So, as explained we'll look at the coolers in several system configurations. For the HTPC targeted coolers your focus should be noise levels mostly. Then there is your normal non-overclocked mainstream usage and then the performance enthusiast overclocking users. So with that in mind we'll be testing four things for each cooler.
dBA noise pressure levels
Temperature with the CPU at default settings
Temperature with the CPU at 4600 MHz with 1.2 Volts applied to the CPU
Temperature with the CPU at 4600 MHz with 1.3 Volts applied to the CPU
Bear in mind all tests have been performed at a room temperature of roughly 21 Degrees C.
Now I decided to go with the Core i7 3770K as it literally is the hottest processor your money can get you. You guys all know that once overclocked with added voltage, the temperatures get out of control big-time.
Prior to testing though I've been battling the question of whether or not to actually use a Core i7 3770K. The Ivy Bridge processors all have poor heat transfer from the silicon die to the IHS. The fact remains that Ivy Bridge is what people buy -- and as such you want to know how these coolers perform on it. We could use a Core i7 2600K instead, but these already are EOL. We could also use a 1000 EUR 6-core Core i7 3960X processor but again... how many people do actually buy these processors?
The vast majority of our readers will purchase the Core i7 37x0 or Core i5 35x0 series -- so this is what most of our readers are really interested in hence we took the top tier 4-core SKU -- it's just that Intel made things very complicated with their poor heat transfer design.
Our BIOS settings (ASUS TUF Sabertooth Z77):
So we'll be testing that processor at default clock frequencies, and then overclocked to 4600 MHz with 1.20 Volts, then we'll blast the processor with 1.30 Volts like shown above.
That voltage is not really needed for 4600 MHz but will typically bring the processor with a non-performance heatpipe cooler towards 90 Degrees C (!). We are merely trying to see how the cooler will behave under such stringent conditions. All temperatures reported are the processor package sensor temps. The cores will independently differ a little in Degrees C here and there. We measure at an ambient room temperature of 21 Degrees C.
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