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Big Air: 14 LGA 2011-Compatible Coolers For Core i7-3000, Reviewed

Test Settings And Benchmarks

Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E): 3.3 GHz, Six Physical Cores, O/C to 4.60 GHz at 46x, 1.40 V
MotherboardAsus P9X79 WS, Firmware 0603 (11-11-2011), LGA 2011, Intel X79 Express, O/C at 100 MHz BCLK
RAMG.Skill F3-17600CL9Q-16GBXLD 16 GB (4 x 4 GB) DDR3-2200, Benchmarked at DDR3-1600 CAS 9 defaults
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 580: 772 MHz GPU,  GDDR5-4008
Hard DriveSamsung 470 Series MZ5PA256HMDR, 256 GB SSD
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerSeasonic X760 SS-760KM: ATX12V v2.3, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Gold
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsNvidia GeForce 285.62
ChipsetIntel INF

Zalman’s ZM-STG2 thermal paste is used in this test not to favor its cooler, but because Zalman has long been our thermal paste provider. It works equally well with other cooler brands, and settling on a single substance reduces variability in testing.

Our CPU and voltage regulator pull around 300 W at full load at this O/C, using an old C0 stepping Core i7-3960X at 4.60 GHz and 1.40 V. We used this specific processor because it’s the one we can most easily afford to lose (due to heat damage) after long bouts of overclocking.

Benchmark Configuration
Prime95 v25.864-bit executable, Small FFT's, 8-threads
RealTemp 3.00Highest core reading at full CPU load (60 minutes) Highest core reading at 30 minutes idle
Galaxy CM-140 SPL MeterTested at 1/4 m, corrected to 1 m (-12 db), dB(A) weighting

Twelve threads of Prime95 provide 100% load. We were forced to test noise at extremely close distances to stay within our meter’s calibration range.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.