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TESTING

SVALT Cooling Stand models S and S Pro with 16-inch MacBook Pro and model S Mini with Mac Mini, and SVALT Cooling Dock model D with 16-inch MacBook Pro

This guide is provided for SVALT reviewers and those interested in learning how to conduct accurate and repeatable supplemental cooling tests.


  • TESTING OVERVIEW
    Conventional benchmark tests typically gauge performance by testing for a few minutes and then comparing test results to a database of previously conducted tests. The process of testing supplemental cooling systems differs from typical performance benchmark testing in the following ways:

    #1 Repeatability
    Accurate measurement of supplemental cooling is achieved by conducting two tests with workloads and conditions that are as close to identical as possible. One test is conducted without supplemental cooling as the CONTROL test, which is the test that determines the laptop's built-in cooling system capacity. Another test is conducted with supplemental cooling as the SVALT test, which is the test that determines the impact of supplemental cooling. The VARIABLES, DATA and PROCESS tabs above cover this topic in greater detail.

    #2 Throttling
    Processor throttling has a dramatic impact on laptop temperatures and performance. If not familiar with throttling, then please read the Laptop Throttling page. Tests conducted to measure temperature should avoid processor throttling, while tests conducted to measure performance require throttling to be present in at least the CONTROL test. The TYPES tab above covers this topic in greater detail.

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  • SELECTING TEST TYPES
    As described in the Laptop Throttling page, temperature and performance are directly connected and so cannot be easily tested and measured at the same moment in time. Depending on the testing workload and methods used, temperature and performance can either be tested and measured in separate test sessions or within the same test that divides the test results into pre-throttling and post-throttling data sets.

    Temperature Testing
    Supplemental cooling increases the laptop system's total cooling capacity, which allows the system to run processors at higher power for a longer period of time with little to no throttling. While it may be counterintuitive, but effective supplemental cooling that reduces throttling can lead to more heat generation and higher processor temperatures because the processors are using more power. This means that temperatures in the SVALT test can be as high or higher than the CONTROL test when throttling occurs in the CONTROL test. Without throttling in the CONTROL test, then the SVALT test will have lower temperatures.

    If separate tests are used to measure temperatures, then the testing should apply a workload sufficient to generate heat but not so high to induce throttling. Possible tests might be playing a video downloaded to the local storage drive for one to two hours.

    If the same test is used to measure temperature and performance, then the testing data will need to be divided into separate data sets, such as 1) a pre-throttling data set, 2) a post-throttling data set with an increasing rate of throttling, and 3) a post-throttling data set with a steady rate of throttling. Each of the data sets can be tagged with start times in the CONTROL test and then synced up with the SVALT test data to allow for accurate comparisons. At that point each data set can be analyzed for peaks and averages, with the first pre-throttling data set used for temperature comparisons and the third post-throttling-steady-rate data set used for power, speed and performance comparisons. The second post-throttling-rising-rate data set cannot be easily used for comparisons.

    Performance Testing
    Supplemental cooling helps to reduce heat buildup, however, it can only improve performance when the CONTROL test has enough heat buildup to cause the system to throttle processor power and in turn cause a reduction in temperatures, speed and performance. So to measure performance, throttling must occur in at least the CONTROL test. The time required to trigger throttling can vary from a few minutes to more than an hour, depending on the laptop’s built-in cooling system capacity relative to the laptop’s performance capabilities, the applied workload intensity, and the ambient temperature.

    Performance testing can target either the CPU or GPU separately, or can simultaneously target both the CPU and GPU. Some example workload applications and programs are provided below.

    Mac Stress Tests
    • CPU: Open a Terminal window and run the “Yes” Stress Test command within the following brackets { yes > /dev/null & }. A single instance will run a core at 100%, so can be used to test a single-core or can be repeated to test multiple-cores.
    • CPU: Geekbench 3 Pro Go to Benchmarks menubar -> select Run Stress Tests -> select Limit tests -> set limit to an hour or more.
    • CPU: Prime95 Torture Test Go to Options menubar -> select Torture Test -> select Small FFTs.
    • GPU/CPU: LuxMark
    • GPU: Geeks3D GpuTest
    • GPU: Unigine Heaven/Valley

    Mac Benchmarks
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  • ELIMINATING TESTING VARIABLES
    To achieve useful and accurate results, testing conditions need to be as close to identical between the CONTROL and SVALT tests as possible. This is accomplished by eliminating non-testing variables and setting up tests in a way that can be repeated as easily as possible with identical workloads and conditions. The following are the conditions and variables that SVALT controls for its tests:

    Laptop Compatibility
    Use a compatible laptop per SVALT’s product page, and to better understand how Apple laptop’s built-in cooling system works, including how it works with SVALT products, see Laptops.

