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Big Air: 14 LGA 2011-Compatible Coolers For Core i7-3000, Reviewed

LGA 2011: No Boxed Solution, Pick Your Own Instead

It seems strange to us that Intel no longer includes a cooler with its fastest retail CPUs. This is, after all, the same company that seems to insist that we include our original boxed cooler any time we send in one of our purchased processors in for a warranty exchange. Instead, it now suggests that enthusiasts spend extra money on something that resembles Antec’s Kühler H20 620, but actually costs as much as the larger Kühler H20 920: Intel's own BXRTS2011LQ sealed liquid CPU cooling system.

The rationale behind this move does make sense in that the Core i7-3960X and Core i7-3930K are multiplier-unlocked products that specifically target overclocking enthusiasts. Enthusiasts typically won’t settle for anything as underpowered as its RTS2011AC downdraft cooler, and Intel doesn’t think hanging two pounds of copper and aluminum up to six inches from the surface of a motherboard is a great idea. And while that kind of leverage tugging on your expensive motherboard is probably ill-advised under the harsh conditions of shipping a machine cross-country, systems that are handled gently and don't get moved often tolerate the weight of big, heavy coolers without a problem.

We invited every major CPU cooler manufacturer (that's right, all of them) to show off their LGA 2011-compatible heat sinks, and fourteen responded with products ranging from $30 to $99. That takes either a great deal of confidence or a great leap of faith from the budget cooler companies, since everyone participating in this piece knew that we'd be basing our evaluation on overclocking. The wide price range allows us to really test how much we need to spend on cooling, and how much we can benefit from spending more money than necessary.

Following up on our earlier picture story, here’s a brief overview of each cooler’s basic features, grouped by price first and arranged alphabetically. Please pay special attention to each cooler’s base height, which is measured with the intake fan at its highest position, along with thickness and offset. If the fan overhangs your DIMM slots, its base height (plus around 0.3" for the CPU/LGA package) represents your maximum supported DIMM height.

LGA 2011 CPU Cooler Features, Sub-$50 Models
Arctic Cooling Freezer i30Cooler Master Hyper 212 EvoCorsair A70Enermax ETS-T40SilenX EFZ-120HA5
Height6.3"6.3"6.3"6.3"6.2"
Width5.5"4.7"4.9"5.5"4.9"
Rad. Thickness2.6"2.0"2.8"2.8"2.3"
Total Thickness3.8"3.1"5.1"3.6"3.4"
Base Height1.2"1.4"1.5"1.5"1.4"
Assy. Offset0.5" Forward1.1" ForwardCentered1.0" Forward1.1" Forward
Cooling Fans1 x 120 x 25 mm1 x 120 x 25 mm2 x 120 x 25 mm1 x 120 x 25 mm1 x 120 x 25 mm
Connectors1 x PWM1 x PWM2 x Three-Pin1 x PWM1 x Three-Pin
Weight32 Ounces22 Ounces41 Ounces23 Ounces23 Ounces
Web Price$40$35$35$30$33

LGA 2011 CPU Cooler Features, $50-79 Models
Akasa Venom VoodooCoolink Corator DSGelid GX-7 Rev. 2Xigmatek Venus SD1266
Height6.5"6.2"6.3"6.4"
Width5.1"5.5"5.1"5.2"
Rad. Thickness2.8"2x 1.8"2.5"2.8"
Total Thickness5.1"4.7"3.5"3.9"
Base Height1.3"1.5"1.4"1.5"
Assy. OffsetCenteredCentered0.4" Forward1.1" Forward
Cooling Fans2 x 120 x 25 mm1 x 120 x 25 mm1 x 120 x 25 mm1 x 120 x 25 mm
Connectors2 x PWM1 x PWM1 x PWM1 x PWM
Weight37 Ounces35 Ounces23 Ounces33 Ounces
Web Price$55$50$65$65

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LGA 2011 CPU Cooler Features, $80-100 Models
Deepcool AssassinNoctua NH-D14Phanteks PH-TC14PEThermalright Archon SB-EZalman CNPS12X
Height6.4"6.4"6.5"7.0"6.2"
Width5.8"5.9"5.8"6.7"6.0"
Rad. Thickness2x 2.0"2x 2.0"2x 2.1"2.1"2x 2.2"
Total Thickness6.0"6.2"6.3"3.1"5.2"
Base Height1.7"1.8"1.6"1.3"1.2"
Assy. Offset1.0" Forward1.0" Forward1.0" Forward1.0" Forward0.25" Left
Cooling Fans1 x 140 x 25 mm 1 x 120 x 25 mm1 x 140 x 25 mm 1 x 120 x 25 mm2 x 140 x 25 mm1 x 150 x 25 mm3 x 140 x 25 mm
Connectors1 x PWM 1 x Three-Pin2 x PWM2 x Three-Pin1 x PWM1 x Three-Pin
Weight37 Ounces45 Ounces47 Ounces36 Ounces36 Ounces
Web Price$80$85$90$85$99

Since higher fan speeds typically increase cooling capacity at low cost, some of the more expensive models attempt to provide the best balance of cooling and noise. Today’s tests includes both heat and noise measurements, and we’ll even compare heat to noise, heat to price, and heat/noise to price!

