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The absolute best air CPU cooler under $100?

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December 23, 2009 7:13:32 PM

Hey there, I just got a new i7 build for xmas:

Case: Antec Nine Hundred Two
PSU: Diablotek 650W PSU
Motherboard: ASRock X58 Extreme
CPU: i7 920 (D0)
CPU Cooler: Arctic Freezer Pro 7 Rev.B
RAM: 3x2GB Triple Channel G.Skill 1600MHz DDR3
Video Card(s): 8600GTS-512MB (Pending my Radeon HD 5770)

I'm afraid I didn't do enough research on my CPU Cooler (Arctic Freezer Pro 7 Rev.B) and My CPU reaches 80C after only 5-10mins of Prime95.

I reseated it three times with AS5 and gut the same temps give or take 5C (yeah huge).

I am looking now for the best air CPU Cooler that money can buy. I have a couple in mind but don't mind any recommendations. This Arctic Freezer Pro sucks. I have been looking around on the internet for benchmarks of CPU Coolers but can't find any usable information. If anyone can find tests including all of these Coolers I'd be very grateful. I want to have some hardcore evidence of which cools the best.

-Xigmatek S1283
-Prolimatech Megahalems
-Thermalright TRUE Copper
-Arctic Freezer Pro 7 Rev.B

I would like to know which one is best and hopefully some proof and comparisons. I'm looking to OC my 920 D0 to 4GHz but with 80C in 10mins of Prime95 on STOCK. No way in hell.

I'm also looking at the Corsair H50. This is the only water cooling I will consider. So, I just need the BEST cooling out of: any AIR cooler, or the H50. whichever cools the most.

I currently live in Puerto Rico and have no air-conditioning (30C ambient probably) but I am actually in the process of moving to an air-conditioned house (20C) right now, hopefully my temps will drop but I doubt they will drop enough for some OC headroom. So please tell me which is the best CPU cooler money can buy and proof. Thank you for any help! ^.^

To find out the best air CPU cooler ----------------------------------C-L-I-C-K---B-E-L-O-W-------------------------------------
Spoiler
The best air CPU cooler on the market as of December 30th, 2009, is Noctua's NH-D14 air CPU Cooler.

To find out the best air CPU cooler ----------------------------------C-L-I-C-K---A-B-O-V-E--------------------------------------
a c 158 à CPUs
a c 280 K Overclocking
December 23, 2009 8:15:54 PM

Hi newcomer and welcome to the Tom's hardware forum.

My vote goes for the Thermalright, or the V8 or V10 from Coolermaster. But if the money isn't a problem for your, try to get a liquid cooling system.

Cheers from Colombia.
a b à CPUs
a b K Overclocking
December 23, 2009 8:36:03 PM

By any chance do you have your bios vcore on auto vs normal. auto tends to give more voltage even at stock.
Related resources
December 23, 2009 8:41:51 PM

notty22 said:
By any chance do you have your bios vcore on auto vs normal. auto tends to give more voltage even at stock.

I have it on auto because I don't know much about voltages at this point. When I get my computer back (because as I said I am in the process of moving and it's in box) I will probably go through the process of putting it manual and going from 0.95V up, until it gets stable.
December 23, 2009 9:18:23 PM

I kind of want to keep Speed-Step/Turbo Mode on because I don't want it to suck 150W all the time.
a b à CPUs
a b K Overclocking
December 23, 2009 9:43:55 PM

prolimatech
December 23, 2009 9:47:35 PM

obsidian86 said:
prolimatech


thanks, i know its great, and I AM swaying more towards it. but i want some proof/evidence to compare to the others, i want to make sure i get the best. theres no room to change my mind later :p 

Best solution

December 23, 2009 10:18:08 PM
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Try this article for size...

http://www.frostytech.com/

P.S. Arctic Silver needs about a 200 hour cure period, but even so 80-C is tooo hotttt!!!
a b à CPUs
a b K Overclocking
December 23, 2009 10:55:13 PM

the megashadow is a better version of the megahalm
a c 180 à CPUs
a c 131 K Overclocking
December 23, 2009 11:05:06 PM

Here's 3 sites that came to the same conclusion:

http://www.frostytech.com/top5heatsinks.cfm#INTELHEATSI...
http://www.silentpcreview.com/Recommended_Heatsinks
http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...

