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Best CPU Cooler Performance Q2-2010 E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling
Written by Olin Coles - Testing by David Ramsey   
Wednesday, 28 July 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
Best CPU Cooler Performance Q2-2010
Thermally Conductive Element Reference
Cooler Master V6 GT Heatsink
ProlimaTech Super Mega Heatsink
Scythe Yasya SCYS-1000 Cooler
SilenX Effizio EFZ-120HA4
Thermalright Venomous-X RT Cooler
Zaward Vapor-120 ZCJ013 Cooler
CPU-Cooler Preparations
Heatsink Test Methodology
Heatsink Performance: Stock Cooling Fan
Heatsink Performance: High-Output Fan
CPU Cooler Final Thoughts
Best CPU Cooler Conclusion

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:

  1. ProlimaTech Megahalems: 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

  • Cogage TRUE-Spirit: 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.

Benchmark Reviews encourages you to leave comments (below), or ask questions and join the discussion in our Forum.

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# FanGyta 2010-07-27 17:45
I´m puzzled about V6 GT heatsink,what caused the loss in performance? Could it be the fan has less CFM?? Or it is the static air pressure?? or another thing that i cannot think?
Aside from that great test, as good as always, and still help me emphasizing that i did a good thing buying scythe mugen 2.
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# RE: FanOlin Coles 2010-07-27 19:19
There's no doubt that the Mugen 2 was a good investment... it's a great cooler for very little money. The V6 GT has two high-output fans on it to begin with, configured in a push/push set, so it's understandable to see performance decrease with one higher-output fan.
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# RE: FanDavid Ramsey 2010-07-27 19:21
It's simple: the Cooler Master V6 GT's stock fans provide a lot more airflow than the single Yate Loon fan. Base on the fan specifications, airflow drops by about 50% in this case, so the cooler's performance suffers. The V6GT represents a design trend in coolers that provides good performance with a relatively small heatsink by simply pushing a lot of air through it. You'll probably see more of this, since plastic and fans are cheaper than copper and aluminum.
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# RE: RE: FanOlin Coles 2010-07-27 20:00
Either lots of plastic and fans, or pretty copper fringes to make you feel better about the premium price.
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# RE: RE: RE: FanServando Silva 2010-07-27 21:17
Don't forget to paint it black to get extra premium performance...
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# Vertical motherboard test?Testy01 2010-07-27 20:03
It appears these coolers are designed for horizontal motherboards as heat rises. Surely using a system in this orientation with aftermarket or supplied fans will give a better outcome.
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# RE: Vertical motherboard test?Olin Coles 2010-07-27 21:31
Vertical motherboard means that it stands upright, as in the case of most all mid-tower enclosures.
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# RE: Best CPU Cooler Performance Q2-2010halfwaythere 2010-07-27 20:58
The V6 simply doesn't have what it takes to be a top notch product. Its too small and the build quality is not very good. The problem is if you turn the stock fans down performance figures will drop pretty quick.
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# RE: RE: Best CPU Cooler Performance Q2-2010David Ramsey 2010-07-28 06:59
Sure it does. The build quality on the sample I tested was excellent-- flat, well-finished base; perfectly ven fins, and nice little details like the rubber anti-vibration pads on the snap-on shrouds that hold the fans. The stock V6 fans are PWM controlled, so let your motherboard decide how fast they should be run, and you'll get a very good combination of balance and noise. The performance with the stock fans is excellent, too. My only complaint about the cooler is its high price.
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# ?Daniel Mayes 2010-07-28 07:02
How come the Titan Fenrir was in instead of the Thermaltake Frio? The Thermaltake Frio did better than the ProlimaTech Megahalems in stock fan test and a little worse than the Mugen 2 with the Yate Loon D12SH-12. Are you using one or two Yate Loon D12SH-12? I'm sure I'm not the only that would like to see temperatures with both one and two high-output fans on there.
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# RE: ?Olin Coles 2010-07-28 07:05
Usually it's because of time contraints. If we had unlimited time, every single heatsink ever made would be tested for each article... but that's just not the case. We've already reviewed the Frio in our cooling section, so take a look there:
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# RE: RE: ?Daniel Mayes 2010-07-29 07:10
It would be awesome to see pictures of the heatsinks in the computer setup in the future, I tried my thermaltake frio with the air blowing up but it blocked the first 2 ram slots, so I had to turn it where it blows outside the case since the computer would be faster in dual channel mode than single channel mode
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# RE: Best CPU Cooler Performance Q2-2010Ladyfox 2010-07-28 11:41
Are there any plans to do a similar review, maybe smaller in scale, for those coolers that use 92mm fans instead? Reason I ask is that some mATX cases like the NZXT Vulcan have clearance issues with a good many 120mm systems even with the added room of special side panels. Consider as well that many have even released revised designs that will work on LGA-1156 and LGA1366 sockets including those from AMD with a sample list here:

ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro Rev.2
Cooler Master Hyper TX3
Noctua NH-U9B SE2
Scythe "NINJA MINI Rev.B"

Granted, there are individual reviews for some of these out there but let's face it they're not you guys. ^_^
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# RE: RE: Best CPU Cooler Performance Q2-2010Olin Coles 2010-07-29 07:13
I have wanted a writer to take on the 92mm segment for over a year now. Apparently the threat of constant work with unreasonably tight tolerances has dissuaded everyone on staff. That and it's boring beyond belief. Still, I have my hopes.
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# RE: Best CPU Cooler Performance Q2-2010Padge 2010-08-13 15:47
I would love to see a system for rating the mounting hardware on each review. There are a couple heatsinks I'm really liking but the hardware uses pushpins (Cogage True Spirit) or is a mini erector set (Mugen 2). I really think a Cogage True Spirit with ProLimatechs brackets would be the best.
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# Can we get CPU Perf for LOW PROFILE Collers?OneEyedPony 2010-09-10 11:35
These big brick sized CPU coolers are great for the monster and mid towers, BUT...

I deal in building small cased PCs for people. I would like to see recommendations for CPU coolers in the 50-100mm height range.
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# Low profile?RealNeil 2010-09-28 05:23
Corsair H50,.....Asetek LCLC (they actually make the H50 for corsair) and the ECO A.L.C. ECO-R120 CPU Cooler. All are water cooling solutions and all are relatively low profile.
I have two of the Asetek LCLC's (stands for: Low Cost Liquid Cooling) here and they work really well. I added extra fans to both of mine for a push/pull effect. I also have a Scythe Big Shuriken SCBSK-1000 120mm CPU Cooler on a Linux box and it's a very low profile cooler.
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# HS MaterialsAthlonite 2010-12-22 18:29
"Because of their density, metals are the best conductors of thermal energy"

Actually that's wrong the best material is Diamond but an HS made of diamond would cost and absolute fortune.... you should have said best Perfomance/cost material is metal of which the best is Gold (best $$$$/Performance = Copper)for now atleast until they make Carbon nano tube materials more readily available
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