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Test Setup And Acoustic Measurements

Is It Worth Upgrading Your Stock CPU Cooler?
By
System Hardware
Hardware
Details
CPU
Intel Core i7-920 (45 nm, 2.66 GHz, 8 MB L2 Cache)
Motherboard (Socket 1366)
MSI X58 Pro-E
Revision: 1.1, Chipset: Intel X58 + ICH10R, BIOS: 8.3
RAM
3 x 2 GB DDR3-1600 Corsair TR3X5G1600C8D
System Drive
Intel X25-E 64 GB SSD
Graphics
Zotac Geforce GTX 260²
GPU: Geforce GTX 260 (576 MHz), Graphics RAM: 896 MB DDR3 (1998 MHz)
Stream Processors: 216
Shader Clock: 1242 MHz
Power Supply
OCZ EliteXstream 800W
OCZ800EXS-EU
Benchmarks
Performance Measurements
Prime95 v25.5
Core Temp 0.99.5
System Software and Drivers
Driver
Details
Operating System
Windows Vista Ultimate SP1
Intel Chipset Drivers
Chipset Installation Utility 9.1.0.1007
Intel Storage Drivers
Matrix Storage Drivers 8.7.0.1007


Results: Noise Level

We measured the sound level at a distance of 6” (15 cm) on the right side of the cooler, which is why we might be measuring noise closer to the fan than Zalman did when it specified 20-39 dB(A). The noise difference isn’t really significant when the processor is idle, as in that state both coolers are powerful enough to keep temperature under control. For this reason, the fans would not have to spin at high speeds and hence the overall result is quiet operation.

Things are different at full processor load. While the Zalman cooler is efficient enough to spin at slow rotation speeds (even though the Core i7-920 runs at peak load at 2.66 GHz), Intel’s boxed cooler becomes noisy as it rises from 39.7 to 46.2 dB(A), and it gets even noisier when cooling the same processor running 3.7 GHz.

Zalman’s CNPS 10X would make more noise than the Intel retail cooler at its medium or high fan speed settings, but it is capable of significantly more effective temperature reduction. Check out the next page for the temperature results.

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