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Written by Olin Coles   
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
ProlimaTech Armageddon CPU Cooler Heatsink
ProlimaTech Armageddon Heatsink
CPU-Cooler Preparations
Heatsink Test Methodology
Intel 980X: High-Output Fan
Enthusiast Fan Comparison
CPU Cooler Final Thoughts
Armageddon Heatsink Conclusion

Heatsink Test Methodology

Benchmark Reviews is obsessed with testing CPU coolers, as our Cooling Section has demonstrated over the past few years. We've solicited suggestions from the enthusiast community, and received guidance from some of the most technical overclockers on the planet. As a result, our testing methodology has changed with every new edition of our Best CPU Cooler Performance series. Because of this, each article is really its own stand-alone product, and cannot be fairly compared to the others. This particular article is a perfect example of that principle, since we're using a fresh methodology. Benchmark Reviews continues to test CPU coolers using the stock included fan (whenever applicable), and then replace it with a high-output fan for re-testing.

Manufacturers are not expected to enjoy this sort of comparison, since we level the playing field for all heatsinks by replacing their included fan with a common unit which is then used for every CPU cooler tested. Many manufacturers include fans with their heatsink products, but most 'stock' fans are high-RPM units that offer great airflow at the expense of obnoxiously loud noise levels. By using the same model of cooling fan throughout our heatsink tests, we can assure our results are comparable across the board. This is one of the more significant changes we have made to our test methodology, since many of the benchmark tests we have conducted in the past have compared the total package. Ultimately we're more interested in the discovering the best possible heatsink, and we believe that you'll feel the same way.

Testing was conducted in a loosely scientific manner. Ambient room temperature levels were maintained within one degree of fluctuation, and measured at static points beside the test equipment with a calibrated digital thermometer. Manufacturer-supplied thermal paste was not used in these tests, and a common Thermal Interface Material of our choosing (listed in the support equipment section below) was utilized instead. The processor received the same amount of thermal paste in every test, which covered the ICH with a thin nearly-transparent layer. The heatsink being tested was then laid down flat onto the CPU, and compressed to the motherboard using the supplied retaining mechanism. If the mounting mechanism used only two point of force, they were tightened in alternation; standard clip-style mounting with four securing points were compressed using the cross-over method. Once installed, the system was tested for a baseline reading prior to testing.

At the start of each test, the ambient room temperature was measured to track any fluctuation throughout the testing period. Lavalys EVEREST Ultimate Edition was utilized to create 100% CPU-core loads and measure each individual processor core temperatures. It's important to note that software-based temperature reading reflects the thermal output as reported from the CPU to the BIOS. For this reason, it is critically important (for us) to use the exact same software and BIOS versions throughout the entire test cycle, or the results will be incomparable. All of the units compared in our results were tested on the same motherboard using the same BIOS and software, with only the CPU-cooler product changing in each test. These readings are neither absolute nor calibrated, since every BIOS is programmed differently. Nevertheless, all results are still comparable and relative to each products in our test bed (see The Accuracy Myth section below).

Since our test processor report core temperatures as a whole number and not in fractions, all test results utilize EVEREST to report averages (within the statistics panel), which gives us more precise readings. To further compensate for this, our tests were conducted several times after complete power down thermal cycles. Conversely, the ambient room temperature levels were all recorded and accurate to one-tenth of a degree Celsius at the time of data collection.

When each cooler is tested, Benchmark Reviews makes certain to keep the hardware settings identical across the test platform. This enables us to clearly compare the performance of each product under identical conditions. While the ambient room temperature did fluctuate between 20.0~21.0°C during testing, the thermal delta would not change enough to impact our test results. Benchmark Reviews reports the thermal difference in test result charts. For the purpose of this article, thermal difference (not the same as thermal delta) is calculated by subtracting the ambient room temperature from the recorded CPU temperature.

