AMD’s Threadripper processors certainly do not require liquid coolers to function properly at stock, even if the manufacturer recommends them. It may be that AMD had to recommend them because older cooler designs were designed for processors much smaller in size than the Threadripper and are incapable of providing adequate heat energy transfer rates, as their base does not make full contact with the processor’s lid. AMD probably foresaw that many companies will rush to offer adapters or modify their current designs to fit TR4 processors, even though their surface area was much greater than their AM4 counterparts. A partial surface contact greatly increases the thermal resistance of the whole setup, so very low resistance coolers were required to compensate for this. However, when a good air cooler is specifically designed for the TR4 socket, it can easily cope with the thermal requirements of the AMD Threadripper 1950X.

Noctua is one of the few cooler manufacturers that straightforwardly advise against the mounting of their older design on SP3/TR4 processors. As other manufacturers were openhandedly supplying adapters, this choice earned them a bit of distrust, as a few assumed that Noctua wanted to force their customers into buying new coolers. However, our findings today justify their choice and prove that Noctua did the right thing, regardless of any short-term consequences it may have had on the company's reputation.

Will using adapters on earlier cooler designs work? Yes, but their performance will be far from optimal and, depending on the size of the cooler’s surface area, they can also be dangerous for heavy load applications. High end air coolers and liquid coolers will be able to cope with the needs of the TR4 processor, but they will run hotter, or louder, or both, than their equal derivatives that were redesigned to properly cover a TR4 processor.

If you are upgrading from another platform/socket and are wondering whether to buy adapters for your cooler, our generic suggestion is “don't”. Even if you have one of the best air coolers, the performance impact is so large that even a significantly less expensive TR4-specific cooler is likely to perform better. Instead of spending time and money on adapters, just buy an appropriate cooler specifically designed for TR4 processors. When building a >$1.500 system, an extra $50 for an appropriate cooler can be easily justified. If you have a custom liquid cooling setup, just get another CPU block, one specifically designed for TR4 processors.  The use of adapters makes sense only as a relatively short-term "bandaid" solution, for emergency cases and special situations only.

Testing & Results
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • FireSnake - Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - link

    Awesome review, thank you!
  • iter - Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - link

    Hmm, the cooler should cover the chip it is cooling... who would have thought that to be the case?

    "AMD’s Threadripper processors certainly do not require liquid coolers to function properly at stock"

    Moot point, as nigh end noctua coolers easily beat AIO water coolers and can only be marginally bested by significant custom loop systems.

    Finally, it might have been a good idea for amd to invest in a third socket for dual die chips. Sure they saved some money on underusing SP3 for TR, but that might have backfired more than the savings - the socket is huge, complex and expessive, takes up too much space, limits mobo designs and a lot of users report serious problems with the installation. On top of rendering existing coolers rather inefficient, something that would not have been a problem with a dual die socket.
  • ravyne - Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - link

    I wager we might see AMD introduce a new socket with Threadripper being a success. It's been reported that TR was essentially a passion-project for the engineers and so they didn't have the full resources at their disposal, even if they had the blessing of execs. There's the Epyc embedded 3000 series just coming out, which is a 1-or-2-die package supporting full PCIe lane potential and quad-channel memory in the two-die configuration, but it's designed to be soldered. Perhaps we'll see a socketed version, which would make ITX form factors possible and uATX more comfortable, and possibly reduce motherboard socket costs. I think they've committed to supporting the current TR socket for 3 generations of CPUs, but supporting two different sockets shouldn't be overly difficult given the multi-die/interposer construction and being able to leverage similarities/economies-of-scale with Epic 7000. Plus, if mainstream core counts continue to increase we're gonna need more PCIe and DRAM channels anyway, so maybe this just becomes the new mainstream socket.
  • eek2121 - Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - link

    We won't see a new socket for a while. Threadripper was a HUGE success and AMD wants to keep the Gravy Train rolling. I bought an Enermax 360 for mine and even when overclocked to 4.1 the machine runs silent and cool.
  • Martin Malice - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    I have Enermax 360, I'm having troubles with cooling. Idk why but my Threadripper can't fall below 45 degrees Celsius when I'm working. When I start rendering something the temp goes up to 68 and clock speed starts dropping down. I don't know what's the problem, I've re-applied the thermal paste recently but the problem went away just for a short time and then it slowly reappeared.
  • Alexvrb - Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - link

    Not sure how you could have "serious problems" with the install. I for one like the overbuilt socket. I mean, unless you're one of the strange people aiming for an ITX TR build.

    I don't have any plans to own a TR system for personal use... I don't need more than 8 cores, quad channel RAM, or a crapload of PCIe lanes. But if you do it's a decent platform, and relatively affordable.
  • eek2121 - Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - link

    I would love to see them make a mobile variant.
  • LostWander - Thursday, March 15, 2018 - link

    No need for the hate. It's an obvious conclusion but it's nice to have some of the "why" laid out so well for those of us with only introductory engineering knowledge.
  • iter - Thursday, March 15, 2018 - link

    I wasn't aware that it takes engineering knowledge, introductory or otherwise, to possess common sense. "Contact" IMO is a pretty intuitive and self-explanatory concept...

    Yet it seems certain overly sensitive individuals have put emphasis on developing nonsensical sensibilities and neglected developing precious common sense... To the point of misidentifying sarcasm as "hate"... It is not hate, it is simply not being a dumb robot person whose worldview is so narrow that literally techniques slip outside of his norms for "appropriate"...

    I for one don't find it all that positive that people need such things explained in the first place, it is rather alarming to say the least.
  • LostWander - Thursday, March 15, 2018 - link

    Lots of assumptions there friend. Really sad honestly there were a lot of better (and more accurate) interpretations of my comment available.

    I'm so sorry for anyone in your life. Get help for their sake.

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now