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VR-Zone’s Integrated Casing Torture Test

At VR-Zone, we continuously strive to provide you with product reviews of the highest quality. To enable us to test the thermal performance of computer casings in a consistent and repeatable manner, we have designed and built the Integrated Casing Torture Test. This test platform simulates the heat load produced by actual systems and allows us to take accurate thermal readings using laboratory equipment and customized software. Read on for more details!

At VR-Zone, we continuously strive to provide you with reviews of the highest quality and accuracy. When reviewing a computer case, there are three major factors to consider: Aesthetics, quality and thermal performance. While aesthetics is a highly subjective matter, quality and thermal performance can be objectively evaluated through careful examination and testing respectively. Professional testing requires the emulation of real-world situations but with repeatable results.

This led us to design a system which generates a stable thermal output and allows us to take thermal readings from several points using proper laboratory equipment and customized software. In short, the Integrated Casing Torture Test (ICTT). We will be using the ICTT in future casing reviews. But first, we'd like to take you on a tour of the ICTT.

The ICTT has two different simulated heat loads, each suited to a different form factor:

Our ATX simulated heat load simulates a motherboard with a 120W TDP processor and four potent graphics cards. For added realism, a simulated chipset dissipates 40W of power and simulated VRMs around the CPU area dissipate 30W of power. This aims to simulate overclocking scenarios where overvolting causes VRMs to produce a lot of heat.

Above: The ATX artificial heat load.

Simulated RAM modules dissipate an additional 20W of heat. Last but not least, each of the four simulated graphics cards requires 100W of power, meaning that our system is wasting exactly 610W of power by converting it to heat. Two PT100 sensors are placed over the CPU area and between the graphics cards respectively.

Above: The micro-ATX simulated heat load.

Next up is our micro-ATX artificial heat load, which is significantly smaller than our power-hungry ATX beast. The simulated CPU dissipates 90W of heat, approximating a mid-range CPU, and the chipset heatsink requires another 30W. Our one and only graphics card requires 80W of power this time, which means that our mATX system generates exactly 200W of thermal power.

Above: The simulated hard drives.

The ICTT also simulates mechanical hard drives, using three metal 'bricks' which waste 30W of power each. This is far more than any standard 3.5” HDD drive would require. A PT100 sensor is used to measure the temperature of our faux drives.

Our artificial motherboards are actually made of PCB sheets with a thick copper layer which were then sprayed with black thermal paint. This means that, although they do absorb a lot of heat, very little of it will be conducted to the case through the mounting screws. Instead, most of it is will be radiated by the board itself since our thermal paint has a significant radiation factor.

We are not using any fans or any other form of active cooling on the ICTT, taking into consideration the worst case scenario: an entirely passive setup which requires the case itself to do every part of the job. Finally, due to the extreme heat emissions we are using fire-resistant wires to prevent any accidents from taking place.

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