|Best CPU Cooler Performance Intel/AMD Q1-2010|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Saturday, 13 March 2010|
Page 21 of 24
Intel 980X: High-Output Fan
Overclockers are known for being particular to their equipment, which is why Benchmark Reviews changes our format with each new project. Although it's impossible to nail-down which cooling fan is the overwhelming choice for overclocker projects, most enthusiasts would agree that fans with the best static pressure and highest airflow are the most appropriate. Because of size and design constraints in most of these products, a 120x120x25mm fan is as large as we can go with our collection of CPU coolers. This section uses the high-output Yate Loon D12SH-12 cooling fan on each product tested. The D12SH-12 cooling fan forces an impressive 88 CFM of air at a moderately noisy 40 dBA, and performs better than several 120x120x38mm fans we've tested (more on that later). 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.
Overclocked to 4.0Hz @ 1.375V, Benchmark Reviews tests our collection of heatsinks on the hexa-core Intel Core i7-980X Extreme Edition. While some enthusiasts may dare to trespass beyond this voltage, Benchmark Reviews needed our test system to remain functional long enough to complete testing on nearly twenty various products under several different conditions. Our readers must remember that every product must pass testing on the same motherboard and processor, and if one of these fail all the testing must be redone completely.
All of the top performing CPU coolers have a few things in common: bolt-through mounting clip systems that create impressive contact pressure. Although some mounting systems are better designed than others, The mounting system on the Prolimatech Megahalems and Armageddon heatsinks use a bolt-through system with slotted alloy plates to ensure a perfectly centered cooler, which was a good bit better than the Xigmatek Crossbow kits we use on compatible coolers. The new mounting kit that comes with the Thermalright Venomous-X heatsink creates a dangerous amount of contact pressure, although we were able to tighten the cooler all the way without incident. Thermalright's Ultra-120 eXtreme, Cogage TRUE Spirit, and Cogage Arrow all use a similar bolt-through kit that creates substantial contact pressure. At least half of our CPU cooler collection have very flat mirror-finished contact surfaces, whereas the other half use Heat-pipe Direct Touch (HDT) technology. Every single one of these coolers have either large-gauge heat-pipes, or several pairs of heat-pipe rods integrated into the base. In my opinion nearly every single product on this chart is an outstanding aftermarket cooler, but only a select few can be considered the very best!
Knowing that this would stir some controversy, many of these heatsinks were tested seven or more times each, with the highest and lowest results thrown out with the remainder averaged. Benchmark Reviews reveals the results of our Intel LGA1366 CPU-cooler performance tests using high-output cooling fans in the chart below:
When a heatsink costs $65, it had better be real good... and thankfully the ProlimaTech Megahalems is. Cooling to a temperature of only 24.29°C over ambient, the Megahalems has only one competitor with close reach: the $70 Thermalright Venomous-X heatsink with 24.47°C. Both heatsinks come with polished base and outstanding bolt-through mounting system, and neither forces you to use an under-powered stock fan, so take your pick!
Proving (to me, at least) that our Benchmark Reviews Editors Choice Award was hard-earned, the Scythe Mugen-2 produces 26.03°C at the entry-level price of $35. If you're not after any overclocking records, and you don't mind the giant hassle for installation, this could easily be the best value of the bunch. The equally-large Cogage Arrow delivers a similar 26.53°C. Titan's FINRIR cooler produces 27.92°C, which nearly identical to the Zalman CNPS10X-Performa, Coolink Corator-DS, and Cogage TRUE Spirit.
Equipped with two large Xigmatek 140x140x25mm XLF-F1453 fans on an even larger heatsink, the Noctual NH-D14 finds itself midway through our results with 29.10°C. Equally large, and equally-equipped with the same two 140mm Xigmatek cooling fans, the ProlimaTech Armageddon cools to 29.38°C without a peep. Perhaps it's the two extra cores on Gulftown, or the less-than-stellar mounting kit, but the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme falls down a few spots and rubs elbows with a $22 XtremeGear HP-1216B; which delivered 29.42°C and also matched the more expensive 3R-System IceAge Prima Boss-II. At 29.52°C over ambient, the massive Tuniq Tower-120 Extreme offered respectable performance, but the $64.99 price tag is a little too far off from fair market value.
For the first time in our testing, an Intel cooler has finished with top-level results. Set to 'Performance' fan speed, the Intel DBX-B Advanced Thermal Solution produced a notable 29.65°C over ambient temperature, which comes just barely ahead of the premium Xigmatek Balder SD1283 and Xigmatek Thor's Hammer S126384 heatsinks. The Noctua NH-U12P may be listed nearly the bottom of our chart, but 31.68°C is only five degrees from the top! To that same extent, the budget-priced Thermaltake Contac-29 finished our tests with 32.60°C.