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Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling
Written by Olin Coles   
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
Table of Contents: Page Index
Best CPU Cooler Performance LGA1366 - Q1 2009
Thermally Conductive Element Reference
Arctic Cooling Freezer Xtreme
Cooler Master V10 RR-B2P-UV10-GP
CoolIT Domino ALC
Prolimatech Megalems
Spire TherMax II SP679S1-PCI
Thermolab BARAM
Titan FENRIR TTC-NK85TZ
Xigmatek Dark Knight S1283V
Xigmatek Thor's Hammer S126384
Zalman CNPS9900 LED
TIM Application and Surface
Testing Methodology
Test Results: Stock Cooling Fan
Test Results: High-Output Fan
Overclocked Test Results
CPU Cooler Final Thoughts
Best CPU Cooler Conclusion

High-Output Fan Results

This section uses the high-output Yate Loon D12SH-12 cooling fan on each product tested. Because of the size and design constraints, a 120x120x25mm fan is as large as we can go with our collection of coolers. We are aware that much more impressive fans are available, such as the 120x120x35mm 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.

In our recent review of the Xigmatek Thor's Hammer S126384 cooler, Benchmark Reviews used the Scythe Kaze-Jyuni Slip Stream 120mm cooling fan (model SY1225SL12H) along side the Yate Loon D12SH-12. Although Scythe claims the Kaze offers 88.11 CFM, I had a difficult time believing the stated specification when the results were always in favor of the Yate Loon product. Regardless, the Kaze series is quite popular with enthusiasts and the SlipStream does do well to provide sufficient airflow without all the irritation of noise... but Benchmark Reviews isn't going to use it for testing in this article.

q1-09_cpu_cooler_results_vertical_d12sh-12.png

Even though the CoolIT Domino ALC is a water-cooled solution, I thought it would be interesting to measure the performance against our collection (although this time the fan was switched onto the 'high' setting). The Arctic Cooling Freezer Xtreme doesn't allow the fan to be replaced, which removes it from this section of tests. The Cooler Master V10 was also not included in these results because there are two fans (in addition to TEC cooling technology), but it's included in the next section of overclocked results. All of the other CPU coolers received a single Yate Loon D12SH-12 cooling fan, and finish the testing in the following order:

CPU Cooler

Thermal Difference
Prolimatech Megahalems 22.85°C over ambient
Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme 25.1°C over ambient
Xigmatek Thor's Hammer S126384 25.15°C over ambient
Titan FINRIR TTC-NK85TZ 25.45°C over ambient
Xigmatek all-copper S1284 Prototype 25.9°C over ambient
Cooler Master Hyper Z600 26.03°C over ambient
Xigmatek Dark Knight S1283V 26.35°C over ambient
Xigmatek HDT-S1284 26.48°C over ambient
OCZ Gladiator Max 26.95°C over ambient
Thermolab BARAM 27.03°C over ambient
CoolIt Domino ALC (high fan setting) 27.13°C over ambient
OCZ Vendetta 2 OCZTVEND2 28.25°C over ambient
Spire TherMax II SP679S1-PCI 28.5°C over ambient
Noctua NH-U12P 29.0°C over ambient
Cooler Master V8 29.25°C over ambient
Intel LGA1366 Stock Cooling Solution 53.07°C over ambient

It becomes evident that there's a point of diminishing returns for every CPU cooler, and when over-cooled the results collide closely together. Although the 2.66GHz Intel Core i7-920 processor does a decent job of separating the crowd, there's still only about 7°C between the fifteen coolers we tested. Tt's a good bet that any one of these well-designed products will cool an overclocked system extremely well, but these days only the very best will do. 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 expect to see the same technology used in all cooling products with the difference being 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.

So far, the Prolimatech Megahalems has dominated both the stock and high-output fan tests, which certainly doesn't make two products tied for second-place very happy. The Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme and Xigmatek Thor's Hammer S126384 are neck and neck with each other, but still a few degrees behind the Megahalems cooler. Titan's FINRIR also makes it into the top of the list again, with the all-copper prototype of the HDT-S1284 coming in right behind it. Some coolers didn't move in relation to the previous tests, and keep the same order in the lineup.

The Cooler Master Hyper Z600, Xigmatek Dark Knight S1283V, and Xigmatek HDT-S1284 all keep the same positions and order, but also improve a few degrees with the high-output Yate Loon fan. Because the OCZ Gladiator Max and Spire TherMax II both have loosely packed fin-sinks, there's really not much the additional airflow will help. Unlike our LGA775 tests, the Noctua NH-U12P seems to be coming up short on ultra high-end cooling performance. While not at all bad in comparison, the core temperatures were often seen nearing 48°C under full load; which is still 6°C more than the Megahalems delivered. Last on our list was the Cooler Master V8, which cools well enough, but may not be up to the task when we add some voltage and overclock the processor... which is exactly what happens in our next section.



 

Comments 

 
# Fans die quickKameal Celestee 2012-04-04 06:48
Had one of these and whilst they work well the fans didn't last more than a year, first one went down and then the other a few weeks later.
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