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Benchmark Results: Cooling And Fan Speed

Big Air: 14 LGA 2011-Compatible Coolers For Core i7-3000, Reviewed

Noctua and Zalman are in a dead heat at the top of our CPU temperature chart, and its here where many readers will remind us that Zalman’s cooler was mounted backwards (where its intake air might have been slightly warmer).

We’d give Zalman the benefit of the doubt if the fitment issue wasn't such a concern. Besides, some builders (and some cooler manufacturers) prefer to see chassis exhaust fans mounted as an extra intake, though we can only suggest doing that with cases that have extremely good top-panel exhaust.

SilenX’s temperature here has to be recorded as an estimate as a result of processor throttling. You see, the displayed temperature is an average for all cores, and this processor begins throttling at 90° C. Without the ability to achieve lower (and less realistic) ambient temperatures, we simply couldn’t keep the warmest core below its throttle point.

After gauging the amount of time it took to reach throttle temperature at various ambient temperatures, we looked at our rough time to ambient temperature curve and estimated that this cooler could only keep our system at full speed with a room temperature below -4° C.

Enermax's ETS-T40 similarly required an unrealistically-low ambient temperature of 20° C at these overclocked settings. We say unrealistic because we never cool our offices below 22° C in the summer, and even our coolest cases are slightly warmer inside. Yet, we can say with certainty that the ETS-T40 is at least good enough to use with this processor at a lower frequency, since it barely crossed the borderline while using a fairly high 1.40 V core voltage and a full CPU load.

Thermalright offers the lowest fan speed, so we expect it to give off the least amount of noise. Yet, the same product manages to achieve respectable cooling performance in the middle of the pack thanks to its fan’s enormous size. Unfortunately, those same larger dimensions forced us to move our graphics card to a different slot. Proper fitment is an important variable, so this small configuration change negates any possibility for a cooling-to-noise award. As with SilenX, Thermalright’s cooling performance is simply an estimation.

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