Testing TUF Armor
Testing TUF Armor
We all know that the look of the TUF Thermal Armor is very, very unique and happens to be one of the major features of the Sabertooth. Naturally, users want to know whether this extensive heatsink works and there are of course many skeptics that think it will do more harm than good. We’re about to put this to the test.
Before we get into the results, let’s spend a few minutes on the testing methodology. In addition to TUF Armor, the Sabertooth P67 has something you don’t see on most boards: its Thermal Radar. Thermal Radar is a part of AI Suite that monitors temperatures at 12 different locations around the motherboard. Above you have a screenshot of Thermal Radar with the 12 temperature locations coded by number. We used this program to test temperature differences using five different configurations which are as follows:
1) Thermal Armor off, no additional airflow added
2) Thermal Armor on, no additional airflow added
3) Thermal Armor off, 120mm fan aimed towards the memory
4) Thermal Armor on, 120mm fan aimed towards the memory
5) Thermal Armor on, 50mm fan installed on the Thermal Armor
To test the Thermal Armor with and without a 50mm fan, we picked one up at our local PC shop. These fans typically cost $6 to $10 and as was already mentioned one isn’t included with the board so keep that in mind when you see the results. The board does come with the screws for a 50mm fan though.
Consistency in the measurement technique is key for this type of analysis so we maintained the same technique for all five tests. The CPU was at our 5Ghz manual overclock and load vCore was at 1.416v. For loading the system, we started with an idle system and ran Prime95 (8 thread, small FFT) for exactly 10 minutes and took a measurement at the 10 minute point. This method was repeated for all five tests.
The above table is color coded based on each of the 12 temperature sensors. For example, for point 2 which is motherboard, the highest temps of the five methods are in red and the lowest are in green.
As you can see from the averages at the bottom of the table, nothing beats a 120mm fan regardless of if Thermal Armor is installed or not. Tests 3 and 4 (with 120mm fan) were over 10C cooler on average than tests 1 and 2 (without 120mm fan). Adding a 50mm fan (test 5) brought temperatures down midway between tests 1 and 2 (without 120mm) and tests 3 and 4 (with 120mm). Temperatures with and without the Thermal Armor were close, with only slight differences in a few areas.
To take the analysis a step deeper, we created a chart which clearly displays the differences between each of the 12 sensors using all five configurations. The blue line in the middle of the chart (50mm fan test) is one of the most interesting. The 50mm and the TUF Armor ducting cools VCCIO, PCI-E 1, both USB3.0 points, VCCSA, and SATA6G quite well but the other points remain close to the tests where there was no air flow. This shows that the ducting is working to an extent but perhaps the 50mm doesn’t have the power to reach some points such as DRAM, Motherboard, and PCI-E 2.
So what can we conclude from all this? Well first, the TUF Armor is effective to some extent. However, you should have a decent amount of downward air flow around the CPU socket to make efficient use of the ducting. A 50mm does help, but if you can get a downward-pushing CPU cooler or a 120mm fan pointing towards the socket you will get ideal cooling on the Sabertooth. This holds true with or without the TUF Armor but since it does not trap heat even with very little airflow, it does seem to be working…while adding some great looks to the board.
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