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XSPC Raystorm D5 Photon RX480 V3 WaterCooling Kit Review

Cooler Comparison Testing

Cooler Testing Methodology

To best gage the quality of the system coolers under review, system CPU temperature and cooling system audio measurements were taken with the CPU idle and under load. To replicate CPU idle conditions, the system was rebooted and allowed to sit idle for 10 minutes. To replicate a stress system load on the Z77-based system, a combination of LinX and FurMark were run over a 30 minute period with LinX running for 500 loops with Memory set to All and FurMark running at 1280x1024 resolution and 2x MSAA in stress test mode. For the Z87-based system testing, Aida64 System Stability Test was used in conjunction with FurMark for 30 minutes per run and set to run at a 1280x1024 resolution and 8x MSAA in Burn-in Test mode. After each run, the system was shut down and allowed to rest for 10 minutes to cool down. Then the CPU cooler was removed, cleaned, and remounted to the CPU with fresh thermal paste applied. This procedure was repeated a total of 12 times for each cooler - three times each for the stock and overclocking speed runs on the Z77 and Z87-based systems.

Temperature measurements were taken directly from the CPU thermistors using RealTemp (the newer Tech|Inferno edition). For the Z77-based systems, the highest recorded value for idle and load temperature were used for the run. Because of the volatile nature of the Haswell thermistor readings, the Z87-based system temperatures were measured in a different manner. For idle temperatures, the highest recorded value was used for the run. For load temperatures, a series of three values were notated: the average (high and low) across all cores, the average (high and low) across the single highest core, and the high temperature.

GPU temperature measurements for the Z87 runs were taken directly from the GPU thermistors using TechPowerUp GPU-Z v0.7.7. For both the idle and load temperatures, the highest recorded value in the application were used for the run. Note that the temperature values are reported as deltas rather than absolute temperatures with the delta value reported calculated as GPU temperature - ambient temperature.

To adequately measure the XSPC Raystorm D5 Photon RX480 V3 kit performance, performance testing was done for all scenarios under two operational conditions - quad fan mode in a push configuration and eight fan mode in a push/pull configuration. In both modes, fans were directly connected to the PSU and run at full speed. In all operating modes, XSPC series 1650 120mm fans running at full speed were used for testing with the D5 Vario pump set to mode 5 (full speed). For all runs using the video card integrated into the cooling loop, the ASUS Poseidon card was left to run at stock speed settings.

Note that the temperature values are reported as deltas rather than absolute temperatures with the delta value reported calculated as CPU temperature - ambient temperature. For all tests, room ambient temperature was maintained between 23-27C. Sound measurements of the system cooler where taken with the sound meter placed 3 feet away from the system with all other devices in the room silenced. The Sound Meter Pro applet on a Samsung Galaxy S3 mobile phone was used to measure decibel level.

Intel Z77-based Ivy Bridge System Testing

CPU Stock Speed Testing

The CPU stock speed testing was conducted with the BIOS defaults set (including enabling of the CPU-integrated graphics processor) with Turbo Mode disabled, equating to a 3.4GHz CPU speed, 1600MHz memory speed, and 100MHz base clock. The Intel Speedstep functionality remained enabled for the duration of the testing to get realistic CPU idle performance conditions.

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With a stock speed Ivy Bridge CPU, the D5 Photon RX480 kit maintained performance close to that of the other liquid coolers. There was little performance difference seen between quad-fan push mode operation and eight-fan push/pull mode operation.

CPU Overclocked Speed Testing

The CPU overclocked speed testing was conducted with known stable settings from a previous board review with Turbo Mode disabled, equating to a 4.4GHz CPU speed, 1960MHz memory speed, and 105MHz base clock. Also, the CPU-integrated graphics processor was disabled to reduce the processor heat generation. The Intel Speedstep functionality remained enabled for the duration of the testing to get realistic CPU idle performance conditions.

Board voltage settings were configured as follows:

  • CPU Core Voltage - 1.2750
  • CPU I/O Voltage - 1.150
  • DRAM Voltage - 1.6255
  • System Agent Voltage(SA) - 1.0850
  • CPU PLL Voltage - 1.7500
  • PCH 1.05 - 1.0995

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The D5 Photon RX480 kit again performed on par with the other liquid cooling kits with little difference between its push-fan and push/pull fan configuration modes. With the kit performance matching that of the Raystorm 750 EX240 kit, it is possible that the Raystorm block could be the limiting factor instead of the the radiators cooling potential.

