Heat and noise – Core 2 Extreme vs. Dual Xeon

May 25th, 2008

Over the past few weeks I've had a handful of emails from readers asking me to compare the heat and noise of my Core 2 Extreme system and my dual Xeon system.

Both systems use the standard OEM heatsink/fan assembly.

The Core 2 Extreme system is quite quiet. The ASUS BIOS automatically controls the fan speed based on the temperature of the CPU. This means that under load the fan noise does get louder but I can't say that it's annoying in an office setting (the twin 3870 X2 graphics cards are noisier). To be honest the OEM heatsink and fan assembly that comes with the Core 2 Extreme is quite a nice setup and even incorporates a switch that allows you to flip the fan between high and low (although you do have to open the case to do this). I've pushed my system hard and I find that the low fan speed setting works just fine.

The dual Xeons are at the other end of the spectrum. When I first turned on the system the fans spun at 100% and they sounded like a jet taking off. After I activated the smart fan setting on the Tyan board the fan noise dropped considerably but it's still far from quiet.

I'm pretty sure that with third-party heatsink/fan assemblies I could make both systems a lot quieter. There's plenty of choice of coolers for the Socket 775 Core 2 Extreme (I like the Arctic Cooler Freezer 7), but options are far more limited (and expensive) for the Socket 771 Xeon. Since the Xeon system is located where noise doesn't matter, I don't care.

As for heat, both systems chuck out a lot of heat and when gaming the Core 2 Extreme system combined with two 3870 X2 cards throws out a LOT of heat. However, the Xeon is far from cool, and the more you push the system, the more heat it produces. I've not taken any measurements, but you can feel the heat from both systems, especially the Xeon system (2x quad core CPUs means a LOT more heat generated).

Bottom line: I wouldn't like to have either system running in a living room or as a media center!

This entry was posted on Sunday, May 25th, 2008 at 14:52 and is filed under PC Doctor's Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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