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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  • Wetworkz - Friday, May 31, 2013 - link

    I do not remember where I saw this but some guy hooked his water cooler to his toilet. No, I am not kidding. He ran plumbing to the tank on the back of the toilet and every time his temperature began to climb he would flush the toilet and get a new surge of cool water. I am pretty sure you could find the article if you wanted to look it up, it was pretty entertaining to be honest.
  • EJ257 - Saturday, June 1, 2013 - link

    That's actually pretty brilliant. Was it this guy?

  • jkresh - Sunday, June 2, 2013 - link

    that could work depending on your usage, if you are always running at load (folding at home or something along those lines) it wouldnt help because eventually all the water would get warm (and without a radiator it would continue to heat up), but if you only run for relatively short periods of time (lets say an hour or two for gaming) then that might work. The most impressive system I saw, was someone ran a a server farm in his basement, with water running outside to copper pipes which ran deep under his yard, so he basically used geothermal cooling for his computers, kind of a crazy setup, but using the Earth as your heatsink has its advantages.
  • Adamantine - Friday, May 31, 2013 - link

    You didn't setup the radiator like people who do full PC liquid cooling setups do, which is going to perform better than how you did it. Fans need to be setup as intakes on the radiator, not exhaust. It almost guarantees the radiator will get the coolest air possible which isn't possible when setup as exhaust.
  • dwade123 - Friday, May 31, 2013 - link

    They should start making those compatible with CPU & GPU. Now that is truly a All-in-One design.
  • Galcobar - Friday, May 31, 2013 - link

    Copyediting error in the second paragraph of the first page.
    "The variety of coolers is pretty simple: 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."

    That first "Pro" should be "Performer."
  • vishwa108 - Saturday, June 1, 2013 - link

    Whilst being prejudical is an unwelcome trait, being prejudicial on behalf of Truth is an asset all men strive for. Truth be told, "Thermaltake" might sound both Tojo-ish and English, but as all know, this beastie is but a mere pretender to "watercooling", mediocrity being its forte when it comes to watercooling. Not when "Asetek" is supporting one's watercooled butt, that is. After some Bavarian ariy-fairyness having levelled Ten on the religiosity crapola. That is what you'll get for mixing Taiwanese panda greeny-loony cutieness with sophisticated Western gender-bending taste.

    Even so, DNA being thicker than water, the same nonsense prevailed. LOUD and LOUDER. What is "entry-level" watercooling if it is not about lowering loudness? What? Eets about pandering to fairies and their pirouettes? This has to be some Choseness Frivolity & Nonsense masquerading as Sense & Sensibility. It looks like fashion has finally caught up with PC, Performance and Overclocking. Either that or the fairies have accidentally beached themselves on the PC Cloud Cuckooland. C'mon chuck, give us the other one will ya.
  • xaml - Sunday, June 2, 2013 - link

    What is this, if not an attempt at pooetry? Is it that your head case is the one thing in urgent need of water cooling? Thermal it. Take!

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