Intel Test System

AMD Test System

Support Equipment

  • Lavalys EVEREST Ultimate Edition v5.30
  • Tuniq TX-3 (No curing time necessary or given)
  • Yate Loon 120x120x25mm fan, model D12SH-12 (88 CFM Advertised @ 40 dBA) 12V/0.30A
  • Xigmatek 140x140x25mm XLF-F1453 fans, model CFS-SYGJS-LU1 (65.5 CFM Advertised @ <16 dBA) 12V/0.30A
  • Xigmatek CrossBow ACK-I7361 (supports xxxx1 / xxxx2 / xxxx3 cooler models)
  • Xigmatek CrossBow ACK-I7363 (supports xxxx4 / xxxx5 / xxxx6 cooler models)
  • Thermalright LGA1366 Bolt-Thru-Kit UPC 814256-00079 (supports all TRUE and TRUE Spirit models)

All of the tests in this article have been conducted using vertical motherboard orientation, positioned upright in a traditional tower computer case. Heatsinks are positioned so that heatpipe rods span horizonally, and described in our Heatpipe Directional Orientation from the previous section.

At the start of our test period, the test system is powered on and EVEREST system stability tests are started with Stress CPU and Stress FPU options selected. For a minimum of sixty minutes (one hour) EVEREST loads each CPU core to 100% usage, which drives the temperature to its highest point. Finally, once temperatures have sustained a plateau, the ending ambient room temperature and individual CPU core levels are recorded thus completing the first benchmark segment.

The second test segment involves removing the stock cooling fan (while the system is still under load) and replacing it with a high-output 120 mm Yate Loon D12SH-12 cooling fan. The system is given thirty additional minutes with EVEREST loading the CPU cores before final temperature readings are taken and recorded.

The Accuracy Myth

All modern processors incorporate an internal thermal diode that can be read by the motherboards' BIOS. While this diode and the motherboard are not calibrated and therefore may not display the actual true temperature, the degree of accuracy is constant. This means that if the diode reports 40°C when it's actually 43°C, then it will also report 60°C when it's truly 63°C. Since the design goal of any thermal solution is to keep the CPU core within allowable temperatures, a processor's internal diode is the most valid means of comparison between different heatsinks, or thermal compounds. The diode and motherboard may be incorrect by a small margin in relation to an actual calibrated temperature sensor, but they will be consistent in their margin of error every time.



# PaulyPaul Letteri 2010-03-19 01:59
In your reviews especially with the new Armegeeden cpu cooler I need to know if the height from where it is mounted .Will it clear my
tall denominated style memory ? this is a Big problem for many
thank you Paul.
Report Comment
# Heatsink clearanceOlin Coles 2010-04-02 13:34
Hello Paul:
It's not possible to include this information in every article, because every system is different and memory comes in many different sizes. I can tell you that if you mount this heatsink so it blows air towards the back of the case, you won't come close to the memory.
Report Comment
# Are Fan/s requiredTmemphis 2012-05-06 15:13
Some of the reviews show this without fans mounted. Does this require fans if you are going to run a 2011 LGA CPU at stock speed and not overclock?

I have a Home server Windows 7 in a smail case under my TV. I purchased a ASRock Gen4 X79 and an i7-3920 only to find no fan. Crazy!

I have little idea of these Coolers and their issues with Ram fitting in (or not fitting) and case size seem to be an issue not to mention height. I'm confused on what get. The intel cooler/fan you can buy seperate ($32) runs very hot for a standard and would cook the system in summer. What a mess intel have created.

On the bright side you seem to have the best cooler and I'm glad i found you guys. I wish it was more simple thou. Thank you
Report Comment
# RE: ProlimaTech Armageddon CPU Cooler HeatsinkDavid Ramsey 2012-05-06 15:31
An X79 system seems like huge overkill for a home server, but that's what you have, so...

The Armageddon is a very tall cooler and I suspect you'd have problems fitting it in a small HTPC case. Also, these cases are designed for low-power components and typically do not have the airflow of a larger desktop case, so unless there's a fan pointed right at the heat sink I think running it without a fan would be a bad idea. Even a very low CFM fan is much better.

Note that this review dates from more than two years ago, long before the X79/LGA2011 systems were introduced. The Armageddon does not come with the mounting hardware for an LGA2011 socket; you'd have to buy that separately.
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