Skip to main content

Overclocking On Air: 10 LGA 1156-Compatible Performance Coolers

Test Settings

Test System Configuration
CPUIntel Core i7-870 (2.93 GHz, 8MB Cache), O/C to 4 GHz (20 x 200 MHz), 1.388V
MotherboardEVGA P55 SLI E655, P55 Express PCH, BIOS A39 (10/23/2009)
RAMCrucial CT2KIT25664BA1339 (4GB), DDR3-1333 at DDR3-1600 CAS 8-8-8-24
GraphicsDiamond Radeon HD 5870 1GB, 850 MHz GPU, GDDR5-4800
Hard DriveWestern Digital Velociraptor WD3000HLFS, 300GB, 10,000 RPM, SATA 3 Gb/s, 16MB cache
SoundIntegrated HD Audio
NetworkIntegrated Gigabit Networking
PowerCorsair CMPSU-850HX 850W Modular, ATX12V v2.2, EPS12V, 80-Plus Gold
Software
OSMicrosoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
GraphicsATI Catalyst 9.11
ChipsetIntel INF 9.1.1.1015

Still warm from our most recent PCI Express Scaling comparison, EVGA’s P55 SLI was retained for the “just right” overclock settings that were already programmed into it. We wanted to approach (but never reach) the processor’s thermal limit and these settings worked perfectly for nine of the 10 coolers.

Several coolers hung over the memory slots of our motherboard, preventing the use of memory with tall heat spreaders. We skipped the heat spreader issue entirely by using Crucial DDR3-1333 modules, yet were still able to use DDR3-1600 settings.

Benchmark Configuration
Prime95 v25.864-bit executable, small FFTs, 8 threads
RealTemp 3.00Highest core reading at full CPU load (60 minutes) Highest core reading at 30 minutes idle
Acu-Rite thermal probeVRM  temperature Ambient temperature at 6" from the motherboard's front edge

Priced at around $150, Galaxy’s CM-140 has gotten a great deal of attention on the Web as one of the broadest-range, most accurate SPL meters available for under $400. We love a great deal!

Taking a cue from the audio world, we wanted to gauge all of today’s performance coolers at a distance of one meter. The problem for us is that the bottom of our SPL scale is 30db, and the meter is only accuracy rated for decibel levels of 32db or higher. In order to get a “higher” reading from quieter parts, we measured each cooler at 0.25m and then used one of several SPL conversion applications to convert our readings to one meter.

However, the method isn’t perfect--testing several items of known SPL values revealed a consistent 1db (lower) difference that might be attributable to improper meter calibration. To compensate, we added 1db to all of our measurements.

  • kumaiti
    Not a single top down cooler?? That is disappointing, though I can already see the excuse: "they don't have as much performance as the tower coolers".
    Reply
  • mrgrey
    Argh - unbelievable! I literally just purchased my build on newegg, and they just posted this article. I bought the Arctic Cooling 7 over the Hyper 212+, not having seen the article yet.

    Hey Tom's - what temps are you getting at 3.2 GHz with the Arctic Cooling 7? Did you use arctic silver 5?
    Reply
  • barmaley
    Test settings page reads: CPU Intel Core i7-860, but CPU-Z screen shot under it reads Intel Core i7-870. Which one is it that you tested Tom?
    Reply
  • Is there an article testing thermal compounds?
    Reply
  • nzprogamer
    mrgreyArgh - unbelievable! I literally just purchased my build on newegg, and they just posted this article. I bought the Arctic Cooling 7 over the Hyper 212+, not having seen the article yet. Hey Tom's - what temps are you getting at 3.2 GHz with the Arctic Cooling 7? Did you use arctic silver 5?
    no worries there you will be fine
    Reply
  • nzprogamer
    i had the 212 and sunbermtech both were running really good and cool. but i would buy the sunbeamtech with the easy exchange fan kit.
    Reply
  • arkadi
    I just love to read toms old school articles like this one :)
    Reply
  • falchard
    What no Coolermaster V10 or Thermaltake SpinQ Vertical?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    kumaitiNot a single top down cooler?? That is disappointing, though I can already see the excuse: "they don't have as much performance as the tower coolers".falchardWhat no Coolermaster V10 or Thermaltake SpinQ Vertical?You would have to ask the manufacturers, since they picked the coolers.
    Reply
  • micky_lund
    prolimatech megahalems
    Reply