|Best CPU Cooler Performance Q2-2010|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling|
|Written by Olin Coles - Testing by David Ramsey|
|Tuesday, 27 July 2010|
Page 12 of 14
Heatsink Performance: 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 'special' high-output Yate Loon D12SH-12 cooling fan on each product tested. Most D12SH-12 cooling fans force 88 CFM of air at a moderately noisy 40 dBA, but the clear acrylic version we use (see Heatsink Test Methodology section for image) performs better than most 120x120x38mm fans we've tested.
Benchmark Reviews tests this heatsink collection with the same high-output fan for each cooler, using an overclocked and over-volted Core i7-920 with 1.375V vCore. 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 all products under several different conditions. Please keep in mind that every product must complete testing on the exact same motherboard and processor for our results to be comparable, 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 70LB screws that come with the ProlimaTech Super Mega, along with the Thermalright Venomous-X heatsink 'Pressure Vault' mounting kit, create a dangerous amount of contact pressure on the processor. Although we were able to tighten these coolers all the way down without incident, our readers should take caution.
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!
Benchmark Reviews reveals the results of our Intel LGA1366 CPU-cooler performance tests using high-output cooling fans in the chart below:
Very recently another staff member and I each tested the ProlimaTech Super Mega directly against the older Megahalems model. In that review, the Super Mega trailed behind the Megahalems in both independent tests, just as it does here again. When a heatsink costs $62 it had better be really good... and thankfully the ProlimaTech Megahalems really is. Cooling to a temperature of only 39.3°C over ambient, the Megahalems keeps the Super Mega (39.5°C) and $68 Thermalright Venomous-X RT (39.8°C) heatsinks trailing right behind. All three of these heatsinks come with smooth/polished base, and a high-pressure bolt-through mounting system.
Validating that our Benchmark Reviews Editors Choice Award was hard-earned, the Scythe Mugen-2 produces an impressive 41.8°C over ambient while costing only $35. If you're not after any overclocking world-records, and you don't mind the giant size and installation hassle, this could easily be the best value of the bunch. For reference, the Cogage Arrow delivers similar performance for twice the size and cost. Distanced a noticeable margin behind, the Xigmatek Balder SD1283 (43.1°C), SilenX Effizio EFZ-120HA4 (43.4°C), Scythe Yasya (43.5°C), Zalman CNPS10X-Perform (43.7°C), and Xigmatek Thor's Hammer S126384 (43.8°C) all occupy a slice of the pie roughly 1/2-degree wide.
Other coolers are worth mentioning here, even though they weren't tested/charted for this article. The SilenX Effizio is a clone of the 3R-System IceAge Prima Boss-II, so it could be argued that they might perform the same as well. Likewise for the massive Tuniq Tower-120 Extreme, which has tested to produce similar performance despite the $65 price tag.
Taking two stock fans off and replacing them with one Yate Loon fan caused the Cooler Master V6 GT to lose its edge and produce 44.4°C; two degrees more than stock. The $44.99 Zaward Vapor-120 heatsink, with it's very similar design to the Xigmatek HDT-S1283 and $25 Kingwin RVT-12025 clone, produced a respectable 44.5°C. Titan's FINRIR cooler produced 45.6°C, and matches the Coolink Corator-DS, Noctua NH-U12P, and Thermaltake Contac-29.