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Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling
Written by Olin Coles   
Friday, 09 October 2009
Table of Contents: Page Index
Best CPU Cooler Performance LGA1366 Q3-2009
Thermally Conductive Element Reference
Cogage TRUE Spirit
CoolAge CA-X120TF Wind Tunnel
Corsair H50 CWCH50
Scythe Kabuto SCKBT-1000
Scythe Mugen 2 SCMG-2000
Tuniq Tower-120 Extreme
ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 PWM Premium
Cooler Surface Preparations
Cooler Test Methodology
Test Results: Stock Cooling Fan
Test Results: High-Output Fan
Enthusiast Fan Comparison
CPU Cooler Final Thoughts
Best CPU Cooler Conclusion

Best CPU Cooler Performance

Overclockers and performance enthusiasts both share the same desire to cool their processor with the best possible hardware solution, but they each have different needs. The Benchmark Reviews test lab is rife with cooling products, ranging from silent low-profile to full-size tower coolers. The purpose of this series is to measure products for the best cooling performance in both stock and overclocked forms. In this article, Benchmark Reviews tests a new collection of LGA1366 coolers against a set of battle-proven products like the Prolimatech Megahalems, Xigmatek Thor's Hammer, and Thermalright TRUE, in search of the Best CPU Cooler Performance LGA1366 Q3 - 2009. Unlike the last quarterly report, there's a new name for enthusiasts and overclockers to remember in this roundup.

When it comes down to it, those consumers shopping for aftermarket cooling products only want one thing out of them: the very best cooling performance possible. Short of dangerous dry ice and liquid nitrogen (LN) cooling, air cooling has become the most popular means to control overclocked processor temperatures. Since new products flood the market almost weekly, it usually all comes down to price and performance. Based on this principle, Benchmark Reviews searches out the latest CPU coolers and tests them under real-world overclocked conditions. Want to know which cooling products stand-out? This quarterly update to our Best CPU Cooler Performance series will separate the good from the bad... but we also find those products that are truly exceptional and deserving of your high-power hardware projects.

Using the Intel Core i7-920 processor overclocked to 3.8 GHz @ 1.4V on the Gigabyte GA-EX58-EXTREME motherboard, only the very best CPU coolers will endure. Alternatively, for casual hardware enthusiasts we use the 2.66 GHz i7-920 at stock voltage and test product performance out of the box. Comparing the ranking between test segments, our benchmarks results should reveal the most desirable heatsink for your computer system.

Best_CPU_Cooler_Performance_Q3-09.jpg

Benchmark Reviews strives to offer the overclocker and hardware enthusiast community solid evidence reflecting the true performance of computer products through rigorous testing and evaluation. I personally understand that many of the readers who visit Benchmark Reviews have been involved with other community websites for several years, and therefore take our test results personally. So now that our test process has been reworked, we have collected the most complete source of benchmark results possible and gathered in a controlled environment. The purpose of this sixth article from our quarterly series is to document performance and declare the best CPU coolers available for the LGA1366 socket as of Q2 2009.

New LGA1366 Test Products

Previous Top Performers

  • Cogage TRUE Spirit
  • CoolAge FO-X120TF Wind Tunnel
  • Corsair H50 CWCH50
  • Dynatron G950 Genius
  • Scythe Kabuto SCKBT-1000
  • Scythe Mugen 2 SCMG-2000
  • Tuniq Tower 120 Extreme
  • ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 PWM Premium

Honorable Mention

Cooling Underachievers

Before the Intel Core i7/X58 platform arrived, the Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad processors did their part to separate the cream of the crop from our large collection of LGA775 coolers. In a previous Best CPU Cooler Performance article, Benchmark Reviews retired the LGA775 platform from its testing duties and made room for the up-and-coming LGA1366 socket. It didn't take long to collect several CPU coolers designed for the Intel Core i7 CPU & X58 platform. This Best CPU Cooler Performance LGA1366 - Q3 2009 article focuses on a wide selection of performance-cooling products for overclockers. It's a mistake to think that any LGA775 cooler can do just as well with the new LGA1366/Core i7 platform; primarily because the size and location of processor cores has changed.

