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Reviews - Featured Reviews: Cooling
Written by Olin Coles   
Wednesday, 06 January 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
Best CPU Cooler Performance AMD Socket AM3 Preview
Thermally Conductive Element Reference
Scythe Kabuto SCKBT-1000
Scythe Mugen-2 SCMG-2000
Spire TherMax II
Tuniq Tower 120 Extreme
Xigmatek Thor's Hammer
ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 PWM Premium
Cooler Surface Preparations
Cooler Test Methodology
Test Results: Stock Cooling Fan
Test Results: High-Output Fan

Best CPU Cooler Performance AMD Socket AM3 Preview

It shames me to write this, but sometimes the reader's needs must come before those of the website. For the past several months, Benchmark Reviews has been busy at work on the our Best CPU Cooler Performance AMD AM2/AM3 Q4-2009 article. Dispite my best efforts to hurdle every roadblock, there were too many problems to allow sucessful completion of the entire article before departing for the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). That might sound like bad news, but there's some good to it: although several manufacturers told me that samples had been shipped (only to come back weeks later and tell me no samples were available), several new CPU cooler products actually were tested. Our tests results are presented in unfinished article stictly for informational purposes, so that our readers can make the best decisions possible when they shop for aftermarket cooling products.

The AMD Phenom II has been a popular choice for enthusiasts lately, and Benchmark Reviews understands the interest that budget-conscious overclockers have with the affordable Black Edition CPU's. A quick review of our Featured Reviews: Processors section will reaveal that we feature several products from each chip-maker, with the Intel Core i7-920, Intel Core i5-750, and AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE having all received Editor's Choice Awards over the past two years. However, due to popular response from our community, Benchmark Reviews decided it was time to focus on AMD in one of our Best CPU Cooler Performance series.

In this 'preview' article, Benchmark Reviews tests several CPU coolers on the AM3 socket for the AMD Phenom-II platform. An overclocked AMD Phenom II X4 965 "Black Edition" processor was used (original 140W version), and given a heart-warming 1.55 volts to the vCore so it could reach 4000MHz (4GHz) stable. We did test with 1.6V at first, but felt it was unsafe for all but the absolute best coolers. The heat produced at 1.55V caused at least one product to earn high marks in our tests, while another fell so far below respectible performance that it pains us to expose it.

New AMD-AM3 Test Products

Previous Top Performers

  • Coolink Corator-DS
  • CyberPowerPC XtremeGear HP-1216B
  • Dynatron Genius G950
  • 3R-System IceAge Prima Boss-II IA-120B2
  • Noctua NH-D14
  • Xigmatek Balder SD1283 CAC-SXHH3-U06
  • Thermaltake SpinQ-VT CLP0554
  • Thermaltake Contac-29 CLP0568
  • Zalman CNPS10X-Quiet
  • Zalman CNPS10X-Performa

Honorable Mention

Cooling Underachievers

Computer hardware is an ever-evolving industry, and since Moores law only applies to an exponentially growing transistor count then there should probably be another law for cooling. In the very recent past there have been two major trends which have accelerated the performance potential of CPU cooler. That first development was the use of heat-pipes to directly contact with the CPU surface; which resulted in the Heat-pipe Direct Touch technology. The second development is by no mean a new concept, just new to our industry in specific. For many years now heatsinks have been full of right angles, but very recently companies have begun to recognize the need to disrupt smooth airflow and reduce the laminar skin effect which allows air to travel just above the solid surface. Some manufacturers have used at least one of these new concepts in their product design, and only a few are beginning to incorporate both. Benchmark Reviews will see how much this affects the overall performance as we test a large segment of enthusiast cooling products.

Before we inspect each member of our new CPU cooler collection, let's establish that our tests consist of methods we have determined to be the best for our one singular purpose. Our methodology isn't written in stone, and could very likely be changed or modified as we receive justification (and feedback from the community). Our scope is limited to stand-alone products only, meaning those products which can be installed and operated without additional critical components needed or kit construction. This generally excludes most commercial liquid cooling systems, which may potentially offer better performance than the products we test for this article but require components to be assembled from various options and equipment. Suffice it to say, the vast majority of gamers and enthusiasts are using air-cooled solutions and therefore we target this review series towards them. We encourage hardware enthusiasts to utilize the equipment available to them, and select the cooling fan that best suits their needs. Just keep in mind that exceptional cooling performance must begin with the CPU cooler, and end with the cooling fan. It's the foundation of the unit that makes a difference, which is exactly what we're after in this article.

EDITOR'S NOTE 13 FEB 2010: Benchmark Reviews will publish our Q1-2010 Best CPU Cooler Performance LGA1366 article on 11 March 2010. Several new heatsinks along with some enthusiast favorites will all be tested on an overclocked six-core processor. Additionally, our performance test results for the AMD AM3 socket will also be included.



# RE: Best CPU Cooler Performance AMD Socket AM3 PreviewTFT 2010-02-17 17:11
Elements Thermal Conductance Research has not completed yet.
It lack the elements release rate into the air when heat stop provided to the element.
Nor has the chill factor when contacted with a reference element/cooper.
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# PaulyPaul Letteri 2010-03-12 05:29
Hello It would be most helpfull of listing what motherboards would work with these based on experience and feedback. also the dimentions espially from the mount to under the 1st fin for many of us with denominator type memory have problems with clearance .
I would also like to mention I have a 770usb3 Gigabyte board and it is very disturbing that their engineers did not give a least 65mm from center of the cpu for the % is very high for coolers with 120mm fans
especially for over clockers such as myself. thank you and good work on your testing reports , Paul.
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