|Best CPU Cooler Performance LGA775 - Q4 2008|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Thursday, 01 January 2009|
Page 11 of 14
Test Results: Stock Cooling Fan
When it comes to personal computers, you could probably divide users into two separate groups for almost any one topic. This article is no different, and those two groups include both enthusiasts and overclockers. In regards to fan noise, there are those of us who want it quiet while other will tolerate an eardrum-ringing whine. Since noise is a problem and not a solution, I believe that most enthusiasts want as much performance as they can get without additional tweaking and time-intensive modifications. That's what this test section is all about: how the cooler performs out of the box. For the "Stock Cooling Fan" results, Benchmark Reviews tests our Q3-2008 collection of CPU coolers for this article using the following criteria: Each cooler is tested with the manufacturer-included fan, so that performance will be relevant to consumers using the product in stock form.
Peeking at the results illustrated in the chart below, there's a certain amount of explanation necessary to fully understand how they were achieved. For example our best "stock" performer for Q4-2008 was (again) the Thermaltake V14Pro CPU Cooler CL-P0471 at 27.7°C, but it's important to know that this cooler has an integrated high-output 140mm x 30mm fan (which was tested at full speed) that cannot be replaced. All on its own the V14 Pro stands out as an over-achiever, and in some respects it truly is. While the retaining system may use the standard Intel push-pin clips, the contact surface is a perfectly flat and very-well polished copper block. You must also keep in mind that the CL-P0471 measures 171mm (6.73 in) tall by 161mm (6.34 in) wide, placing it among the very largest coolers we've seen (such as the Scythe Mugen Infinity SCINF-1000). So that should explain why the V14 Pro is at the top of the stock cooler list.
Directly behind it, and looking like a smaller (aluminum) version of the V1Pro, is Thermaltake's V1 AX. I was completely surprised by the performance this little cooler put out, and with fan dialed down low it kept temperatures at 32.8°C over ambient. Dialing the fan speed to its maximum output improves the V1 AX to 28.9°, only one degree away from it's big brother at the top and well-known coolers like the Xigmatek HDT-S1283, but also raises the noise level dramatically.
Many of the more familiar products kept their positions at the top, with the OCZ Vendetta 2 (OCZTVEND2) performing extremely well at 29.4°C while operating with a medium-noise/medium-volume fan, trailed closely by the (now legendary) Xigmatek HDT-S1283 with similar PWM fan at 29.9°C. Xigmatek's new HDT-S1284 performed nearly as well with a stock temperature of 30.3°C over ambient, nearly matched by the Vantec AeroFlow FX (VAF-1225). The Zalman CNPS9900 LED finished in the top ten with a 30.5°C temperature over ambient. Now obviously these results are all extremely close, which means that ultimately they will all perform roughly the same in most environments. That being said, it comes down to price, and perhaps application compatibility. The Kingwin RVT-12025 is a poor-mans HDT-S1283 since it costs as little as $19.99 compared to $36.99, and they are identical in construction (but Kingwin includes a lower-volume silent fan).
Sometimes a unique design will translate into good performance, and sometimes it doesn't. The Cooler Master V8 (RR-UV8-XBU1-GP) performed at 31.0°C using the stock fan, which was trailed by the OCZ Gladiator Max (OCZTGLADM). The Titan Finrir TTC-NK85TZ recording an average 31.7°C, matching performance to the Sunbeam Core Contact Freezer CR-CCTF and SilenX IXC-120HA2 (which all share the same design). Thermaltake's uniquely shaped SpinQ seems to sacrifice function for fashion, as the lowest speed setting for the integrated fan produces 39.8°C. Even with the fan turned to maximum output the SpinQ still keeps temperatures around 32.3°C, which isn't very impressive for a product that touts an award-winning design.
GlacialTech always seems to produce quality products with a unique look, but sadly they don't seem to perform as well as the top products we collect for these round-ups. The GlacialTech UFO V51 posts a 33.1°C performance, despite the large frame. But when you manufacture a cooler to be silent there's usually some sacrifices to be made, as we also see with our stock fan results for the Noctua NH-U12P. Our former high-volume top performer does well-enough and produces 32.7°C over ambient with a silent-running medium-output NF-P12 fan attached to it.
Added in for good measure, the CoolIT Domino Advanced Liquid Cooling system offers three fan settings and for this test we measured results using the lowest speed. With nearly no audible noise, the Domino ALC kept the Q9450 at a respectable 33.6°C, which was still low enough to be neighborly with the other top performing stock CPU coolers. For reference, a copper-and-aluminum stock Intel thermal solution scored 46.2°C under full load.
Please keep in mind that the entire basis of this article revolves around the title: Best Performing CPU Coolers. So while some of the coolers did not perform well in comparison to others it doesn't particularly mean that they are poor products. They're just not the absolute best. In summary, if you're building a system that places an emphasis on quiet sound levels and affordable cost, you'll want to pick your cooler carefully. Of the top choices, my suggestion goes to the OCZTVEND2, as it's a more affordable version of the HDT-S1283. However, the Vantec AeroFlow FX and new Zalman CNPS9900 are also both excellent choices for either HTPC or tower builds. If you're able to fit the part into your non-overclocked system, Thermaltake offers tremendous performance from their V14 Pro.
For under $50 USD, you can either keep with the stock fans and see performance results similar to ours, or you can dig a little deeper and force-feed the cool air with a nice Yate Loon fan (like we used for our next section). Because the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme and Cooler Master Hyper Z600 coolers do not come with an included cooling fan, they were not included as part of this test group. In our next section, every cooler that could be fitted with our high-output fan (including the aforementioned) is represented in full glory.