Can't Touch This! A Comparison of 46 CPU Coolers

A global view of things reveals that a development is taking place away from the simple fan design of previous years. Technically high-quality models in this test rely on a copper core for their heat sink and are surrounded by thin fins. This core is complemented by a fan with ball bearings and a rotor designed to enhance airflow. The CPU contact surface has also been designed to enhance heat transfer. The ergonomic design of the coolers is also important - users should be able to install them easily, without needing a lot of elbow grease.

AMD's new Athlon processors above 1200 MHz practically beg for a powerful cooling system. Using a cheap generic cooler is just not worthwhile in that scenario. Also, overclocking fans who want to eke the last ounce of performance out of their system won't be able to get around buying a top cooler.

Complex construction - the Molex models are made up of many separate parts.

In a nutshell - this comparison shows a wider selection of coolers than the world has probably ever seen. The prices and features of all the coolers vary dramatically from one model to the next. In our last test, the Silverado from Noise Control emerged as the victor - and the result? Delivery times shot up to between four and five weeks and the manufacturer changed its business strategy.