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Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling
Written by Olin Coles   
Tuesday, 04 August 2009
Table of Contents: Page Index
Best CPU Cooler Performance LGA1366 Q2-2009
Thermally Conductive Element Reference
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus
Cooler Master Hyper N620
Kingwin XT-1264
Prolimatech Megahalems
Scythe Zipang 2
Thermaltake ISGC-300 CLP0539
Thermaltake ISGC-400
Xigmatek Thor's Hammer S126384
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme
Cooler Surface Preparations
Cooler Test Methodology
Test Results: Stock Cooling Fan
Test Results: High-Output Fan
Overclocked Test Results
CPU Cooler Final Thoughts
Best CPU Cooler Conclusion

Best CPU Cooler Conclusion

It's been very quiet around the CPU cooling industry these past three months, as evidenced by the lack of high-end products launched to market. The opposite is true for overclockers, since the longtime-popular Intel Core 2 and Core i7 brands are now competing with the AMD Phenom II series. Previously an overclock was limited by the CPU, but AMDs decision to offer unlocked Black Edition (BE) processors at mainstream prices have removed this roadblock. Still, AMDs socket AM3 platform will need to work overtime in order to beat the LGA775 'Socket T' interface.

For enthusiasts and overclockers, there's still plenty of life left in the older socket platforms and the retail pricing proves it. As of August 2009 the quad-core Q8200 and Core 2 Duo E8400 each sell for around $165, unchanged for almost nine months; while the price on a Core 2 Quad Q6600 has actually increased to $200, thus proving that popularity for the LGA775 platform still exists. The LGA775 products still provide decent value and give hardware enthusiasts a reason to continue using P45 and X48 chipsets, but they don't compare to the performance of Intel's Core i7 series or even touch the value of an AMD Phenom II processor.

Dual-core processors are still strong for gamers and multitaskers, while quad-core processors work best for audio/video editing and virtual computer servers. AMD's Phenom II launch has done wonders for the enthusiast and overclocking community, with efforts further amplified by offering affordable high-end products during an economic recession. For the money, there isn't a processor around that comes close in value or performance than the AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition unlocked triple-core socket AM3 processor that sells for only $120 (which has earned it the Benchmark Reviews Editor's Choice Award). If quad-core is more to your liking, the AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE removes the clock multiplier restriction at a mainstream price around $200; something Intel's Extreme Edition processor offers for more than $1000.

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While not every CPU cooler tested in this article is suitable for extreme overclocking projects, practically all of these products offer excellent cooling performance for high-end systems. Benchmark Reviews offers a beginners how-to guide for enthusiasts wanting to overclocking their CPU, so join in and see how far you can stretch that dollar! I've already delivered my choices for the LGA775 platform way back in the Best of Q4 2008 Conclusion, and surprisingly nothing has changed. The newer Intel Core i7 platform is still maturing, so if you're in the market of a high-performance LGA1366 CPU cooler here are my suggestions:

For absolute performance my recommendation goes to the Prolimatech Megahalems. This product is designed by former Thermalright engineers, and takes the best aspects into consideration to produce one phenomenal product. The mounting base is unparalleled by any other I've tested, which delivers extraordinary contact surface pressure between the processor and polished finish on the Megahalems. As of August 2009 the ProlimaTech Megahalems was available at FrozenCPU for $65, which is a fair price for any ultra-performance product.

If the Megahalems cooler isn't available, I can suggest two other high-performance alternatives. The Xigmatek Thor's Hammer S126384 is available from NewEgg for $65, which includes the CrossBow ACK-I7363 mounting system with the CAC-SXHH7-U01 kit and allows two 120mm fans of either 25mm or 35mm depths. Alternatively, the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme has a long history of cooling high-temperature overclocks and offers identical cooling performance to the Xigmatek Thor's Hammer S126384. NewEgg appears to have completely dropped Thermalright products, but FrozenCPU still lists the TRUE Black Ultra-120 eXtreme for $75. Neither of these coolers include a fan, so be sure to factor that into costs.

Beyond these three top-performers, there's only a handful of other CPU coolers I might consider worthy of high-temperature overclocking projects on the LGA1366 socket. The Titan FINRIR TTC-NK85TZ and Thermolab BARAM are two new products unlikely to be found in North American stores but still deserve your attention if you can find them. More likely to stocked is the Cooler Master Hyper Z600 RR-600-NNU1-GP kit for $55 or Xigmatek HDT-S1284EE which sells for $40 at NewEgg. Each of these kits offers LGA1366 compatibility, and each comes with a capable cooling fan (although the Hyper Z600 can fit four 120mm units).

This concludes the Best CPU Cooler Performance LGA1366 - Q2 2009 roundup article. Sadly, there just wasn't much change since our last review but instead our results verify the best-of-the-best cooling products for the Core i7 platform and prove what works on a real-world system as well as a moderately overclocked performance computer. In future articles I would like to incorporate a new approach, possibly with a bigger and more powerful 120x120x35mm fan to cool a much more demanding overclock. If you have constructive suggestions, Benchmark Reviews encourages you to leave comments and questions in our Discussion Forum.

EDITOR'S NOTE 13 FEB 2010: Benchmark Reviews will publish our Q1-2010 Best CPU Cooler Performance LGA1366 article on 11 March 2010. Several new heatsinks along with some enthusiast favorites will all be tested on an overclocked six-core processor. Additionally, our performance test results for the AMD AM3 socket will also be included.

Epilogue - Looking Forward

Sometimes a well-planned project still suffers problems, and even though Benchmark Reviews works closely with manufacturers and distributors we still miss the opportunity to test new products from time to time. In our next article, we plan to include the following CPU coolers:

  • Cogage TRUE Spirit
  • Cool Age FO-X120TF Wind Tunnel Cooler
  • Corsair H50 CWCH50 Liquid Cooler
  • Scythe Mugen 2 CPU Cooler
  • Scythe Kabuto CPU Cooler
  • Xigmatek Balder SD1283
  • Xigmatek Odin's Wing
  • ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 PWM Premium CPU Cooler

Although we made several requests for product samples, there were a few companies that declined to have their product compared against others in our Best CPU Cooler Performance series.

  • Evercool Buffalo HPFI7-10025 CPU Cooler
  • Rosewill FORT120 RCX-SHDT120X1 CPU Cooler

Benchmark Reviews will also begin testing high-volume output with the Scythe Ultra Kaze 120x30mm cooling fan, which is reported to push 133.6 CFM at 45.9 dBA.


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Comments 

 
# Backing platebruce h storm 2010-06-01 16:53
Hi

What was the backing plate you used on the Prolimatech Megahalem . Was it the Xigmatek ACK-I5361 Intel Core i7/Core i5 compatible Bracket Set or Xigmatek ACK-I5363 Intel Core i7/Core i5 compatible Bracket Set
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# RE: Backing plateOlin Coles 2010-06-01 17:45
The ProlimaTech Megahalems has its own backplate that comes with the heatsink, and is far superior to the Xigmatek versions. Take a look at the full review that's linked in this article.
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# Is the backplate required?Ben 2010-07-01 07:07
If I buy the Megahalems will I need the backplate if I'm going to use it on a 1366 Socket?
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# RE: Is the backplate required?Olin Coles 2010-07-01 07:08
The 1366 backplate is already included in the kit.
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# RE:Ben 2010-07-01 10:28
I mean will I have to use it or it will go on to the 1336 socket without the backplate?
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# RE: RE:Olin Coles 2010-07-01 10:37
You will need to use it... and I recommend that you read the full review here: benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=316
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