Articles: Cooling

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Cooling Efficiency Tests

The results of our cooling efficiency tests are summed up in the diagram and table below:

Even at 1620 RPM fan seed Intel RTS2011LC Water Cooler system quite predictably was the last in the ranks allowing the CPU temperature to reach the critical 90°C. AT the maximum speed of 2170 RPM this system was as efficient as Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 at 800 RPM or Thermalright Archon at 1000 RPM. However, it is much more interesting to follow the competition between the air coolers here.

Phanteks PH-TC14PE took the lead here, and his efficiency on the new platform was so superb that even at 800 RPM speed of its two 140-mm fans it yielded only to one single cooler. And it wasn’t Thermalright Archon or Noctua NH-D14 SE2011, as you may have expected, but Zalman CNPS12X, which was the second best in this test, according to the overall scores. As for Archon and NH-D14 SE2011, they go neck and neck at the maximum fan speed as well as at the medium speed of 1000 RPM. At the minimal 800 RPM Archon yields 2°C to NH-D14 SE2011, although we should also keep in mind that the Thermalright cooler has only one fan against Noctua’s two. Nevertheless, we will split the winning third place between these two coolers without hesitation. The fourth cooler in this race is the most inexpensive of all – Thermalright HR-02 Macho. While it lost only 1°C to Archon at 800 RPM, 2°C – at 1000 RPM and 3°C – at 1290 RPM, this cooler once again proved that it indeed boasts unprecedented combination of efficiency and price (and noise, too).

As soon as we overclocked our processor to 4.5 GHz at 1.405 V Vcore, some of the testing participants suffered inevitable losses. I am sure Intel RTS2011LC Water Cooler failing in this test is not a surprise at all. However, Thermalright HR-02 Macho and Archon failed this test at 800 and 1000 RPM, and Zalman CNPS12X couldn’t cope with the overclocked processor at 800 RPM fan speed. All this is clear evidence of how greatly the heat dissipation of an overclocked processor increases. Take a look at the new results table and diagram:

The leader remains the same – Phanteks PH-TC14PE. Zalman CNPS12X also looks pretty good, although it loses to Phanteks 5°C at maximum fan speeds and 4°C at medium fan speeds. Thermalright Archon is not too far behind Zalman CNPS12X (as you remember, Archon has another trick up its sleeve: the ability to take on a second fan, while the Zalman cooler has already exhausted all optimization resources). Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 does pretty well against Archon and Macho due to its two fans, that is why it can cool the CPU properly even at 800 RPM fan speed. However, Phanteks PH-TC14PE, which design is very similar to that of Noctua NH-D14, is as much as 7-8°C more efficient than its Austrian brother. This is a very serious advantage in the super-cooler segment, where the competitors fight for every degree.

In conclusion to this part of our test session where all coolers were tested in their default configurations we can state that Phanteks PH-TC14PE and Zalman CNPS12X managed to cope with an even higher overclocked processors working at 4.625 MHz frequency with 1.455 V and 1.445 V voltages for the Phanteks and Zalman coolers, respectively. At the same time, despite higher voltage Phanteks managed to cool our overclocked processor 2°C better:

Phanteks PH-TC14PE (1230 RPM x2)

Zalman CNPS12X (1190 RPM x3)

Unfortunately, the remaining three tower-coolers failed during this overclocking test.

Now let’s see how the coolers will do with two identical Scythe Slip Stream 140 fans. As we have already mentioned earlier, we used Thermalright TR-FDB-2000 fans for Intel RTS2011LC Water Cooler. For obvious reasons Zalman CNPS12X participated the way it is. Again, let’s check out the results table and the diagram:

As we see, Phanteks PH-TC14PE demonstrates the same results as before except for one test mode at the maximum rotation speed of the two Scythe Slip Stream 140 fans. The results of the dual-tower Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 also remained almost unchanged. However, Thermalright Archon and Thermalright HR-02 Macho have become noticeably more efficient when we replaced their default fan with two alternative ones. The coolers ranked the same in all four speed modes: Phanteks PH-TC14PE being number one, Thermalright Archon following 3-4°C behind, Thermalright HR-02 Macho falling another 1-3°C behind, and Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 as the last cooler losing 1-3°C to Thermalright Macho.

Although we couldn’t modify Zalman CNPS12X in any way, this cooler looks very confident in this test even with its default fans, while all other testing participants received an efficiency “booster” in the form of two high-speed Scythe Slip Stream 140 fans. As for the compact liquid-cooling system, Intel RTS2011LC Water Cooler tested with two Thermalright fans attached to its aluminum radiator, it doesn’t look too impressive against the background of the tested super-coolers, even though it coped with our CPU overclocked to 4.5 GHz (even at 1000 RPM fan speed).

Now that we have transitioned to the new testbed, we will start feeding data into our summary table and diagram all over again. These results are obtained from coolers tested in their default configurations, in quite mode and at maximum fan speed with the processor overclocked to 4.375 GHz and Vcore set at 1.385 V:

* - The peak temperature of the hottest CPU core is posted on the diagram
taking into account the difference with the current ambient temperature
and is reduced to 25°C.

We will also rate cooling systems according to the maximum CPU overclocking that they allow. At this time this chart includes only five coolers and one liquid-cooling system:

The only thing left to address at this point is the acoustic performance of the tested cooling products.

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