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Cooling problem with Xigmatech Dark Knight and Core i7 920

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November 24, 2009 10:59:59 PM

Alright, here is my dilemma:

Case: CoolerMaster HAF 932
CPU: Core i7 920, D0 stepping
Mobo: Asus P6T Deluxe V2
RAM: Triple Channel Corsair Dominator 6GB 1600 MHz
PSU: Corsair 850 Watt Modular

I'm using realtemp to get the temps. of my CPU cores, and when my system is idling at stock speeds with the overclocking settings in my BIOS all set to auto with Speed Step and all those other features enabled, I'm sitting at 40 C average about 15 hours into the AS5 curing process. What puzzles me is that when I run Prime95 with these settings, my temps. shoot all the way up to 90 C. At stock speeds!!

Now, I've since learned that 40 C idle isn't that great to begin with, but why the 50 degree jump at load? I've routed all my cables about as perfectly as they can be and I'm feeling cool air being blown out the top and back of my case, so air flow doesn't seem to be the issue here.

When I applied the AS5 to the CPU, I thought I did a pretty good job with it. After I was finished removing layers of it, I could clearly see the CPU's IHS through the AS5 layer, so I don't think that was the issue at all. Now, when I tried to fill the valleys between the heat pipes and the aluminum alloy on the heat sink, I did struggle a bit with that, and didn't QUITE get ALL the valleys completely filled. I might have missed a small portion of 1 or 2 of them, but I generally thought I did a decent job with that as well. I did end up with some excess on the heat sink base of the AS5, but I ran a credit card along it like 25 or 30 times to try and get rid of as much of it as I could, and I ended up with about the same coat as on my CPU (heat sink base was pretty plainly visible through the AS5).

Now, I understand that I probably didn't do the absolutely greatest job with the AS5, but I thought it would be acceptable. I'm also unsure if I mounted the fan correctly as well. When I mounted it, I aligned it so the air would be blown into the heatsink, mounted on the second cooling fin from the top (as per the instruction manual), with the heatsink aligned with the motherboard such that the fan blows air through the heatsink and towards the back of the case towards the air exhaust fan.

Did I do something wrong? The only thing that I probably did a questionable job with is the actual mounting of the heatsink. I ended up moving the heatsink along the CPU's surface a couple times in my struggles to mount the damn thing into the back plate, however, since I didn't use the "line" method for applying the AS5, I didn't think this would be an issue. I thought I did an ok job of making sure the AS5 layer was as thin as possible. I can't see how I could get a 50 C increase in temps. at load. I wanted to ask here before I tried re-applying the AS5 or something like that in case the issue was something other than that.

And lastly, I'm teetering on the edge of coughing up some extra money and getting the Prolimatech Megahalems. I do want to overclock this thing to at least 3.8 GHz, and I've done some research and found that the Xigmatech Dark Knight will hit about 70-75C at load with maxed overclocked settings, with the Megahalems well ahead of it in performance. I'd like to know some opinions of this as well. My Dark Knight fits into this case (just barely clears the side fan by about an inch or so), and I found out the Megahalems is SLIGHTLY shorter, so this seems ideal for me.

I should also note that I've done no lapping on the heatsink or CPU. I shone a light through the CPU placed on top of the heatsink, and barely any light shone through, so I didn't feel lapping was necessary. Also, for what it's worth, my motherboard is automatically handling ALL voltage and clock speed settings. Any help would be MUCH appreciated!
November 25, 2009 4:46:41 AM

Alright, I reseated the heat sink and now I'm idling at 31 C except for core 3, which is idling at 35. I'm kinda wondering if these are still too high. Any help is appreciated.

EDIT: And I am now running Prime95 blend test, temps are hovering between 65-70 at stock clocks for all cores. Going to keep it on overnight and check status tomorrow.
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November 25, 2009 5:52:01 AM

It is recommended to use Small FFTs when stress testing a CPU. Blend is used more for testing the RAM than CPU. Small FFTs really stress the CPU.
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November 25, 2009 6:46:51 AM

one-shot said:
It is recommended to use Small FFTs when stress testing a CPU. Blend is used more for testing the RAM than CPU. Small FFTs really stress the CPU.


