Testing Methodology

Although the testing of a cooler appears to be a simple task, that could not be much further from the truth. Proper thermal testing cannot be performed with a cooler mounted on a single chip, for multiple reasons. Some of these reasons include the instability of the thermal load and the inability to fully control and or monitor it, as well as the inaccuracy of the chip-integrated sensors. It is also impossible to compare results taken on different chips, let alone entirely different systems, which is a great problem when testing computer coolers, as the hardware changes every several months. Finally, testing a cooler on a typical system prevents the tester from assessing the most vital characteristic of a cooler, its absolute thermal resistance.

The absolute thermal resistance defines the absolute performance of a heatsink by indicating the temperature rise per unit of power, in our case in degrees Celsius per Watt (°C/W). In layman's terms, if the thermal resistance of a heatsink is known, the user can assess the highest possible temperature rise of a chip over ambient by simply multiplying the maximum thermal design power (TDP) rating of the chip with it. Extracting the absolute thermal resistance of a cooler however is no simple task, as the load has to be perfectly even, steady and variable, as the thermal resistance also varies depending on the magnitude of the thermal load. Therefore, even if it would be possible to assess the thermal resistance of a cooler while it is mounted on a working chip, it would not suffice, as a large change of the thermal load can yield much different results.

Appropriate thermal testing requires the creation of a proper testing station and the use of laboratory-grade equipment. Therefore, we created a thermal testing platform with a fully controllable thermal energy source that may be used to test any kind of cooler, regardless of its design and or compatibility. The thermal cartridge inside the core of our testing station can have its power adjusted between 60 W and 340 W, in 2 W increments (and it never throttles). Furthermore, monitoring and logging of the testing process via software minimizes the possibility of human errors during testing. A multifunction data acquisition module (DAQ) is responsible for the automatic or the manual control of the testing equipment, the acquisition of the ambient and the in-core temperatures via PT100 sensors, the logging of the test results and the mathematical extraction of performance figures.

Finally, as noise measurements are a bit tricky, their measurement is being performed manually. Fans can have significant variations in speed from their rated values, thus their actual speed during the thermal testing is being recorded via a laser tachometer. The fans (and pumps, when applicable) are being powered via an adjustable, fanless desktop DC power supply and noise measurements are being taken 1 meter away from the cooler, in a straight line ahead from its fan engine. At this point we should also note that the Decibel scale is logarithmic, which means that roughly every 3 dB(A) the sound pressure doubles. Therefore, the difference of sound pressure between 30 dB(A) and 60 dB(A) is not "twice as much" but nearly a thousand times greater. The table below should help you cross-reference our test results with real-life situations.

The noise floor of our recording equipment is 30.2-30.4 dB(A), which represents a medium-sized room without any active noise sources. All of our acoustic testing takes place during night hours, minimizing the possibility of external disruptions.

<35dB(A) Virtually inaudible
35-38dB(A) Very quiet (whisper-slight humming)
38-40dB(A) Quiet (relatively comfortable - humming)
40-44dB(A) Normal (humming noise, above comfortable for a large % of users)
44-47dB(A)* Loud* (strong aerodynamic noise)
47-50dB(A) Very loud (strong whining noise)
50-54dB(A) Extremely loud (painfully distracting for the vast majority of users)
>54dB(A) Intolerable for home/office use, special applications only.

*noise levels above this are not suggested for daily use

The Corsair H150i Elite Capellix Liquid Cooler & iCUE Software Testing Results
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  • hehatemeXX - Thursday, October 15, 2020 - link

    So new fans.. I wonder if we replaced these fans across the board if they are all the same? Reply
  • Makaveli - Thursday, October 15, 2020 - link

    Looks good but those fans and that controller add alot of wires and abit of a mess compared to earlier version of this product that come with non LED fans but progress I guess. Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, October 15, 2020 - link

    If you can crank the brightness of the frag harder disco lights up high enough I guess the cable management debacle the bring can be hidden in the shadows. Reply
  • Makaveli - Thursday, October 15, 2020 - link

    lol so blind yourself so you can't see the wires got it :) Reply
  • eek2121 - Thursday, October 15, 2020 - link

    That was always the issue with the corsair stuff. We are long overdue for an overhaul of connectivity standards. 3-pin/4-pin fan connectors should be replaced with a 6-pin connector of the same time and the minimum power spec provided by the motherboard should be raised to 12V @ 1.5 amps. Reply
  • Tomatotech - Friday, October 16, 2020 - link

    Install a Bluetooth / WiFi fan control? Low power Bluetooth probably better here, and would eliminate a few control wires. WiFi would let you monitor your pc thermals remotely from your phone while doing a long job (without needing to learn how to do a remote login from phone). Even a proprietary radio (like Logitech’s mouse / keyboard dongle) would be mostly fine if a bit annoying. Reply
  • YB1064 - Thursday, October 15, 2020 - link

    A few LEDs distinguish this from the competition. Can't do much more with AIO I suppose. Reply
  • eek2121 - Thursday, October 15, 2020 - link

    There is nothing wrong with a quality AIO. My NZXT 280mm is whisper quiet and keeps my 3900X in the 60s (70s when video encoding or rendering) The only noise I hear coming from the PC is the GPU. Reply
  • Beaver M. - Friday, October 16, 2020 - link

    I highly doubt that yours is whisper quiet. Everyone ever who claimed that to me was proven wrong when I listed to it myself. The pump always adds a very annoying noise.
    My air cooled PC is really silent. The loudest part is my external 2.5" HDD, which I always turn off when I dont need it, because, even if its quiet for guys like you, its extremely annoying with a silent PC like mine.
    But I get that a lot of people think loud components are quiet, because they have bad hearing and additionally wear headsets on their PC, which probably is the cause of bad hearing anyway.
    Reply
  • 29a - Friday, October 16, 2020 - link

    "My air cooled PC is really silent."

    I highly doubt that yours is really silent. Everyone ever who claimed that to me was proven wrong when I listed to it myself.
    Reply

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