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Cooling Efficiency Tests

At first let’s check out the cooler performance with the default fans:

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The only cooler in this part of our test session with heatpipe direct touch technology – Evercool Transformer 4 – can’t boast superior efficiency yielding over 10 °C even to the least efficient cooler of the remaining three. And all that despite the fact that Transformer 4 is equipped with two fans. Zalman CNPS10X Quiet in quiet mode is 2 °C more efficient than its “elder brother” – Zalman CNPS10X Extreme, due to larger gaps between the heatsink plates and the absence of nickel-plating on the cooler heatsink, base and heatpipes. However, at medium fan rotation speed of ~1500 RPM (which is the maximum speed for the Quiet model) the cooling efficiency of both Zalman solutions levels out, and at maximum rotation speed Extreme cooler dashes forward. In this case only Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme can compete against it.

The next part of our test session will be devoted to cooler performance when they were all equipped with identical Thermalright fans in three different rotation speed modes. Since we couldn’t fit all results into the same diagram we split them into three groups according to the fan rotation speed mode. The first diagram shows the coolers efficiency in quiet mode at 820 RPM:

The first thing that catches your eye in this diagram is the low efficiency of CoolAge X120TF and Evercool Transformer 4. And while we didn’t expect the latter to work any wonders, the new CoolAge solution turned out an unexpected disappointment. Looks like Tunnel Wind technology doesn’t really work that well at low fan rotation speeds, because the honeycomb heatsink structure features very high static resistance. Low-speed fans simply can’t push the airflow through the dense heatsink structure that is why this cooler didn’t do too well in the quiet fan mode. At the same time it is quite logical to assume that CoolAge X120TF cooling efficiency should increase significantly at high fan speed, and we are about to check it out shortly.

Speaking of other testing participants I can’t help pointing out that Xigmatek Thor’s Hammer has fully rehabilitated heatpipe direct touch technology, since we seriously doubted that it was fit for LGA1366 processors after the Evercool Transformer 4 tests. In a single-fan mode all coolers except the two solutions mentioned in the previous paragraph perform very close to one another. Even IFX-14 has no advantage here. However with two fans installed it gets far ahead of the competitors, although the processor is not overclocked too high and low room temperature helps all testing participants to be efficient. I would also like to specifically point out Zalman CNPS10X Quiet, which again turned out more efficient than the Extreme model proving that its name is well deserved. Note that with two fans the difference in peak temperature between them reaches 5 °C.

The next diagram shows the cooler performance in a moderate acoustic mode when the fans rotate at 1320 RPM:

True, when the fans speed up, CoolAge X120TF catches up with the leaders showing much better results, which, unfortunately, is not the case for Evercool Transformer 4. Although this cooler demonstrated 5 °C better performance than in the previous test, it is still the last one in our ranking. ThermoLab BARAM with a single fan, a cooler with a heatsink optimized for low airflow resistance, looks a bit more appealing than the others. Even Thermalright IFX-14 with polished off base surface can’t oppose BARAM here. At the same time, a second fan helps the latter get unattainably far ahead of the rivals.

Finally here are the cooler results at maximum fan rotation speed (at 2040 RPM):

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There is not such a big gap between CoolAge X120TF and the rest of the pack (4..5 °C), but it is still less efficient than even Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme. As for Evercool Transformer 4, looks like I have already said everything about it, as well as about the advantage of Thermalright IFX-14 with two fans over five other super-efficient cooling solutions. That is why at this point we should only check out the results of maximum CPU overclocking under each of the testing participants (with two fans at 2040 RPM):

CoolAge X120TF

Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme

ThermoLab BARAM

Zalman CNPS10X Quiet

Xigmatek Thor's Hammer

Thermalright IFX-14

Judging by the results, the difference in cooler efficiency is minor. CoolAge X120TF is again the least efficient of all, however, it still copes well with cooling of an overclocked quad-core processor. As we have expected, we managed to hit the maximum clock speed with Thermalright IFX-14. This super-cooler is the only solution that could ensure stability at 4095 MHz and 1.3825 V Vcore.

Only two new coolers of the three testing participants are equipped with fans: Evercool Transformer 4 and Zalman CNPS10X Quiet. The fan of the latter demonstrates the same acoustics as the fan of the recently reviewed CNPS10X Extreme cooler. The difference is only the maximum rotation speed, which is lower by the Quiet model. At low rotation speed we can barely hear some rustling of the fan ball bearings, there is no electrical crackling in the entire rotation speed range. The subjectively comfortable acoustic mode lies within 1250-1350 RPM. As for the Evercool solution, its fans work extremely close to the level beyond which they become totally noiseless. This is, in fact, absolutely normal for quality fans using slide bearings and rotating at 1000 RPM or less.

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