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Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling
Written by Olin Coles   
Thursday, 01 January 2009
Table of Contents: Page Index
Best CPU Cooler Performance LGA775 - Q4 2008
Thermally Conductive Element Reference
CoolIT Domino ALC
GlacialTech UFO V51
Thermaltake SpinQ CL-P0466
Thermaltake V1 AX CL-P0508
Zalman CNPS9900 LED
TIM Application and Surface
Testing Methodology
Test Results: Stock Cooling Fan
Test Results: High-Output Fan
CPU Cooler Final Thoughts
Best of Q4 2008 Conclusion

CPU Cooler Final Thoughts

These could be the last and final days for Intel's "socket T" CPU interface. The popular LGA775 CPU interface has served well since June of 2004, and with such a large consumer base it will likely survive until at least 2010. However, as this article is published, Benchmark Reviews is already testing CPU coolers for the Intel socket LGA1366 Core i7 platform. This marks the beginning of the end for the existing line of Core 2 Duo/Quad/Extreme 65/45nm processors, and our Best CPU Cooler Performance - Q1 2009 articles is already prepared to use the Intel Core i7-920 processor BX80601920. With four physical cores ready to double their load to eight through Hyper-Threading, we should soon see how much cooling is needed on the new X58 platform.

There are a lot of different products out there, and believe it or not we exclude a few from each article because they don't stack up well at all. So this is why you may not see some of the coolers other sites have tested in our results. Because of space and time limitations it's just simply not feasible to review them all, but it's certainly worth mentioning which products should be avoided. So I began to carefully think about it and nearly constructed a real-time chart which places products into different levels of performance. That's when I realized that performance is relative, too, and what performs well today might be considered low-end only a year from now. As it turns out, the best way I can think of is already being done by our affiliate FrostyTech: use a synthetic system to generate the same exact load for each and every test conducted. This would stand the test of time much better than any computer system or processor platform would, because temperature is a static measurement. Unfortunately, the sythetic test system was quoted to me for $35,000 by the manufacturer, and times are way too tight for that kind of expense.


No doubt there will be a few readers who will scoff at my results (because I read their pity parlay after each time my affiliates publish their own cooler reviews), so I'm certain the fanboys will claim that anyone with ten minutes of experience should "lap" the processor's integrated heat spreader smooth as well as polish the CPU coolers mating surface. Sure, I concede, this is correct: any bonafide overclocker with more time on his/her hands than the average hardware enthusiast will spend a few hours wet-sanding their equipment so that they can get an extra degree of cooling performance. But for the other 99% of the consumer population, this is what you can expect from these products if you want the CPU cooler to perform right out of the box or with a simple add-on fan upgrade.

I can't please everyone, and my biggest critics have taught me that there's a small portion of enthusiasts that would happily spend ten days turning a decently-designed cooler (the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme is usually the subject of said improvements) into an excellent-performing cooler. But I'm not that guy. I'll spend ten minutes removing the old stock fan and replace it with something of higher output along with a very thin application of thermal paste and call it done. So to you hardcore overclockers, feel free to see my results as flawed, because nobody I personally know is willing to spend that much time on a large collection of review samples. I had to draw the line somewhere, and this is it.

There are numerous ways to improve upon the performance that any one of these products has offered. Take for example the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme: most enthusiast like to modify this product by lapping the surface and adding additional mounting pressure by using a washer. I for one believe this to be more of a necessity than anything else, since Thermalright designed the surface with an intentionally uneven convex finish. To a lesser extent, you could also wet sand and polish the mating surface of any Heat-pipe Direct Touch cooler and then use a bolt-through backplate mounting kit (such as the Xigmatek Crossbow system). Nevertheless, most of this point was made in our Vendetta 2 vs TRUE vs HDT-S1283 article which compared the top three coolers to-date.



# RE: Best CPU Cooler Performance LGA775 - Q4 2008SGT 2010-03-02 11:28
Used this for about 8 months and it started to leak around the pump area work well but in not up to the job in a long hall i replace it with a CORSAIR CWCH50 Hydro Water Cooler...and never look back
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# RE: Best CPU Cooler Performance LGA775 - Q4 2008Michael 2010-07-01 22:55
I used it for 6 month, not so good especially at low speed fan. Once you increase the fan speed it becomes very noisy!
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# Good CPU Cooler BUT MOBO CooksGraham 2010-11-10 06:13
As with most replacement ccolers you have a trade off.With Sttandard cooler you have reduced cooling available for overclocking yet you still have the mobo components cooled by the same fan.With this cooler solution you get amazing cooling if maybee a little noisy when ramped up,I use it on a intel Quad 6600 running at almost 4gig (per core) overclock on a top end Lanpsrty Mobo.The Cpu runs idle at 28-30deg and Sressed when benchmarking at 48-50 so really good.The biggest problem is, even when used in a huge custom case with 2 x 250 mm case fans and three 120 rear fans (One of which adds pull action to the Radiator of the coolit) i have a major problem with the motherboard cooling sometimes hitting in excess of 60 deg which causes all sorts of issues. So to conclued it is a great product If your not doing extreem Overclocking. BUT i Intend to replace it with a Noctua NH-C12P SE14, AM2/AM3/775/1156/1366 which has a 140mm downward facing fan to keep the mobo temps under control.
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