Nine Big Air Coolers For Intel's Haswell CPUs, Reviewed

Noise And Acoustic Efficiency

We saw a fairly wide range of fan speeds, and some coolers even had two fans. Yet, the difference in noise between the quietest and noisiest model is far less than the 10 dB(A) that would indicate doubled volume in the (logarithmic) decibel scale.

The Gamer Storm Assassin and Argon AR01 are roughly 50% noisier than Prolimatech’s as-delivered PRO-GNSS-BK. Since Prolimatech's heat sink requires additional fans though (fans aren't included with the heat sink), the noise we're reporting only represents this specific $125 combined configuration.

The relative scale for cooling-to-noise calculations refers to how each cooler relates to the average of all coolers in today’s test. Dividing the group average by each cooler’s result gives a higher percent score for lower temperatures. Dividing each cooler’s actual noise level by the group average produces a higher percent score for higher noise. Noise, however, is the divisor, and higher divisors produce lower dividends.

The results use a 100% baseline. Since nothing can be more than 100% efficient, we zero out the chart scale by subtracting 100%.

Besides being the quietest product, Prolimatech’s PRO-GNSS-BK configuration is also the third-coolest. That combination gives the firm a significant lead in our cooling-to-noise calculations. Hitting the middle of our cooling scale, a second-place finish in noise measurements gives the Noctua a second-place acoustic efficiency finish. Phanteks and Thermalright are the only two remaining companies to beat the class average.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • Madn3ss795
    No NH D14?
  • 016ive
    Thermalright Archon SB-E X2, That's one big as* cooler!
  • jk_ventolero
    The CM H212 Evo has been a crowd favorite for quite some time now. :) I wonder how that might have performed. :D
  • blackmagnum
    Water cooling is the best way forward: less noise, energy efficient and low maintenance.
  • CaptainTom
    I hate to say it but all this article demonstrated to me is that Haswell is in no way better than Ivy Bridge. Even Ivy Bridge used 25% less energy with a 10% boost when compared to Sandy Bridge, and I can still get IB to 4.8 GHz on air.

    Haswell= 10% more power for 10% more energy and 10% less headroom. Oh and it costs more...

    Man I hope AMD can whip them back into shape with Steam Roller...
  • s3anister
    I can't even fathom why one would spend this much time to write an article like this and still leave the NH-D14 out.
  • spazoid
    It's funny how some of you guys still think Intel made Haswell with desktops in mind. This is a CPU architecture made for mobile. It's quite sufficient for desktops in every regard. Yes, it might not outperform IB by much, and it might run a bit hotter, but in a laptop, there is nothing that compares to Haswell.
  • Crashman
    11158600 said:
    No NH D14?
    Noctua picked the NH-U14S instead of the D14. Please feel free to ask them why.

    Since Noctua chose not to feature the NH-D14 this time, you might want to look at its closest competitor. The article links a comparison of Phanteks TCP14E and NH-D14. Since Phanteks chose to keep its big cooler in the running but Noctua chose otherwise, this was the closest "frame of reference" available.

    11159094 said:
    I can't even fathom why one would spend this much time to write an article like this and still leave the NH-D14 out.
    I can't even fathom why you would repeat the first post without regard to any response. And speaking of a response, please read above.
  • Shneiky
    Really disappointed that there was no be quiet! and Cooler Master representatives. I would enjoy seeing how a Dark Rock Pro 2 or a V8 GTS/V6 GT.
  • flong777
    The comments are correct concerning the omission of the NH-D14 from this testing. It really doesn't matter a damn what "Noctua picked," that is not the issue. The FACT is the D14 is legendary for its cooling and to leave it out of any major test is just plain stupid. Don't forget that it won your last competition for best cooler.

    To say compare it's performance with the Plantek's performance is lame. Use some common sense when you do these reviews.