CPU Heatsink Roundup Fall 2007

Cooling/CPU Cooling by jmke @ 2007-11-06

In this large group test we compare over 30 CPU heatsinks with different fan speeds, giving you the data on both thermal and decibel performance. Want to upgrade your stock cooler? This roundup will help you out.

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Introduction & Test Setup


Welcome to our fall roundup of the latest CPU cooling solutions, it has been a while since our last group test back in June. We haven’t been idle since then though, collecting samples here and there to offer you a more complete overview of the CPU heatsinks available on the market today.

We have received 13 new offerings from some well known companies as well as products from new startups; with most enthusiasts now working on Intel Core 2 systems we decided to focus on S775 compatible units, some are multi-platform, but not all. Furthermore we included three different Intel reference heatsinks which are provided with different Intel CPUs.

So let’s get this show on the road:

Madshrimps (c)

These are the heatsinks we tested back in June and we’ll include for comparison today:

  • Coolermaster Eclipse
  • Coolermaster Hyper TX
  • Coolermaster GeminII
  • Coolermaster Mars
  • Evercool Buffalo
  • Scythe ANDY Samurai Master
  • Scythe Kama Cross
  • Scythe Katana 2
  • Scythe Ninja
  • Thermalright SI-128
  • Thermalright Ultra-120 A
  • Titan Amanda TEC
  • TTIC NPH-1000
  • Tuniq Tower 120
  • ZEROTherm BTF90
  • Zalman CNPS9700LED

    Our newcomers today are:

  • Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro
  • Auras CTC-868
  • Auras GTO-990
  • Auras LPT-709
  • Coolermaster Vortex 752
  • Coolermaster Sphere
  • Coolermaster Hyper 212
  • Coolink Silentator
  • Rosewill RCX-Z5-Ultra
  • Rosewill RCX-Z775-EX
  • OCZ Vendetta
  • Ultra ChillTec Thermo Electric CPU Cooler
  • Zalman CNPS8700

    and three Intel stock heatsinks:

  • Intel Reference Alu (included with older Pentium 4 S775 and Intel E2xxx)
  • Intel Reference Alu/Cu (included with Core 2 Duo models)
  • Intel Reference Alu/Cu Big (included with Core 2 Quad models)

    S775 Test Setup and Methodology

    We build a S775 system with parts from Alternate.de, the CPU is one hot running Pentium 4 524, 3.06Ghz. It is mounted on a Swiss-army knife equivalent of motherboards: an Asrock 775Dual-VSTA.

    Madshrimps (c)Madshrimps (c)Madshrimps (c)Madshrimps (c)Madshrimps (c)

    The mounting system on S775 is quite straight forward and well thought out, 4 holes around the socket serve as mounting points for the push pins on the standard Intel cooler. Installation is a snap, and removal is very easy too.

    Madshrimps (c)

    With the stock cooling and at stock voltage the 3Ghz P4 was running stable at 3.68Ghz, quite a nice improvement from default speeds.

    A Watt Meter recorded peak power consumption under heavy CPU load at 138W, which is less than our previous Athlon 64 setup which consumed up to 165W. The Asrock bios lacks CPU voltage manipulation, so at default voltage is seems this Prescott setup is more power friendly then the over-volted AMD system.

    We’re using a compact Antec Sonata II mid tower case, swapped out the PSU for a passive model from FSP rated at 400W, the outside of the PSU case never went past 40°C during our stress tests,

    Intel S775 Setup

    Madshrimps (c)
    CPU Pentium 4 524 @ 3628Mhz - 1.36v vcore
    Mainboard Asrock 775Dual-VSTA
    Memory 1 * 512Mb Mushkin PC3200 LVLII V2
  • Antec Sonata II with AcoustiFan DustPROOF 120mm @ 5v in the rear as outtake (mounted with soft-mounts)
  • ATI R9000 Passive Cooling
  • FSP ZEN 400W Passive Cooled PSU
  • Seagate 7200.8 200Gb HDD in Scythe Quiet Drive

  • in-take temperature was measured at 22°C for all tests, but temp fluctuations, different mounting and user error can account up to 1-3°C of inaccuracy in the obtained results. Please keep this in mind when looking at the results. Each heatsink was tested repeatedly; if we got questionable results the test was restarted.

    Madshrimps (c)
    example: dBA meter is placed right at the edge of the case - with side panel removed

  • Noise level of each HSF combo was recorded with SmartSensor SL4001A, the sensor was placed ~5cm away from the side of the case with panel removed. The lowest dBA reading in the test room was 37.8dBAwith system running without HSF fan.

  • System was stressed by running K7 CPU Burn for 30min (after Thermal Compound's burn-in); this application pushes the temperature higher than any other application or game we've yet encountered. Speedfan was used to log maximum obtained temperatures.
  • Arctic Silver kindly send us their “Lumière” thermal testing compound which has the same colour as Ceramique, but only a break in time of 30min!
  • Arctic Silver's ArctiClean was used to clean off thermal paste of the CPU and heatsink between tests

    Fans used for comparison

    To eliminate as much variables in the tests we test each heatsink with a "reference" fan if it can be mounted.

  • GlobalWin NCB 120x120x25mm fan with 41.7CFM rating.
  • Delta NFB0912L 92mmx92mmx25mm fan with 42CFM rating.

    Let's take a look at the Intel reference coolers ->
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    Comment from Rutar @ 2007/11/06

    A new sheriff in town from Coolink (former Noiseblocker), it is VERY interesting that it seems to be geared towards silent computing (hence performing best there while not outperforming with a high speed fan. I can't seem to get it here tough
    Comment from thorgal @ 2007/11/06
    John, in your chart the "coolIT freezone" : where is that review ?

    Edit : found it :$ But it's watercooling :s : why did you include it in the charts ? Shouldn't there be an explanation added ?
    Comment from jmke @ 2007/11/06
    it's water cooling and it's not water cooling at the same time imho; this all in one kit doesn't install different from many other heatsinks, there is zero maintenance, zero risk. It gives you an idea of TEC performance combined with water cooling. Plus, if you state that I should not include it, why include the GTO-990 ? It has a radiator, pump and water block, mounted on a small surface; should I not include that one either?

    While the CoolIT does use water to cool down the CPU, it's such a compact and one in all device that I never stopped to think of it as a water cooling setup, similar to the Swiftech and Dangerden offerings. It can be installed by any PC illiterate without risk of damage, most water cooling kits sold do require a bit more knowledge and include some risk.
    Comment from thorgal @ 2007/11/07
    My feeling is you're walking a thin line here. I do not disagree with your previous post, but to my feeling : air is air, and water is water

    Hassle is not a criterea I think, or you could just as well include a resorator from Zalman for example : all in one solution with only one waterblock to install to the cpu, almost the same as the CoolIT in my book. Zalman uses a clamp system not unlike CoolIT to attach the tubing to the cpu block, external connections with Zalman are clampless. Just to say there's no hassle there as well (I'm not a real resorator fan myself )

    And then there's the price : air coolers of around $40 compared to a watercooling system from over a $100... in that respect the CoolIT is definately in the watercooling league.

    Anyway : the chart is not necessarily wrong, and provides an interesting comparison between the two technologies, but isn't this comparing apples to oranges ?

    All imho of course
    Comment from jmke @ 2007/11/07
    The Ultra ChillTEC is $120+, all air cooled. THe reserator is not all in one kit, you need to handle the tubes = more risk