Two Big Top-downers: Big Typhoon VX & Xigmatek HDT-D1264

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TESTING

Testing was done according to our unique heatsink testing methodology, and the reference fan was profiled using our standard fan testing methodology. A quick summary of the components, tools, and procedures follows below.

Key Components in Heatsink Test Platform:

  • Intel Pentium D 950 Presler core. TDP of 130W; under our test load, it measures 78W including efficiency losses in the VRMs.
  • ASUS P5LD2-VM motherboard. A basic microATX board with integrated graphics and plenty of room around the CPU socket.
  • Samsung MP0402H 40GB 2.5" notebook 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.

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 DC power supply, 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 4.32, used to monitor the on-chip thermal sensor. This sensor is not calibrated, so results are not universally applicable
  • CPUBurn P6, used to stress the CPU heavily, generating more heat than most real applications. 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.

Noise measurements were made with the fan 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 CPUBurn to stress the processor, and the graph function in SpeedFan was used to make sure that the load temperature was stable for at least ten minutes. The stock fan was tested at various voltages to represent a good cross-section of its airflow and noise performance.

The ambient conditions during testing were 19 dBA and 20°C.

TEST RESULTS

Thermaltake Big Typhoon VX

The VX's stock fan, made by Everflow, looks similar to the one used by the original Big Typhoon, of course it would since they are both painted orange. It pulls slightly less wattage yet spins significantly faster. Coincidentally, the original Hong Sheng fan's maximum speed of 1300 RPM is the Everflow's fan's rated minimum speed.


The VX stock fan.


Big Typhoon VX: Stock Fan Measurements
Fan Voltage
Fan Speed
SPL@1m
12V
~2110 RPM
40 dBA
9V
??
33 dBA
7V
??
26 dBA
6V
??
23 dBA
5V
??
~19 dBA

Measuring the stock fan's rotational speed proved difficult. For some unknown reason, our tachometer could not get a proper reading as the fan was spinning. As we use a variable DC fan controller to adjust the fan voltage, we could not attach the 3-pin header to a motherboard for a proper reading. If we did, we would not be able to control the voltage with any degree of accuracy. We tried to get around this by rewiring the RPM sensing wire to its own 3-pin plug, and tried it with two different motherboards, but neither could pick up the fan's actual speed. With the fan connected via 3-pin header on the motherboard, the strock fan speed controller could control it from 1500 (29 dBA) to 2110 RPM (40 dBA). We estimate the lower limit of the controller to be about 8V.

Big Typhoon VX with stock fan
Fan Voltage
Noise @1m
Temp
°C Rise
°C/W
12V
40 dBA
38°C
18
0.23
9V
33 dBA
39°C
19
0.24
7V
25 dBA
42°C
22
0.28
6V
23 dBA
48°C
28
0.36
5V
~19 dBA
50°C
30
0.38
Big Typhoon VX with reference fan
12V
22 dBA
41°C
21
0.27
9V
~19 dBA
44°C
24
0.31
7V
<19 dBA
51°C
31
0.40
5V
<19 dBA
60°C
40
0.51
Load Temp: CPUBurn for ~10 mins.
°C Rise: Temperature rise above ambient (20°C) at load.
°C/W: based on the amount of heat dissipated by the CPU (measured 78W); lower is better.

Fan @ 12V: The stock fan was producing an unbearable 40 dBA — it was just plain loud. Cooling was good, as one would expect, but couldn't match the performance of the better tower heatsinks, despite the high airflow and accompanying noise level.

Fan @ 9V: At 33 dBA, it was still far too loud for our liking. The higher airflow at 12V was masking a fair amount of buzzing, which became more noticeable at 9V. Performance was more or less the same — it's obvious the fan does not need to be anywhere near 2000 RPM.

Fan @ 7V: The fan was fairly smooth sounding, but there was some undesirable, underlying tonality. Still too loud for our liking. The CPU temperature raised an extra 3°C.

Fan @ 6V: There was a low-pitch buzz coming from the motor. The overall noise level is okay, but the type of noise is distracting. At this level the temperature finally increased a significant amount: 6°C.

Fan @ 5V: The overall acoustics remained the same, just at a lower level. At one foot it sounds similar to the fan at 6V from one meter away.

Our reference Nexus 120mm fan seemed to work much better, possibly due to higher static pressure. At 12V and only 22 dBA, it performed better than the stock fan at 7V and 25 dBA. That's the difference between annoying and just noticeable. But like the stock fan, performance suffered greatly at lower fan speeds. At 7V and below, °C Rise was greater than 30. At 5V, it was 40 — abysmal for a heatsink of the VX's size, weight, and price.

Big Typhoon VX vs. Big Typhoon
Stock Fan
Fan Voltage
Big Typhoon VX
Big Typhoon
SPL@1m
°C Rise
SPL@1m
°C Rise
12V
40 dBA
18
25 dBA
24
9V
33 dBA
19
21 dBA
27
7V
25 dBA
22
~19 dBA
32
5V
~19 dBA
30
<19 dBA
44
Reference Fan
12V
22 dBA
21
22 dBA
24
9V
~19 dBA
24
~19 dBA
27
7V
<19 dBA
31
<19 dBA
35
5V
<19 dBA
40
<19 dBA
45

Compared to the original Big Typhoon, the VX's fan gives it a broader range of airflow and SPL. When turned downed to more or less equivalent sound levels, the VX pulls ahead of its predecessor by a couple of degrees. The results when using the reference fan showed more improvement, suggesting the change in mounting system should take most of the credit.



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