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

Conclusion - Just Say "No" To Cheap Generics

Tom's Hardware pulled out all the stops - no fewer than 46 coolers underwent a comprehensive testing procedure in our Munich laboratory. The progress made in the area of coolers is absolutely mind-boggling. Hardly any manufacturer can afford to limit itself to offering simple, two-bit coolers if he wants to survive in the market these days. Having said that, it's still utterly incomprehensible to see that among the slew of coolers we tested, there are so few innovative ideas that engender well-engineered products. In particular, the South Korean manufacturer Zalman, despite its offering of fan coolers with unusual and interesting designs in all kinds of materials, the doesn't exactly emerge in glory here. When combined with a large case fan, these designer items still only provide below-average cooling performance.

One of the real highlights in the group remains Noise Control's Silverado, which combines two encapsulated rotors (arranged like turbines) with a CPU contact surface made of pure silver. It's the best of both worlds - a very low noise level and a high cooling performance. Of the newcomers, the Blizzard Thunderbird doesn't cut that bad a figure - while its cooling performance is very good, its noise level is a whisker away from unacceptable. Real hard-core overclockers, who really don't care about the noise level, ought to take the cooler that produces the lowest temperature - the Swiftech MC462. The CPU core is kept at a remarkably cool 30 degrees, creating a lot of leeway for overclocking. On the downside, this 800 gram heavyweight can easily turn into a projectile if isn't screwed down on the motherboard. Having said that, in cooling performance, the Swiftech MC462, the Blizzard Thunderbird and the Silverado from Noise Control beat anything this side of water coolers, as our highly comprehensive tests have shown once again.

Preview - Liquid Cooling

For this reason, we'll soon be taking a look at water cooling systems, which produce even more arctic temperatures.

  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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