Hmm, ok. Well, the temps maxed out at 81, 79, 77 and 75 up to this point using the blend test at stock speeds and all BIOS settings on auto. Still a little too hot for me. I think I'm just going to get the Megahalems. I've read other posts around other forums where people are saying the Dark Knight simply isn't that great for the Core i7 920, especially if you want to overclock.
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November 25, 2009 11:22:34 AM

Well, the system either locked up or went into hibernation or something at 4:41 AM. I got a results file that says every test passed. Whatever. For all the hype the Dark Knight gets, I'm not exactly too impressed with it considering I can get the Megahalems for almost the same price. When I reseated the heat sink, I used the two line measuring half the CPU's length method, and I think I mounted as well as I possibly could have. Not sure much more can be done here.
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November 25, 2009 3:14:50 PM

I have a similar cooler, but I have the retention bracket. It worked well in the summer with the AC on, but now under load my temps go up to around 80C on full load. I have lots of air flowing through my case so my last option is to go full out on water cooling my CPU.
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November 25, 2009 3:23:41 PM

one-shot said:
I have a similar cooler, but I have the retention bracket. It worked well in the summer with the AC on, but now under load my temps go up to around 80C on full load. I have lots of air flowing through my case so my last option is to go full out on water cooling my CPU.


I just bought the Megahalems, so everything here is pretty much redundant. I'm very disappointed with the performance of the Dark Knight to be honest. I'm sure it's a good product for the lower end quad cores and most/all dual cores, but it just can't seem to handle the i7 very well.
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November 25, 2009 6:17:25 PM

My Dark Knight works great... 34C idle and 68C load, at 3.8 GHz with Prime95/small FFTs.

From what I can tell the Megahalems is about $35 more expensive and might only drop your temps by a couple of degrees, which isn't too bad... the reviews here on Tom's rated the Dark Knight pretty highly, which is why I got it.

It'll be interesting to hear how much better the Mega does for you... if it's a lot, I would think that would have more to do with re-seating your cooler properly than it does with the Mega being that much better than the Dark Knight, IMHO.
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November 25, 2009 8:35:24 PM

ruffhouseutah said:
My Dark Knight works great... 34C idle and 68C load, at 3.8 GHz with Prime95/small FFTs.

From what I can tell the Megahalems is about $35 more expensive and might only drop your temps by a couple of degrees, which isn't too bad... the reviews here on Tom's rated the Dark Knight pretty highly, which is why I got it.

It'll be interesting to hear how much better the Mega does for you... if it's a lot, I would think that would have more to do with re-seating your cooler properly than it does with the Mega being that much better than the Dark Knight, IMHO.


You just may be right. When I reseated the Dark Knight, I used the two line method for applying the AS5, and applied as even amount of mounting pressure as I possibly could. I thought I did a much better job than the first time, and it did improve things for me by about 25%. However, the temps. are still quite a bit higher than I'd like. Approaching 80 C at load at stock settings is pretty terrible IMO.

I'll update this again once I get the Megahalems installed. I just hope that the problem doesn't end up being a dud CPU for me or something, which I don't think it is. Maybe I'm just terrible at mounting heatsinks..
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November 29, 2009 2:16:17 PM

I'm using the Dark Knight and I get 30C idle and max 59-60 C under load. I did the line method with AS5. Make sure you put the line in the right direction since I missed that little part about i7 the first time.
And you might need to lower your voltages a bit as even on auto or default settings, they can sometimes be much higher than you need. Also, try adding better case fans if the temps aren't what it should be.
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November 29, 2009 7:41:27 PM

