In the BIOS you can do many things with the FAN connectors. Some coolers will be PWM controlled, others are set (by manufacturer) at a fixed RPM. We choose to apply a normal fan profile that most motherboard manufacturers set as default.
In-between 20 and 70 Degrees C we allow the fan or fans to have 50% as lowest fan RPM with a minimum of 600 RPM for low RPM fans. The upper threshold is 80% RPM up-to 70 Degrees C. Most motherboard manufacturers use this setting to find a good balance in-between performance and noise levels.
Once the processor passes 70 Degrees C it may utilize 100% fan RPM.
TIM (Thermal Insulation Material)
For all coolers we applied the very same thermal paste; a thin film layer of Arctic Cooling MX-4 Thermal compound. We could have used silver grade compound or very cheap compound. Fact remains that the more expensive solutions can shave off a few degrees in temperature, it is a known fact. Some manufacturers will deliver TIM with the cooler. It's expensive we know, but we do recommend good thermal paste. We opted for a more mainstream compound.
The CPU stresser
We test the coolers following a strict protocol. We have already shown you the BIOS settings for the overclock. To stress the CPU we apply the stress modes (default/OC 1.2V /OC 1.3V) and have our stress software, Prime95, finish a full run. If Prime95 returns an invalid result, the overclock failed. This did not happen. We did however have a security feature enabled, if a cooler reaches 98 Degrees C the system will power down to prevent it from damage.
Below, a couple of examples of our test runs. We note down the package temperature, the per core temps as such can differ here and there. For LOAD testing we note down the MAXIMUM measured temperature after a full Prime95 run.
Above, you can see one of the Scythe coolers under stress. In this example we use the default clock settings on the processor, thus non-overclocked.
Above, we just started a session for the Noctua NH-D14 which to date has to be one of the best CPU coolers invented. With the processor at 4600 MHz with 1.3 Volts and even in the third run we hit 70 Degrees C.
The Alpenfohn K2 is another example of an excellent cooling solution. Here we have the processor at 4600 MHz with 1.3 Volts. It is not as good as the Noctua, but not passing 80 Degrees C in this test is an acknowledgment all by itself. Less then a handfull of coolers can manage to stay under 80 Degrees C in this test.
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