To give a more accurate representation of the performance of these coolers I decided to setup a system a typical user would have. I used a standard steel 17-inch mid-tower case with an 80mm front intake fan and a silent 80mm rear exhaust fan. The power-supply was a 350w dual-fan Enermax and the CPU cooling fan was a stock AMD heatsink/fan unit which cooled an AMD Athlon XP 2500+ (1.8GHz Barton).
The rest of the components of the system were equally typical: a 7200RPM Seagate hard drive, 52x CD-Rom, 52x/32x/52x CD-RW, SoundBlaster soundcard, two 256MB DDR DIMMS, and an ATX nForce2 motherboard.
The videocards and coolers I used are listed in the table below:
|ABIT Radeon 9800XT
ATI Silencer 3
|ATI Radeon 9800 Pro
ATI Silencer 1
VGA Silencer rev2 (High)
VGA Silencer rev2 (Low)
Zalman ZM80C-HP Heatpipe
|ATI Radeon 9600XT
ATI Silencer 1
ATI Silencer 2
I used the Arctic Cooling silicone thermal paste supplied with each of the ATI Silencer units when installing the coolers.
ATI's OverDrive panel was used to monitor the graphics core temperature for the videocards that supported that feature. For the 9800 Pro I attached a thermal probe to the underside of the cooler as close as possible to the core and monitored the temperature using a Cooler Master Aerogate II display unit.
I used Motherboard Monitor to monitor and log temperatures during each phase of testing. The system was allowed to idle on the Windows desktop for two hours after which time I recorded the idle temperatures. After that I began to test Load temperatures by running a loop of the four game tests in 3DMark03 for an hour.