Testing results, low fan speed (7 Volts)

Average thermal resistance, 60 W to 340 W

Core temperature (60 W Load)

Core Temperature, Constant Thermal Load

Noise level

Fan Speed (7 Volts)

*Note: When the cooler has two different fans, the fan speed of the faster fan is recorded.

**Note: Some of this review's PWM fans will not start if simply powered from a 7 Volts power source. Electronic supervision is required to start the fan and then reduce the voltage down to 7 Volts, or a PWM source.

Reducing the fan voltage down to 7 Volts shifts the thermal performance charts a little but brings all of the coolers down to virtually inaudible levels. The sole exception is the Okeanos, which definitely improved vastly in comparison to having its fans running at maximum speed, but remains audible.

With the Okeanos losing its advantage of brute force, the Noctua NH-D15 and the Raijintek Tisis now lead the thermal performance charts, closely followed by Cryorig's R1 Ultimate. The Phanteks PH-TC14PE is a bit more complicated, displaying that it can do much better at lower loads than with high loads, hinting that the airflow of the fans is simply not enough for this design to cope with very high loads. Be Quiet!'s Dark Rock Pro 3 is now showing thermal performance comparable to that of the aforementioned coolers, especially when the thermal load is low. Still, the Dark Rock Pro 3 technically loses its acoustics performance advantage. It may be dead-silent, with our equipment unable to record anything about the room's noise floor level, but the rest of the coolers are virtually inaudible as well.

The Thermalright Macho Zero is at advantage in these tests, as the cooler is optimized for low airflow situations. With the TY147A at a dead-quiet operating level, the Macho Zero offers very good thermal performance, especially at lower loads.

The two coolers with the worst overall thermal performance at this test were the Deepcool Assassin and the SilentiumPC Grandis. As far as the Grandis is concerned, the company will definitely not worry about their product not being able to compete directly with the best air coolers available, as it can still offer very good performance for the price of the cooler. The Assassin on the other hand fails to compete as well as it should, falling behind all other similarly sized products and even behind the Grandis during most of these tests.

Testing results, maximum fan speed (12 Volts) Final Words & Conclusion
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  • 'nar - Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - link

    I know right? I was so looking forward to a W/C vs A/C comparison after an intro like that.
  • Margalus - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    why didn't you test these all with the same fan? Then we could see how the cooler performed independent of the included fans? Like the Thermalright, it comes with no fan, apparently you got a super quiet slow fan and put on there, but that isn't fair to Thermalright saying they are hotter, when it could be because it doesn't have the amount of air moving over the fins as others.
  • Beany2013 - Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - link

    Thermalright provided the fan, so they can't grumble at the results.
  • trandoanhung1991 - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    When you talk about ultimate cooling, you should've at least tested the True Spirit 140 Power Edition with a TY-143 fan, or the Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme. Those are the most interesting products from Thermalright, not the Macho Zero.

    Maybe as an addendum at some point? I'm very interested to see how the Silver Arrow and the 140 PE fare against the D15.
  • Impulses - Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - link

    Apparently the Macho is what TR themselves chose to send AT, if the intro is accurate... Big /facepalm on their part. They probably have some of the best value coolers in the TRUE Spirits (I have the original Cogage version myself), and the Silver Arrow might've ranked up there with the Noctua and Phantek. The article did make me pretty curious about the latter tho, call me vain but the color choices are cool.
  • Calculatron - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Thanks for doing a heatsink round-up. They are refreshing to see these days.

    It is a shame that Thermalright did not send in its top-tier performer. Then again, the Macho Zero is nothing to sneeze at. ~40C over ambient for a 340 watt load is still a good result. (Perhaps, instead, they could have thrown the TY143 performance fan instead? Har!)
  • siberus - Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - link

    I actually wish they would have sent 2 of the current fans so we could see if push/pull could push it up a performance bracket.
  • rrohbeck - Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - link

    I'd like to see the measurements all with the same fan(s) - whatever is considered "the best" fan. That would give an indication of how much you could get out of the cooler with aftermarket fans.
  • 'nar - Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - link

    I wish there was more review cross-over with water coolers, these two camps seem to be at odds with each other. They never seem to be compared effectively to each other, so it is difficult for consumers to determine the "best" cooler for themselves. With Noctua getting up to $93, there are water coolers out there for less. I bought my Noctua NH-D14 for $75 and thought that was high for a HSF.

    I strictly used air coolers until I got an AMD APU, among them are several Noctua models. It was apparent to me that this CPU, after a bit of easy O/C, got hot much too fast for an air cooler to absorb. It would crash after just 4 seconds of starting Tomb Raider and the cooling fins were still ambient temperature. I tried three coolers including the Noctua NH-D14. Fan speed did not matter as the rapid increase in temperature exceeded the heatsinks' ability to draw the heat off the CPU itself. I would guess that it take anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute for the heat to actually get to the fins, so if your heat sink cannot "sink" the heat all by itself, no fan, for a full minute, then it has inadequate heat transfer and no fan will fix that.

    I installed a Corsair H100i and that works very well. I had previously thought that any cooler with less surface area would have less cooling performance, but I have found that if you cannot transfer the heat to the fins, they make no difference. I think a Corsair H60 would have been fine now. I heard that water coolers were "better" and more efficient, but nobody ever explains WHY.

    From this experience at least, it appears that water coolers have better heat transfer performance. Fan speeds and fins are secondary to that, as they do not matter until the heat gets to them. If they get hot, then low speed fans can easily remove that heat as higher temperature differentials generally allow for greater heat transfer. If you run high-power and high-heat for a long time, then higher fan speeds help.

    How quickly can your test bench ramp up in power? Was that tested? Was that considered? CPU's can hit maximum power in nanoseconds, and crash in milliseconds. Only the base of the HSF would see anything from that event. I think this test is more academic, and not very relevant in the real-world with actual CPU's. It only tests for maximum heat generation over time, like when running benchmarks, not the dynamic nature in which CPU's operate for most useful loads. But then, that's just my perspective.
  • Pissedoffyouth - Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - link

    I agree with you. I think the heat transfer through heatpipes takes quite some time to get to the fins

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