Prolimatech Megahalems (the revision B comes with two fan clips). There's also a Megashadow version which I have. Has black nickel finish but not like you can actually tell once installed....doesn't cool any better....just looks nicer in the box :) 

I used IC Diamond karat 7 Thermal Compound and twin Enermax Magma fans all purchased from FrozenCPU.com
December 23, 2009 11:08:29 PM

From the turn out of this thread I'm going for the Prolimatech Megahalems. Any objections? :p 
a b à CPUs
a b K Overclocking
December 23, 2009 11:26:19 PM

is that your final answer?
December 23, 2009 11:52:53 PM

Unless you have proof of a better one? Yeap, yes it is.
a b à CPUs
a b K Overclocking
December 24, 2009 12:20:57 AM

good thats settled just remember to get a fan or fans for it since it doesn come with any
December 24, 2009 4:26:24 AM

mikey5802 said:
Try this article for size...

http://www.frostytech.com/

P.S. Arctic Silver needs about a 200 hour cure period, but even so 80-C is tooo hotttt!!!


Hey just wondering now, what is the temperature difference from "just applied" to "fully cured" to "all dried up" for Arctic Silver 5 if you know?

example answer:

With an Zalman Watchamacallit 3000 CPU Cooler I got 66C (Prime95 after 1hr) when I had first applied it. the coolest I ever got was around 55C (Prime95 after 1hr), and after like a year an a half it got real hot like 76C (Prime95 after 1hr) so I reapplied it. All these temperatures were without reseating it.

Hopefully you get what I mean... :) 
December 24, 2009 1:01:09 PM

I can't say with absolute certainty....I just know that I've read that AS5 needs about a 200 hour cure period for it to fuction at it's greatest capability. I also read somewhere that AS5 needed to replaced every so often as well, but I don't remember where. Search Frostytech for thermal paste reviews or google it. I know I've read them in the past and those articles infuenced my decision to go with OCZ Freeze. There was also an article in PC magazine about a Dow Corning thermal paste that was supposed very efficient as well. I could never find the stuff, but there were plenty of scientific articles found in google about it.
December 30, 2009 4:51:05 PM

The question is unanswered once again! A few high-end air CPU coolers have been brought to my attention!

I am now between the following three, please help me choose the ABSOLUTE best possible air cooler.

Noctua NH-U12P

Noctua NH-D14

Prolimatech Megahalems Rev.B

I do not care about space, price, looks. I am looking for the absolute BEST air cooler on the market.
a b à CPUs
a b K Overclocking
December 30, 2009 6:38:14 PM

NO one can tell you the ABSOLUTE best, too many variables to consider like case air flow, Tim application, fans used, etc.

One person may swear by one as being the best and someone else will say it just so-so.

The Megahalems, True, Venomous-X will all be capable of the OC you are looking for.
December 30, 2009 6:46:37 PM

Through further research I have found the Noctua NH-D14 to be THE BEST air CPU cooler on the market. All the benchmarks I've seen include it versus the Prolimatech Megahalems, the previous champ of this frosty battle. Not visa versa, as benchmarks with the Prolimatech Megahalems do not include the NH-D14. The NH-D14 is newer, more advanced, and as seen through many reviews, benchmarks, and awards I have seen. It is the ABSOLUTE best.

Here is the review from a reputable source that really sealed the deal for me.

And if you didn't bother reading:

The best air CPU cooler on the market is Noctua's NH-D14.

Now the only thing now is: is it worth the extra $20 over the Prolimatech Megahalems Rev.B? I think so, even a degree of temperature is vital to a great overclock. It also comes with Noctua's prized fans (The NF-P14 and NF-P12) which although ugly, are high-performance, ultra silent fans. Anyways, nothing a little spray paint can't fix?
a b à CPUs
December 30, 2009 6:47:51 PM

I can tell you from experience, you wont need even those. A Mehahalem is overkill. Hitting 4 GHz on an i7 is pretty damn easy.
December 30, 2009 6:54:55 PM

RJR said:
NO one can tell you the ABSOLUTE best, too many variables to consider like case air flow, Tim application, fans used, etc.

One person may swear by one as being the best and someone else will say it just so-so.

The Megahalems, True, Venomous-X will all be capable of the OC you are looking for.


For the question I am asking yes there can be. I am looking for "the best air CPU cooler".

So this means a device that under the same conditions, will drop a CPU's temperature to the lowest degree through the absorption and dissipation of heat by air.

I came to this conclusion, and there can only be ONE device which is BEST at cooling be it by 10 degrees or even a fraction of a degree. The best at cooling is the best at cooling. I was not asking for quietest, or least power consuming, best looking or lightest. Not your favorite, the best.

