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Performance Testing

First up, the fan itself. Testing was done with the fan mounted on the AR07 heatsink in a push configuration, and controlled by an Aquacomputer Aquaero 6 XT in PWM mode which also enabled RPM readout. After this, linear airflow was measured using an Extech 45158 Thermo-Anemometer 6″ away from the fan such that it measured the airflow in feet per minute through the heatsink. Fan noise was measured in an anechoic chamber of size 5′ x 8′ with ambient noise level ~19 dBA and a sound probe held 6″ away to measure the sound volume in dBA accordingly with nothing else powered on so the fans were the only source of noise.

Silverstone has always made decent fans and this is no exception with a mostly linear PWM-RPM response curve, albeit with a smaller duty cycle range than I would like. The min and max RPMs match the rated values very well too, well within the +/- 10% standard deviation I allow. The larger fan allows for good airflow at lower noise levels compared to the previous AR08 cooler we saw with the 2500 RPM rated 92 mm fan and heatsink.

For some context, here is how the only other single tower 140 mm class air cooler tested so far did:

We see this is a very different case, and this is the result of Cooler Master using a thick tower with a slower fan that results in lower noise and airflow alike. I would say the Silverstone approach here is more typical of the current retail solutions wherein an overall thinner package with higher compatibility in a system paired with a faster fan ends up being more popular.

On to the CPUs then. Please note that all results here are obtained by testing coolers as they come out of the box. I did thermal tests on 3 systems:

8 core: Intel i7 5960x (4.2 GHz at 1.2 Vcore) with quad channel DDR4 memory
(a) Fans at 50% (Test 1, cooler noise 28 dBA)
(b) Fans at 100% (Test 2, cooler noise 42 dBA)

4 core: Intel i7 4770k (4.5 GHz at 1.25 Vcore) with dual channel DDR3 memory
(a) Fans at 50% (Test 3, cooler noise 28 dBA)
(b) Fans at 100% (Test 4, cooler noise 42 dBA)

2 core: Intel Pentium G3258 (4.5 Ghz at 1.2 Vcore) with dual channel DDR3 memory
(a) Fan at 50% (Test 5, cooler noise 28 dBA)
(b) Fan at 100% (Test 6, cooler noise 42 dBA)

Each test was done in a climate controlled hotbox at 25 ºC ambient but the results will still be reported in terms of a delta T (component – ambient) in ºC. The ambient temperature should be nearly the same throughout the box with a +/- 0.05 ºC variability at most but still the ambient temperature sensor was held in front of the intake fan(s) as should be the case with CPU coolers in my opinion. If including the ambient temps into play, you are now introducing another variable into play here- the case/test bench air cooling layout- and this has no role in the review of a cooler. Each test/scenario was performed three times and the average value taken to account of possible issues with mounting and TIM. Speaking of TIM, the stock TIM provided is not enough for installation demo + these 9 tests and so I used my reference TIM (Gelid GC Extreme) for the tests with cure time accounted for by measuring values after steady state was achieved post burning in with an Intel XTU run. This may well be a variable that benefits the AR08 as the stock TIM on a sample test performed ~2 °C worse so keep this in mind. Aida64 was used to measure the core temperatures.

Really decent performance here, with a low standard deviation between the three runs as well. But this only tells half the story as we need context to complete it. So let’s see where this stacked up against other coolers in terms of both cooling and noise. Results from Test 2 here were used for comparison. Please note that lower is better here.

For those who can’t view the above interactive chart, please click here: CPU cooler comparison on i7 4770kCPU cooler noise level (100% fans/pumps)

The Silverstone Argon AR07 is a very good performer with context provided in terms of both cooling and also noise levels. Indeed, there are better performers out right- especially with liquid coolers in the mix- but seeing as how it is really quiet even at full speed, and offers the end user an option to run without compromising performance or noise in mind, it has to be high in consideration here provided the price is right. With that in mind, let’s head over to the conclusions on the next page.

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