Three Down-Draft Heat Sinks: The Last Of A Dying Breed?

Benchmark System

We used our usual AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition-based configuration for testing. The CPU has six cores that run at a base frequency of 3.2 GHz (though Turbo Core can take them higher). Its thermal ceiling is 125 W at stock settings, though we overclocked the processor to 3.8 GHz to more intensively tax our three coolers.

We used the thermal paste that came with each coolers, since that's part of the package. Sound recording was done from a distance of 30 cm. Detailed specifications of our benchmark system are in the following table.

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System Hardware
AMD Platform (Socket AM3)MSI 870A Fuzion Power Edition (MS-7660), AMD 870+SB850, BIOS: v1.2  (11/17/2010)
CPUAMD Phenom II X6 Black Edition 1090T (Thuban), Overclocked to 3800 MHz (19 x 200)
Memory2 x 1 GB Crucial Ballistix BL12864BA1608.8SFB DDR3-1066
System DriveCrucial CT32GBFABO, 30 GB, SATA 1.5Gb/s
Graphics CardNvidia GeForce 8400 GS (Passively-Cooled)
SoundOn-Board Realtek ALC892 HD Audio Controller
Network CardRealtek RTL8168D/8111D PCIe Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
Power Supply Unit (PSU)Seasonic X760, 760 W
System Software and Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate SP1
Graphics DriverVersion (ForceWare 275.33)
Network Driver7.46.610.2011 (Win7 Default)
  • boulbox
    My h100 is horrible compared to this :(
  • JohnnyLucky
    WOW! Sound levels are way above advertised levels.
  • killerclick
    Scythe coolers are the best overall, but 1000+ RPM is just too high.
  • Darkerson
    I used to have a Thermaltake Dualorb, and it was really nice because both fans would also blow over the ram and and chipset heatsink. I am currently using a 2500k running at 5GHz with a CM Hyper 212+, and my ambient on the cores is around 28-30, and peak is on average about 67-68c. At any rate, interesting article.
  • luciferano
    JohnnyLuckyWOW! Sound levels are way above advertised levels.
    Don't forget to account for ambient noise, which is already often higher than the rated loudness of many coolers.
  • with the enermax and noctua both @ $68 the scythe is a steal @ $40 on amazon.
  • antemon
    coolermaster didn't send in their vortex (which is what i have)
  • merikafyeah
    It has been my life-long dream to pair a Cooler Master GeminII S524:
    with the greatest 140mm desktop PC fan in existence, the Sanyo Denki 9LB1412M501:
    Specs: 140x140 51mm 138CFM 2000rpm 39dBA 12V 0.5A
    Essentially the most perfect balance of airflow to noise I have ever seen.

    I can only imagine how well this fan can cool not only the CPU but virtually the entire upper half of the motherboard as well. Alas, my dream will remain a dream since although I know where to buy the fan, the min. order quantity is 10, pushing the total price to at least $500; way out of my reach.

    But speaking of which, Tom's, why not compare motherboard voltage regulator and RAM module temps with these top-down coolers vs tower coolers? Myself and many overclockers will be extremely interested in these temps.
  • doive1231
    You could just get an Ivy Bridge CPU and sleep tight.
  • rantoc
    Top->Down coolers are my favourite choice for building normal non-oc rigs since they cool so much more than just the cpu, as for overclocking "real water" cooling with extra spot on fan for the voltage regulators + ram is my favourite. Seem some forget that with water/air tower designs the MB don't get much often needed airflow around the upper part of the MB.