CPU Cooler Charts 2008, Part 3 - Are Box Coolers any Good?

Comparing Box Coolers

Among the enthusiast crowd, it is more or less a matter of course to equip a computer with a powerful CPU cooler. After all, thanks to their better design and construction, most aftermarket air cooling solutions offer superior cooling performance, while running at lower noise levels than their boxed brethren. Depending on the performance class, the CPUs come with more or less massive coolers. We were interested in finding out how the box cooler compared to aftermarket solutions, and especially, in what respects the coolers differ. After all, the higher-end coolers found in stores can cost upwards of €50. That's a fair bit of money, especially considering that some people try to save as much money as they can when shopping for a CPU. (Compare Prices on CPU Coolers)

In the first part of this series, CPU Cooler Charts 2008, Part I - Losing your Cool?, we found that nearly half of the aftermarket coolers we reviewed suffered from some serious flaws. The second part, CPU Cooler Charts 2008, Part II - Junk or Jewel?, ended with a better overall result.

In this installment, we will take a look at coolers that ship with CPUs in retail boxes - so-called box coolers. In the process, we will meet a few familiar faces, namely Intel's selection of bundled coolers, which represent something of a reference point for each CPU class. The question we will attempt to answer is this: are box coolers sufficient, or are you better off opting for an aftermarket cooler upgrade?

To make this comparison more interesting, we compiled a test field consisting of various coolers for the Socket 775 platform. This includes such exotic models as the first engineering samples that accompanied the Prescott launch, and the legendary Performance FMB that Intel released upon launching the first dual-core Extreme models. They will square off against three conventional box coolers included with Intel's current Conroe-based Core 2 line of processors.

Previous installments of this series:

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Companies represented in this test
3R SystemAntazoneArctic Cooling
Joujye DynatronMSINexus
ZawardZerothermRow 9 - Cell 2

If you are interested in our test methodology and how we rate the products, feel free to read up on these points here:

Join our discussion on this article!

  • Hugger
    I have read the 3 part article on cpu coolers a few times.
    In each part, the author shows the names of all the coolers that are included in the tests.
    Xigmatech is one of those names.
    However, I can't find test results for that cooler.
    I'm ordering parts and have read good things about the Xigmatech but wanted to read the review here too.
    Am I missing it or has it been left out?
  • bbies1973
    In other forums I have seen the dispute about the best air cooler being between three models that were not tested in here. Dissapointing because two of the manufacturer's submitted coolers for this test. The three are:
    Zalman 9700 (8700 was tested here)
    ThermalTake CL-P0401 V1 (Thermaltake was listed but I didn't see any of their products in the article)
    Third, Tuniq Tower 120. (Tuniq is a subsidiary of Sunbeam, and neither are listed as represented companies for the test.

    I would love to see a part 4 coming with these three pieces represented.
  • Sigh. I looked at this list and then looked at the lists on frostytech, and none of the products coincide... how convenient.
  • ripusheet01
    how a fanless cpu cooler be noisy? how can be sound of a fanless heatsink be measured?
  • dragunover
    This article is Bull,it doesn't list the common coolers,and he obviously used crap thermal grease.Arctic Silver 5 and a Xigmatek/Scythe/Tuniq anyone?
  • gto127
    It's strange that thermalright isn't mentioned here. They've been consistantly at the top of the cooling game for years and are included in most site cool off tests and come up on top quite frequently. Please include in future tests.
  • Twist86
    Seems like none of the best coolers are mentioned here. Just ones that are over priced/out performed by cheaper coolers.

    Zalman 9700
    Xigmatek S1283
    Tuniq Tower 120

    This review fails.