Testing Methodology

If you've been keeping up with our case reviews, our testing methodology for the fans here is going to seem relatively similar in some ways. Our test system may seem a bit unusual in more than a few ways, but stick with me and I'll explain why I put it together and tested it the way I did.

The processor, with its healthy voltage boost and overclock, throws a pretty substantial amount of heat at our cooling system. Testing with an i7-2700K at stock speeds would defeat the purpose; Intel's own stock cooler can handle that, we want to "separate the men from the boys" so to speak.

Fan and Radiator Testing Configuration
CPU Intel Core i7-2700K overclocked to 4.4GHz @ 1.45V
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z68MX-UD2H-B3
Graphics Intel HD 3000 IGP
Memory 2x4GB Crucial Ballistix Sport Low Profile DDR3-1600
Drives Kingston SSDNow V+ 100 64GB SSD
Power Supply Rosewill Hive 650W 80 Plus Bronze Modular
Enclosure BitFenix Shinobi XL Window

I needed a case that could produce adequate airflow, handle all of the different cooling systems without much trouble, and did not include any sound dampening features. You might be surprised at just how difficult that was to find, but BitFenix came to the rescue and sent over a Shinobi XL. BitFenix's enclosure didn't get the best review when I tested it, but it's actually ideal for this testbed. I removed every case fan but the front intake, which I ran at 5V to prevent it from affecting acoustics while still providing adequate airflow.

For air coolers, I added a Noctua 140mm rear exhaust fan and used the ultra low noise adaptor to ensure it didn't affect acoustics in any meaningful way. This is in line with the usage cases air coolers are designed for, and should be representative of the kind of airflow most users will have from their exhaust fan. After the last review I received complaints that because the exhaust fan wasn't included in testing closed loop coolers, the CLCs and air coolers couldn't be directly compared. Independently I tested and found that the fan's presence had absolutely no effect on CLC performance; CLCs essentially operate as their own exhausts, while air coolers need to have their exhaust directed outside of the case.

Since a dedicated GPU wasn't needed, one wasn't used. This prevents a graphics card from generating additional heat or noise or deflecting airflow.

Thermal and acoustic test cycles were done the same way as our case reviews. First, the system is left powered and idle for fifteen minutes. At this point the sound level is tested, room ambient temperature is recorded, and idle temperatures are recorded. Then eight threads of small FFTs in Prime95 are run for fifteen minutes, and load temperatures are recorded.

Each cooler was tested using its available presets; where presets weren't available, I tested using Gigabyte's standard motherboard PWM control as well as at 100%.

Thank You!

Before moving on, we'd like to thank the following vendors for providing us with the hardware used in our roundup.

  • Thank you to iBuyPower for providing us with the Intel Core i7-2700K.
  • Thank you to Gigabyte for providing us with the GA-Z68MX-UD2H-B3 motherboard.
  • Thank you to Kingston for providing us with the SSDNow V+ 100 SSD.
  • Thank you to Crucial for providing us with the Ballistix Sport Low Profile DDR3.
  • Thank you to Rosewill for providing us with the Hive 650W 80 Plus Bronze PSU.
  • Thank you to BitFenix for providing us with the Shinobi XL Window enclosure.
Introducing the Thermaltake Water 3.0 Family Primary Test Results
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  • Wixman666 - Friday, May 31, 2013 - link

    FIRST! OMG! Reply
  • kyuu - Friday, May 31, 2013 - link

    Do you feel like your existence has somehow been validated by this tremendous feat? Reply
  • Jorgisven - Friday, May 31, 2013 - link

    Please don't validate him with a response. Meanwhile, I'm wondering on product availability. Anyone able to find this or a release date? Reply
  • nocturna351 - Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - link

    SECOND! OMG! Reply
  • cindywu - Friday, May 31, 2013 - link

    the h80/100 pumps flow .5gpm
    looks like i'll start a custom loop using my h100 as base and slowly work my way up to replacing everything. thanks for doing the research and work finding flow rates and how well the smaller pump supplies a real 240 rad.
    my plans: buy a rez, next a real rad, then get the block n pump. it'll take longer and cost more than going custom straight off but i'll still have a modded h100 when im done.

    again, thanks for the work. http://goo.gl/9tsYx
    Reply
  • flyingpants1 - Friday, May 31, 2013 - link

    Why? Reply
  • nilfisktun - Friday, May 31, 2013 - link

    Im very happy with my H100i, but i replaced the fans with 2x noctua 120mm pwn fans, and it helped alot. MUCH lower noise, and my idle and load temp dropped 3-4 C´s ontop of that.
    Ofc it adds some expense, but i couldnt live with the noisy crap fans Corsair sold with the H100i.
    Reply
  • pintycar - Friday, May 31, 2013 - link

    Second paragraph, first line read: you're dealing with a traditional 120mm radiator in the Water 3.0 Pro, you get a double-thick 120mm radiator with the Water 3.0 Pro, and then you go back to standard thickness and double-length with the 240mm radiator in the Water 3.0 Extreme

    when it should read:

    you're dealing with a traditional 120mm radiator in the Water 3.0 Performer, you get a double-thick 120mm radiator with the Water 3.0 Pro, and then you go back to standard thickness and double-length with the 240mm radiator in the Water 3.0 Extreme
    Reply
  • rms - Friday, May 31, 2013 - link

    The H220 looks better with every review, no wonder it's often oos Reply
  • EJ257 - Friday, May 31, 2013 - link

    Has anyone try to mod one of these to use a huge (like 55 gal. drum) tank of water instead of a radiator and fan? I'm not saying it's practical but it would be cool to see it done. That would be a huge heatsink. Reply

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