Improving system cooling has been a basic part of improving system performance since overclocking began. To squeeze more performance out of computer components users found ways to run them faster than specified. When they hit walls that prevented going even faster they found ways to better cool the components. The better cooling allowed for running the system even faster until another wall was encountered.

The quest for better cooling has been very creative, with solutions as simple as added fans, progressing to larger fans and heatsinks, peltier (thermoelectric cooling), water cooling, and finally the king of cooling - phase change. There are also the truly "benchmark only" cooling solutions like liquid nitrogen cooling. This is certainly not usable in a normal computing environment, but it is a favorite with competitive benchmarkers - who seem to live for the top of the ORB or the highest benchmark scores. This type of cooling is mainly built by the benchmarker and exists for that fleeting benchmark record that will be broken tomorrow by another benchmarker.

As cooling complexity goes up, so does the associated cost. At the extreme end you will find some top phase change units selling for $2,000 or more. You have to be a very serious overclocker or benchmarking enthusiast to invest that kind of money in cooling. Fortunately, you can achieve significant improvements in system cooling and overclocking for a lot less money. The sophistication of cheaper air and water cooling solutions has improved in recent years, and there have also been genuine efforts by the cooling industry to deliver better cooling performance at a lower price point.

The Tuniq Tower 120 is one example of this. As imposing as the multi-finned, heat-piped Tuniq looks it is worth keeping in mind that the total cost of the Tuniq kit is only about $50. The question we will try to answer in this review is whether the Tuniq is effective at improving CPU cooling? If so, does the improved cooling allow higher overclocks than a stock cooling solution? Finally, the impact on system noise will be measured.

Does Cooling Matter With Core 2 and AM2?
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • kilkennycat - Monday, January 15, 2007 - link

    The Tuniq Tower 120 weighs 798grams WITHOUT the fan. Both AMD and intel spec ~ 450g maximum and the first-class coolers in this class, the radial design such as the Zalman 9500 and the very similar new Asus radial design endeavor to minimize the weight while maximizing the cooling. The 9500 is ~ 475 grams and the Asus is ~ 610 grams ( both including the fan). Also, the center of gravity of this cooler is much higher off the motherboard than either of the coolers mentioned, especially when the fan is installed. The only way such a cooler can be used safely if the PC is to be transported anywhere after installation... eg to a LAN party or even moving between rooms... is to extend the mounting points of the cooler directly to the PC case, so that the case becomes the prime resistance against any physical strains on the cooler. Otherwise, torsion on the motherboard in the event of any shock to the cooler parallel to the plane of the motherboard is likely to compromise the integrity of the motherboard any one of a number of really nasty ways .... rupture ball-grid array solder joints, rupture circuit-board vias due to layer separation, pop the solder connections of surface mount components, cause hair-line cracks in rigid components such as surface-mount resistors and capacitors. Such failures almost invariably show up as functional intermittents and impossible to track down. I have personally witnessed similar failures caused by poor mechanical designs involving large unsupported components on professional electronic gear when subjected to standard shock tests.
  • Jedi2155 - Monday, January 15, 2007 - link

    I've had this installed in my system and i've already moved it about 3-5 times (Lan parties). I've had no issues so far. It seems stable enough.
  • btwango - Monday, January 15, 2007 - link

    798grams? without fan!! i don't think i want that much mass hanging off my mobo.
  • plewis00 - Monday, January 15, 2007 - link

    The temperature graphs are a bit funny. You give STOCK, 14 x 266 and then 14 x 1095 and 1114 (which I'm guessing are quad-pumped figures instead). Also maybe it was me but I couldn't figure out if your temperature figures were with the Tuniq running at full or minimum speed, I presume the former.

    It's a great bit of cooling but given I'm working in a mATX case, I'll never have the fun of trying this kit out.
  • Googer - Monday, January 15, 2007 - link


    The quest for better cooling has been very creative, with solutions as simple as added fans, progressing to larger fans and heatsinks, water cooling, and finally the king of cooling - phase change.

    Did you forget to add Peltier to the list of cooling options?
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, January 15, 2007 - link

    Peltier, or thermoelectric cooling and heating, operates on the same principal as phase change, but the way cooling is actually accomplished is somewhat different. We added Peltier to our list of the various cooling solutions.
  • DigitalFreak - Monday, January 15, 2007 - link

    I want to see the temps with just someone blowing on the heat spreader!
  • Gigahertz19 - Monday, January 15, 2007 - link

    I purchased the new Thermaltake Typhoon VX for my Core 2 rig and love it. I have it turned on to the lowest setting and you can't even hear it. Only thing I don't like is the knob to adjust the fan speed is on the HSF so you have to open up your case to adjust it, they should have provided a PCI slot like the Tuniq to adjust fan speed.

    I read in some review the Typhoon VX is the best, I have the linked saved on my laptop but it comapared the VX to a whole bunch of the air cooling solutions and it performed at the very top. I don't think the review included the Tuniq Tower 120 yet.

    Zalman 9700 vs Thermaltake Typhoon VX vs Tuniq Tower 120 for the next review!!! We would truly know what's best!
  • sadsteve - Monday, January 15, 2007 - link

    Hi, very nice review.

    I was wondering if you monitored the PWMIC and chipset temperatures too. I had a Sonic Tower (another 'vertical fan' HSF) which cooled my processor very well, but my PWMIC and chipset temperatures were quiet high. I switched to a Big Typhoon where the fan blows down on the motherboard. I had pretty much the same CPU temperatures (actually better) but my PWMIC and chipset temperatures dropped 15-20 degrees C. I was able to remove the chipset HSF and replace it with a passive heatsink and still had lower temperatures on the chipset (minus the high pitched fan noise!).

    Keep up the good work. I check your site at least once a day (yes, weekends too!).

    Thank you.
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, January 15, 2007 - link

    We did not monitor chipset temperatures, but you make a very good point. Our EVGA 680i board uses active cooling on the northbridge. Frankly that 680i fan is so loud we needed to turn it off for all noise measurements. It is only needeed for overclocking, fortunately. The 680i is fine with passive cooling at stock speeds.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now