|Vendetta 2 vs TRUE vs HDT-S1283|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 09 June 2008|
Page 8 of 10
Test Results: Low-Output Fan
When it comes to personal computers, you could probably divide users into two groups for almost any topic. In regards to fan noise, there are those of us who want it quiet while other will tolerate an eardrum-ringing whine. Since noise is a problem, and not a solution, I believe that most enthusiasts want as much performance as they can get while sacrificing as little serenity as possible. That's what this test section is all about.
While the name of this section revolves around "low-output", the term is relative to the person using it. Benchmark Reviews feels that Noctua does an excellent job of producing some of the very best low-noise fans which still manage decent airflow. In our low-output tests we have used the Noctua NF-P12 120mm cooling fan for all coolers, which creates 54 CFM at a lightly-audible 20 dbA.
Benchmark Reviews is still a rather new website, even though we have just proudly completed our first year on the web. So in the spirit of improving on the old ways of testing, we have decided it was time for the industry to see things from a new perspective:
Like we mentioned at the beginning of this article, the CPU cooler must perform for itself before a fan can improve upon it. The concept behind this is that coolers are isolated and more fairly compared. Now obviously this will have an impact on our results, which will not match the results of other websites using the factory included fan for their tests.
When I tested each cooler, I made certain to keep the hardware settings identical across the test platform. This would enable me to clearly compare the performance of each product under identical conditions. While the ambient room temperature did fluctuate between 20~21°C, this would not be enough to cause a noticeable impact on our test results (since thermal difference scores were used).
Our testing begins with a horizontally positioned system, similar to a HTPC or rack mount server unit. Some may think that a difference doesn't exist between the horizontal and vertical orientations and that the cooler will perform the same no matter what, but we were a little surprised by the new benchmark results. With a moderately low-output fan attached to each cooler, there were seven test samples taken within our ambient temperature range. In the charts below each cooler displays a thermal difference, which is the difference between the ambient room temperature and the recorded temperature of the processor cores.
For HTPC builders using full-height enclosures, you want to consider the OCZ Vendetta 2 (OCZVEND2). which narrowly seated itself atop the competition for our low-output fan horizontal position tests. The Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme comes in at nearly the same performance, followed by the Xigmatek HDT-S1283.
Now obviously these results are extremely close, which means that ultimately they will all perform roughly the same in most environments. That being said, it comes down to price, and perhaps application compatibility. The Kingwin RVT-12025 is a poor-mans HDT-S1283 since it costs $31.99 compared to $36.99, and they are identical in unit construction (but Kingwin includes a lower-volume silent fan).
During our testing for the Best CPU Cooler Performance - Q1 2008 article, nearly every cooler that used a "U" shaped heat pipe rod in their design did better in the vertical (standard upright tower) position. There seemed to be one dissident though, because the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme acted exactly opposite and performed better in every horizontal test we conducted.
For every other cooler, having the unit positioned with the rods running horizontally proved to offer a cooling benefit. This was especially true for the Xigmatek HDT-S1283 and OCZ Vendetta 2, which had the most significant drop in temperature out of the bunch. This goes to show you that heat-pipes are in fact prone to suffer the effects of gravity in their design. Once the vapor cools and becomes liquid, it seems to have an easier time completing the thermal circuit from side to side than it does from top to bottom. So let's see how these coolers performed with the stress of gravity removed from them:
The vertical test results are going to be the most relevant to enthusiasts and overclockers, since upright tower computer cases are almost always used to build their systems, In the second half of our low-out fan benchmark testing, the OCZ Vendetta 2 proved itself worthy of the Golden Tachometer Award it received a few months back. If you're not interested in wearing hearing protection around your computer, then the OCZ Vendetta 2 is a sure winner for the sub-$50. Not far behind was the trusty Xigmatek HDT-S1283, which could also find itself a nice home for anyone tight on cash but long on overclocking ambition. The Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme did not like the vertical (upright tower) position, and liked the low-output Noctua fan even less, yet still did considerably well for such a tightly packed finsink array.
In summary, if you're building a system that places an emphasis on low sound levels, you'll want to pick your cooler carefully. OCZ's Vendetta 2 is an excellent choice for either HTPC or tower builds, with the Xigmatek HDT-S1283 coming in right behind it. For under $50 USD, you can either keep with the stock fans and see similar results, or you can dig a little deeper and force-feed the cool air with a nice Yate Loon fan (like we used for our next section). The Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme performed very well, and kept in-step with the best of the best, but at $60 or more for the cooler alone, you will spend at least another $10-$20 on a fan. Even still, that fan is probably not going to be a low-output fan like we used here, because the dense fin array practically demands higher-output solutions.