9V / 1250
36°C
16
0.20
29
7V / 970
38°C
18
0.23
25
5V / 680
43°C
23
0.29
20
4V / 500
51°C
31
0.40
<18
Load Temp: CPUBurn for ~20 mins.
°C Rise: Temperature rise above ambient (21°C) at load.
°C/W: Temperature rise over ambient per Watt of CPU heat, based on the heat dissipated by the CPU (measured 78W).
Noise: SPL measured in dBA@1m distance with high accuracy B & K SLM

Most silent PC enthusiasts wouldn't want to put up with the noise for more than a minute or two, however. The Gigabyte G-Power 2 Pro's noise through most of the fan voltage settings was just terrible. The fan by itself was bad enough; it seemed to have the buzzy quality of a typical ball-bearing fan, and a lot of turbulence. There was an odd variability in the noise as well, as if the fan sped up and slowed down from time to time, perhaps due to the effect of eddy air currents causing back pressure in the structure.

There was also the resonating hum, buzz and honk of the plastic shroud vibrating in complex tones in sympathy with the fan. The resonant qualities of this hard plastic shroud are such that even though the SPL dropped to 29 dBA@1m (below our 30 dBA@1m "quiet threshold") at 9V, the sound quality still made it sound nasty. Holding the frame with our hands changed the sound, but it did not eliminate the complex vibrations and resonances. Even with the fan at 7V, when the measured SPL was down to a respectable 25 dBA@1m, the shroud continued vibrating and adding an audible hum to the overall noise signature. At the 4V setting — which is unrealistic because it's difficult to get such a low voltage to a fan in a PC — the shroud resonance finally disappeared, but the fan rotation speed was just too low for the performance to hold up.

Comparing the Gigabyte G-Power 2 Pro against other large heatsinks is a bit difficult, because the noise of the Nexus 120 fan (used to test all these heatsinks) begins where the noise of the Gigabyte ends. Still, it's instructive:

Gigabyte G-Power 2 Pro vs Competitors w/ Nexus 120 fan (°C Rise)
Fan Noise
G-Power 2 Pro
25 dBA
18
-
-
-
-
22 dBA
-
21
16
14
15
20 dBA
23
26
20
16
17
<19 dBA
31
29
24
17
21

The cooling performance of the Gigabyte at 25 dBA noise level is bested by three of the four competitors at just 20 dBA. At the 20 dBA level, the G-Power 2 Pro can only pass the SI-128; all the others provide better performance. Below that noise level, it comes in last place.

NOISE RECORDINGS IN MP3 FORMAT

Perhaps we're being hyper-sensitive about the noise of the Gigabyte G-Power 2 Pro. Listen and decide for yourself.

  • Gigabyte G-Power 2 Pro: 5V-7V-9V-12V, 5s Ambient between levels: One Meter
    Note: For best results, adjust your volume control so that the ambient noise at the start of the recording is just barely audible, then leave the volume control alone while you listen to any comparatives.

Comparatives:

  • Reference Nexus 120mm fan : 5V-7V-9V-12V, 5s Ambient between levels: One Meter, One Foot
  • Scythe Infinity: 5V-7V-9V-12V, 5s Ambient between levels: One Meter, One Foot
  • Zalman CNPS8700 LED: 5V-7V-9V-12V, 5s Ambient between levels: One Meter
  • Scythe Mine w/ stock fan: 5V-7V-9V-12V, 5s Ambient between levels: One Meter, One Foot
  • Thermaltake Big Typhoon: 5V-7V-9V-12V, 5s Ambient between levels: One Meter, One Foot
HOW TO LISTEN & COMPARE

These recordings were made with a high resolution, studio quality, digital recording system and are intended to represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review. Two recordings of each noise level were made, one from a distance of one meter, and another from one foot away.

The one meter recording is intended to give you an idea of how the subject of this review sound in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. For best results, adjust your volume control so that the ambient noise at the start of the recording is just barely audible. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The one foot recording is designed to bring out the fine details of the noise. Use this recording with caution! Although more detailed, it may not represent how the subject sounds in actual use. It is best to listen to this recording after you have listened to the one meter recording.

More details about how we make these recordings can be found in our short article: Audio Recording Methods Revised.



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