|Best CPU Cooler Performance - Q2 2008|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Tuesday, 15 July 2008|
Page 16 of 18
CPU Cooler Final Thoughts
There's only one purpose for the entire Benchmark Reviews CPU cooler series, and that's to discover the very best product for each period. There are a lot of different products out there, and believe it or not we exclude a few from each article because they don't stack up well at all. So this is why you may not see some of the coolers other sites have tested in our results. Because of space and time limitations it's not feasible to review them all, but it's certainly worth mentioning which products should be avoided. So I began to think about, and nearly constructed a real-time chart which places products into different levels of performance. That's when I realized that performance is relative, too, and what performs well today might be at the bottom of the pile a year from now. As it turns out, the best way I can think of is already being done by our affiliate FrostyTech: use a synthetic system to generate the same load for every test. This would stand the test of time much better than any computer system would, and temperature is a static measurement.
No doubt there will be a few readers who will scoff at my results (because I read their pity parlay after each time my affiliates publish their own cooler reviews), so I'm certain the fan boys will claim that anyone with ten minutes of experience will "lap" the processor's integrated heat spreader smooth as well as polish the CPU coolers mating surface. Sure, I concede, you're correct. Any bonafide overclocker with more time on his/her hands than the average hardware enthusiast will spend a few hours wet-sanding their equipment so that they can get an extra degree of cooling performance. But for the other 99% of the consumer population, this is what you can expect from these cooling products if you want the CPU cooler to perform right out of the box or with a simple add-on fan upgrade.
I can't please everyone, and my biggest critics have taught me that there's a small portion of enthusiasts that would happily spend ten days turning a decent cooler (the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme is usually the subject of said improvements) into an excellent cooler. But I'm not that guy. I'll spend ten minutes removing the old stock fan and replace it with something of higher output along with a good thin thermal paste application and call it done. So to you hardcore overclockers, feel free to see my results as flawed, because nobody I know is willing to spend that much time on a large collection of review samples (to include Spawne of OverclockersPulse). I had to draw the line somewhere, and this is it.
There are numerous ways to improve upon the performance that any one of these products has offered. Take for example the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme: most enthusiasts like to modify this product by lapping the surface and adding additional mounting pressure by using a washer. I for one believe this to be more of a necessity than anything else, since Thermalright designed the surface with an intentionally uneven convex finish. To a lesser extent, you could also file and polish the mating surface of any one of the Heat-pipe Direct Touch coolers and then use bolt-on backplate mounting kit (such as the Xigmatek Cross-bow system). Nevertheless, most of this point was made in our Vendetta 2 vs TRUE vs HDT-S1283 article.