Absolute Performance

We've taken a look at the coolers at their lowest settings, now let's see how things turn around when we run them at the highest settings available. This is the point where the closed loop coolers are going to more aggressively dominate the quieter air coolers.

Load Temperatures (Maximum Performance)

Sure enough, it's actually an even split. At full bore, the liquid coolers are at the top of the list while the air coolers, engineered primarily for silence, are at the bottom. The noise levels are much more telling.

Load Noise Levels (Maximum Performance)

Outside of the inefficient SilverStone HE-01, the air coolers are quietest under load. Again, though, the Swiftech H220 is worth mentioning. While its absolute thermal performance left something to be desired compared to the smaller and theoretically inferior NZXT Kraken X40, the Kraken X40 has to run its fans a lot harder to hit those thermals.

Silent Running Performance Conclusions: It Always Depends on Your Needs
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  • Edkiefer - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    really nice review with air cooler verse the water coolers . One comment though, looking at the air temps of PWM and 100% . They seem so close I would think you should get better results on 100% fan . Maybe the case still doesn't have good airflow for air coolers ?

    Just saying, I have the hyper evo and with stock MB fan profile verse modified (maxes to about 80% ) I say a least few c with app like prime95 .
    Reply
  • biostud - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    You could do a nice xy diagram with noise and delta temp on the axes. Reply
  • truprecht - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    "You could do a nice xy diagram with noise and delta temp on the axes."

    Yes this 100x. It's so obvious - why is it not SOP for cooler comparisons?
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    I put one together for a prior cooler review; it wasn't nearly as useful as a I hoped. With very few exceptions everything bunched up in a fairly narrow diagonal line.

    Noise is vertical; temp horizontal: http://orthogonaltonormal.com/midden/fans.png
    Reply
  • JCheng - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    DanNeely: On the contrary, I find that extremely helpful! Having to jump back and forth between the data points and the legend is kind of a drag, but to see the two dimensions really helps! Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, April 29, 2013 - link

    The reason I felt it was of limited value was that excepting some really bad performers on the quiet end of the range (designed for low power CPUs in SFF systems?) almost all the coolers fell along a relatively narrow horizontal line; meaning the best to worst ordering in the temp and noise tables was mostly equal with no major outliers. Reply
  • nail076 - Monday, April 29, 2013 - link

    I agree, an X-Y chart of these values would better show the best performers in a sea of coolers. Reply
  • buhusky - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    Why do fan & cooler reviews NEVER put the OEM fan/cooler numbers in there as a baseline? Never! It would be much better for me to compare to see how different of an upgrade the item(s) would be compared to what came with my stuff, not just as compared to each other.... Reply
  • A5 - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    The OEM coolers are terrible. They would make the graphs unreadable because all the aftermarket stuff would hardly look any different compared to the OEM cooler. Reply
  • matagyula - Friday, April 26, 2013 - link

    In this case I don't think the OEM solution would keep the CPU cool enough -> i7 @4,4GHz, as written on the "Testing methodology" page. Reply

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