|Best CPU Cooler Performance LGA1366 Q3-2009|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Friday, 09 October 2009|
Page 12 of 16
Stock Cooling Fan Results
Benchmark Reviews tries to cover every angle, but sometimes it's just not possible given our time constraints. Past articles from our 'Best CPU Cooler Performance' series have largely focused on the Intel Core 2 Duo/Quad LGA775 socket, and while the results are relevant to users owning that series of processor, the new Core i7 platform is completely different. To the inexperienced enthusiast, a top-performing LGA775 cooler might be (mistakenly) considered worthy for cooling a new LGA1366 Core i7 project. This would be a grave error, because not only are the two processors different in overall size, they also place the processor cores in different locations. Simply stated: what worked well on a Core 2 platform may not work very good at all with Core i7.
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. Hardcore overclockers and serious hardware enthusiasts may not consider the stock cooling results very interesting, but they're welcome to skip ahead into the next section where we add a high-performance fan and then add overclocked values. Believe it or not though, some people are on a budget and don't have the extra money to spend on aftermarket cooling fans or an additional bolt-through mounting kit; sometimes they just want good cooling right out of the box. This section is for them.
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 collection of LGA1366 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. For coolers that do not come with a fan, we used the Scythe Kaze-Jyuni 120x120x25mm fan, model SY1225SL12SH (110.31 CFM Advertised @ 37.0 dBA) 12V/0.53A.
Please keep in mind that a product that finishes at the top of the stock fan list isn't going to matter if you plan on overclocking your processor or invest in a different cooling fan. Manufacturer-supplied stock cooling fans usually offer either extremely high airflow or incredibly low noise, so there's a lot riding on what's packaged with the kit. Sure, there's added importance on the cooler's design and construction, but at the stock level these factors really don't carry tremendous weight. Here's how they measure out:
Benchmark Reviews has tested several new products (along with a few top-performers from the previous series) in stock form for the LGA1366 socket results charted above. The performance results position the coolers in the following order, with the temperature difference noted (CPU core temp minus ambient room temp) beside them:
Just as it had done in previous articles, the Scythe Kaze-Jyuni equipped Prolimatech Megahalems once again proves itself dominant over the entire collection of LGA1366 coolers recording 24.9°C over ambient. But let's be honest with ourselves here: not many people are really going to pay $65 (plus the cost of fans) to cool a stock processor. The Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme (with Scythe Kaze-Jyuni Slip-Stream fan) is in the same situation, offering excellent performance yet demanding a steep enthusiast package price. At the more affordable $39.95 price point, the Cogage TRUE Spirit is getting closer to reality for most mainstream enthusiasts and it performs right along side the biggest names. The Scythe Mugen 2, a cooler with twice the heft, also offers great stock performance for only $34.99. Next was the Titan FINRIR TTC-NK85TZ and Thermolab BARAM, both of which are relatively impossibly to purchase in North America. Although the dense fins do best with a high-output fan, the Xigmatek Thor's Hammer S126384 performed did very well when a silent-running Scythe Slip-Stream fan was attached.
Since the Corsair H50 CWCH50 liquid-cooling system operates at one single fan speed full-time, there's no way to tone-down noise for low-stress quiet-time usage. The $90 Corsair H50 managed temperatures down to 29.3°C over ambient at full load, which was only slightly better than the CoolAge FO-X120TF Wind Tunnel or the Kingwin XT-1264 cooler which costs $34.99. The Scythe Kabuto SCKBT-1000 did very well for itself, coming in ahead of the massive Tuniq Tower 120 Extreme and well-known Xigmatek HDT-S1283 that 30.1°C over ambient.
Less impressive was the ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 PWM Premium that allowed temperatures of 33.5°C over ambient, which is a little too close to the stock Intel LGA1366 thermal solution that produced 38.5°C over ambient at full load. Without the ability to replace the integrated fan with another, it appears the NV120 offers less function than fashion. If you want to see how all of these coolers performed under full load and with a high-volume cooling fan attached, please continue into the next section.