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Roundup: Six Sub-$40 Performance CPU Coolers Compared

Benchmark Results: Thermal Test

After testing each cooler with its stock fan, we threw on our own 2500 RPM fan to separately evaluate the performance of its heat sink. The second test doesn’t apply to Rosewill’s RCX-ZAIO-92, however, since the since the bracket does not support our reference fan’s 120 mm frame size.

Zalman’s CNPS10X Performa leads the way in as-purchased temperatures, though it appears its win is due entirely to a higher-airflow cooling fan. Corsair, Gelid, and Xigmatek reach identical temperatures with our reference fan attached, in spite of vastly different fin and base designs.

VRM temperature is mostly affected by airflow and fan height, since the lowest fan position allows the motherboard’s voltage regulator to receive the greatest amount of air. Rosewill’s shorter RCX-ZAIO-92 does well here, matching Zalman’s higher-flow CNPS10X Performa.

We ran into a bit of trouble while testing Deepcool's solution: after watching our first motherboard’s voltage regulator go up in smoke, we had to lower our ambient temperature to 10 C to finish testing on a second, identical motherboard. All results reflect measured temperature minus ambient temperature, but the other solutions were measured at a far-more-realistic 20 C.

While initial tests might have caused us to believe Zalman had the fastest fan, Corsair’s A50 edges it out. This chart is shown in reverse order, since higher speeds tend to generate higher noise, a factor we will consider on the next page.

  • amk09
    i wished you included a cooler such as the coolermaster hyper 212, that seems to be a highly recommended cooler and it would have been nice to see how it squared up against these ones.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    amk09i wished you included a cooler such as the coolermaster hyper 212, that seems to be a highly recommended cooler and it would have been nice to see how it squared up against these ones.We did:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/lga-1156-heatsink,2535-4.html
    That's why the same system was used for both tests. It's all mentioned in the article, too.
    Reply
  • Twoboxer
    Its incomprehensible that the Hyper 212 was left out of this kind of review. That decision makes this article worthless.
    Reply
  • Wolygon
    "Its incomprehensible that the Hyper 212 was left out of this kind of review. That decision makes this article worthless."


    Read the article before posting please.
    Reply
  • Twoboxer
    Sorry, I read your Opening page, the thermal results page, and the conclusion page. Did I miss how these products compare to the Hyper 212?
    Reply
  • dogman_1234
    ^ Or water cooling. It was a great article but, How about comparing to Hydro cooling and add an AMD system too. Intel is great at generating heat, AMD is better thought!
    Reply
  • duk3
    How did the Zalman CNPS10X Performa get into this review at $35?
    Reply
  • sudeshc
    was waiting for this kind of article for some time now, thanks toms. Loved the article, thinking about to go with Zalman's Cooler.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    duk3How did the Zalman CNPS10X Performa get into this review at $35?It was $35. It went up at Newegg about a week ago, but if you look around enough you might find the launch price elsewhere.
    Reply
  • Just wanted to say thanks for the article. And I think it's extra awesome that you actually respond to the comments/questions (I just read through the other roundup from earlier this year).
    Reply