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Overclocking On Air: 10 LGA 1156-Compatible Performance Coolers

Overclocking On Air: 10 LGA 1156-Compatible Performance Coolers
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The enemy of both stability and longevity, heat changes the characteristics of silicon in a way that eventually makes it unsuitable for use in a logic circuit. Heat damage can sneak up on overclockers quickly, such as the 59 degree Celsius stability limit we encountered when overclocking AMD’s Phenom II. Similarly, many of our Core 2 Duos responded unfavorably to temperatures over 65 degrees Celsius.

But hasn’t all that changed with the advent of Lynnfield, a core that can just withstand temperatures of up to 100 degrees Celsius? We have, after all, been flirting with 95 degrees Celsius regularly while testing the overclocking capabilities of motherboards, yet still reach stable clock speeds of over 4.3 GHz.

Although our Core i7-870 sample raised the temperature level at which we had to put on the brakes, its temperature limit coinciding with our cooling and voltage limits happened by mere coincidence. Surely a platform that operates so close to its thermal limit on an open test bench would be unsuitable for use in a closed case, since the higher ambient temperatures would cause thermal throttling (Intel’s automatic speed reduction) at anything close to full CPU load. Liquid cooling could help, but recent tests have shown that anything less than a dual-fan radiator version often provides unsatisfactory results. Most users don't want to bother with a high-end liquid configuration, and most cases don’t support those enormous radiators. For the sake of builders, it’s time for us to track down the best possible air-cooling solution.

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  • 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?
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