Water Cooling Kit Group-Test

Testing and Performance

Water Cooling Kit Mega-test

 

Testing and Performance.

Intel i7 3960X Stock@ 1.1v (undervolted) 4.0GHz @ 1.25v 4.4GHz @ 1.35v 4.6GHz @ 1.45v Gigabyte X79 UD3 Corsair Vengeance LP Memory Corsair HX850 V2 Corsair Force GT 60GB Coolermaster Storm Trooper. 

Continuity is very important in testing, and for this reason we keep as many of the potential variables as locked down as possible.  We will be using OCCT in Linpack X64, AVX compatible with all logical cores tested and 90% free memory utilised. The test is set up to run automatically with just a few clicks to set it going.  A 10 minute idle followed by 30 minutes of testing and a 5 minute cool down is the order of the day and brings the total test time per clock speed to 45 minutes.  So as to remove subjectivity in determining whether a CPU has failed, OCCT is set to stop the test and register a fail should the max temp exceed 80 degrees.  In testing we noted that if even just one of the cores exceeds 82 degrees OCCT halts the test and a fail is recorded.

All tests are conducted with the pump at the full 12 volts direct from the PSU.  We have also tested the fans at the full 12 Volts and at lower speeds enabled when fed with just 7 Volts.  At 45 minutes per test and 8 tests per kit that makes for a total of 6 hours per kit and a grand total of 24 hours total testing.  Not content with that we also decided to test all of the systems at their highest overclock using a set of Nuctua fans.  Add in assembly/disassembly and leak testing and you can see what a mammoth operation this is.

As usual we'll be testing our coolers at varying  levels of overclock and increasing levels of voltage.  this in turn of course means increasing levels of heat which the coolers need to dissipate.  To begin with we start with the undervolted stock speed.  Why undervolted? well if you have things set on "Auto", you may well be using more volts than are actually required to run at the chosen frequency, for example our 3960s will run quite happily at just 1.1volts, solid as a rock, 24/7, and as such we use this as our starting point. 

It's no surprise that all the kits on test here today passed with flying colours, and with only a degree or two separating them across the board even when comparing high and low settings we get a bit of a hint that they have barely begun to stretch their legs.

  

 

Turning now to the 4GHz test we up the voltage to 1.25 volts, this is what is deemed normally as stock volts. Something we are always harping on about on the forums is AUTO does not mean stock volts, and normally if you overclocking with "auto" volts the motherboard will be upping the volts much more than needed if you were to do it manually. By whichever means it happens, upping the volts (especially from our 1.1v undervolt) does have a big impact on temps, with an average increase of 10-15 degrees seen in the results.

The 4GHz test sees the differences between the 7 volt and 12 volts temps star to widen across the test group, but again the comparative figures from one manufactures temps to another remains slight. 

  

 

Upping the volts still further we achieve a stable 4.4GHz overclock at 1.35 Volts. It's here we start to separate the wheat from the chaff, with lesser coolers not able to disperse the increased heat effectively. Again we see a jump of 10 degrees or so from the figures at 4GHz. Both the H100 and the well-respected D14 are creeping into the 70s here, indicating that only the cream of the crop will excel at this level. 

All the coolers on test are now into the low 40s at 12 volts and mid 40's at 7 volts, but again there is little to choose between them with only a degree separating the four at 12 volts and 2.5 degrees at 7 volts. 

 

 

Finally our 4.6GHz test. Don't be fooled, this is an extreme test and the graph reflects this, you will only see the very best featured in this graph.

If we really want to measure outright performance, this is where we do it, and a quick glance will tell you that at 12 volts the ALphaCool NexXxoS wins by a few fractions of a degree from the EKWB and Phobya systems, with the XSPC kit some way behind.  Dropping the fans down to 7 volts and this time the thicker radiator of the Phobya kit causes it to take the Laurels with the other three coming close together a few degrees behind.

 

 

Testing With Noctua NF-F12 fans

As both the fan speed and radiator characteristics can greatly affect the cooling performance of a given system, we thought we'd undertake a further test to help better define the radiator performance of each kit.  We've done this by swapping out the  kit fans for a set of Noctua NF-F12s, which are, it has to be said, one of the best regarded fans on the market.