Noctua's NH-D14 brought the temperatures of the SAME CPU, in the SAME CASE, on the SAME motherboard, with SAME ambient temperatures to the lowest, making it the best "cooler."
December 30, 2009 6:56:04 PM

AMW1011 said:
I can tell you from experience, you wont need even those. A Mehahalem is overkill. Hitting 4 GHz on an i7 is pretty damn easy.


I know they're all overkill, but I wanted to answer the Title Topic for people who want to know the definite answer anyways.

I'm going to get the Prolimatech Megahalems anyways to save me some money, and since it's smaller it will be easier to work with, and plus I love the transformers logo. :p 

The NH-D14 is still the best cooler though because it can drop the temperatures lower than the Megahalems.
December 30, 2009 7:11:37 PM

mikey5802 said:
I can't say with absolute certainty....I just know that I've read that AS5 needs about a 200 hour cure period for it to fuction at it's greatest capability. I also read somewhere that AS5 needed to replaced every so often as well, but I don't remember where. Search Frostytech for thermal paste reviews or google it. I know I've read them in the past and those articles infuenced my decision to go with OCZ Freeze. There was also an article in PC magazine about a Dow Corning thermal paste that was supposed very efficient as well. I could never find the stuff, but there were plenty of scientific articles found in google about it.


I found the answer here. After the break in period the temperature will be 2C-5C lower than when freshly applied. As seen here on the bottom of page 2.
December 30, 2009 7:16:47 PM

obsidian86 said:
but can it beat the megahalems big brother the megashadow?

http://www.frozencpu.com/products/9655/cpu-pro-05/Proli...


Yes, because it is the same thing as the Prolimatech Megahalems except it is plated in a thin layer of dark nickel. This does not improve cooling, it is purely for aesthetics. The Mega Shadow is merely an aesthetic upgrade from the Megahalems, and it comes with an extra clip for a push/pull setup, which comes in the Megahalems Rev.B package. The push/pull setup still would not drop the temperatures far enough to triumph the NH-D14.
a b à CPUs
a b K Overclocking
December 30, 2009 8:35:41 PM

the megashadow cools a lil bettter then the megalem not much only 1-2c .i cant seem to find any reviews on the thermalright venomous x it should be an evolution of the prolimatech's
January 2, 2010 1:20:51 AM

To all the megahalem lovers don't be in denial. Better equipment coming out is part of the progression. The megahalem is a great cooler I will never deny that.


The Noctua NH-D14 is by far the BEST CPU AIR COOLER on the market today, but it is also the largest. The cpu coolerthat comes the closest to is the Thermalright IFX 14 which I believe will also hold 140mm fans. how ever I've never seen a review that tested the IFX 14 with 140mm fans. NH-D14 out performed the the Megahalem by 3 degrees. And you can currently pick it up for around $75 US. And it comes with two of the best fans on the market today. On top of what you pay for the megahalem(usually around $65) you will have to purchase two 120mm fans.

Oh yeah here is the link to prove it is the best.

http://www.clunk.org.uk/reviews/noctua-nh-d14-premium-c...
January 2, 2010 1:31:30 AM

One more thing. This Noctua NH-D14 also dropped the temperature inside my case 2 degrees. I have no explination for that?!? I am running Crossfire Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 X2.

Rest of set up is Antec Quattro 1000w,X58 pro-e, i7 920 overclocked to 3.9 and extremely stable, 12 gb DDR3 ram, and I also use the Antec nine hundred two case.
January 2, 2010 1:54:16 AM

obsidian86 said:
the megashadow cools a lil bettter then the megalem not much only 1-2c .i cant seem to find any reviews on the thermalright venomous x it should be an evolution of the prolimatech's



1 to 2 degrees is alot when you are talking about the best cpu cooler. They redesign coolers just to get an extra degree colder.
a b à CPUs
a c 86 K Overclocking
January 2, 2010 2:50:13 AM

What about this review? they use the same exact heat setup for each and every cooler, and correct for ambient temps. That's science, not a case, a reviewer, a cooler, and some times the same chip. We all know every chip is different.

http://www.frostytech.com/articleview.cfm?articleID=247...
January 2, 2010 3:57:43 AM

What is the post you linked? Wrong socket wrong stream? list is old?
January 2, 2010 4:00:47 AM

UnretroGamer said:
I found the answer here. After the break in period the temperature will be 2C-5C lower than when freshly applied. As seen here on the bottom of page 2.