    Laptop Setup and SVALT Operation
    Setup and operate per SVALT’s product page. Note that for testing, SVALT metal and heat sink components will absorb heat, so do not setup the laptop with the testing product until ready to begin the SVALT test session. Also note that the laptop battery should be fully charged at least an hour before starting tests, as a charging or a recently charged battery can add significant heat to the system.

    Laptop Background Activities
    There are a number of automated background activities that can consume system resources, generate significant amounts of heat, reduce performance, and make waste of testing accuracy. The following steps can be taken to help ensure that nothing other than the intended test workload is stressing the system, and to help ensure that test workloads are consistent for all tests (note that some of these settings will automatically reset, so check before each test session):
    • Disconnect Ethernet, external hard drives, and any other peripheries not required for testing.
    • Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (use wired keyboard and mouse).
    • Turn off TimeMachine, DropBox and other backups.
    • Open OS X System Preferences -> Notifications -> click on Turn on Do Not Disturb in Notification Center -> Open Notification Center from top right of the menu bar -> turn on Do Not Disturb.
    • Open OS X System Preferences -> Displays -> deselect Automatic adjust brightness -> slide to max brightness.
    • Open OS X System Preferences -> Energy Saver -> deselect automatic graphics switch.
    • Open OS X System Preferences -> Energy Saver -> slide the Turn display off after to Never.
    • Open OS X System Preferences -> Desktop & Screen Saver -> Screen Saver -> switch Start after to Never.
    • Open OS X System Preferences -> Security & Privacy -> opt out of automatic reporting.
    • To avoid Spotlight from influencing testing make sure to let the computer run idle for a few minutes after startup or restart, or temporarily disable in Terminal.

    Laptop Fan Control
    SVALT supplemental cooling expands the laptop’s cooling capacity to point that the laptop will export cooling from built-in cooling systems to SVALT’s supplemental cooling system. That can be beneficial for long term laptop component durability, but it does not help with testing the total combined system’s maximum cooling and performance capabilities, and becomes a variable to control in order to isolate and measure the influence of supplemental cooling. In the CONTROL tests the laptop fans can run 25-50% faster RPMs compared SVALT tests with supplemental cooling, even though laptop temperatures will still remain lower in the SVALT test. Locking fan RPMs at the higher CONTROL test speed normalizes this variable. In temperature testing with light workloads, the fan(s) can be left in auto and monitored in case tests need to be repeated, or can be increased to between 10-20% above the base level RPM. In performance testing with heavy workloads, the fan(s) should be locked at maximum RPM right before the test session begins. Controlling fan speeds is considered an advanced setting and fans should never be allowed to spin at speeds lower than the system default settings. There are free and paid applications that allow for the fans to be manually controlled.
    Laptop Starting Temperatures
    Match internal component temperatures prior to starting tests. The easiest way to achieve this is to start the first test at normal working temperatures after conducting some light workloads. This can often be accomplished by setting up the laptop system for testing, opening test apps and arranging windows. Once everything is setup then take a screenshot of internal component temperatures for a reference to use during the next test. After completing the first test, the laptop may need to sit idle or power down for a period of time before matching the first test’s screenshot reference temperatures. This could take minutes to hours. Note that the SVALT product to be used for testing should not be used to cool the laptop if it will be used in the second test as aluminum components may absorb heat not associated with the testing workload.

    Ambient Temperatures
    Match ambient temperatures prior to starting tests and maintain through both the CONTROL and SVALT tests. Since most electrical components generate heat that can be transferred to the environment and laptop (external displays are major emitters of heat), it is critical that external ambient temperature gauges, the laptop and the SVALT supplemental cooling device are all located so that external heating or cooling sources do influence temperatures. To maintain a consistent ambient temperature during testing, an environmental control system zoned for a single room or a manually controlled heating cooling system will likely be required. Note that roughly 75 Fahrenheit temperatures have been used for most SVALT testing. Also note that SVALT review products include an ambient temperature gauge.