So did swapping the fans change the results?  Across the board temps were 3-4 degrees lower with the Noctuas than with the kit fans at 12 volts, with the variance being even less when things were stepped down to 7 volts.  The Phobya though actually performed better with its own fans at 7 volts and about the same at 12 volts.  The winner here though was EKWB, taking the crown from AlphaCool at 12 volts and pretty much sharing it at 7 volts.  What is surprising is that the Phobya, with a rad almost twice as thick as the EK couldn't better it.  Just goes to show that bigger isn't always better. 

 

 

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Most Recent Comments

08-07-2013, 06:17:35

tinytomlogan
XSPC, EK, AlphaCool and Phobya do battle. Who will be crowned king of the 240mm radiator Water Cooling kits


http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...053156396l.jpg


Continue Reading

08-07-2013, 06:38:38

bofeming
Nice review TTL, I really apreciate this beacause I was wondering to buy a kit, and I think the EK looks better for me.
Maybe in the near future I can buy some loop expansion, like other rad, better pump/res and a block for my GC.
Do you think it will be worth? Or should I buy a custom loop directly.
Must say that this gonna be my 1st custom WC project.

Thx again for the review

08-07-2013, 06:45:20

SieB
Interesting read, would be good to see more reviews like this

I'm surprised at the performance of the XSPC RS rad, given that it's the thinnest out of the lot. Not much in it at all though really, unless you are trying to get the lowest temps possible, it doesn't really matter which kit you go with.

08-07-2013, 06:56:13

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by bofeming View Post
Nice review TTL, I really apreciate this beacause I was wondering to buy a kit, and I think the EK looks better for me.
Maybe in the near future I can buy some loop expansion, like other rad, better pump/res and a block for my GC.
Do you think it will be worth? Or should I buy a custom loop directly.
Must say that this gonna be my 1st custom WC project.

Thx again for the review

G-Dubs did this review dude. I may own OC3D but theres VB and Gdubs doing reviews too dudio

08-07-2013, 08:48:35

Greenback
Thanks Gary for the time you put in to this I have been hoping for something like this.
As SieB said the xspc rs240 result was interesting and makes you wonder how the RX240 kit would of done. (I don't expect you to do it you have done a good job here)
I think it also shows that in all fairness if you are only looking at a cpu loop and never want to upgrade the AIO's are a viable option considering they are cheaper and you could put Gt ap15's or nf-f12's with the money you would save, And probably get near on the same results

08-07-2013, 09:35:58

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greenback View Post
Thanks Gary for the time you put in to this I have been hoping for something like this.
As SieB said the xspc rs240 result was interesting and makes you wonder how the RX240 kit would of done. (I don't expect you to do it you have done a good job here)
I think it also shows that in all fairness if you are only looking at a cpu loop and never want to upgrade the AIO's are a viable option considering they are cheaper and you could put Gt ap15's or nf-f12's with the money you would save, And probably get near on the same results

The RX240 would have scored much the same as the phobya, the CPU isnt maxing the rads hence the temps. Having a bigger rad just means better low speed fan results if you look........

08-07-2013, 10:21:39

lwatcdr
I was surprised how well the H110 and H100i held up. Seems like AIOs are pretty good these days.

08-07-2013, 10:22:46

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by lwatcdr View Post
I was surprised how well the H110 and H100i held up. Seems like AIOs are pretty good these days.
Its not THAT surprising tbh. These style kits are as low as I would ever go tbh.

IMHO water is all about aesthetics and low fan speeds with better than air load temps.

08-07-2013, 10:41:34

Montysaurus
I just ordered my first XSPC WC kit from Specialtech and find your beginners Vids on their site extremely helpful. This set of reviews has been really informative regarding the instructions which come with the kits and I'm glad I went with XSPC.
Thanks again TTL and all the crew at OC3d for all the hard work and getting us the info.

08-07-2013, 10:47:24

airdeano
i love a good ole shootout.. great review gary!

watching the graphs shrink with voltage increase was interesting, as the 1.45v
"weed out" temperatures showed kit brawniness.
very good..

(side note: in the graphs Raystorm is Raysorm)

08-07-2013, 14:05:02

Mysterae
Great review for wannabe and existing watercooling folk; to learn and compare respectively. Having done a lot of testing with my own rig, I can see the amount of work this group test would have taken.

