Articles: Cooling

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Thermal Performance

The results are presented in the following diagram:

It’s perfectly clear that the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme is one of the best super-coolers available. Just consider the fact that this cooler with one 120mm fan is as good as the Scythe Infinity with two such fans. The installation of a second 120mm fan on the Thermalright cooler brings about a small performance increase but also makes it the best cooler in terms of performance to noise. Note that the Enzotech Ultra-X can keep the CPU a couple of degrees cooler at the maximum speed, but the noise level is too high.

I didn’t limit myself to the temperature factor in this test session, though. I also found the highest CPU frequency I could achieve with each cooler. The minimum temperature is not so important after all whereas the maximum frequency would point definitely at the best cooler. I performed this test on an open testbed to avoid the influence of the airflows that would be inside a system case. The CPU voltage was set at 1.5V. As had been verified on the best cooler, reducing or increasing this value did not improve the overclockability of the CPU. Besides the highest frequency achieved the diagram shows the CPU temperature under peak load for each cooler.

Here are the results:

The Scythe Andy Samurai Master in the standard version is working at its limit and the CPU can’t be overclocked further on it. Installing a higher-performance fan improves the result by 46MHz. As for the others, note that the CPU is indifferent to the installation of a second exhaust fan when it comes to the tower-like coolers, Infinity and Ultra-120 eXtreme. There is a reduction of temperature, but no increase in frequency.

The Zalman CNPS9700 LED performs well at last, being second best in the CPU frequency achieved (at the maximum speed). It is also obvious that the Thermaltake Big Typhoon is one of the most optimal solutions in the total of its characteristics (performance, noise, price, availability) even though I couldn’t reach the highest CPU frequency with it. The Enzotech Ultra-X is the leader in the CPU frequency achieved.

I can also tell you that my test of the weakest and strongest cooler of this review – Scythe Andy Samurai Master and Enzotech Ultra-X respectively – for reaching the highest frequency of an Intel Core 2 Duo showed that the latter cooler was better by 90MHz (in quiet mode).

I have to acknowledge that the difference in the max frequencies of the quad-core CPU is so negligible between the tested coolers that you should consider other factors in the first place, e.g. the amount of noise. I will consider the noise factor right now.

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