Testing consisted of monitoring the CPU's thermal output while at idle and under a heavy load. Idle conditions were established by allowing the test system described previously to sit at the CentOS 4.3 x64 desktop for a period of no less than one hour. The load conditions were generated by running two instances of Folding@Home, configured to take full advantage of the two cores on the Intel D-840 processor, for a period of 24 hours.
An external, digital thermal probe was used to monitor the processor and ambient temperatures, while the System Monitor in CentOS was used to confirm that both cores were either at idle or at full load. Idle conditions saw the cores bounce between 0 and 2% activity, while load conditions had both cores pegged at 100% for the duration.
For comparison purposes, the Scythe Mine was tested head-to-head with the stock cooler that shipped with the Intel D-840, as well as with two other heat pipe coolers; the Sunbeamtech Tuniq Tower 120 and the Gigabyte G-Power Pro.
The image above shows the contenders, from left to right; the Scythe Mine, The Tuniq Tower 120, The G-Power Pro, and the Intel stock cooler. Although the Mine is perhaps larger than most coolers, it isn't quite as large as it might look. The image shows it with the motherboard mounting brackets in place, which make it look as tall as the Tuniq Tower. Additionally, the Tuniq Tower is wider and deeper, and is quite honestly the biggest cooler I have yet to use.
The chart below summarizes all of the results recorded while the ambient temperature was maintained between 19 and 20 degrees Celsius. The Scythe Mine and Intel stock cooler do not come with fan controllers so they were run as they were sold, at one speed. The Gigabyte G-Power Pro and the Tuniq Tower 120 both come with fan speed controllers, so each was tested at the maximum and minimum speeds.
The numbers above may make it look like the only thing the Scythe Mine can beat is the Intel stock cooler, but there is more to consider. Although a fan speed controller does allow the other two heat pipe coolers to decrease the temperature greatly, they do so by creating noise levels I could not live with. The Gigabyte G-Power Pro is absolutely unbearable at full speed, and the Tuniq Tower is loud, but not as annoying, at its full speed. The single speed of the Scythe Mine is actually as quiet as, or quieter than, the other coolers at any speed. The Tuniq Tower at its minimum speed is close, but without sound equipment sensitive enough to monitor that low, I would have to award the low noise award to the Scythe Mine.
The maximum temperature achieved with the Mine (42 degrees Celsius) was actually quite impressive to me. I was concerned that the extreme low noise and low airflow would translate to poor thermal performance, but the CPU was held well within what I would consider a safe temperature range. If you want to cut the noise level in your system while also dropping a few degrees off of the CPU temperature, the Scythe Mine is a simple solution. While a higher speed fan with a speed controller may offer greater flexibility, the plug and play silence of the Mine was quite nice.