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[Review] Triple Radiators V2

post #1 of 20
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Triple Radiator Performance Comparison V2
HWLabs GTX360, HWLabs SR1-360 Swiftech MCR320,
Swiftech MCR320 Stack, ThermoChill PA120.3, TFC X360, XSPC RX360

by skinnee - November 8, 2009

Update: This thread is rather old, head over to Skinnee Labs Radiator section for the latest radiator testing.


Thermal Performance Test Results


Before moving into the eye-candy charts, I want to show all of the finalized thermal test data that will be used for our Applied C/W tables and charts. I feel that as a tester it is crucial that I maintain an open book for test methods, data and results. One thing I can always count on with the Liquid Cooling community is the sheer number of you out there who double check my calculations, you guys always keep me on my toes and help me with presenting the information as well as implement additional tests for data you are interested in. Instead of making you scroll past all of the tables, I quickly made one page that has all of the data tables in one. Click the link below to view the data tables in a new window...
Triples V2 Data Tables...

Applied C/W Data
From all of the individual tests performed on the radiators included, we have a data set that we can use as a comparison, this is C/W. Below is another one of my data tables, since these are small I'll display them. It is these tables that drive the C/W and Delta T charts that compare all of the radiators together. As a reminder, the results you see in the data tables are the applied C/W results with a given Delta (Water Avg-Air In) to find how much wattage each the radiator dissipate. For each data table the calculations include Deltas of 15º, 10º, 5º and 2º. Once again, here is my classifications for those deltas.
  • 15º Delta: Low Performance, an overloaded but capable loop.
  • 10º Delta: Average Performance, very capable of good temps and representative of an average system.
  • 5º Delta: High Performance, for those of you looking to achieve the best possible temps.
  • 2º Delta: Ultra Performance. extreme setups only, this would be an ultimate setup where you limit to dedicated block loops.






Applied C/W to Watts Dissipated


The next set of charts are the simplest way for me to plot the data out for which radiator can dissipate the most watts at a give fan speed. I added a trendline for those of you who prefer and fan speed different than one of the six speeds I tested at. But please remember, the trendline is a estimated prediction and not true representation. Just look at the discrepancy among the plotted data points and how the trendlines are close, but not through some of the plotted points.

Looking at the Average Performance 10C Delta chart, nearly all of the radiators are clumped together within roughly 20 watts of each other...remember, the pump heat dump of the D5-S5 with EK V2 Top averages 18 watts. The only outlier 1000RPM and under is the GTX, the extra fin density and low speed fans don't show well, but that is nothing new for most of you. If there is one major thing to point out, just look at the 1400RPM grouping... not a bad radiator in the bunch at 1400RPM. As we move up the RPM scale, higher FPI radiators start to pull away and the GTX just takes off. And like always, the 2ºC Delta numbers just to bring some water temp reality back to your build planning.


Estimated Delta T

Lets do something useful with the C/W, take an estimate heat load of some common components. I decided on two different configs, a CPU only loop and a CPU with two GTX275's in SLI. Thankfully eXtreme Outervision's PSU calculator is always kept up to date, lets use this handy tool and come up with our heat loads.

CPU Only Loop

For the CPU loop, I left TDP at the recommended 85%, chose and Overclocked i7 920 (4200MHz, 1.35V) and came up with 259w...but lets add in 18w for the pump too. Total for our CPU only loop is 277w. If you use the calculate button, remember to subtract 38w, or use it as your pump heat dump and a little buffer on the heat load for you loop.


The biggest standout for me is just how close nearly all the radiators are from 1000RPM all the way to 2800RPM, only 600RPM being the largest variance between all in the round-up (but who expected the high FPI of the GTX360 to perform at near silent fan speeds. One other surprise is the TFC 360 lack luster performance at 600RPM, didn't realize that 12FPI coupled extra thickness meant a 1C hit. Other than those two points, it really comes down to price and what you want to see in your loop.