Testing these kits in the fairest and honest way as has been done here, I think vindicates the AIO market somewhat. Performances almost on par, it's about the kind of experience one wants, and how risk averse they are too .

08-07-2013, 16:02:26

Mgutierrez33
Very informative review (typos aside x-P). May have to do some measurements in my chassis now (Graphite 600T with roof and front mesh removed) based on what I saw here in terms of rad thickness since I want to go for single low-speed fan configs when I DO get a loop going. Also has me considering some other brands as well for components.

08-07-2013, 17:04:19

FTLN
Nice reviews Gary,,

But i wish you guys would change the way you do your graphs..

There so uneasy on the eye....

08-07-2013, 20:53:41

lwatcdr
For me it is all about practicality. I like the reduction in the stress on the motherboard and reduction of RAM clearance issues compared to a large air cooler. I do like less noise as well. That isn't to say that I do not enjoy your builds. I hate windows in cases and just want a nice clean look myself. My wife wants a red case for her next build with a big window and lights. My next build will probably use a Fractal Design case while my wife will probably get a Phantom.

09-07-2013, 09:17:16

kittysniper
Thanks for the review and comparison, nice to know the best way to improve is to use noctua fans instead of stock 1s imo, which seems to be causing the biggest difference.

09-07-2013, 09:34:47

tinytomlogan
Quote:
Originally Posted by kittysniper View Post
Thanks for the review and comparison, nice to know the best way to improve is to use noctua fans instead of stock 1s imo, which seems to be causing the biggest difference.
Doesnt have to be noctua dude...... Just 'better' fans. Also if you READ the whole review youll see the closed loop fans in one of the kits performed the same as the Noctuas

09-07-2013, 10:23:52

d3rrial
That review was very helpful, I now decided I would buy an EK-Kit now, instead of the Alphacool one thank you a lot!

10-07-2013, 12:36:16

SimonB
love xspc raystorm look illuminated with leds of your build color would be just ,och my god geekporn for sure =DD other then that they all are good but i wouldint buy it ;/ since i prefer 360 or 240x6/8 fat rad just to be able having lover noise i become silence adict since i got my sp120QE =DD

24-07-2013, 21:19:38

loglog
honestly i'm kind of dissapointed in these kits. Seeing as how a NZXT-X60 and Corsair H100i can keep up or out preform them for a cheaper price an no maintenance required.
It is true that these have expandability options, but honestly if thats your plan you should save up and do it all at once.

25-07-2013, 01:39:10

NeverBackDown
Quote:
Originally Posted by loglog View Post
honestly i'm kind of dissapointed in these kits. Seeing as how a NZXT-X60 and Corsair H100i can keep up or out preform them for a cheaper price an no maintenance required.
It is true that these have expandability options, but honestly if thats your plan you should save up and do it all at once.
Well the kits don't exactly have much more surface area than the AIOs so for them being as far ahead as they were is pretty impressive.

26-07-2013, 17:36:54

loglog
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeverBackDown View Post
Well the kits don't exactly have much more surface area than the AIOs so for them being as far ahead as they were is pretty impressive.
I certainly dont disagree with you. However I would have imagined being a true WC kit, that having a separate res and rad would have lowered temps a little bit and by holding more coolant, but maybe thats just thining wrong.

26-07-2013, 19:53:47

NeverBackDown
Quote:
Originally Posted by loglog View Post
I certainly dont disagree with you. However I would have imagined being a true WC kit, that having a separate res and rad would have lowered temps a little bit and by holding more coolant, but maybe thats just thining wrong.
You're correct. But think about it.. How much more fluid is actually making contact and how much faster is the fluid going? Not much(mostly) so therefore it as almost always comes down to the fans. So considering how much farther they are it's pretty impressive.

26-07-2013, 21:47:40

loglog
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeverBackDown View Post
You're correct. But think about it.. How much more fluid is actually making contact and how much faster is the fluid going? Not much(mostly) so therefore it as almost always comes down to the fans. So considering how much farther they are it's pretty impressive.
Very true, very true. I guess I was simply over estimating their stock potential. Better fans would definintly have helped; I'm qurious to see how each would have preformed with some GT AP-15's or NF-F12's.
Also having the ability to expand to a second rad or being able to add the GPU into the loop i guess is where the main value comes into play.
Reply
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