Testing and Results

We place our test rigs under load using the Small FFTs stress test in the free application Prime95, as this test is designed to place maximum load on the CPU and minimum load on the system's memory. We use the freeware application Core Temp to measure the temperature of our CPUs, as it reads data from the DTS (digital thermal sensor) embedded inside each core of Intel's modern processors and thus provides as accurate a reading as possible. We always take the temperature of the hottest core for consistency, and do so after 15 minutes of the Prime95 test, which is enough time for temperatures to plateau.

The results provided are the delta T results; the difference between the recorded CPU temperature and ambient temperature at the time of testing. Our labs are not temperature controlled, so this provides the most accurate method of comparison for coolers tested on different days.

Any cooler that causes one of our CPUs to hit its Tj Max, the maximum temperature at which the CPU will operate before downclocking itself, is considered a fail. If a cooler has multiple available fan speeds, we retest at appropriate speeds to highlight the differences. Unless otherwise stated, closed loop liquid coolers are installed with their fans as exhausts. Finally, any cooler that is PWM (pulse width modulation) capable is tested both at full speed and using the standard PWM setting on our motherboards.

Intel LGA1155 Test System
  • Intel Core i7-2600K overclocked to 4.4GHz (44 x 100MHz) using a vcore of 1.275V
  • Asus Maximus V Formula
  • 2 x 2GB Crucial Ballistix 1,600MHz low-profile RAM
  • PNY Performance 60GB SSD
  • Corsair HX750W PSU

Intel LGA2011 Test System
  • Intel Core i7-3960X overclocked to 4.2GHz (44 x 100MHz) using a vcore of 1.275V
  • MSI X79A-GD45
  • 4 x 4GB G.Skill Ripjaw 1,6000MHz RAM
  • Samsung SSD 830 128GB
  • Enermax Revolution 87+ 750W PSU
**Our previous LGA2011 system had to be rebuilt in time for this review due to hardware failure - a big thanks to Overclockers UK who sent us a replacement LGA2011 motherboard. As such, we've only had time to re-test a select few coolers for the LGA2011 results. This is a temporary system before we upgrade a number of our long-term test rigs in the not too distant future**

The systems run Windows 7 64-bit, are built inside a Corsair Carbide 500R and use an AMD ATI Radeon HD 5770 1GB. Coolers are tested with both of the case's side panels fully attached and with its two 120mm front intake fans and rear 120mm exhaust fan operating at consistent speeds, providing interior airflow that is more realistic than a benchtable or our previous set-up. The cases have been cable tidied and had their front drive cages removed to optimise airflow.

Intel LGA1155 CPU delta T

Arranged by 100 per cent CPU load delta T value

  • NZXT Kraken X60 (Maximum profile)
  • Corsair H110i GT (Performance pump, Maximum fans)
  • Corsair Hydro H110
  • Corsair H110i GT (Performance pump, Default fans)
  • Thermalright SilverArrow SB-E Extreme
  • Corsair H110i GT (Quiet pump, Default fans)
  • Corsair Hydro H100i (Maximum profile)
  • NZXT Kraken X60 (Silent profile)
  • Phanteks PH-TC14PE
  • SilverStone Tundra TD02
  • Corsair Hydro H105
  • Noctua NH-D15 (dual fan)
  • Antec Kühler H2O 920 (Extreme profile)
  • Corsair H110i GT (Quiet pump, Quiet fans)
  • Noctua NH-D15 (one fan)
  • NZXT Kraken X40 (Maximum profile)
  • Raijintek Tisis (two fans)
  • Alpenföhn K2 Mount Doom
  • Thermalright Archon SB-E X2
  • Corsair Hydro H75
  • SilverStone Tundra TD02 (PWM)
  • Noctua NH-D15 (dual fan LNA)
  • Corsair Hydro H105 (PWM)
  • Noctua NH-D14
  • Corsair Hydro H100i (Balanced profile)
  • Corsair Hydro H80i (Maximum profile)
  • Antec Kühler H20 950 (Extreme profile)
  • Zalman Reserator 3 Max
  • Thermalright SilverArrow SB-E Extreme (PWM)
  • Noctua NH-D14 (low noise adaptor)
  • Antec Kühler H20 650
  • Corsair Hydro H80i (Balanced profile)
  • Noctua NH-D15 (one fan LNA)
  • Corsair Hydro H75 (PWM)
  • SilverStone Argon AR01
  • Raijintek Ereboss
  • Phanteks PH-TC14PE (PWM)
  • SilverStone Tundra TD03
  • Alpenföhn K2 Mount Doom (PWM)
  • Cooler Master Seidon 120M
  • SilverStone Tundra TD03 (PWM)
  • Noctua NH-D14 (PWM)
  • Corsair Hydro H90
  • Thermalright Archon SB-E X2 (PWM)
  • Raijintek Tisis (one fan)
  • Corsair Hydro H80i (Quiet profile)
  • Antec Kühler H2O 920 (Silent profile)
  • Thermalright True Spirit 120M
  • Corsair Hydro H100i (Quiet profile)
  • Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3
  • Gelid GX-7 Rev. 2
  • Raijintek Ereboss (PWM)
  • Alpenföhn K2 Mount Doom (7V adaptor)
  • Deepcool GAMMAXX S40
  • Phanteks PH-TC12DX
  • Zalman Reserator 3 Max (PWM)
  • SilverStone Argon AR01 (PWM)
  • Noctua NH-D14 (PWM; low noise adaptor)
  • NZXT Kraken X40 (Silent profile)
  • Antec Kühler H20 950 (Silent profile)
  • Thermalright True Spirit 120M (PWM)
  • Gelid GX-7 Rev. 2 (PWM)
  • Noctua NH-U12S
  • Gelid The Black Edition
  • Raijintek Pallas
  • Gelid The Black Edition (PWM)
  • Raijintek Pallas (PWM)
  • Arctic Cooling Freezer i30
  • Xigmatek Loki II (third party thermal paste)
  • Noctua NH-U12S (low noise adaptor)
  • Gelid Tranquillo Rev. 2
  • Deepcool Gamer Storm Gabriel
  • Deepcool Gamer Storm Gabriel (PWM)
  • Thermalright AXP-100
  • Thermalright AXP-100 (PWM)
  • Xigmatek Loki II (included thermal paste)
  • Zalman FX100 Cube
  • Intel Stock Cooler
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Delta T (°C) (lower is better)

Intel LGA2011 CPU delta T

Arranged by 100 per cent CPU load delta T value

  • Corsair H110i GT (Performance pump, Maximum fans)
  • Corsair H110i GT (Performance pump, Default fans)
  • Corsair H110i GT (Quiet pump, Default fans)
  • Corsair Hydro H105
  • Corsair H110i GT (Quiet pump, Quiet fans)
  • Corsair Hydro H75
  • Raijintek Tisis (two fans)
  • Raijintek Tisis (one fan)
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Delta T (°C) (lower is better)

Read our performance analysis on the next page.
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