Intel Z87-based Haswell System Testing

CPU Stock Speed Testing

The CPU stock speed testing was conducted with the BIOS defaults set for the CPU (including enabling of the CPU-integrated graphics processor) and Turbo Mode disabled, equating to a 3.4GHz CPU speed, 1600MHz memory speed, and 100MHz base clock. The Intel Speedstep functionality remained enabled for the duration of the testing to get realistic CPU idle performance conditions. For the mixed mode loop and GPU-only loop testing, the ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 card was run at stock speed settings.

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When paired with a stock speed Haswell processor, the D5 Photon RX480 kit continued to perform on-par with the other tested coolers. There was a slight drop in temperatures when using eight fans in a push/pull configuration of about 2C.

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THe D5 Photon RX480 kit maintained the same CPU temperatures with the ASUS Poseidon GTX780 card was added in-line to the cooling loop in comparison to running the kit on the CPU only. This is where you begin to see the strength in the D5 Photon RX480 kit with its quad-fan radiator able to absorb and dissipate the added heat of a high power GPU without impact on the CPU operating temperature. Keep in mind that the GTX 780 GPU produces upwards of 300 watts of heat under load by itself. No other cooler tested, aside from the D5 Photon RX480 kit, was able to maintain temperatures matching the multi-block CPU performance.

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We see the same trend with the GPU temperatures as witnessed with the CPU temperatures on the D5 Photon RX480 kit - no difference between standalone and multi-block operation. While the D5 Photon RX480 kit did not have the lowest GPU-only temperatures, it was the only kit with no difference between GPU-only and multi-block loop operation.

CPU Overclocked Speed Testing

The CPU overclocked speed testing was conducted with known stable settings from a previous board review with Turbo Mode disabled, equating to a 4.68GHz CPU speed, 1780MHz memory speed, 4.0GHZ ring bus speed, and 167MHz base clock. Also, the CPU-integrated graphics processor was disabled to reduce the processor heat generation. The Intel Speedstep functionality remained enabled for the duration of the testing to get realistic CPU idle performance conditions. For the mixed mode loop and GPU-only loop testing, the ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 card was run at stock speed settings.

Board voltage settings were configured as follows:

  • CPU Core Voltage - 1.25 + 0.005
  • VCCIN Voltage - 1.90
  • DRAM Voltage - 1.55
  • CPU Ring Voltage - 1.125 + 0.005
  • CPU SA Voltage Offset - +0.100
  • CPU IO Analogue Voltage Offset - +0.100
  • CPU IO Digital Voltage Offset - +0.100
  • PCH 1.05 Voltage - 1.120

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The D5 Photon RX480 kit's performance did not disappoint when used with an overclocked Haswell CPU. As we saw with the stock speed processor performance results, there is minimal temperature difference seen between the CPU temperature in quad-fan vs. eight-fan mode. Further, the Raystorm 750 EX240 kit's performance mimics that of the premium D5 Photon RX480 kit. These facts further reinforce the hypothesis that we may be hitting a thermal dissipation wall with the Raystorm block itself.

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With the mixed mode loop, we again see a minimal increase in temperature using the D5 Photon RX480 kit with the combined CPU and GPU loop over the CPU only loop. The Glacer 240L is the only cooler than comes close to the performance of the XSPC kit.

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The GPU temperature results with the mixed mode loop show similar results to the CPU tests. The difference between the standalone and multi-block loops is minimal with the D5 Photon RX480 kit. The Glacer 240L cooler was the only other cooler that approaches its performance.

Sound Testing

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In either operating mode, the D5 Photon RX480 kit's noise generation is tolerable but a bit louder than your average case fan. Even in eight fan push/pull configuration, the radiator fan noise is drowned out by the video card fans at full speed. The good news is that based on the minimal performance differences seen between quad-fan push and the eight-fan push/pull configuration, you could easier pair this kit with slower, lower noise fans without losing any heat dissipation potential.

July 13, 2014 | 09:12 PM - Posted by RadioActiveLobster

I've been eying a kit like this for hopefully cooling a i7-4790K, Asus Maximus VII Formula (It has a built in water block for the VRM/Mosfet) and a GPU.

Looks like it might just be what I need.

Want to put it in a Enthoo Primo.

August 4, 2014 | 10:25 AM - Posted by ctguy1955 (mike) (not verified)

I have a 4790K on a VII Formula ( all new ) and just ordered
the AX240 kit with the photon to replace my H100i

Many are saying that as far as just the CPU goes, that
Im not going to be any better off, but I wanted to do
the WC'ing of my MB too !!!

This page 3 was very interesting:

http://www.xtremerigs.net/2013/11/21/xspc-photon-reservoir-with-integrat...

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