I might have tried the above what you guys said, but I have already bought the Megahalems. I will, however, take this advice into account when I install that one. I hope I get better results. As for the voltages, for what it's worth, I overclocked to 3.8 GHz at 1.28 CPU volts and approximately 1800 DRAM frequency, 1.66 DRAM voltage and leaving everything else on auto. I idled at around 45 I believe, and it went up to 90 immediately upon starting Prime95. I think I might have messed up removing the thermal paste off the CPU cooler - when I was removing it, I was using Q-tips and I was applying quite a bit of pressure on the cooler as I was doing so because I noticed a ton of excess paste. I think I ended up removing the layer of black nickel finish off the surface of the cooler. I'm not sure if that would have affected anything or not.
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a b K Overclocking
November 29, 2009 8:45:38 PM

^To clean the HSF use some cotton balls and 90%(or better) Alcohol.
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November 29, 2009 9:00:47 PM

Shadow703793 said:
^To clean the HSF use some cotton balls and 90%(or better) Alcohol.


I used 70% alcohol.

Anyways, as I said, the Megahalems is already on it's way, so if you really want to help me out, if you have any suggestions for installing that on my CPU, that would be great. I'll save the Dark Knight for use in a later PC perhaps. I also bought the Arctic Cleaner kit along with the Megahalems, so we'll see how that performs as well.
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November 29, 2009 9:32:07 PM

I am in your exact same boat. I currently own a Xigmatek Dark Knight which was bought because of the rave reviews her on Tom's. I'm not very excited about the performance after 3 reseats. I just bought the Megahalems today in fact. What fan do you plan on using? The fan that came with the Dark Knight is just OK. I was able to find 2x San Aces H1011 for my new Megahalems. I'm interested in hearing how your performance changes. I'll let you know how mine goes too.
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November 29, 2009 9:39:58 PM

jrhilsch said:
I am in your exact same boat. I currently own a Xigmatek Dark Knight which was bought because of the rave reviews her on Tom's. I'm not very excited about the performance after 3 reseats. I just bought the Megahalems today in fact. What fan do you plan on using? The fan that came with the Dark Knight is just OK. I was able to find 2x San Aces H1011 for my new Megahalems. I'm interested in hearing how your performance changes. I'll let you know how mine goes too.


Yeah, I've heard that the Dark Knight generally performs very well with most people, but a few seem to have serious issues with it. I'm not too surprised, it's an older cooler IIRC.

I ended up buying 2 120mm Yate Loons for push/pull setup. I realize there are better fans out there, but for 7 bucks on FrozenCPU, you absolutely can't go wrong. Plus, it was recommended on one cooler review website's Q3 2009 best coolers review.

One thing I WILL do this time that I didn't do with the Dark Knight is clean the cooler's heatsink to remove any residue from the plastic cover before I install it. As far as the thermal paste application, I'm really not sure what I'm going to do about that at this point.
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November 29, 2009 10:09:18 PM

The Yate Loons are actually a great fan for a push pull setup on a Megahalems, they probably wouldn't have been my second choice. I'm hoping that the thermal paste application is easier on the Mega being that it has a flat base. I'm done with the HDT crap. It seems great in theory, but the TP application was a nightmare.

Which direction do you plan on mounting your push pull setup. Your case has a top fan, so a north-south setup would work. I'm in an Antec 902 which has a top fan also. I'm not sure which direction I will go.
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November 29, 2009 10:19:05 PM

jrhilsch said:
The Yate Loons are actually a great fan for a push pull setup on a Megahalems, they probably wouldn't have been my second choice. I'm hoping that the thermal paste application is easier on the Mega being that it has a flat base. I'm done with the HDT crap. It seems great in theory, but the TP application was a nightmare.

Which direction do you plan on mounting your push pull setup. Your case has a top fan, so a north-south setup would work. I'm in an Antec 902 which has a top fan also. I'm not sure which direction I will go.


Yeah, filling the channels created by the heat pipes being used as the mounting base was tricky for me as well. I never did completely fill them. And honestly, as long as the base is copper, I seriously doubt that heat transfer would be significantly improved by the heat pipes directly touching the processor IHS. I may be wrong about that, though.

