Conclusion - Box Coolers Are Not A Good Choice For Overclockers
Thermal power loss increases nearly proportionally with a CPU's clock frequency: the higher the clock speed, the greater the CPU's heat output. This is not exactly breaking news. However, the reverse is also true, in that processors with lower core clock speeds also require less elaborate cooling. For this reason, CPU makers also ship their slower models with less powerful coolers. The third part of the Cooler Charts allows you to compare the coolers we have tested so far to the box coolers that come with the CPUs.
It is obvious that buying an aftermarket cooler upgrade is very much worthwhile. Although all of the box coolers fulfill their purpose of keeping the CPU sufficiently cool, the user usually has to put up with a higher level of operating noise compared to other offerings. Besides, most box coolers don't offer much in the way of reserves where cooling performance is concerned, making them a poor choice for overclocking experiments.
It is also important to note that the different processor models are also bundled with different coolers, depending on their performance category. Although all of the models look very similar, there are very pronounced differences when it comes to cooling performance and noise level. (Compare Prices on CPU Coolers)
A positive trait that all of Intel's box coolers share is their easy installation. Every model since the early engineering samples uses the straightforward pushpin mounting method, allowing for quick and simple installation. This also explains why these coolers are so popular among OEMs.
Our little retrospective showed that while the basic cooler design may not have changed all that much over the past few years, Intel continually changed, tweaked and improved its models, adapting them to the requirements of the processors they were paired with. Taking the Pentium DualCore cooler as an example, we can see that a newer cooler does not necessarily keep a processor cooler than its predecessors, but it may offer other benefits - such as being quieter, lighter or cheaper.
Intel is producing new box coolers for its Penryn processors of the 8000 and 9000 line, which are much smaller than the previous models. We will be testing these versions in an upcoming installment of the Cooler Charts.