Hey, I'm building a Core 2 Duo system next week, and I'm looking at getting the Zalman CNPS7700-Alcu and using it instead of the stock Heatsink/Fan. Although I might overclock sometime in the near future, the main reason I want to do this is for noise reduction. The last 2 computers I built were annoyingly loud, so for this PC I am trying to get it as quiet as possible. My question to you guys is, how loud is the stock Heatsink/Fan of an E6600 compared to the Zalman CNPS7700-Alcu(at it's highest setting)? Is it worth it to make this upgrade for noise reasons only? Also, I have used an Athlon 64 3200+ (939) the past year or so, so if anyone can compare the noise level of the Zalman cooler to the 3200+ stock fan, that would also be appreciated.
At max speed my bet is that the Zalman would be louder, but one monster of a cooler. At max speed the Zalman would be 37.1 dB which is pretty loud. Of course you wouldn't need to run it at that speed, especially if you aren't overclocking. In my opinion it probably isn't worth $50 for solely noise reduction. Unless you have the money to throw around I would go with something cheaper, like the COOLER MASTER KHC-L91-U2 (link) which costs only $32 and makes 18.5 dB of noise which is pretty much silent. And it still cools pretty nicely.
If you're planning on overclocking, might as well spent an extra $5 to get a tuniq tower 120 (the best air cooler to date). Just use froogle.com to find a store that has it in stock. If you really have the money you can replace the fan in the tuniq tower with a quieter one or a monster like the SILVERSTONE FM121 link (which can be undervolted to 17 dB so it's silent but costs $15).
The stock fan is very quiet, especially if you're using cpu fan control. It was surprisingly quiet in my opinion. If I was just doing mild overclocking I'd probably still be using it... but I've gone beyond its cooling potential now.
stock fan is very quiet, from what i understand this version of intels heatsink is superior to the older ones (look i read it somewhere, ill drag it up if i wanna waste 3 hours of my life ) .
All in all, its quiet.. my 1950XTX under full load is VERY loud, but the computer in general so silent that under normal conditions i wont hear my tower if im 8 feet from it (or outside my room). Although the raptors do make quite a bit of noise.
I'm coming from an old Thermaltake monsters for the 939 that ran at 5500 rpms... I know loud.
I realize this is a dead post, but someone may run across it anyways, so here is my 2 cents:
Modern stock coolers are quite silent, and will be drown out by almost any other fan in your system, especially crappy power supplies, stock case fans, and jet engines attached to your graphics card. So replace those other noise violators first. However, if you have a quiet system already then intel fans can be very grating on the ears because the sound they produce is more like friction instead of airflow. So if you have a fan-less GPU, and a quiet PSU then the stock cooler must go!
Here are a few tips on picking one out:
1, size doesn't matter, almost anything will cool your cpu at stock speeds. Material will make a difference, so go with copper over aluminum if in the price range, but unless you are severely over clocking the system then you don't need a big block. Keep in mind that anything under 38*c is perfectly fine, and almost anything can do that with minimal effort. I went overkill on my system and got a huge Zalman monster which keeps the CPU at 24*c for both idle and loaded temps at stock speed, and up to 28*c over clocked. It is pretty, but I do have a little buyers remorse on the price. For clients I usually get little low profile things with a quiet fan which keeps their systems in the low 30s. It's not super cold, but plenty quiet, which is the point. Obviously if you are running a maxed out Core i7 you want something big, but for the rest of us running C2duo, C2quad, i3, and i5s there isn't much point.
2, it's all about thermal paste application. Some people swear about a particular brand of thermal paste, and I am sure there is some difference, but it really is negligible if you apply it right. Spend about $3-5 on a name brand tube and it will last you about 10-15 applications. Thermal paste is not a heat sink, so don't use it as one. Only use about the size of 1/2 a pea in the center of your CPU, then use a vinyl glove and spread it with your finger over the surface so that there is a very thin layer. Air is a poor conductor, all that thermal paste does is keep air out of the little grooves and imperfections of the 2 surfaces. I find that using cards never works evenly enough, and makes more of a mess than using your gloved finger.
3, noise is in the fan. The whole reason you want to replace the heat sink is because of the noise of the fan, so spend your money on a good fan, not a big block. Anything will move air, so go as big as you can with a low RPM/Db within your price range and all will go well. Also, the slower the air movement, the less dust collection. So you want it to move enough to keep things cool, but slow enough to not attract more particulates than necessary. Also, keep your tower off the floor to reduce dust collection. Put it on your desk, or a platform, even a shoe box will help a little, but the further from the ground (and from fresh air sources like windows and doors) the less dust will accumulate. And always take a can of air to it every year religiously.
Keep those 3 things in mind and you will have new complaints about your HDDs being too loud, or the HVAC, or the traffic outside, or the 60 cycle hum of the power lines in your house, and those are wonderful problem to have! Good luck!