Complete specifications for the test system can be found in the list below:
The Thermalright SI-120 CPU cooler listed above will provide the competition for the Mini R80, and should be a formidable opponent. The SI-120 is mated with a Cooler Master silent 120mm LED fan, which also happens to be from ClubIT.com. Although it is a low speed fan (1200 RPM max), coupled with the Thermalright SI-120 provides for some respectable, low noise cooling.
The testing will consist of four phases, idle and load conditions at both default and overclocked speeds/voltages. The idle condition is achieved by running the CPU with nothing running except for Windows XP 64-Bit sitting at the desktop. The load condition is achieved by running a series of SiSoft Sandra's CPU benchmarks in the "Burn-In Wizard" so as to keep the CPU utilization at 100% at all times. The default speed and voltage of the processor is 2000 MHz (200x10) and 1.4V, while the overclocked settings have the CPU running at 2300 MHz (230x10) and 1.5V.
The SI-120 was run only at full speed (1200 RPM), while the Aquagate Mini R80 had its fan run at two fan speeds (minimum and maximum, @1800-3800 RPM), to give a broader view of what different air flows can do for the temperatures.
Each cooler was allowed to run for a minimum of 30 minutes during all phases of testing, and a thermal probe on an external digital thermometer was used to monitor the maximum sustained temperatures. A second probe on the thermometer was used to monitor the ambient temperature, which was held at 18 degrees C during testing. The chart below summarizes the results...
As you can see from the data above, at its lowest speed the Cooler Master Aquagate Mini R80 provides exactly the same performance as the SI-120 with the 120mm Cooler Master Silent LED fan installed. The thermal numbers are the same, but the noise output is not, as the Aquagate Mini R80 was actually much more noticeable. It wasn't particularly loud at this speed, but the pump made an audible hum, while the cooling fan made an annoying droning sound. The SI-120 was truly just about silent.
Cranking the fan speed up on the Aquagate does drop the temperature a few degrees, but the noise produced made it a wasted effort to me. It was far too loud, and I was not able to tolerate it beyond the two thirty minute test sessions required.
Given the solid performance at low speed, I see no reason to run the fan at anything but the minimum, and would actually suggest getting a new fan. As a supplemental test, an 80mm Cooler Master Silent LED fan was installed. It was able to maintain the same temperatures, but the noise level was much more acceptable. The SI-120 was still quieter, as there was still the hum of the pump, but at least the fan noise was eliminated.