Alright guys, quite a few people on the internetz have been asking for some performance figures of Chocolate Box. Similarly a lot of people found my thermal solution rather interesting
so I thought it was appropriate that I put together a little project review.
There were a few decisions that caused some controversy, most repetitively I got 'why didn't you watercool the CPU' but also others like why not have more radiator area, a lower TDP card or an exhaust fan. And the simple answer all along has been aesthetics and the constraints of the case, I also wanted to be a bit extreme with it, just to push the design envelope. But at the same time I was pretty confident all along that it would perform.
SSD's - Atto
I decided that I would run a 120GB OS drive and 240GB Game drive although was tempted to RAID0 two 120's. Atto shows Performance between the two sizes as being extremely similar which I was quite surprised by. Both fell short of the advertised 555/510 but came very close.
SSD's - CrystalDiskMark 3.0.3
CrystalDisk was slightly less optimistic as usual however showed significantly better read speeds for the larger drive which I had expected to observe in Atto.
Average Windows boot time - 5.33 secs
Average overall boot time - 20.91 secs
To demonstrate some real world benefits of the SSD's I ran BootRacer several times averaging the results. With the motherboards insanely fast POST, improvements made in W8.1 and insane speeds of the SSD's this rig is amazingly fast off the mark often making it to the desktop before the screen has turned on.
As the CPU has a locked multiplier I honestly didn't consider it really worth tinkering with, even in my bigger rigs I generally keep the CPU at stock clocks for daily use. I had considered it may be worth undervolting it at stock clocks however the motherboard manages to be extremely lean rarely letting it touch 1.00v
The graphics card on the other hand was a different story! With afterburner installed getting some extra poke out of this chap was easy, the first thing I did was let it have 150% power limit as the SFX Silverstone seems to dish it out just fine. I prefer to overclock using Unigine Heaven as I find it easiest to recognise instabilities and artefacts. I worked up the Memory Clock in 50MHz intervals and to my surprise made it as far as Afterburner would let me go yielding 1625MHz or an effective 6500MHz, quite an increase from 5000MHz. The core and voltage I brought up together after that until I hit 1200MHz and that was limited by thermals more so than stability leading me neatly into my next topic.Temperatures
Now I know I just said that the GPU OC was temp limited however before jumping to any assumptions let me elaborate on that. For all of the testing the ambient temperature was left pretty warm at 22°C, the case was entirely assembled with the window in place and both fans were set to a static 1000RPM. That's because I wanted this to be a worst case scenario, with a little bump in fan speed I can open up plenty more headroom but consider this a balanced set up appropriate for daily use.
As can be seen above the CPU reached a peak temp of 57°C during OCCT loading, it's highly unlikely this rig will ever see 100% CPU load so i'm really pleased with this. I think it easily justifies my aesthetic decision to run the L12. Infact this rig has already attended two LAN's and been subjected to 8 hours of gaming with no CPU fan installed!
The GPU side of things is even better presenting monumental gains over the reference cooler. Load temps have dropped from 95°C to 55°C which is incredible considering how much quieter it is. This has opened up enough headroom for some serious overclocks which I never really expected, with a fan speed of 1000RPM I managed to get 1200/1625MHz with a peak core temp of 67°C.Accoustics
Unfortunately I don't have any of the required equipment to give any evidence here however I will state my subjective impressions. With the pair of iPPC's at 1000RPM they are hardly noticeable, similarly the PSU does an excellent job considering it's size and during my entire session loading and unloading it this evening I really coudn't pick it out even when pushing overclocks pretty hard. The main disappointment comes from the pump and it's really the lesser of many evils. A DDC was the only option for where it had to fit and de-coupling it fully isn't an option as it's rigidly linked to the radiator and hence all of the case, acrylic isn't the best material at mitigating this problem and consequently it is quite audible in a quiet room. A PWM DDC would of made a good substitute however with limited space and headers/PSU connectors it would have had complications that couldn't be resolved so neatly. On the basis that this is an aesthetic build which will nearly always be used in a noisy room while wearing headphones, it's not a big problem and I don't plan to change anything.3DMark Fire Strike
Graphics Score - 11848
Physics Score - 6053
Score - 9039
Graphics Score OC - 13871 +17.1%
Physics Score OC - 6086 +0.5%
Score OC - 10063 +11.3%Unigine Valley - ExtremeHD
FPS - 52.7
Score - 2205
FPS OC - 69.8 +32.5%
Score OC - 2922 +32.5%Unigine Heaven - 1080p maximum settings
FPS - 54.8
Score - 1381
FPS OC - 63.5 +15.9%
Score OC - 1601 +15.9%Mafia II - 1440p maximum settings
FPS - 91.5
FPS OC - 107.8 +17.8%Hitman Absolution - 1440p maximum settings
FPS - 38.18
FPS OC - 43.35 +13.5%Grid Autosport - 1440p maximum settings (8xMSAA)
FPS - 68.60
FPS OC - 74.35 +10.0%Concluding thoughts
So as everything has panned out I really like the look of the L12 and the blocked card together, the juxtaposition of air and water cooling certainly works on an aesthetic level. I'm also now satisfied that it works on effectively on a thermal level providing more than sufficient cooling performance while remaining within the restrictions of the case. No drastic changes were made to accommodate the hardware and it has sufficient power delivery and cooling to keep the 290X happy. There is ample performance available for 1440p gaming and that's a milestone above where I was originally aiming.