    Room and Furnishings
    Testing on a non-conductive surface is critical to isolating supplemental cooling. Testing on a sheet of rigid insulation is ideal, otherwise testing on empty cardboard boxes can also work. The key is to avoid testing on a surface that can act as a passive cooling heat sink, like a stone, concrete, glass or metal surface. You may also need to move furniture to clear the area around testing.

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  • COLLECTING ACCURATE DATA
    Processors change their speed and power at high rates and the changes can be dramatic from moment to moment. These changes have profound impact on heat generation. As a result it is not possible to gather any useful information by watching realtime sensor data or capturing a single moment of testing. The only way to gather meaningful test results is to collect the raw sensor data in log files that can be averaged from milliseconds into larger and more meaningful 1, 5, 10, 15, 30, 60 minute and longer averages.

    Laptop Component Monitoring
    To test the influence of SVALT supplemental cooling on laptop temperatures and performance, accurate laptop component temperature and power measurements need to be recorded and saved in a format that can be analyzed for comparison.
    • Intel Power Gadget is essential for measuring and recording CPU performance, throttling and temperature in a separate data log file. Go to Logging menubar -> select Log to File and confirm there is a check mark.
    • Paddle TG Pro measures and records the rest of the computer temperatures in a separate data log file. Go to menubar -> select Show Main Window.

    Testing Reference Data
    While the above data sets will be used to calculate test results, it can be helpful to capture additional data for reference. For instance, it will be helpful to capture screenshots and environmental photos for time and ambient temperature references. This can help you record testing start and stop times, as well as provide a general test reference for what was tested.
    • Automated screenshot: Open a Terminal window and load the following code with brackets to take automated 5-min screenshot { while true; do screencapture "$(date +%Y%m%d-%H%M%S).jpg"; sleep 300; done }. Once you hit return the screenshot will begin, and it is helpful to have the first screenshot 5-minutes before the test start. To end the automated screenshot, simply close the Terminal window.
    • Environmental photos: A video is best if you have the ability to capture full test sessions by video, otherwise set a camera to 5-minute intervals synchronized with the screenshots.
    • Ambient temperature: Multiple thermistors can be used to measure temperatures around the laptop, and remote wired thermistors can be used to measure on surface temperatures.
    • Infrared imaging: There’s a possibility to collect meaningful data if fixed in place with the ability to capture a larger data set, but IR images are more likely to be fun visual representations of general conditions than provide meaningful test data.
    • Apple Activity Monitor provides real-time display and post-test reference through screenshots of system activity (included with macOS) to help you identify non-tested workloads that could result in a test session failure.

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  • STEP-BY-STEP TEST PROCESS
    The following provides a sequential step-by-step guide for testing SVALT supplemental cooling. The CONTROL test can occur before or after the SVALT test, but is listed here as occurring after the SVALT test for an easier and much quicker post-test cool down. Either way, a sufficient amount of time is required to allow the laptop to cool down to pre-testing conditions before conducting an additional test session.
    1. Establish a testing ambient temperature that can be maintained throughout both the SVALT and CONTROL tests.
    2. Restrict laptop activities and maintain ambient temperature per the VARIABLES tab.
    3. Open selected testing application and prepare application for test, but do not start test per TYPES tab.
    4. Open laptop monitoring software, arrange sensor windows so that they can be captured in screen shots, and setup automated screenshots and environmental photos/videos per the VARIABLES and DATA tabs.
    5. Test setup:
      • 1st SVALT test only: Set laptop onto SVALT supplemental cooling device per VARIABLES tab.
      • 2nd CONTROL test only: Match laptop temperatures with the 1st SVALT pre-test temperatures. If temperatures are higher, then wait at idle for temperatures to drop. If temperatures are lower, then apply light workload. See VARIABLES and DATA tabs.
    6. Start all data recording per VARIABLES and DATA tabs.
    7. Manually lock laptop internal fan speeds per VARIABLES tab.
    8. Start testing workload per TYPES tab.
    9. After testing workload is complete then end workloads and quit applications per TYPES tab.
    10. Manually unlock laptop internal fan speeds and return to system defaults per VARIABLES tab.
    11. Save data logs per DATA tab.
    12. Test wrap up:
      • 1st SVALT test only: Cool off laptop to return to pre-test temperatures, and then repeat testing for the 2nd CONTROL test with the same ambient temperature and laptop testing conditions per VARIABLES tab.
      • 2nd CONTROL test only: Sort, average, analyze and compare testing data.

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Please contact us with any questions, feedback, or general inquiries and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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