CPU with SLI GPUs Loop

As I promised earlier, lets just use the 38w base from eXtreme Outervision's PSU calculator instead of subtracting 38w and adding 18w (or subtract 20 of the top for you math geniuses) to compensate for pump heat dump on our CPU and SLI GPU loop scenario. Again, using the PSU calculator leave TDP at 85% specifying an Overclocked i7 920 (4200MHz, 1.35V), Nvidia GeForce GTX275 and choosing SLI from the Video Type drop down... hit the calculate. 463 watts it is.


Same things stand out for me from the CPU only loop, just with the added heat load means higher deltas. There really isn't a radiator that I would advise against from 1400RPM on up, as for 1000RPM and slower, the HWLabs SR1-360, Swiftech MCR320, ThermoChill PA120.3 and XSPC RX360 are great. Although, the XSPC RX360 and HWLabs SR1-360 are the kings of low CFM fan speeds.


Conclusion

Overall, every radiator performs, its a matter of fans and the speed you want to run them at. However, I don't recommend a GTX360, TFC360 or MCR320-Stack (3 fans) for 1000RPM and under. The GTX360 is just a high FPI radiator that excels with medium and high speed fans the GTX series wins hands down 1800RPM and above. The TFC X-Changer 360 but the TFC has some extra thickness with the higher FPI (12FPI), so the performance isn't great before 1400RPM and comes in second after the GTX beyond that... I expected better for all the hype and seeming popularity.

For Medium speeds of 1000,1400, and 1800RPM, its a toss up really, I personally think prices and aesthetics be your deciding factor. The HWLabs SR1 is a low speed performer, then tails from the pack after 1000RPM which is what we would expect from low FPI and a dual row. But the XSPC RX360 didn't give up the 1000RPM crown and the 600RPM loop delta on our SLI scenario was 0.08C which is basically equal. The RX series is perfect match for all fan speeds. We can't forget the mighty Swiftech MCR320 though, for those in the US its your best priceerformance radiator available at any fan speed. The MCR320-Stack just doesn't work as a sandwich, but I've got some exploratory testing to run as I know the extra surface area of the stack will drop the loop deltas, its just a matter for fan configuration. And finally, the legendary ThermoChill PA120.3... always a solid choice sporting lowest restriction around and stellar performance across all fan speeds... oh yeah, and the latest revision uses standard 15mm fan spacing. I just wish ThermoChill could catchup with available stock and get more online retailer coverage. The PA120.3 is my own personal favorite, afterall I own 6 ThermoChill PA's of one flavor or another.

Like I said, not a bad radiator in the line-up. Choose your radiator based on fans speed (RPM/CFM/Static Pressure) and noise. If that doesn't make the decision for you, price and aesthetics are the other criteria you'll have to compare. If all else fails, make a poll at your favorite forum and watch a debate ensue, you'll might end up more confused though.

Full Review - Triple Radiator Comparison


Edited by skinnee - 3/20/11 at 8:23pm
post #2 of 20
Thanks for the review, it's nice to see more tests with all of these rads. What surprised me the most is how the mcr320 beat the sr1, which costs 3x as much, in just about every single scenario.
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post #3 of 20
The new Martinm?
    
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post #4 of 20
Thanks for the review!
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post #5 of 20
Excellent work there. Would it be possible to amend this with testing of the Phobya G-Changer 360? Dexgo tested it and it seems that across the RPM range it stays very close to the PA120.3. So, possible for inclusion with this roundup, or maybe have it in a potential V3?
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post #6 of 20
I'm to tired i guess, but was there an all around winner?
    
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post #7 of 20
Great post! Thanks for taking the time to do all these tests.
    
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post #8 of 20
Yay, my rad did great!
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post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chunky_Chimp View Post
Excellent work there. Would it be possible to amend this with testing of the Phobya G-Changer 360? Dexgo tested it and it seems that across the RPM range it stays very close to the PA120.3. So, possible for inclusion with this roundup, or maybe have it in a potential V3?
seconding this request, its a very interesting rad that deserves good testing.
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
I plan to update the comparison as I test new radiators, but without the super long wait that happened from V1 to V2 of the comparison. Every radiator I get my hands on will be included.

cheers folks!
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