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Best CPU Cooler Performance Q2-2010 E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling
Written by Olin Coles - Testing by David Ramsey   
Tuesday, 27 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

Heatsink Test Methodology

Benchmark Reviews is obsessed with testing CPU coolers, as our Cooling Section has demonstrated over the past few years. We've solicited suggestions from the enthusiast community, and received guidance from some of the most technical overclockers on the planet. As a result, our testing methodology has changed with every new edition of our Best CPU Cooler Performance series. Because of this, each article is really its own stand-alone product, and cannot be fairly compared to the others. This particular article is a perfect example of that principle, since we're using a fresh methodology. Benchmark Reviews continues to test CPU coolers using the stock included fan (whenever applicable), and then replace it with a high-output fan for re-testing.

Manufacturers are not expected to enjoy this sort of comparison, since we level the playing field for all heatsinks by replacing their included fan with a common unit which is then used for every CPU cooler tested. Many manufacturers include fans with their heatsink products, but most 'stock' fans are high-RPM units that offer great airflow at the expense of obnoxiously loud noise levels. By using the same model of cooling fan throughout our heatsink tests, we can assure our results are comparable across the board. This is one of the more significant changes we have made to our test methodology, since many of the benchmark tests we have conducted in the past have compared the total package. Ultimately we're more interested in the discovering the best possible heatsink, and we believe that you'll feel the same way.

Yate-Loon-D12SH-12-602-Fan-BenchmarkReviews.jpg

Yate Loon S12SH-12 Cooling Fan (Special)

Testing was conducted in a loosely scientific manner. Ambient room temperature levels were maintained within one degree of fluctuation, and measured at static points beside the test equipment with a calibrated digital thermometer. Manufacturer-supplied thermal paste was not used in these tests, and a common Thermal Interface Material of our choosing (listed in the support equipment section below) was utilized instead. The processor received the same amount of thermal paste in every test, which covered the ICH with a thin nearly-transparent layer. The heatsink being tested was then laid down flat onto the CPU, and compressed to the motherboard using the supplied retaining mechanism. If the mounting mechanism used only two point of force, they were tightened in alternation; standard clip-style mounting with four securing points were compressed using the cross-over method. Once installed, the system was tested for a baseline reading prior to testing.

At the start of each test, the ambient room temperature was measured to track any fluctuation throughout the testing period. Lavalys EVEREST Ultimate Edition was utilized to create 100% CPU-core loads and measure each individual processor core temperatures. It's important to note that software-based temperature reading reflects the thermal output as reported from the CPU to the BIOS. For this reason, it is critically important (for us) to use the exact same software and BIOS versions throughout the entire test cycle, or the results will be incomparable. All of the units compared in our results were tested on the same motherboard using the same BIOS and software, with only the CPU-cooler product changing in each test. These readings are neither absolute nor calibrated, since every BIOS is programmed differently. Nevertheless, all results are still comparable and relative to each products in our test bed (see The Accuracy Myth section below).

Since our test processor report core temperatures as a whole number and not in fractions, all test results utilize EVEREST to report averages (within the statistics panel), which gives us more precise readings. To further compensate for this, our tests were conducted several times after complete power down thermal cycles. Conversely, the ambient room temperature levels were all recorded and accurate to one-tenth of a degree Celsius at the time of data collection.

When each cooler is tested, Benchmark Reviews makes certain to keep the hardware settings identical across the test platform. This enables us to clearly compare the performance of each product under identical conditions. While the ambient room temperature did fluctuate between 24.9~25.9°C during testing, the thermal delta would not change enough to impact our test results. Benchmark Reviews reports the thermal difference in test result charts. For the purpose of this article, thermal difference (not the same as thermal delta) is calculated by subtracting the ambient room temperature from the recorded CPU temperature.

Intel Test System

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-920 BX80601920 2.66 GHz (overclocked to 3.6 GHz @ 1.375V)
  • Motherboard: ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 (Intel X58-Express Chipset)

Support Equipment

  • Lavalys EVEREST Ultimate Edition v5.50
  • Yate Loon 120x120x25mm fan, model D12SH-12 (88 CFM Advertised @ 40 dBA) 12V/0.30A
  • Scythe Kaze-Jyuni 'Slip Stream' 120x120x25mm fan, model SY1225SL12SH (110.31 CFM Advertised @ 37.0 dBA) 12V/0.53A

All of the tests in this article have been conducted using vertical motherboard orientation, positioned upright in a sealed traditional tower computer case. Heatsinks are positioned so that heatpipe rods span horizonally, and described in our Heatpipe Directional Orientation from the previous section.

At the start of our test period, the test system is powered on and EVEREST system stability tests are started with Stress CPU and Stress FPU options selected. For a minimum of thirty minutes (one hour) EVEREST loads each CPU core to 100% usage, which drives the temperature to its highest point. Finally, once temperatures have sustained a plateau, the ending ambient room temperature and individual CPU core levels are recorded thus completing the first benchmark segment.

The second test segment involves removing the stock cooling fan (while the system is still under load) and replacing it with a high-output 120 mm Yate Loon D12SH-12 cooling fan. The system is given thirty additional minutes with EVEREST loading the CPU cores before final temperature readings are taken and recorded.

The Accuracy Myth

All modern processors incorporate an internal thermal diode that can be read by the motherboards' BIOS. While this diode and the motherboard are not calibrated and therefore may not display the actual true temperature, the degree of accuracy is constant. This means that if the diode reports 40°C when it's actually 43°C, then it will also report 60°C when it's truly 63°C. Since the design goal of any thermal solution is to keep the CPU core within allowable temperatures, a processor's internal diode is the most valid means of comparison between different heatsinks, or thermal compounds. The diode and motherboard may be incorrect by a small margin in relation to an actual calibrated temperature sensor, but they will be consistent in their margin of error every time.



 

Comments 

 
# 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: benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=519&Itemid=62
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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 N 520
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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