CPU Cooler Charts 2008, Part 1

The Criteria - Cooling, Noise And Ease Of Installation

A cooler can receive a maximum score of 30 points in the tests, which are totaled from scores in three disciplines: cooling performance, noise and ease of installation.

The lower a cooler can keep the CPU's core temperature, the better its cooling performance. In this assessment, noise does not play a role at all. If, for example, a product is unable to cool the processor to the point where it does not have to throttle its clock speed, that cooler will receive 0 points. Of course, it is entirely possible that the same cooler could have no trouble at all cooling a processor with lower thermal power dissipation, but we specifically chose Intel's Core 2 Quad QX6850 for reasons explained above. Points are awarded separately for each kind of cooling, e.g. water, air, compressor, passive, etc. Thus, a passive cooler may score 10 points where a water cooler may only be awarded 8, even though the water cooler is able to keep the core temperature lower.

If the cooler's shipping box specifically advertises the product as "Intel quad-core ready", it automatically fails if it cannot back up this claim in practice. Some of the review candidates in the roundup are sold for use with lower thermal dissipation grades, and are marked accordingly on their retail boxes. These are tested separately on a Core 2 Duo processor.

We measure the noise produced by the coolers at a distance of 50 cm. Any sounds produced by the product, such as whirring, rattling and buzzing, are a component of the measurement. A passive cooler receives 10 points. If the noise is so high that it makes working on the PC impossible, or if it produces distracting noises such as a whine, it scores 0 points.

Under the heading called installation, we rate the ease of use when mounting and installing the cooler. A product cannot reach a score of 10 points if the motherboard has to be removed from the PC case for the cooler to be installed. If more than two hands are required for the installation of the product, meaning a second person has to assist, the product receives a score of 0 points - and this is not as rare an occurrence as you might expect.

These seemingly draconian evaluation measures are the response to the large number of coolers in this roundup. Otherwise, all coolers' scores would congregate somewhere in the middle ground. The final score is not exclusively a result of the individual disciplines' scores, either - sometimes, our overall impression of a product can't be expressed simply as a summation of the three test criteria alone.

  • Thank you, been wondering what cooler to buy for an OCed Quad, and high temps are good when dying :D
  • sorrii
    ... must be stupid ...! The fan is istalled at wrong side of the cooler ...
  • Thermalright FTW!! Every time.
  • suspect
    I cant believe that photo...sorrii I am with you only a nutjob would use or test it in that configuration!!!
    Noctua clearly state orientation of their coolers and that is ass about.
    Every other review I have read rates the NH-U12F much more highly... always near best in class
  • wkornf
    your numbers of near 70C on every cooler is outrageous, if those numbers are true not a single one of these coolers would keep a computer stable in a closed case outside the northeast. and a couple minutes isnt a good measure of cpus final temp, if u look over a temp log after a long game session you know it creeps up. to many factors.
  • dragunover
    Bullshit article.I agree with wkornf.

    If my Artic silver 5 + Scythe Katana 2 cooler(for only a massive price of 25 USD! I can keep my outdated Pentium D under 100 degrees fahrenheit,infact around HALF of these tests,even under water cooling? Wow,according to this,I should actually worry about getting a quad core because of the heat.And no,I don't have any fans in my case,it's open,only fans are from my GPU,CPU,and my PSU.
    No extra 4 250mm performance fans.And an X38? That's just unbelievable.
  • eaglestrike7339
    Do you guys get the point? They maxed out everything, so the cooler could show off the best that it could do in the most extreme conditions.

    A good article, i especially like the tests for installation and sound, as those are what i would look into most when purchasing a cooler, and unlike CPUs, there are usually no charts to go along with.
  • suspect
    eaglestrike... do you see mounting the noctua fan in the wrong direction as good testing???
    They have it on the top side of the sink flowing in a downward direction!!!
    it goes against basic laws of physics and logic.
  • cliffro
    alot of the coolers listed of a particular design are installed all goofy like, Of course on their open setup it doesn't make much difference(i think)

    but when installed in a normal ATX case, would be detrimental to the coolers performance. Especially coolers designed similar to the Noctua and Scythe Ninja plus.

    I can't be certain about others but Arctic Cooling's Freezer 7 Pro is supposed to be installed like this(one would assume others of similar design would be the same)
  • suspect
    cliffro I think to some degree you are correct but it still does not follow good practice when supposedly collecting data to represent consumer products.
    As these have published manufacturer recomended installations why would you reverse it.
    I recently read a review of the latest Noctua cooler at Legitreviews
    where Noctua actually contacted them on this very issue... as a result they retested and found some improvement in cooling.