Nine Big Air Coolers For Intel's Haswell CPUs, Reviewed

Noise And Acoustic Efficiency

We saw a fairly wide range of fan speeds, and some coolers even had two fans. Yet, the difference in noise between the quietest and noisiest model is far less than the 10 dB(A) that would indicate doubled volume in the (logarithmic) decibel scale.

The Gamer Storm Assassin and Argon AR01 are roughly 50% noisier than Prolimatech’s as-delivered PRO-GNSS-BK. Since Prolimatech's heat sink requires additional fans though (fans aren't included with the heat sink), the noise we're reporting only represents this specific $125 combined configuration.

The relative scale for cooling-to-noise calculations refers to how each cooler relates to the average of all coolers in today’s test. Dividing the group average by each cooler’s result gives a higher percent score for lower temperatures. Dividing each cooler’s actual noise level by the group average produces a higher percent score for higher noise. Noise, however, is the divisor, and higher divisors produce lower dividends.

The results use a 100% baseline. Since nothing can be more than 100% efficient, we zero out the chart scale by subtracting 100%.

Besides being the quietest product, Prolimatech’s PRO-GNSS-BK configuration is also the third-coolest. That combination gives the firm a significant lead in our cooling-to-noise calculations. Hitting the middle of our cooling scale, a second-place finish in noise measurements gives the Noctua a second-place acoustic efficiency finish. Phanteks and Thermalright are the only two remaining companies to beat the class average.

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    Top Comments
  • No NH D14?
    18
  • I can't even fathom why one would spend this much time to write an article like this and still leave the NH-D14 out.
    12
  • Other Comments
  • No NH D14?
    18
  • Thermalright Archon SB-E X2, That's one big as* cooler!
    0
  • The CM H212 Evo has been a crowd favorite for quite some time now. :) I wonder how that might have performed. :D
    6
  • Water cooling is the best way forward: less noise, energy efficient and low maintenance.
    -25
  • I hate to say it but all this article demonstrated to me is that Haswell is in no way better than Ivy Bridge. Even Ivy Bridge used 25% less energy with a 10% boost when compared to Sandy Bridge, and I can still get IB to 4.8 GHz on air.

    Haswell= 10% more power for 10% more energy and 10% less headroom. Oh and it costs more...

    Man I hope AMD can whip them back into shape with Steam Roller...
    1
  • I can't even fathom why one would spend this much time to write an article like this and still leave the NH-D14 out.
    12
  • Would love to see how the H60 (new version) compares as a point of reference.
    3
  • It's funny how some of you guys still think Intel made Haswell with desktops in mind. This is a CPU architecture made for mobile. It's quite sufficient for desktops in every regard. Yes, it might not outperform IB by much, and it might run a bit hotter, but in a laptop, there is nothing that compares to Haswell.
    -5
  • 1283923 said:
    No NH D14?
    Noctua picked the NH-U14S instead of the D14. Please feel free to ask them why.

    Since Noctua chose not to feature the NH-D14 this time, you might want to look at its closest competitor. The article links a comparison of Phanteks TCP14E and NH-D14. Since Phanteks chose to keep its big cooler in the running but Noctua chose otherwise, this was the closest "frame of reference" available.

    62858 said:
    I can't even fathom why one would spend this much time to write an article like this and still leave the NH-D14 out.
    I can't even fathom why you would repeat the first post without regard to any response. And speaking of a response, please read above.
    8
  • Really disappointed that there was no be quiet! and Cooler Master representatives. I would enjoy seeing how a Dark Rock Pro 2 or a V8 GTS/V6 GT.
    1
  • The comments are correct concerning the omission of the NH-D14 from this testing. It really doesn't matter a damn what "Noctua picked," that is not the issue. The FACT is the D14 is legendary for its cooling and to leave it out of any major test is just plain stupid. Don't forget that it won your last competition for best cooler.

    To say compare it's performance with the Plantek's performance is lame. Use some common sense when you do these reviews.
    -4
  • 550730 said:
    Really disappointed that there was no be quiet! and Cooler Master representatives. I would enjoy seeing how a Dark Rock Pro 2 or a V8 GTS/V6 GT.
    Since I've never heard from anyone at Be Quiet, I've sent a message. Thanks for the reminder!

    Cooler Master chose not to participate this time.

    1270844 said:
    omission of the NH-D14..doesn't matter a damn what "Noctua picked,"...FACT is ...test is just plain stupid..Use some common sense
    Troll much? The FACT is that Noctua said use this. That's the end of the Noctua story, anything you'd like to add after that is counter-factual.

    You'd be placing the blame wrongly, if there were any blame to place. Now if you want some clue as to how it should perform, read the noc-vs-phan review. It's linked. Good luck.
    3
  • Quote:
    Crashman said: Since I've never heard from anyone at Be Quiet, I've sent a message. Thanks for the reminder! Cooler Master chose not to participate this time.


    Hope it works out. Really interested to see those models. I am quite certain they will make a bit of a difference in your performance charts. Good luck.
    1
  • What about to improve the thermal performance of Haswell by removing Integrated Heat Spreader Removal and Replacing IHS Thermal Paste. You can get 10 or more degree C less temperature.
    0
  • the true disapointment with haswell is the lack of significant improvement with delidding. While, like IB you can see a solid 10C drop in temps, haswell has a far more agressive heat profile then IB. With minimal bumps in voltage resulting in massive jumps in heat, meaning even with a delidding you could see very little improvement in your overclock, as the chip will still rapidly produce massive ammounts of heat, very fast.

    While i understand Intel has their own formula for determaning TDP for their chips, i've said it before, by moving the VRM onto the chip, they invalidated their calculation. The Haswell performs and benches like a much hotter chip then it's advertised TDP. The first warning to benchers this was the case, was when benchers were getting thermal throttling from turbo mode on the stock intel heatsink, and then those same benchers hitting the thermal ceiling with a very small voltage bump and moderate overclock (4.2) with a solid air cooler the hyper evo. People can overclock 125W amd chips pretty aggressively with a lot of vcore on a hyper evo... meanwhile they were thermal throttling with a very modest bump in vcore on a tiny overclock.

    This raises a question about the formula intel used to calculate the TDP of their haswell chip, as cpu coolers rated for far higher tdps were struggling with haswell. This article is a bit of an eye opener, as most of those cpu coolers are not jokes. The noctua isn't all that different from the old cpu cooler i used to use to keep my PhII x4 965be cooled. It managed to keep a PhII at a 3.7ghz overclock in a 35C room under 55C while running prime. So that's no joke of a cpu cooler. That it struggles so badly with haswell says something significant to me.

    Simply put, you need a water system with a serious rad/fan combo to make a serious stab at a haswell overclock. Air isn't enough anymore.

    1363188 said:
    What about to improve the thermal performance of Haswell by removing Integrated Heat Spreader Removal and Replacing IHS Thermal Paste. You can get 10 or more degree C less temperature.


    yes... it will give you 10+C better temps. the problem is haswell basically heats up exponentially with more voltage. So this rarely gives you a lot more overclock headroom then you had pre-delidding. Ignoring those NO2 guys or the ones using some peltier or other exotic cooling solution, Haswell doesn't really benefit as much as IB does with delidding. another 0.1ghz or 0.2... at best. and that might be a bit optimistic. The real trick with haswell is getting the right batch... apparently some of the chips from certain asian foundries are atrocious overclockers with almost crippling heat problems...
    1
  • I'd like to see how CLCs compare. Nice article.
    0
  • Nice article. Would also like to see a follow-up w/CLCs.
    2