Computer hardware is an ever-evolving industry, and since Moores law only applies to an exponentially growing transistor count then there should probably be another law for cooling. In the very recent past there have been two major trends which have accelerated the performance potential of CPU cooler. That first development was the use of heat-pipes to directly contact with the CPU surface; which resulted in the Heat-pipe Direct Touch technology. The second development is by no mean a new concept, just new to our industry in specific. For many years now heatsinks have been full of right angles, but very recently companies have begun to recognize the need to disrupt smooth airflow and reduce the laminar skin effect which allows air to travel just above the solid surface. Some manufacturers have used at least one of these new concepts in their product design, and only a few are beginning to incorporate both. Benchmark Reviews will see how much this affects the overall performance as we test a large segment of enthusiast cooling products.

Before we inspect each member of our new CPU cooler collection, let's establish that our tests consist of methods we have determined to be the best for our one singular purpose. Our methodology isn't written in stone, and could very likely be changed or modified as we receive justification (and feedback from the community). Our scope is limited to stand-alone products only, meaning those products which can be installed and operated without additional critical components needed or kit construction. This generally excludes most commercial liquid cooling systems, which may potentially offer better performance than the products we test for this article but require components to be assembled from various options and equipment. Suffice it to say, the vast majority of gamers and enthusiasts are using air-cooled solutions and therefore we target this review series towards them. We encourage hardware enthusiasts to utilize the equipment available to them, and select the cooling fan that best suits their needs. Just keep in mind that exceptional cooling performance must begin with the CPU cooler, and end with the cooling fan. It's the foundation of the unit that makes a difference, which is exactly what we're after in this article.

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.



 

Comments 

 
# March 11th cooler article?Hugo Martinez 2010-03-11 22:26
Where I am, it's March 12th. I've been looking forward to your March 11th "Q1-2010 Best CPU Cooler Performance LGA1366" article that was scheduled for March 11th. Is it already up but I'm too blind to find it? Or are you running late?

I need to buy a cooler but I promised myself to wait until I read the report.

Thanks!
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# Worth the waitOlin Coles 2010-03-12 07:39
Hello Mr. Martinez:

This article has grown much larger than first planned, and is expected to be published later this afternoon (3/12). It's worth the wait! :)
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# Hope it is worth the waitRaul Tano 2010-03-12 15:40
I'm in the same boat as Mr. Martinez. I eagerly await the article.
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# DiamondsJava_Az 2010-05-24 10:43
although Diamond is a polymorph of the element carbon.Diamond conducts heat better than anything - five times better than the second best element, Silver! I wonder what a diamond heatsink would set you back
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# MikeMichael 2010-09-26 09:34
Diamond only conducts heat in such a manner when it's aligned properly - therefore, you must grow a diamond, or fashion a diamond into a heatsink - you cannot combine diamonds as they would not match in alignment on the molecular level. This means you would need to start with a massive diamond.
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# wrong specificationjason 2010-08-10 13:19
Editors, can you correct the weight in the above specifications?
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# RE: wrong specificationOlin Coles 2010-08-10 13:20
Be more specific, and list your source.
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# RE: wrong specificationsjason 2010-08-12 01:41
#benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=371&Itemid=62&limit=1&limitstart=6

SCMG-2000 Specifications
Weight: 870 g
30.7 lb

It should be 30.7oz.
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# RE: wrong specificationsjason 2010-08-11 11:08
Sorry I was talking about the specifications of SCMG-2000.

#benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=371&Itemid=62&limit=1&limitstart=6
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# Can Mugen 2 fit in ThermaltakeV3 BE or Cooler Master 430 elite?Deen 2011-02-26 12:52
Can Mugen 2 fit in ThermaltakeV3 BE or Cooler Master 430 elite?
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