Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Thermal Testing Results

Overclocking On Air: 10 LGA 1156-Compatible Performance Coolers
By

We tested each cooler with it stock fan(s), and then retested with our own choice of a 2,500 RPM fan to find out how well each heat sink worked at similar noise levels and airflow. The chart below is organized by stock fan performance.

Noctua and Scythe had the largest sinks, so it’s no big surprise that these coolers offered the best performance with the dual-fan NH-14 in the lead. Yet there is a surprise near the middle of this chart: Thermalright’s thin MUX-120 takes second place when our custom fan is used. Middling performance for the stock configuration can be attributed to a low-speed stock fan.

Note that Arctic Cooling’s Freezer 7 Pro Rev.2 reaches an astounding 82 degrees Celsius over-ambient temperature with our highly overclocked processor. This is not a typo! We were forced to drop the lab temperature to a chilly 11 degrees Celsius to complete its evaluation.

Also worth mentioning is that the top four contenders in today’s comparison did not use direct-contact heat pipes, but instead relied upon copper heat spreaders to interface the integrated heat spreader of our CPU. If we instead look at the results obtained using our own fan, Thermaltake’s Frio drops out while Thermalright’s MUX-120 drops in and we’re still left with the top four performers lacking this so-called “feature.”

A fan that hangs below the cooler and an open center allowed Thermalright’s MUX-120 to provide excellent airflow over our system’s voltage regulator. Two peculiarities in this test are that the Thermaltake Frio cools the VRM poorly with our single fan, while Arctic Cooling’s Freezer 7 Pro Rev.2 excels with the replacement fan. Arctic Cooling’s dramatically improved performance is explained by how the edge of the replacement fan rested on top of the motherboard, producing interesting results from an otherwise impractical configuration.

Display all 161 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 19 Hide
    arkadi , January 27, 2010 6:24 AM
    I just love to read toms old school articles like this one :) 
Other Comments
  • 3 Hide
    mrgrey , January 27, 2010 5:21 AM
    Argh - unbelievable! I literally just purchased my build on newegg, and they just posted this article. I bought the Arctic Cooling 7 over the Hyper 212+, not having seen the article yet.

    Hey Tom's - what temps are you getting at 3.2 GHz with the Arctic Cooling 7? Did you use arctic silver 5?
  • 3 Hide
    barmaley , January 27, 2010 5:57 AM
    Test settings page reads: CPU Intel Core i7-860, but CPU-Z screen shot under it reads Intel Core i7-870. Which one is it that you tested Tom?
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , January 27, 2010 5:59 AM
    Is there an article testing thermal compounds?
  • 0 Hide
    nzprogamer , January 27, 2010 6:07 AM
    mrgreyArgh - unbelievable! I literally just purchased my build on newegg, and they just posted this article. I bought the Arctic Cooling 7 over the Hyper 212+, not having seen the article yet. Hey Tom's - what temps are you getting at 3.2 GHz with the Arctic Cooling 7? Did you use arctic silver 5?


    no worries there you will be fine
  • 0 Hide
    nzprogamer , January 27, 2010 6:10 AM
    i had the 212 and sunbermtech both were running really good and cool. but i would buy the sunbeamtech with the easy exchange fan kit.
  • 19 Hide
    arkadi , January 27, 2010 6:24 AM
    I just love to read toms old school articles like this one :) 
  • -5 Hide
    falchard , January 27, 2010 6:36 AM
    What no Coolermaster V10 or Thermaltake SpinQ Vertical?
  • 8 Hide
    Crashman , January 27, 2010 6:55 AM
    kumaitiNot a single top down cooler?? That is disappointing, though I can already see the excuse: "they don't have as much performance as the tower coolers".
    falchardWhat no Coolermaster V10 or Thermaltake SpinQ Vertical?
    You would have to ask the manufacturers, since they picked the coolers.
  • -3 Hide
    micky_lund , January 27, 2010 7:09 AM
    prolimatech megahalems
  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , January 27, 2010 7:54 AM
    If NH-D14 is in this, where's Prolimatech's Megahalems and Thermalright's Venomous X?
  • 2 Hide
    mayor_mccheese , January 27, 2010 8:45 AM
    just bought a freezer pro too :( 
  • 3 Hide
    Crashman , January 27, 2010 9:29 AM
    BobalinaIf NH-D14 is in this, where's Prolimatech's Megahalems and Thermalright's Venomous X?

    Thermalright sent the MUX-120.
  • 1 Hide
    Spanky Deluxe , January 27, 2010 9:53 AM
    Why no Megahalems? They're widely considered the best air coolers out there right now.
  • 1 Hide
    pbrigido , January 27, 2010 10:10 AM
    Even though the Zalman CNPS10X didn't win any of the tests, I still prefer its design because of the all copper contact between the CPU and the heatsink. Nice to see some of these tests again...can you also do one to compare the effectiveness of different thermal compounds?
  • 4 Hide
    Crashman , January 27, 2010 10:28 AM
    Spanky DeluxeWhy no Megahalems? They're widely considered the best air coolers out there right now.


    Some companies didn't respond to the invitation. Sorry, I didn't keep a list.
  • 5 Hide
    fred2421 , January 27, 2010 10:48 AM
    Quick question..these temps you are showing they are all with an ambient temperature of 11C? So when you say 82C over ambient the temps are actually 82+11=93C?
  • -1 Hide
    ubernoobie , January 27, 2010 10:56 AM
    the best cpu cooler is now the thermalright vemonous I believe
  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , January 27, 2010 11:04 AM
    Interesting article. I knew results would vary from other reviews. That's normal.

    I was surprised the new Thermalright Venoumous X was not included. It's an updated version of the Ultra 120 Extreme specifically designed for the new Intel Core i5/i7 cpu's.

    Didn't THG mention in an older article that those extra tall heatspreaders that sort of look like a comb did not provide any additional cooling over stock heatspreaders?
  • 0 Hide
    Silmarunya , January 27, 2010 11:16 AM
    It's clear the AC Freezer 7 is a poor choice for higher end overclocking, but how does it fare as a medium end OC cooler? Could it bring, say, an i5-750 to 3.5GHz without giving in?
Display more comments