I was thinking of having the fans blow towards the back of the case. Reason being that the fans will cover more of the heat dissipation fins that way, because in a north-south setup, the air not only has a longer path to travel through the fins, but it also has to cross the boundary between the two fin stacks, AND the air will be blowing on less surface area. I don't know if my reasoning is sound, but that's why I'm going to push the air out the back of the case. My only concern is that the pushing fan will be close to the RAM modules, which have pretty heavy duty heat sinks on them it seems (Corsair Dominators). Wondering if that fan will be blowing some of the hot air generated by the heat sinks in that setup. I don't think it should matter too much, though, since the other way, it'll just be taking hot air off of the chipset cooling pipes instead.
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December 2, 2009 1:46:03 AM

My xiggy dark knight works great with my 920. Its clocked @ 3.6Ghz and idles low 40s and loads (prime95 for 12hours) high 60s.
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December 2, 2009 1:53:52 AM

peanutpc said:
My xiggy dark knight works great with my 920. Its clocked @ 3.6Ghz and idles low 40s and loads (prime95 for 12hours) high 60s.


Yeah, I've gotten many people telling me things like that, haha. Like I said, I've already bought the Megahalems, and we'll see how it'll run.
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December 2, 2009 8:33:38 PM

Alright, I've just installed my Megahalems with 2 Yate Loons in push/pull, and I didn't see a huge difference in my idling temps. However, when I ran Prime95 with small FTTs, at stock settings, my temps. are considerably lower. Max 56/55/55/52. MUCH better than the Dark Knight, which was approaching 80 at stock. I'm not exactly sure what the problem was, but this is working a hell of a lot better.
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December 2, 2009 11:25:21 PM

Alright, I've overclocked to 3.6 GHz (3.8 just had no real use for me), and I'm sitting at MAX 67 C (3.8 GHz was hitting 75+, so the 10 degree lower temps is certainly worth losing 200 MHz clock), at 1.3 V CPU, 1.3 V QPI, and 1.66 V Dram. I've definitely found my cooler, now we'll see if this is stable.
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a c 86 K Overclocking
December 3, 2009 1:47:50 AM

Great! It might just be your chip. Some are better than others. Ambients are rarely discussed here or is case airflow. So if your happy then your good.

I understand about overclocks and dropping them. If you do the math 3.8 vs 3.6 is small and the FPS diff in a game or decoding a DVD are small.

It's a road your on, every ones road is diff.

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December 3, 2009 4:20:42 AM

Conumdrum said:
Great! It might just be your chip. Some are better than others. Ambients are rarely discussed here or is case airflow. So if your happy then your good.

I understand about overclocks and dropping them. If you do the math 3.8 vs 3.6 is small and the FPS diff in a game or decoding a DVD are small.

It's a road your on, every ones road is diff.


Yeah, I saw some benchmarks and found that 3.6 GHz is the absolute max you can go before the efficiency of overclocking further starts dropping dramatically. After that, it's all about the video card. I have a Radeon 4970 right now, which I'm going to upgrade sooner or later, but probably not any time soon. Either way, my cooling problem is over it seems. My only hope is that this thread can help someone else out there having similar problems.
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a c 86 K Overclocking
December 3, 2009 4:35:39 AM

It's always similar. This is Toms. You expect someone to read a thread before wanting a Best Buy salesman type to make the world all shiny?

It's Toms, but yea I know what you mean....................
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December 3, 2009 1:54:39 PM

Conumdrum said:
It's always similar. This is Toms. You expect someone to read a thread before wanting a Best Buy salesman type to make the world all shiny?

It's Toms, but yea I know what you mean....................


For whatever it's worth. I went here first when I first started having problems before anywhere else. :D 
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December 3, 2009 9:45:41 PM

8 hours of small FTTs with Prime95 @ 1.2 V CPU and 1.275 V QPI, OC'd to 3.6 GHz and no problems whatsoever so far. It's running at 60 celcius at load. The Megahalems really does live up to it's reputation, and my AS5 isn't even cured yet, not even close. Going to do a blend test afterwards and see how that goes.
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