The Definition Of Insanity
Four days into testing, I contacted Chris to let him know I was writing up our review of PowerColor’s LCS AXR9 290X. I also sent him a copy of the benchmark data, and that’s where the trouble began.
Cool all year long and isolated from noise, an underground shelter might sound like the perfect place for a benchmark lab. It's even better with a building on top of it, which absorbs some heat in the summer. And using one of the heating ducts from the top floor appeared to be a great plan as well. The only problem is that an unreasonably cold winter in Michigan leaves me unable to heat that large space above 15° C (59° F).
Similarly, 4000 W at the breaker should be plenty of power for my office. But that also doesn't leave a lot for a dedicated electric heater. And there's not enough ventilation for a portable gas heater, either. I was eventually able to isolate the work space enough to push it to a range from 18° to 19° C.
The card I originally planned to use for this comparison, AMD's press sample, happily ran at full speed through all of my benchmarks at those low temperatures (which shouldn't have come as a surprise, given its strong performance in Angelini's Bakersfield, CA lab). Chris suggested that I toss two days worth of work and start over with a retail sample.
Well, of course, my office space remained fairly frigid, so the retail sample ran just as fast. But I was on an open-air test bench, which we know doesn't reflect the thermals experienced by an enthusiast in the real world. Chris sent me a link to Igor’s article and suggested a closed case.
As air temperatures climbed into the 20s (Celsius) inside the case, I was comfortable knowing that my test results would at least be heat-affected enough to represent what most folks would see in a chassis with plenty of airflow. And if that doesn't reflect your real-world uses, we’ve seen a few extremely-quiet, well-ventilated alternatives.