Tuniq Tower 120: Air Cooling to the Maxby Wesley Fink on January 15, 2007 12:01 AM EST
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Does Cooling Matter With Core 2 and AM2?In a recent review of the upcoming Core 2 Duo E4300, Anand found that the new 1.8GHz E4300 could be easily pushed to 3.37GHz with stock cooling, an astounding 87% overclock. Why then, would anyone want to worry about enhanced cooling? The answer is really simple. If you want to reach even higher overclocks - to potentially around 4 GHz - you need to look at improving CPU cooling.
It is absolutely true that Core 2 Duo is not Pentium 4 when it comes to heat generation. The extremely hot and poor performing NetBurst processors have been replaced by Core 2 Duo, which runs very cool at stock speeds and overclocks like few chips we have ever seen in the evolution of the CPU. As a result life is good right now for Intel CPU users.
This year we will see if AMD can accomplish something similar with AM2 at 65nm. Current top 90nm AM2 processors have almost no "head room" at all, making concerns about overclocking relevant only for lower end AM2 chips. Early 65nm chips are also not stellar overclockers, but it is still early, and everyone expects that AMD can achieve overclocking results similar to C2D when their 65nm manufacturing is fully rolled out. It will be interesting to stop the speculation and actually see what AMD rolls out this year.
With relatively cool CPUs and massive overclocking capabilities it is worth looking at what happens with a stock processor and a stock heatsink/fan, at rated speed and when overclocked. We monitored CPU temperature on an NVIDIA 680i motherboard running an X6800 CPU with the stock Intel HSF - both at the stock speed of 2.93GHz, and at the highest stable overclock that would still allow gaming of 3.73GHz.
|X6800 CPU Operating Temperature with Standard Heatsink/Fan
(Ambient Temperature 21C (70F)
|IDLE 2.93GHz||41C (106F)||32C (90F)|
|GAMING 2.93GHz||56C (133F)||33C (91F)|
|IDLE 3.73GHz||56C (133F)||37C (99F)|
|Gaming 3.73GHz||71C (160F)||38C (100F)|
While temperatures are dramatically improved compared to P4 NetBurst processors, it is clear that temperatures do increase rapidly as the overclock increases. At the highest overclock of 3.73GHz idle temperature had increased to 56C (133F) and stressed temperature rises to 71C (160F).
At this 3.73GHz overclock we suspect that the biggest handicap to further overclocking is CPU cooling. However, this is a question that can only be answered with a closer look at the performance of the Tuniq Tower 120. In the end we buy improved coolers for better cooling in most performance configurations. This improved cooling should theoretically allow even higher overclocks of the CPU. If the cooler you are considering does not cool better and/or improve overclocking, there is absolutely no justification at all for buying the cooling solution.