Date: Tuesday , July 26, 2011
Lately you may have noticed a lot of reviews focusing on water cooling kits. With good reason. As the processor cooling technology has matured, manufactures have found clever ways of designing these kits to be almost as easy to install as an air cooler with the same amount of maintenance necessary; little to none. But this does not mean that air cooling is dead, far from it.
Thermalright is here today to with an updated version of its HR-02 cooler. Those of you may remember the first time we looked at this cooler it impressed us both with its size but also its ability to cool our CPU using only the air flow already present inside your case. In the time since that review the competition has stepped up the game and Thermalright is answering with the HR-02 Macho. It is the same beefy cooler as before but with an included fan, a slight redesign and a new sticker price. Times have changed and so has the way we cool our CPUs. Let’s see if this new design has what it takes to keep pace with the new contenders.
Today's testing takes place on our [H]ard platform. The test bed consists of the GIGABYTE X58-Extreme motherboard, six gigabytes of Corsair DDR3 RAM and the Intel Core i7 920.
In keeping with the spirit of the [H] we continue to perform hardware testing of all heat sinks. This means milling a very small path into an expensive CPU to place our thermocouple into. This is by far the best way to test coolers and the only way here at the [H]ardOCP.
Temperatures for the CPU will be measured using our Sperry Digital 4 Point thermometer.
For this article the GPU will be kept at stock speed to keep any excess heat away from the CPU that could impact the results. In 2D mode the 9500 GT generates very little heat and to further isolate it from the rest of the system we will install it in the secondary PCIE slot.
Noctua's NT-H1 thermal paste was selected as the paste of choice for a few key reasons. The thermal paste has been shown to provide excellent thermal conductivity allowing the heat sinks to better do their job. There is no observed curing time. That is, performance does not get any better over time. Any curing time could have introduced variables into the equation causing at best dubious results and at worst unreliable ones. Our channel milled CPU also requires a compound that is more viscous so the mating compound will not seep into the channel and run off.
Ambient temperature will be kept at 25C for the duration of the tests and measured with a MicroTemp EXP non-contact infrared thermometer and cross referenced with the Sperry Digital 4 Point thermometer. Any variance greater then 0.2C will halt the testing until temperatures return within spec for fifteen minutes.
Since we are dealing with water cooling we will allow extra time for each test to give the water in the loop enough time to reach equilibrium.
Idle temperatures will be recorded after a twenty-five minute period of inactivity. Any fluctuation during the last sixty seconds will reset the timer for an additional five minutes.
Load temperatures will be recorded after a twenty-five minute period of 100% load. To obtain this load we will be using Prime95 v25.3 set to blend mode. In this way we can heat up the CPU as well as the memory controller which is now integrated into the die. Any fluctuation during the last sixty seconds will reset the timer for an additional five minutes.
Sound levels will be measured with a Reliability Direct AR824 sound meter from a distance of four feet away. With everything turned off and the room completely silent the meter registered a sound level of 38dB(A). This is a very quiet room where a simple pin drop could be heard. All sound measurements are recorded in the very late evening to further reduce any ambient noise.