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UPDATED TEST METHODOLOGY
Current Test Platform
Measurement and Analysis Tools
- ATI Tool
as a tool for stressing the GPU and to show GPU temperature
version 4.33 to show CPU temperature
Power Angel AC power meter, used to measure the power consumption
of the system
- A custom-built variable fan speed controller to power the system
- Bruel & Kjaer (B&K) model 2203 Sound Level Meter. Used to
accurately measure SPL (sound pressure level) down to 20 dBA and below.
Our test card: a Radeon X1950XTX.
As before, high end video card heatsinks will be installed on a Radeon X1950XTX
a high-powered video card that features a thermal sensor built into the GPU
core. The accuracy of the sensor is unknown. The video memory heatsink will
usually be left on unless it interferes with the VGA cooler in some way.
Our test procedure has been altered slightly. Instead of stressing the
GPU with only ATI Tool's artifact scanner (which we did just once during the
Zalman VF1000 LED review), we have decided to go back to using both GPU and
CPU stress software simultaneously. While GPU temperatures will be lower,
it is nevertheless, a test that more accurately mimics the stress
produced by a modern video game, which demands a lot of the entire system
not just the GPU.
Our main test consists of ATI Tool's artifact scanner running in conjunction
with CPUBurn to stress both the graphics card and processor simultaneously.
The software is left running until the GPU temperature stabilizes for at least
10 minutes at which point, both the GPU and CPU temperatures are recorded.
addition we also take measurements of the system's overall noise level
and power consumption. If the heatsink has a fan, the procedure will be repeated at various
fan speeds while the system fan is left at the lowest setting of 7V. If it is
a passive cooler, the system fan instead is varied to study the effect of system
airflow on the heatsink's performance. If artifacts are detected in ATI Tool
or other instability is noted, the heatsink is deemed inadequate to cool the
video card in our test system.
Preliminary testing is done at idle, and also with only CPUBurn running
for comparison. For idle results, the system will be left alone for 10 minutes
before ATI Tool is loaded and the first temperature it reports used.
We will do this because on our test platform, after ATI Tool is loaded, it puts
some kind of stress on the GPU, causing the temperature to climb immediately
(even if it is left idle for hours beforehand) and the power consumption to
increase by approximately 10W. We theorize that initially the card is in 2D
mode, either underclocked or undervolted (or possibly both) and that ATI Tool
automatically puts it in 3D mode, which would account for the rise in temperature
and power draw. ATI Tool will be left running in the background for the remainder
of testing which is why the GPU temperature during CPUBurn will appear higher
compared to idle. Consider this the difference between 2D idle and 3D idle.
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