Where CPU coolers have variable speed fans, we've tested at both the lowest and highest fan speed settings and recorded idle and load delta T results for each setting to give you some idea as to how much performance is affected.
The temperature results you see in the graphs are not the absolute CPU temperature, but are the delta T values; in other words the difference in °C between the ambient temperature and the recorded temperature of the CPU. We used Core Temp 0.99.5 to take temperature readings of the CPU from the Digital Thermal Sensor (DTS) embedded in the core of every modern CPU, at idle and under load while using the smallfft torture test in Prime95. See How we tested for more details.
A multimeter was used to take the ambient air temperature three inches away from the case's primary intake fan. We use a delta T measurement because it's a more accurate and comparable method of recording temperature because the ambient room temperature fluctuates from day to day.
Socket LGA1156 CPU delta T
Arranged by 100 per cent CPU load delta T value
Zalman CNPS 10X Extreme (100 per cent PWM)
Zalman CNPS 10X Extreme (75 per cent PWM)
Zalman CNPS 10X Quiet (high fan speed)
Zalman CNPS 10X Extreme (50 per cent PWM)
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus
Arctic Cooling Freezer Extreme Rev 2
Cooler Master TX3
Zalman CNPS 10X Quiet (low fan speed)
delta T (°C) (lower is better, red bar is fail)
We're hoping that you're only reading this page as a supplement to the previous five pages of reviews. This graph is not the be-all and end-all of Lynnfield coolers, it only tells a fraction of the story, and so you really do have to read all those words that we've written to understand the data above and to give yourself all the information you need to buy the best Lynnfield cooler you can.
For example, while the Zalman CNPS 10X Extreme tops the cooling chart, it's not the best cooler in the test, and definitely not our favourite. You'll have to read the review to find out why though. Similarly, while the Cooler Master Hyper TX3 costs only £15 (or $20, if you're State-side) and seems to perform okay, the review will make you think otherwise, especially if you want to overclock your Lynnfield CPU.
We didn't find any of the initial LGA1156 HSFs particularly great for cooling our heavily overclocked and overvolted Lynnfield CPU, though we didn't see any fail to keep the CPU within its thermal tolerance either. However, possibly the most annoying aspect of all the coolers was their universal mounting mechanisms. Typically each cooler had three overlapping screw holes to chose from in order to allow the cooler to fit either LGA775, LGA1156 or LGA1366 - getting screws through the correct hole, or even finding the correct hole in the first place, was for the most part very tricky and quite annoying. How can it be a case, in all the years of experience, that coolers are getting more and more convoluted and frustrating to mount as time goes on?
The blame can be spread between Intel and the cooler manufacturers on test - would it have killed Intel to make the mount for LGA1156 the same as either LGA775 or LGA1366? At least then we could carry our old cooler over to our new Lynnfield build, or chose from the wide range of coolers currently on sale.
Equally, clearer manuals and/or LGA1156-only brackets would help too. While we're on the subject, we'd also have liked to have tested a cooler or two that could handle a big Lynnfield overclock better than the coolers of this article. We know that Noctua is making an updated SecuFirm 2 mount, and that other companies are preparing new and modified coolers too, so perhaps we'll see better coolers from Zalman, Cooler Master and Arctic Cooling in the next few months as well.