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SVALT Cooling Dock Testing Guide

Thank you for your interest in reviewing the SVALT D2 High-Performance Cooling Dock. A SVALT D2 Review Product has been provided for your evaluation and testing. In addition to this guide, SVALT's website includes considerable detail about the SVALT D2, such as detailed performance testing, that can be used as a reference during your evaluation and testing. Please do not hesitate to contact us at pr@svalt.com if you have any questions about this testing guide, how to use the SVALT D2, general laptop cooling, or for any other matter.


  • TESTING OVERVIEW
    Conventional benchmark tests typically gauge performance by testing for little more than a minute and then compare results to a database of previous tests, however, the process of testing supplemental cooling systems differs from typical performance benchmark testing in the following ways:

    #1 Throttling
    Processor throttling has a dramatic impact on laptop temperatures and performance. If not familiar with throttling, then please read SVALT’s 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 section covers this topic in greater detail.

    #2 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 without the SVALT D2 as the CONTROL test that determines the laptop's built-in cooling system capacity, and one test with the SVALT D2 as the SVALT test that determines the supplemental cooling power. The CONDITIONS section covers this topic in greater detail.

    #3 Duration
    A single test session will often take over an hour to show the influence of internal heat buildup and the effects of supplemental cooling. The PROCESS section covers this topic in greater detail.

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  • SELECTING TEST TYPES
    As described in SVALT’s 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 tests or within the same test that divides the test results into pre-throttling and post-throttling data sets.

    Temperature Testing
    Since supplemental cooling increases the system's total cooling capacity then the system can run processors at higher power for a longer period of time with less or no throttling, which will generate more heat. This means that temperatures in the SVALT test can be as high or higher than the CONTROL test when throttling occurs.

    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/streaming a video for 45 to 90-minutes.

    If the same test is used to measure temperatures, 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 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. The CPU Test on SVALT's Performance by Design page is an example of a single test that has been used for both temperature and performance measures.

    Performance Testing
    Supplemental cooling helps to reduce heat buildup, and 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 then 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. One way to test performance is to apply a heavy workload to the CPU or GPU by using a high-demand application or by running a stress test program for 1 to 2 hours, and then either running appropriate CPU or GPU benchmarks programs while the workloads are applied or immediately after the workload ends. Some example applications and programs are provided below.

    Mac High-Demand Application Options
    • CPU/GPU: 3D rendering for an extended period of time
    • GPU/CPU: Playing games for an extended period of time
    • CPU: Exporting large 4K video files with Apple Final Cut Pro X
    • CPU: Exporting large 4K video files with Adobe Premiere Pro

    Mac Stress Test Options
    Mac Benchmark Options
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  • CONTROLLING TEST CONDITIONS
    To achieve useful and accurate results, testing conditions need to be as close to identical between the CONTROL and SVALT tests. 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 Laptop Compatibility page.

    Laptop SVALT D2 Setup
    Place the laptop in the SVALT D2 and with the included hex drive, slide the adjustable pad to create a tight fit. Once the laptop has been setup, please do not leave the laptop in the SVALT D2 dock during test preparations, and wait until SVALT testing begins, otherwise the laptop’s starting temperatures will be influenced by the SVALT D2’s supplemental cooling and the SVALT D2’s aluminum heat sink will absorb laptop heat. During testing, the SVALT D2’s Turbo+ cooling mode is recommended for the SVALT test. Turbo+ is activated by turning on the cooling unit and then pressing the switch three times. Turbo+ is deactivated by pressing the switch one time.

    Laptop Clamshell Workstation Setup
    Setup the laptop in closed-screen clamshell mode while connected to an external monitor, keyboard, mouse and power supply per SVALT’s Laptop Clamshell Setup page. Fully charge battery at least an hour before starting tests, as a charging or recently charged battery will give off heat.