I believe that is true with any thermal paste.
January 2, 2010 3:44:20 PM

Conumdrum said:
What about this review? they use the same exact heat setup for each and every cooler, and correct for ambient temps. That's science, not a case, a reviewer, a cooler, and some times the same chip. We all know every chip is different.

http://www.frostytech.com/articleview.cfm?articleID=247...


I am sure of this, but I'm pretty sure they do not test the NH-D14 in that list. That list is ancient and NH-D14 came out relatively recently.
January 2, 2010 3:50:40 PM

UnretroGamer said:
I am sure of this, but I'm pretty sure they do not test the NH-D14 in that list. That list is ancient and NH-D14 came out relatively recently.


+1
January 2, 2010 3:51:33 PM

bmjones17 said:
To all the megahalem lovers don't be in denial. Better equipment coming out is part of the progression. The megahalem is a great cooler I will never deny that.


The Noctua NH-D14 is by far the BEST CPU AIR COOLER on the market today, but it is also the largest. The cpu coolerthat comes the closest to is the Thermalright IFX 14 which I believe will also hold 140mm fans. how ever I've never seen a review that tested the IFX 14 with 140mm fans. NH-D14 out performed the the Megahalem by 3 degrees. And you can currently pick it up for around $75 US. And it comes with two of the best fans on the market today. On top of what you pay for the megahalem(usually around $65) you will have to purchase two 120mm fans.

Oh yeah here is the link to prove it is the best.

http://www.clunk.org.uk/reviews/noctua-nh-d14-premium-c...


That's technology for you. You can't stick to one concept, because they are continuously changing and advancing. Usually for the better.

Just to make things clear though, because you don't say it clearly. The NH-D14 comes with 2 fans prepackaged inside. They are super fast and super quiet, but they're super ugly too...lol. Anyways

ProlimaTech Megahalems - comes without fans, which means you have to buy fans on top of the $65 you already pay for the heatsink which if you buy two good fans (~$12 each) can come out costing more than the NH-D14, which is better.
Noctua NH-D14 - comes with great fans, and cools better, but takes more space.

Honestly, if you have the space, you can't go wrong with the NH-D14...
January 2, 2010 3:54:27 PM

UnretroGamer said:
Yes it is, but just to make things clear because you don't say it clearly. The NH-D14 comes with 2 fans prepackaged inside. They are super fast and super quiet, but they're super ugly too...lol. Anyways

ProlimaTech Megahalems - comes without fans, which means you have to buy fans on top of the $65 you already pay for the heatsink which if you buy two good fans (~$12 each) can come out costing more than the NH-D14.
Noctua NH-D14 - comes with great fans, and cools better, but takes more space.

Honestly, if you have the space, you can't go wrong with the NH-D14...



Thats exactly what I posted except you will never find noctua quality fans for $12.
a b à CPUs
a c 86 K Overclocking
January 2, 2010 3:55:45 PM

Well If you look it's not ancient. Every test is added to the list. If they didn't test the one your looking at not much we can do about it though.

But I'd agree, the NH-D14 looks to be a fine cooler, you can't go wrong with it.
January 2, 2010 4:15:12 PM

Conumdrum said:
Well If you look it's not ancient. Every test is added to the list. If they didn't test the one your looking at not much we can do about it though.

But I'd agree, the NH-D14 looks to be a fine cooler, you can't go wrong with it.



I also just straight up don't trust those tests. I think if your going to test hardware, it has to be within a small time frame, in a controlled environment (humidity, light, temperature, air pressure) and the CPU installation, and Thermal Compound installation has to be done by a robot to make sure there are no variables. That way, the result depend directly on the CPU cooler itself.

The way they're doing it I doubt there results are accurate to the degree, therefore since there top two coolers are to them separated by only a tenth of a degree I think I read. The length of time between the results can sprout so many variables. The way they do there tests, there results cannot be that accurate (to the tenth of a degree.....pfft!).

I think someone has to do a test between the Prolimatech Megahalems and Noctua's NH-D14. Like the final showdown, In the same case, motherboard, cpu, and in a controlled environment with a consistent humidity, temperature, and air pressure, and have robotically applied thermal compound to the CPU, and make sure the same pressure is applied to the CPU with both coolers. Also to do it with two of each cooler and average the results. That is the most accurate test I can conceive.
a b à CPUs
a b K Overclocking
January 2, 2010 4:35:08 PM

These tests show the Titan Fenir to be pretty good. lol These are heavy coolers, different results happen. I wouldn't crown the Noctua "The best" just yet.

http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1053/5/
January 2, 2010 4:42:00 PM

