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Best CPU Cooler Conclusion
This quarters' Best CPU Cooler Performance article wasn't nearly as large as the previous edition in our series, primarily because there have been very few new heatsink products that have made it to market before July 2010. Despite our best efforts, not every CPU cooler is discovered and requested prior to testing. There are so many products that deserve attention, even if they don't top our results, so don't think for a minute we've intentionally left someone out. In order for this series to hit the target audience with the most relevant product coverage, Benchmark Reviews needs your feedback! Let us know what to test, and where to find it!
Between the last Best CPU Cooler Performance project that covered Intel LGA1366 and AMD AM3 sockets, and the final LGA775 article (Best CPU Cooler Performance LGA775 - Q4 2008), I've learned that processor architecture can have a huge impact on heatsink performance. I'm not referring to speed or voltages here, because those factors are a given when it comes to cooling. What I'm referring to is how the 45nm Intel Bloomfield Core-i7 is going to have a 'heat signature' area that differs slightly from 32nm Gulftown. In fact, Gulftown's 248mm2 die package is closer to a Lynnfield LGA1156 Core-i7 CPU. Those heatsinks with a larger contact surface (and heatpipe base) will best serve 45nm AMD Phenom-II processors with a 258mm2 die or 45nm Intel Core-i7 quad-core 263mm2 Bloomfield CPU's. Essentially, it's important to research the cooler's physical information in addition to performance results when you're shopping for a CPU cooler. It's not a one-size-fits-all heatsink market, and the biggest cooler doesn't always provide the best performance. With these consideration in mind, I will offer several different product suggestions based on these test results and my past experience.
IMPORTANT: Although the recommendations mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating specifically for the product tested which may differ from future versions. Because manufacturers and retailers often change product pricing based on media favoritism, we urge you to consider all factors when making your purchase.
High-Performance Overclocker Heatsinks
These heatsinks are suggested based on quality, value, and cooling potential:
: Using the best mounting system we've ever tested this heatsink delivers extraordinary contact surface pressure between the processor and polished base. The results produce the best cooling performance we've seen. As of July 2010 the ProlimaTech Megahalems was available at FrozenCPU for $61.99
, or from NewEgg for $62.00
. AMD users will also want the AM2/AM2+/AM3 mounting kit from FrozenCPU for an extra $10
. Adding two high-output cooling fans will make Megahalems unstoppable.
Thermalright Venomous-X RT
: The new 'Pressure Vault' mounting system offers incredible contact pressure, and pairs a polished contact surface to densely packed heatsink that supports two 120mm cooling fans. The Venomous-X RT kit costs $68
, and includes AMD AM2/AM2+/AM3 mounting hardware and one 120mm cooling fan. As a standalone CPU cooler, Venomous-X delivers on its years of past design experience.
Scythe Mugen-2 SCMG-2100
: Trailing right behind the two leaders is the $35
Mugen-2 cooler, which already includes AMD mounting hardware and a premium Scythe Kaze-Jyuni Slip-Stream fan... all for only half the cost of the the other two options. The SCMG-2100 model has already received our Editor's Choice Award
honorable mention pertaining to value, and it consistently finishes at the very top. The Scythe Mugen-2 Revision B model SCMG-2100 heatsink is identical to the first version, model SCMG-2000, but SCMG-2100 includes a newly developed F.M.S.B. (Flip Mount Super Back-Plate) for more convenient mounting onto the motherboard and the thermal paste has been replaced by SCYTE-1000.
Cogage Arrow CPU-TRI-72
: This dual-tower giant comes equipped with on 120mm cooling fan and Intel mounting hardware. Although our tests of the Cogage Arrow
have never placed its performance above the previously listed heatsinks, the potential is certainly there. Priced at $70
before an optional AMD AM2/AM2+/AM3 mounting system for $10
, the Cogage Arrow could tame your overclocked beast... presuming the cage is large enough.
- Xigmatek Balder SD1283: Based on the original HDT-S1283 design, Balder offers some subtle improvements that help it maintain top-rated cooling performance in our tests. While the Balder kit includes a bolt-through mounting kit and costs $45, the original Xigmatek HDT-S1283 model uses push-pin clips and sells for $35. If you like the HDT-S1283 design but don't have much money, the Kingwin RVT-12025 is an identical clone that sells for only $22.
Enthusiast Heatsink Considerations
If you're not planning to increase vCore voltage to your processor, here are some additional recommendations that could fit your build:
: Priced at $40
, this heatsink takes the Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme (TRUE) design essence and fits it into a smaller more affordable CPU cooler. Our tests of the Cogage TRUE Spirit
has always delivered impressive performance, and although only Intel LGA1156/1366 sockets are supported, an optional AMD AM2/AM2+/AM3 mounting system is available for $10
Thermaltake Contac-29 CL-P0568
: Hardcore overclockers demand only the best cooling performance, and the Thermaltake Contac-29
generally trails the top leaders despite its virtually identical design to the Xigmatek HDT-S1283 series. NewEgg no longer stocks this item, but FrozenCPU still sells the multi-socket CL-P0568 kit for $40
GELID Tranquillo CC-TRANQ-01-A
: GELID has declined to send us a sample for our round-up comparisons, explaining that their product is designed for low-noise application and not top-end overclockers. We disagree. Paired with a high-output cooling fan, the Tranquillo heatsink could offer an affordable CPU cooler for only $40
Zaward Vapor-120 ZCJ013
: A sturdy bolt-through mounting system combined with dimpled heatsink fins and 'Golf' fan blades keep performance up and noise down. Selling for $45
this could offer ample cooling protection to moderatly overclocked processors, plus it's compatible with every motherboard socket currently in existence.
Scythe Ninja-3 SCNJ-3000
: Although the results of our Ninja-3 tests have yet to be published, this heatsink embodies the test-proven design of the Mugen-2 and other heatsinks. Scythe products have already earned many awards from us, and for $50
this not-so-subtle CPU cooler could be the next in line.
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