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?
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  • imaheadcase - Monday, January 15, 2007 - link

    I just put that artic cooler freezer Pro 7 (thats a mouthfull) on to replace my stock HSF, that itself made a HUGE difference. I got it for $25 at newegg.

    Before, I was running top speed 1.86ghz @ 2.8ghz with stock HSF. When i put on Freezer pro I hit 3.2ghz without any voltage change, but now its 48c at 3.2ghz vs 62c at 2.8ghz! Pretty impressive no matter how you dice it.

    I'm guessing its just all heatpipe heatsinks that help a ton with cooling over stock HSF.
  • Araemo - Monday, January 15, 2007 - link

    Not all 'heatpipe heatsinks', you can still design a heatsink badly with heatpipes. But most of the highest performance heatsinks use heatpipes to increase their efficiency, or to allow amazing masses of metal that would not fit around the CPU socket directly. My current heatsink looks a bit like an old style heatsink, but with 4 heatpipes coming out of the thick base and extending through the fins an inch higher and off to the sides.. it cools VERY well.

    I've also seen similar looking heatsinks w/ heatpipes that cool worse than stock AMD and Intel heatsinks.
  • slayerized - Monday, January 15, 2007 - link

    It is indeed a fair way to compare this with the stock heat sink. It would be more insightful to compare the results with other available products such as Zalman. Good review anyway!
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, January 15, 2007 - link

    Other cooling reviews are in the works. Eventually we will have a cooling database that will compare all the top cooling solutions.

    We have found the Intel Retail HSF to be a decent cooler - particularly on a C2D. We needed to test the Retail Intel as a base line for future cooling tests.
  • mostlyprudent - Monday, January 15, 2007 - link

    Very nice article. I would love to see a review of the Thermalright HR-01-775. I have heard reports that it is capable of passively cooling an E6400.
  • poohbear - Monday, January 15, 2007 - link

    yea i just wanna echo the above sentiment that we all know its better than stock, but how about comparing it to the top 5 coolers on the market to get an idea of how good it is? nonetheless, nice to finally see a heatsink review on anandtech.:)
  • shank2001 - Monday, January 15, 2007 - link

    Don't forget to test the Scythe Infinity when you do your comparisons. I think it may just beat the Tuniq! Amazing heatsink!
  • xsilver - Monday, January 15, 2007 - link

    I would like to request reviews of HSFs in the lower price bracket as well as this one. ($30 us approx.) eg. are you getting the extra $20 worth if you go for the tuniq
    also the tuniq isnt readily available in some parts of the world :( so reviews of more easily obtained products would be good.
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, January 15, 2007 - link

    A low cost cooler roundup is in the works. Roundups always require lots of bench time so it will be several weeks before you will see the roundup at AT.
  • xsilver - Monday, January 15, 2007 - link

    oh also
    another good idea may be to also bench all new coolers against paradigm coolers of the past the people may be privvy to keeping/using such as the zalman 7000 / thermalright xp-90/120 and seeing how they compare to newer HSF units or even if they beat stock coolers anymore?

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