  • phamhlam
    I saw the Corsair A70 with rebate for $25. I am glad these coolers are proven to be the best value. I don't need to spend more than $50 for a cooler when a $30 cooler can give me almost the same performance.
    Reply
  • CaedenV
    I was disappointed by the Evo's noise level in my own system, and found some very silent (rated at 8dB) Enermax fans, and threw 2 of them on and that did the trick very well. Even though they don't move a lot of air, the push-pull effect still gets me a lower overall temp on my CPU. So remember that with a lot of these coolers you are not stuck with the fans that they come with as they are very easy (stoopid easy) to replace.
    Reply
  • giovanni86
    Troublesome with the height especially concerning with the 8 DIMM slots so close by. I don't like the appearance of the NH-D14 but it does do the job and give you the clearance. Hopefully cooler manufactures will approach these new found boundaries and release ones that will clear all DIMM slots otherwise CPU water cooling looks to be in my near future.
    On a side note i wish the "ZALMAN CNPS9900MAX-R" was reviewed as well considering on newegg it is compatible with LGA 2011, and I've been eye balling that one since it came out for my next build.
    Reply
  • bison88
    BigMack70Meh... I still see no reason to even consider the Noctua over the $35 Hyper 212 Evo.If I were to consider a cooler in the ~$90 range, I'd be going water cooling anyways.

    I've heard nothing but great things from CM's Hyper 212+ and Evo variants. Might I add the other powerhouse in affordable cooling, Thermalright's TRUE Spirit 120 for just about the same price. It seems the Hyper 212+ and TRUE Spirit have fallen off in Heatsink/Fan comparison charts despite kicking some serious ass against there competition price rise, and can even hang very well against high-end coolers costing 2-3 times as much.

    I realize you have to compare modern products to modern products for the sake of it, but just a FYI for those not familiar with the cooling scene. Don't ever count out a product that first debut 2-3 years ago, they can still hang, the good ones at least.
    Reply
  • molo9000
    BigMack70Meh... I still see no reason to even consider the Noctua over the $35 Hyper 212 Evo.If I were to consider a cooler in the ~$90 range, I'd be going water cooling anyways.
    Water cooling is a lot more expensive and a lot more complicated. Water cooling systems are not maintenance free and always add the risk of a leaking pipe.

    $80-$90 is a small price to pay for getting a quieter PC without resorting to water cooling.
    Reply
  • theuniquegamer
    Yeah my evo still rocks even on LGA 2011 platform
    Reply
  • I been using a Prolimatech Megahalems since its introduction back in 2009. I remembered that in a few months later Noctua took the crown as top performing air cooled heatsink. It is nice that new cpu heatsinks are becoming better in performance, but i don't like the fact that they are becoming bigger and heavier than previous cpu heatsink kings by only earning a degree or two above the rest. Could you guys do a heatsink Weight/cooling efficiency chart? This is to make readers see which manufacture did its engineering mission to make a much more effective unit than its competition. Not just slab more metal to defeat the other guy. To heatsink manufactures: Do something innovating if a wall seems to be in the way! Just look at PSU manufactures, they are reaching 92% Platinum rating, from 82% rating four years ago.

    Example:
    Noctua NH-D14 weighs 900g without fans and it did 45c at full load.
    900g/45c= 20.00 efficiency ratio.

    Panteck PH-TC14PE weighs 970g without fans, performing at 46c.
    970g/46c= 21.09 efficiency ratio.

    CM Hyper 212 EVO Weighs 580g with fan, performing at 51c.
    580g/51c= 11.37 efficiency ratio.

    Ideally, the lower the ratio, the more efficient a cpu cooler is. Other charts count as well when making a final decision.
    Reply
  • razor512
    anyone know where I can buy the Xigmatek Venus SD1266 in the US?

    I checked newegg and amazon

    seems like a good replacement for my sunbeam core contact heatsing
    Reply
  • builder4
    bunnywannyI been using a Prolimatech Megahalems since its introduction back in 2009. I remembered that in a few months later Noctua took the crown as top performing air cooled heatsink. It is nice that new cpu heatsinks are becoming better in performance, but i don't like the fact that they are becoming bigger and heavier than previous cpu heatsink kings by only earning a degree or two above the rest. Could you guys do a heatsink Weight/cooling efficiency chart? This is to make readers see which manufacture did its engineering mission to make a much more effective unit than its competition. Not just slab more metal to defeat the other guy. To heatsink manufactures: Do something innovating if a wall seems to be in the way! Just look at PSU manufactures, they are reaching 92% Platinum rating, from 82% rating four years ago.Example: Noctua NH-D14 weighs 900g without fans and it did 45c at full load. 900g/45c= 20.00 efficiency ratio. Panteck PH-TC14PE weighs 970g without fans, performing at 46c.970g/46c= 21.09 efficiency ratio.CM Hyper 212 EVO Weighs 580g with fan, performing at 51c.580g/51c= 11.37 efficiency ratio.Ideally, the lower the ratio, the more efficient a cpu cooler is. Other charts count as well when making a final decision.
    By that logic, having no cooler at all is the most efficient... 0g/200c= 0 efficiency ratio. And a dead CPU.

    Also, the higher the temperature (Bad), the lower the ratio, which doesn't make sense.

    You would also need to use the ambient temperature delta rather than the absolute temperature in any sort of ratio for the results to be meaningful.

    I think that the majority of people don't care how heavy their cooler is, only about the price.
    Reply
  • lostmyclanwhy =) you need mass for your decision ? i think its about surface and not mass...
    I am not saying that i need mass to make my decision. And i agree that surface is important. All i am saying is that i want to see cpu heatsinks to be more efficient or equal at cooling with less metal.
    Reply