Cooling Efficiency Tests
There are quite a few coolers in this review, so we have to display their results in two diagrams. The first diagram shows how they perform with a single Thermalright TR-FDB fan.
Let’s compare the ordinary and tuned versions of the coolers with one fan first. Under peak CPU load the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme revision C is 4°C, 3°C and 1°C more effective than its cousin in quiet, medium-speed, and 1600 RPM mode. These are expected results since the new revision has a less dense pack of heatsink plates with interior perforation and thus can cool the CPU more effectively at low and medium speeds of the fan. At a high speed of the single fan the new and old coolers are similar in performance.
The next pair are the Cogage Arrow and the Thermalright IFX-14. When equipped with one fan, these two-tower products cannot compete with the new Ultra-120 eXtreme because they are meant for two or even three fans. The Cogage Arrow and the Thermalright IFX-14 have similar results, differing no more than 1°C.
The Zalman CNPS10X Quiet and Zalman CNPS10X Flex put up a tough fight here. The Quiet version of the cooler is 3°C more effective in the quiet mode (800 RPM), but the Flex is 1°C better at 1200 RPM thanks to the larger heatsink area (8200 against 6817 square centimeters). The Flex enjoys an even bigger advantage at 1600 RPM – 2°C.
The Noctua NH-D14 is in the lead in the quiet mode at 800 RPM, keeping the CPU colder by 2°C compared to the other coolers. Its advantage is only 1°C at 1200 RPM, though. At 1600 RPM the NH-D14 is challenged by the Arrow and the new Thermalright. Again, these are the results of the coolers with one fan. Now let’s see what we have with two Thermalright TR-FDB fans (one for intake and the other for exhaust).
So, do we have any changes in the pairs of nearly identical coolers? With a second fan set to exhaust the air from the heatsink, the ordinary Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme gets closer to the new revision. The difference is 2°C in the quiet mode and 1°C at 1200 RPM. The two models deliver identical results at 1600 RPM. This might have been expected, considering the design of the two revisions.
The Thermalright IFX-14 and Cogage Arrow are still similar in their efficiency. The Arrow has a barely visible advantage at the medium and maximum speeds. As for Zalman’s solutions, the Quiet version is more effective at 800 RPM while the Flex is somewhat better at the medium speed and at 1600 RPM. We don’t have anything new to say about the Alpenföhn Nordwand. You can check the complete results table below:
And what about the Noctua NH-D14? This Austrian super-cooler is 1°C more effective than the other tested products in the quiet mode with the two 120mm fans working at 800 RPM. At the medium speed of 1200 RPM it is overtaken by the Cogage Arrow. And at the maximum speed of 1600 RPM the Noctua NH-D14 is also overtaken by the new Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme. So, the Noctua NH-D14 doesn’t enjoy an overwhelming advantage here. Therefore, let’s check out these three best coolers at reaching the highest CPU frequency with two Thermalright TR-FDB fans at 800 and 1600 RPM. The quiet mode comes first:
Although we achieved similar results with all these coolers, the Noctua NH-D14 is 3°C more effective than the Cogage Arrow and 2°C more effective than the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme C. But we should also consider the difference in CPU voltage. For example, the overclocked CPU was not stable in the quiet mode with the Cogage Arrow, which has the densest pack of heatsink fins, if we increased its voltage whereas the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme C allowed to overclock the CPU with an increased voltage.
Now, let’s see how the coolers cope with the overclocked CPU at 1600 RPM.
The results are even closer when the coolers are tested with two fans at 1600 RPM. The three leaders do not differ in terms of peak CPU temperature although the Noctua makes the CPU stable at a higher frequency: 20 MHz higher than with the Cogage and 40 MHz higher than with the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme C.