If you are a regular Skinnee Labs reader then you already know we do things a little differently. For those of you who found your way here for the first time, strap yourself in because we go all out on our test methodology and specification. We are not here for publishing fluff pieces; we want the hard data on every product we test even if that means more work. After all, we want to know how well each product performs and where to spend our money as well… we are enthusiasts just like you are. With the proper forewarning given, strap yourself in as we dive into the test method and specification.
When building your loop there should be a list of things that come to mind, flow and pressure should be near the top of that list. Pressure drop is the measurement of inlet pressure minus outlet pressure, or the pressure loss of flow through the component.
I have the line from my washbasin in the mudroom hooked up to the gate valve controlling flow, which then runs into the King flow meter. The bottom port on the flow meter is the inlet and top port is the outlet. The outlet runs down to the Delrin T which I have Bitspower 1/2″ barbs on for the normal flow, and the negative pressure line connects via an EnzoTech 1/4″ fitting. After the negative pressure T, the component in testing is attached. I always use Bitspower 1/2″ fittings, that keeps everything on a common test platform…well from a fitting perspective anyhow. At the outlet of the component is the positive pressure T fitting, again with Bitspower 1/2″ fittings and an EnzoTech 1/4″ fitting for the pressure line. The tubing the runs back into the washbasin and down the drain.
First piece to cover here is creating a load and thus heat for the blocks to capture. Since there is no direct way to load just the CPU VRM’s, IOH and ICH, CPU load is the best means of generating heat for the components cooled by the blocks. As always, we separate the component were testing in an isolated loop in order to focus on that specific piece of kit, instead of throwing it in to an existing loop and having to sort out any data noise produced by the other heat capturing components.
Now to the routine I followed while in robot mode for testing. Once the block is mounted to the board, board secured to the motherboard tray, cables plugged in and tubes connected I run an initial leak test and bleed the loop. I only have to leak test and bleed the loop on the first mount, the QDC’s makes this process easier and a heck of a lot shorter. Once beyond the initial ritual, the ATX and EPS cables are plugged in and board powered on. First stop after a mount is BIOS, where I load the saved O.C. profile to ensure each test is run with the exact same settings. After loading the saved profile and booting into Windows, the fun begins. Well, not really the fun because watching the test run is worse than watching paint dry, but WinTest, Everest and OCCT all auto-start and wait once windows has loaded.
With our test and monitoring apps loaded and configured for the test run, I start the test (and the stopwatch on my phone). The first hour of the run is considered warm-up or time for the loop to reach equilibrium under load, the remaining two hours are the important part. The two hours after warm-up are the data used for calculation, which you will see for each block on the performance results page. Once the full three-hour run was complete, each of the test applications was stopped, logged data saved and the system is left to idle for thirty minutes before shutdown. I do not like the shutdown the system immediately after the test run, call it a precaution learned from previous testing.
After my phone notifies me the cool down period is complete, the system is shutdown, cables unplugged, QDC’s disconnected and board removed from the tray. From here the re-mount process begins, and the test method starts all over again.
There is quite a bit of crossover/overlap between the Methodology and Specification sections, but the specification covers all the nitty-gritty details from the overall methodology.
To kick off the specification here, let us start with the board loop, which remained in the following order throughout testing and none of the blocks required any adapters or changes. Loop order consisted of Reservoir -> Pump -> Delrin T (Block In) -> QDC -> Board Block -> QDC -> Delrin T (Block Out) -> Radiator -> Flow Meter -> Reservoir. In total, 41 inches of tubing was used to loop up all the components on the backside of the Torture Rack.
I snapped some photos during testing just to give an idea of how the system looked and a shot of the bright LEDs on the Danger Den block. Plus, this gives a glimpse of loop from all the details listed above in the specification.
There you have it, the full test methodology and specification for pressure drop and thermal testing. I know you have endured a text onslaught thus far, so let’s move on to the performance results before I detour and force you to read any more before showing the results.