Last week a good friend of mine who has been living in one of the European countries for a while now asked me to recommend him a cooling solution for his new system built on Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 processor. He had unlimited budget, didn’t care much about the noise and was going to overclock the CPU reasonably. Availability also wasn’t an issue, so I suggested that to begin with he should choose between Thermalright SI-128 SE and Ultra-120 eXtreme, depending on the system case. But the problem was that he didn’t like the… looks (!) of both these coolers.
Well, it’s OK, tastes differ, so my next choices were Arctic Cooling Freezer Xtreme, two Noctua coolers, the latest solutions from Cooler Master and a few other highly efficient products. And what you think he said? All these coolers were given a sound scolding for unimpressive looks: “plain-looking coolers like that cannot overclock a CPU well”. My reference to the benchmark results didn’t have any effect, and when I asked, what it was that he liked, he mentioned Thermaltake V1 and Zalman CNPS9700. In fact, this is not surprising, because these coolers boast truly unique looks.
That conversation we had gave me some food for thought: how many users out there actually choose a cooler by the way it looks? How many people care more about LED highlighting, heatsink shine and sophisticatedly twisted heatpipes? Of course, you won’t find stats like that anywhere now, but common sense suggests that the number will be pretty significant, despite our wishes. Human desire for beauty has much longer history than overclocking. Well, if it is indeed so, let’s try and find out how well beauty and unique looks go with cooling efficiency. And old-new coolers from Thermaltake and Zalman will help us answer this question today.