Heatsink Roundup Q4 2005 Holiday Edition

Cooling/CPU Cooling by jmke @ 2005-12-24

We are proud to present you with our last heatsink roundup of 2005. Featuring the latest offerings from Arctic, Scythe, Silverstone, Sharkoon and newcomer Noctua. We compare them to the best out there in 3 different test setups.

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Introducion & Test Setup


As we near the end of the year I’m happy to present you with my latest roundup of Athlon 64 heatsinks.

Madshrimps (c)

What I have in store for you:

  • Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro *
  • Noctua NH-U 12 *
  • Noctua NH-U 9 *
  • Sharkoon Red Shock *
  • Silverstone NT02 *
  • Scythe Samurai Z *

  • And from our previous HSF reviews at Madshrimps I have included these for reference and comparison:

  • AMD Stock Cooling (from 3200+)
  • Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 – very good price/performance unit
  • Scythe Shogun – top performance at low noise
  • Thermalright XP-120 – all time favorite of many
  • Zalman CNPS9500CU – latest in Zalman’s popular CNPS series

    If you want to know more about the heatsinks mentioned in the list above please visit our previous roundups:

  • AMD A64 Heatsink roundup Summer 2005
  • AMD A64 Heatsink roundup Q2 2005
  • Intel P4 Heatsink Roundup Q1 2005
  • Intel P4 Heatsink Roundup Q4 2004

    This year’s last roundup took several weeks and many hours to complete; the main reason for this is because I decided to test the heatsinks in a case as compared to my earlier roundups where I just let the motherboard sit on top of a cardboard box.

    Test Setups and Methodology

    JMke's Test Setup
    CPU A64 3200+
    Mainboard DFI NF3 Lanparty
    Memory 1 * 256Mb PC3700 OCZ
  • ATI R9000 Passive Cooling
  • Chaintech FX5900XT with Arctic Cooling Silencer
  • Silverstone EFN-300 300W Passive Cooled PSU
  • Antec SmartBlue SL350P 350W Active Cooled PSU
  • Maxtor 120GB IDE HDD

  • in-take temperature was measured at 22°C for all tests, but temp fluctuations, different mounting and user error can account up to 1-2°C of inaccuracy in the obtained results. Please keep this in mind when looking at the results. Each heatsink was tested repeatedly; if we got questionable results the test was restarted.
  • Noise level of each HSF combo was recorded with SmartSensor SL4001A, the sensor was placed ~50cm away from the case. The lowest dBA reading in the test room was 32.5dBA with everything turned off!
  • System was stressed by running K7 CPU Burn for 30min (after Thermal Compound’s burn-in); this application pushes the temperature higher then any other application or game we’ve yet encountered. Speedfan was used to log maximum obtained temperatures.
  • Arctic Silver kindly send us their “Lumière” thermal testing compound which has the same colour as Ceramique, but only a break in time of 30min!
  • Arctic Silver’s ArctiClean was used to clean off thermal paste of the CPU and heatsink between tests

    Fans used for comparison

  • Delta NFB0912L 92mm: 42CFM
  • Vantec Tornado 92mm: 119CFM
  • Papst 120mm 4412 F/2GLL: 40CFM
  • Titan 120mm: 115CFM

    The Case

    In the past I always worked in a case-less setup, which allowed easy installation and removal of the heatsinks, the results obtained were valid when compared between the different heatsinks included in that particular roundup. However with the introduction of different Tower-like heatsinks the orientation of these heatsinks inside a case has been giving them a noticeable advantage over the conventional “fan blowing down onto the heatsink/motherboard” design.

    So for this roundup I decided to use a case, not just a randomly selected one though, it has to have room for rear 120mm fan, as this offers the best cooling/noise balance. With the industry’s continuing obsession for silence the Antec Sonata II will make a perfect host for my test setup. It comes with 120mm rear fan which you can run at 5/7/12v by use of a small switch.

    Since I’m only using an Athlon 3200+ for my tests, it would be interesting to overclock the CPU so its maximum heat output increases and it can simulate a higher clocked Athlon 64. At default it’s rated at 89W, increasing clock speed to 2400Mhz with 1.7v vcore it’s putting out ~125W according to this little calculator. In my days of Athlon XP HSF testing an increase of 0.1v vcore would result in 4-6°C higher CPU temps, so without much surprise the temperature results here with the 1.7v Athlon 64 were much higher.

    To cater to overclockers as well as people who prefer silence I decided to test with 2 different power supplies.

    1) Actively cooled Antec SmartBlue SL350P 350W which features 1x80mm outtake and 1x92mm intake.
    2) Passively cooled Silverstone EFN-300 which can run quite hot

    Noise was recorded approx. 50cm away from the case at an angle, here’s a (very bad) drawing of how the dBA meter was position opposite the case and the test-room.

    Madshrimps (c)
    Green box = Sonata II – White Dot = dBA meter

    3 different test scenarios were configured as such:

  • Test Setup 1: Overclocked and Silent

    Madshrimps (c)

    - Antec Sonata II + Silverstone Passive PSU
    - AcoustiFan DustPROOF 120mm @ 5v in the rear as outtake (mounted with Acousti Fan Gasket)
    - Athlon 64 3200+ @ 2400 – 1.7v vcore
    - nVidia TNT2 Passive cooled video card
    - Noise produced with system running without HSF fan: 34dBA @ 50cm

  • Test Setup 2: Overclocked and Noisy

    Madshrimps (c)

    - Antec Sonata II + Antec SmartBlue PSU
    - AcoustiFan DustPROOF 120mm @ 7.5v in the rear as outtake (mounted with Acousti Fan Gasket)
    - Antec Sonata II’s 120mm fan in front @ 7v (mounted with Acousti Fan-Mounts)
    - Athlon 64 3200+ @ 2400 – 1.7v vcore
    - Chaintech FX5900XT with Arctic Cooling Silencer
    - Noise produced with system running without HSF fan: 50dBA @ 50cm

  • Test Setup 3: Not Overclocked and Noisy
    - Antec Sonata II + Antec SmartBlue PSU
    - AcoustiFan DustPROOF 120mm @ 7.5v in the rear as outtake (mounted with Acousti Fan Gasket)
    - Antec Sonata II’s 120mm fan in front @ 7v (mounted with Acousti Fan-Mounts)
    - Athlon 64 3200+ @ 2200 – 1.5v vcore
    - Chaintech FX5900XT with Arctic Cooling Silencer
    - Noise produced with system running without HSF fan: 50dBA @ 50cm

    50dBA with active PSU, video card and more case cooling is quite loud, the main culprit is the Antec Smartblue power supply which ramps up its output 80mm fan when the case temperature goes up.

    What was measured?

  • The CPU temperature was measured with SpeedFan and highest value recorded
  • Temperature of air coming into to the case at the front
  • PWM temperature through SpeedFan, this represent the area around the CPU socket, the power management caps which you see on a motherboard, they are there to make sure the power which is fed into the motherboard coming from the PSU is filtered and delivered the CPU and other components. Too high temperature will cause Vcore fluctuations which in turn causes system instability.
  • The VGA temperature (only measured in Test #2 & #3 with FX5900XT onboard probe)

    Let's get started with our first new contestant ->
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