JMke's Test Setup
|CPU ||Opteron 144 @ 2.25Ghz|
|Cooling ||Scythe Mine with stock fan @ 12v|
|Mainboard ||Asus A8N SLI Premium|
|Memory ||2 * 512Mb PC3200 OCZ|
|Other ||Sapphire X800GTO2|
GlobalWin 520W Silent PSU
Maxtor 200GB IDE HDD
The system was installed inside an Antec Lanboy
, a mid-sized tower case made of aluminum, by default it doesn’t come with case fans, but supports 2x80mm (1*font/1*rear) – I placed a very silent Sharkoon Silent Eagle 1000
in the rear running at 12v and a Silent Eagle 2000 in the front.
I placed a dBA (AR824
) meter next to the closed side panel at approximately 10cm; without the system powered on the ambient noise in the test room measured ~37dBA . When the system is powered on without a VGA fan running the noise increased to ~39dBA.
I placed a thermal sensor at the in-take of the case measuring the temperature of the air that’s being pulled into the case, with the case closed the ambient temperature inside the case easily surpassed 30°C with in-take temperature at 27°C. The closed environment leads to higher temperatures for all coolers, testing them inside a case gives real-world results which will differ quite a bit from those tests done outside a case.Test Methodologyin-take temperature was measured at 27°C for all tests, but temp fluctuations, different mounting and user error can account up to 1-3°C of inaccuracy in the obtained results. Please keep this in mind when looking at the results. Each heatsink was tested repeatedly; if I got questionable results the test was restarted.
The VGA card was stressed by running Real-Time HDR continuously until temperatures.
Arctic Silver kindly send us their “Lumière” thermal testing compound which has the same color as Ceramique, but only a break in time of 30min!
Arctic Silver’s ArctiClean was used to clean off thermal paste between tests.
The X800GTO2 was tested at two different GPU/MEM speeds: 400/490Mhz and 500/550Mhz.
The fan speed was regulated differently depending on the VGA cooler:
- The stock cooling’s fan, I set it to 25% , 50% and 100% through ATI Tray Tools.
- The Zalman models use 3-pin fan connectors and I used a 3-speed Acousti fan speed regulator which sets voltage to 12v, ~7v and 5v.
- The Tide Water comes with its own fan speed selector and the unit was tested at High/Low speed.
I compared the Tide Water to the stock Sapphire X800GTO2 cooling and Zalman’s VF900Cu.
Results at stock speeds
The first test is at stock X800GTO2 speeds with only 1x80mm case fan in the rear (@1000rpm).
The stock cooling is unable to keep the temperatures down once you decrease the fan speed, topping out at 80°C the stock cooling does keep remain quite silent. The VF900 at 12v is about as noise as the stock cooling at 50% but the VF900 drops temperatures by an impressive ~13°C. The Tide Water delivers equal impressive performance at high fan speed but it’s also the noisiest at this setting.
At low speed the Tide Water lands between the stock cooling (100%) and the VF900 (5v), both temperature as noise wise.
Let’s add more case cooling, activating the 2000rpm 80mm in the front increases airflow quite a bit, but the noise level also increases noticeably.
Temperatures are decreased on all configurations between 2~5°C. The VF900Cu benefits the most from the extra airflow, having now a small lead on the Tide Water.
Results at overclocked speeds
Water Cooling is known to be able to remove heat more efficiently, so increasing the heat output might change the performance balance, let’s find out. First test again with only 1x80mm fan.
Temperature increases quite evenly among the contestants 3-4°C.
The VF900Cu loves fresh airflow as it takes a nice lead over the Tide Water. So gathering from these temperature results it would seem the Tide Water offers a better performance/noise ratio than the stock cooling, but falls behind the cheaper VF900Cu.
But temperature numbers don’t tell everything, or do they? Let’s find out by doing some further overclocking tests ->