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Best CPU Cooler Performance LGA1366 Q3-2009 E-mail
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

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:

CPU Cooler

Thermal Difference
Prolimatech Megahalems 24.9°C over ambient
Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme 25.6°C over ambient
Cogage TRUE Spirit 26.1°C over ambient
Scythe Mugen 2 SCMG-2000 27.0°C over ambient
Titan FENRIR TTC-NK85TZ 27.9°C over ambient
Thermolab BARAM 28.5°C over ambient
Xigmatek Thor's Hammer S126384 28.9°C over ambient
Corsair H50 CWCH50 29.3°C over ambient
CoolAge FO-X120TF Wind Tunnel 29.5°C over ambient
Kingwin XT-1264 29.6°C over ambient
Scythe Kabuto SCKBT-1000

29.9°C over ambient

Tuniq Tower 120 Extreme 30.0°C over ambient
Xigmatek HDT-S1283 30.1°C over ambient
ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 Premium 33.5°C over ambient
Intel LGA1366 Stock Cooling Solution 38.5°C over ambient

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.



# 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.

Report Comment
# 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

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.
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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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