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

Laboratory Tests Up Close & Personal - CPUs Maxed At 100%

We had already noticed during our last comparative tests that not many cooler models were a good compromise between the necessary cooling performance and an acceptable noise level. In fact, our readings showed that the majority of the coolers don't cool optimally. The testing platform consisted of an AMD reference board (AMD EVTS-BX-004) that was furnished with an AMD-750 chipset from the same manufacturer. All our readings were based on an AMD Athlon 1000 that worked with a 100 MHz front side bus. We used Windows 98 SE as an operating system platform. In order to keep CPU capacity use at 100% as much as possible, we ran the well-known program Seti, which processes data packets from the Internet. At the same time, we ran Flask Mpeg to create an MPEG-4 film and tested its playback. This ensured that the processor was constantly running at maximum capacity, which in turn ensured that heat flow was maximized.

Cooling Temperature

We carried out all the measurements in our Munich laboratory at an ambient temperature of exactly 24°C, two degrees higher than during the last test as a consequence of the warmer season. We calibrated the results in order to ensure comparability with the last measurements at 22°C.

Noise Level

We carried out our sound measurements in our newly conditioned sound measurement box, which simulates an almost completely soundproof environment.

Fan Speed

We measured the fan speeds of the new 23 coolers using a stroboscope. Each rotor was marked in order to facilitate the measuring of the speed.


The coolers were weighed using a precision weighing machine as is used in chemical laboratories to weigh materials.

  1. Cooler Trends - Complex Design & Precious Materials
  2. Cooler Trends - Complex Design & Precious Materials, Continued
  3. Theory: Ideal Cooling
  4. Cooler Master EP5-6151: Plain Jane Cooler For Undemanding Tastes
  5. Cooler Master DP5-6H51: Small Heat Sink - Large Fan
  6. Cooler Master DP5-6G11: Flatliner
  7. Blizzard Thunderbird: Shooting Star
  8. TRIG T40-6EA: Powerful Fence-Straddler
  9. TRIG T40-6EAC: XXL And Case Fan
  10. Global Win WBK 38: Behind Bars
  11. Global Win WBK 68: Wacky Little Brother
  12. Global Win CAK 38: Top Model With High Cooling Performance
  13. Elan Vital FSCUG9C: Ribbed Structure Made Of Sheet Steel
  14. Elan Vital FSCUG9C-6FC: Unsuccessful Thermal Trigger
  15. SPRING SPCT381 BAF-1B: Black And Quiet
  16. SPRING SPCT801 AAF-1B: Son Of Flatliner
  17. SPACEWALKER: A Nobody In The Crowd
  18. AVC Mega-Cool: Compact And Powerful
  19. Taisol CGK 744092: Unergonomic
  20. Smart Cooler FSM 1168T: Buyer Beware!
  21. Molex 371650008: Avant-garde Design
  22. Molex 371660002 U. 371610002: Little Brother
  23. Zalman CCC Project: Much Ado About Nothing
  24. Zalman CNPS2005 (Aluminum): Below Expectations
  25. Zalman CNPS3000 (Copper): Better Than Aluminum
  26. Zalman CNPS3100G (Gold): The Crowning Glory In Gold
  27. Zalman CNPS3100 (Cu-Au Alloy): Visual Blarney
  28. Zalman Coolers: Poor Manufacturing Quality
  29. Laboratory Tests Up Close & Personal - CPUs Maxed At 100%
  30. Cooling Temperature: Range From 30°C To 56°C
  31. Noise Level - Is That A Construction Site Or An Office?
  32. A Real Heavyweight - Swiftech's 789 Grams!
  33. Specific Cooling Performance - Swiftech Duo Still In The Lead
  34. Fan Speed - 2850 RPM To 6700 RPM
  35. Summary - A Comparison Of All 46 Coolers
  36. Conclusion - Just Say "No" To Cheap Generics
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