Wow. again no statistics with variables. This this has the scythe mugen over half way down the list? lol

Please study tests results before you post. Their reviews are horrible.
January 2, 2010 4:45:11 PM

notty22 said:
These tests show the Titan Fenir to be pretty good. lol These are heavy coolers, different results happen. I wouldn't crown the Noctua "The best" just yet.
http://i482.photobucket.com/albums/rr185/notty222/scythe_mugen_2_015.jpg
http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1053/5/


I would, if you look. That test doesn't even include the Noctua NH-D14. Find some more complete tests, and it'd be great from a reputable source. Not some random site, or photobucket under your username. :p 
January 2, 2010 5:09:21 PM

bmjones17 said:
Wow. again no statistics with variables. This this has the scythe mugen over half way down the list? lol

Please study tests results before you post. Their reviews are horrible.


I know lol I was like wtf??? That's why I only trust results from reputable sources, not some site someone made and posted some diagrams on, that he made in Microsoft Paint. The site is even called "legitreviews" which you can already tell its not legit.
January 5, 2010 8:40:51 PM

have a look at the corsair h50-1
January 6, 2010 5:27:26 AM

obsidian86 said:
the megashadow cools a lil bettter then the megalem not much only 1-2c .i cant seem to find any reviews on the thermalright venomous x it should be an evolution of the prolimatech's


Obsidian, I've been reading every review and article I can find on the Megashadow-Megahalems. I can't find ONE source that claims ANYthing about the megashadow except it has black nickle plating on it.

Not one claim about a difference in cooling over the megahalem.

Can you site your source? I'm just about to click on "buy" over at frozencpu. I don't want to pay an additional $15 for simple appearance. My case covers up the hsf.

Best,
Bob
January 6, 2010 3:59:24 PM

bmjones17 said:
To all the megahalem lovers don't be in denial. Better equipment coming out is part of the progression. The megahalem is a great cooler I will never deny that.


The Noctua NH-D14 is by far the BEST CPU AIR COOLER on the market today, but it is also the largest. The cpu coolerthat comes the closest to is the Thermalright IFX 14 which I believe will also hold 140mm fans. how ever I've never seen a review that tested the IFX 14 with 140mm fans. NH-D14 out performed the the Megahalem by 3 degrees. And you can currently pick it up for around $75 US. And it comes with two of the best fans on the market today. On top of what you pay for the megahalem(usually around $65) you will have to purchase two 120mm fans.

Oh yeah here is the link to prove it is the best.

http://www.clunk.org.uk/reviews/noctua-nh-d14-premium-c...


One review doesn't prove a cooler is the best. There are too many chances for human error. Different pastes also matter. TX-2 and TX-3 pastes seem to be the top consumer thermal compounds, and they are safe to throw out, don't conduct electricity, and have a very short curing period.
January 31, 2010 12:05:45 PM

These 4 coolers were recommended to me. The first 2 being able to cool equally the best

Venomous X
Thermalright IFX-14

Prolimatech Megahalems
Noctua NH-D14


This is when used with i7 920, overclocked

Any new thoughts about these 4 coolers?
February 8, 2010 7:33:56 AM

UnretroGamer said:
Through further research I have found the Noctua NH-D14 to be THE BEST air CPU cooler on the market. All the benchmarks I've seen include it versus the Prolimatech Megahalems, the previous champ of this frosty battle. Not visa versa, as benchmarks with the Prolimatech Megahalems do not include the NH-D14. The NH-D14 is newer, more advanced, and as seen through many reviews, benchmarks, and awards I have seen. It is the ABSOLUTE best.

Here is the review from a reputable source that really sealed the deal for me.

And if you didn't bother reading:

The best air CPU cooler on the market is Noctua's NH-D14.

Now the only thing now is: is it worth the extra $20 over the Prolimatech Megahalems Rev.B? I think so, even a degree of temperature is vital to a great overclock. It also comes with Noctua's prized fans (The NF-P14 and NF-P12) which although ugly, are high-performance, ultra silent fans. Anyways, nothing a little spray paint can't fix?


I am using the NH-d14 and it was a little pain to install. I used the AS5 thermal paste. My idle in bios and PC probe II show 26-27C. very cool. Using fans in updraft configuration and my CPU is always nice and cool. I am using the HAF 932 case. Would buy this again. On full load haven't seen 50C yet.
a b K Overclocking
February 8, 2010 7:54:50 AM

The Scythe Mugen 2 is pretty big as well, but it shouldn't have been in the middle of that chart, it should have been somewhere closer to the bottom.
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