|Best CPU Cooler Performance LGA775 - Q4 2008|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Thursday, 01 January 2009|
Page 12 of 14
Test Results: High-Output Fan
This section uses the high-output Yate Loon D12SH-12 cooling fan on each product tested. I am aware that there are much more impressive fans available, such as the 120 CFM screamers that require a bolt-on kit to retain them. But in my experience, the Yate Loon D12SH-12 is one of the best 120mm cooling fans available in regards to the noise to performance ratio. The D12SH-12 cooling fan forces an impressive 88 CFM of air at a moderately noisy 40 dbA. I can't personally suffer anything that produces higher sound levels than this, since gaming would then require headphones and casual computing is almost impossible. Overclockers are already willing to take their hardware to the breaking point, so it stands to reason that reduced fan noise is not a top priority. Not very long ago Benchmark Reviews compared the top-performing coolers in our Vendetta 2 vs TRUE vs HDT-S1283 article. In that article, we tested with the high-output D12SH-12 fan and liked the results so much that each cooler tested here has received the same treatment.
In our stock results section, the Thermaltake V14 Pro really had run of the field with it's integrated 140mm x 30mm fan. Compared to other stock fan results the V14 Pro had it easy, but the truth is that a 27.7°C temperature above ambient still places it in among the best coolers in our high-output results. In the big picture a stock unit placing in the top ten overall is very good, but either way I have a gut feeling that overclockers might reject it for lack of tweakability. Conversely, the Noctua NH-U12P that near the low-end in our stock results has now performed at the very top of our high-output results with 24.9°C. This proves to me that pairing the right fan to a cooler can make a dynamic difference in performance.
Even though the CoolIT Domino ALC is a water-cooled solution, I thought it would be interesting to measure the performance against our collection. As it turns out, it does compare to- but doesn't beat, the very best air-cooled products. In a very tight battle for second place, three coolers worked hard to earn our respect. The OCZ Vendetta 2 proved itself worthy of high-temperature overclocked systems recording 25.0°C over ambient room temperatures and matching the Domino ALC. Almost identical in cooling performance but much higher in cost is the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme, which when paired to the Yate Loon D12SH-12 (Thermalright doesn't include a fan) the TRUE performed at an impressive 25.1°C. This supports our decision to award the OCZTVEND2 with the Benchmark Reviews 2008 Editors Choice Award for cooling, in which we also gave the TRUE an honorable mention.
Completing what I consider to be the highest-performing segment of coolers was a tightly-packed group of five coolers. Cooler Master's Hyper Z600 reported 25.3°C to finish in fifth place, which could be further-improved by attaching up to three additional 120mm fans. The Xigmatek HDT-S1284 (and Kingwin RVT-12025 clone) posted 25.4°C and offered a very subtle improvement over the Xigmatek Achilles S1284 which it replaces. Next in line was Cooler Master's V8, which is as big as the Hyper Z600 but accommodates just one 120mm fan, followed by the Xigmatek HDT-S1283 and it's clones (Vantec AeroFlow FX 120 and Kingwin RVT-12025) with 25.7°C.
All of the top performing CPU coolers have a few things in common: Noctua's NH-U12P uses a bolt-through system for mounting the cooler, similar to the Xigmatek Crossbow kit we use for other coolers. The Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme also uses a bolt-through kit, as does the Cooler Master Hyper Z600 and V8... so contact pressure is extremely high for all of them. The NH-U12P, Hyper Z600, and V8 all have very flat mirror finishes for the contact surface, whereas the OCZTVEND2, HDT-S1284, VAF-1225, RVT-12025, and TRUE have a textured and equally imperfect surfaces (although the TRUE features a convex surface). All of the top coolers have either large-gauge heat-pipes, or several pairs of heat-pipe rods integrated into the base. The Domino matches a flat polished surface to water cooling.
Considering that the ten best CPU coolers collected for these high-output tests performed in a range between 24.9°-25.7°C, it's a fair bet that any one of these well-designed products will cool an overclocked system extremely well. Much like the Thermal Interface Material testing we have done for our upcoming follow-up article, high-performance products are all beginning to perform at nearly the same levels. Eventually, I foresee this to be very much like NASCAR: everyone will have the same technology and the difference will remain in the application. This is where experience comes in handy, and we've shared some of this with you in our Best Thermal Paste Application Methods article. Remember, less is more when it comes to thermal paste, and soon CPU coolers may offer the same paradigm.
The collection of CPU coolers receiving an honorable mention (or not) begins with the Titan Fenrir TTC-NK85TZ, which uses a large finsink array to produce 26.6°C over ambient. The Coollink Silentator may have borrowed some of Noctua's design aspects, but the 26.8°C is almost two full degrees away. OCZ's Gladiator Max performed at 27.0°C over ambient, but is also operates two degrees hotter than the Vendetta 2 and yet still costs more. The SilenX IXC-120HA2 is a HDT cooler with three exposed heat-pipes and large fins modeled after the Sunbeam Core Contact Freezer CR-CCTF from which it borrows the design. Both perform well, and deserve some recognition for their 27.3°C finish at the edge of our high-end readings.
Please continue on to the final thoughts and conclusion section to read my remarks on the test outcome.