    Laptop Background Activities
    There are a number of automated background activities that can consume system resources, generate significant amounts of heat, and reduce performance. The following steps can be taken to help ensure that nothing other than the intended testing workload is stressing the system, and to help ensure that testing workloads are consistent for all test performed:
    • Disconnect Ethernet, external hard drives, and any other peripheries not required for testing.
    • Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
    • 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 -> 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 Component Monitoring
    To test SVALT D2’s influence on 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. There are a number of applications that provide real-time display of these measurements, but only Hardware Monitor by Bresink saves all sensor measurements for post-test analysis. If you are working with SVALT PR already then please ask your representative for a license, otherwise, please contact SVALT.
    Laptop Fan Control
    The SVALT D2 provides considerable supplemental cooling to the laptop's built-in cooling system, which reduces the demands in the laptop's cooling system, allowing the built-in fans to run at lower RPMs. While this is considered advantageous for increasing longterm laptop durability, during testing it becomes a variable to control in order to isolate and measure the influence of supplemental cooling. The CONTROL laptop fans typically run at 25 to 50% faster RPMs than when the SVALT D2 is used, even though SVALT test temperatures remain lower. Locking fan RPMs at the higher CONTROL test speed normalizes this variable. In temperature testing with light workloads, the fan(s) should be locked between 30-40% of maximum RPM, so around 2500 for MacBook Pro laptops and 2800 RPM for MacBook Air laptops. In performance testing with heavy workloads, the fan(s) should be locked at maximum RPM. Controlling fan speeds is considered an advanced setting and fans should never be allowed to spin at speed lower than the system default settings. There are a couple free and a couple paid applications that allow for the fans to be manually controlled, but Macs Fan Control seems to the best free option.
    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 while recording data or by taking a screenshot of internal component temperatures. This sensor data can then be used as a reference for the second test. After completing the first test, the laptop may need to sit idle or power down for a period of time before matching the screenshot reference temperatures. Note that the SVALT D2 should not be used to cool the laptop if it will be used in the second test as the dock’s aluminum heat sink may be become saturated before starting the test.

    Ambient Temperatures
    Match ambient temperatures prior to starting tests and maintain through both the CONTROL and SVALT tests. SVALT has provided an external temperature gauge with the review product. Since the laptop, dock and external display all discharge heat during testing, it is critical that the temperature gauge, laptop and SVALT D2 are located so that external heating or cooling sources do influence temperatures. To maintain a consistent ambient temperature during testing, a manually controlled heating and/or cooling system will likely be required. Note that 75 Fahrenheit or higher temperatures have been used for SVALT tests.

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  • STEP-BY-STEP TEST PROCESS
    The following provides a sequential step-by-step guide for testing the SVALT D2. The CONTROL test can occur before or after the SVALT D2 test, but is listed here as occurring after the SVALT D2 test for easier post-test cool down.
    1. Restrict laptop activities and maintain ambient temperature. See Laptop Background Activities and Ambient Temperatures in CONDITIONS tab for details.
    2. Open Hardware Monitor, arrange sensor windows and set each sensor window to display long-term history at 2-hours, then open Activity Monitor and select CPU view sorted by % CPU. See Laptop Component Monitoring in CONDITIONS tab for details.
    3. Open selected testing application and prepare application for a quick test start, but do not start test. See TYPES tab for details.
    4. 1st SVALT test only: Set laptop into the SVALT D2 dock and set the cooling mode to Turbo+ by first turning on the D2 and then pressing the switch three times. See Laptop Compatibility and Setup in CONDITIONS tab for details.
    5. 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 Laptop Starting Temperatures in CONDITIONS tab for details.
    6. Manually lock laptop internal fan speeds. See Laptop Fan Control in CONDITIONS tab for details.
    7. Start testing workload. As an option you can use timer and take screenshots at a set interval during testing. See TYPES tab for details.
    8. After testing workload is complete then end workload. As an option you can immediately start benchmark programs once workload is complete, or alternatively you can run benchmark programs while workload is still applied. See TYPES tab for details.
    9. Manually unlock laptop internal fan speeds and return to system defaults. See Laptop Fan Control in CONDITIONS tab for details.
    10. Click on each of Hardware Monitor’s sensor windows, make sure it is set to long-term history, and then save a .csv file type with test names. See Laptop Component Monitoring in CONDITIONS tab for details.
    11. 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. See Laptop Starting Temperatures in CONDITIONS tab for details.
    12. 2nd CONTROL test only: Return laptop settings to default and normal. See Laptop Background Activities in CONDITIONS tab for details.
    13. 2nd CONTROL test only: Sort, average, analyze and compare testing data. See TYPES tab for details.

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