Test System and Methodology
We always use the same test system and tests with CPU coolers that we compare against each other. The full specifications of our test system are as follows:
- ASUS P8Z77-V, LGA 1155 socket, Z77 chipset
- Intel Core i5 3570K with Gelid GC Extreme under the IHS
- 8GB G.Skill Trident X 2400MHz DDR3
- 128GB Kingston SSDnow V100 (Boot Drive) and Samsung F3 1TB (storage)
- Antec High Current Gamer 620W
- Cooler Master Test Bench v1.0
- We always use Gelid GC Extreme thermal paste to make sure testing reveals the efficiency of the tested coolers not the efficiency of the bundled thermal paste.
- Prime 95 is run for 10 minutes and then the average maximum temperatures as recorded by CPUID HWMonitor are noted
- The average temperature across the four cores is taken on our quad core processor
- Fans are mostly left to operate at default PWM profile speeds and with maximum fan speed for reference.If PWM functions are not supported then fixed fan speeds are used and sometimes a low noise adapter if appropriate/provided. If fixed fan speeds or low noise adapters are used it will be clearly pointed out either on the graphs or in the write-up.
- All default result entries on graphs are for PWM performance unless otherwise specified. A variety of fan speed results are done for a particular product review and then removed from the graphs in future reviews of other products to avoid clutter. If you would like to see more fan speed results for a particular product please check its individual review.
- For watercooling tests all pumps have been operated at 12 volts directly from the power supply
- Delta temperatures are always used (Observed temperature minus ambient temperature) and we keep the ambient at 22 (+/- 1) degrees for all testing . Delta temperatures should correct for any marginal ambient differences between 21-23 degrees.
- Acoustic measurements are taken 10cm horizontally away from the CPU cooler with the VGA fan disabled, hard drive in idle and power supply isolated. These are taken at desktop idle and Prime95 load.
- The cooling performance tests are run at stock 3.4GHz (with Intel Turbo up to 3.8GHz) and overclocked 4.5GHz (1.35v) settings. Voltages are fixed to prevent inaccuracy between comparisons.
- All other coolers in the graphs have been tested under identical settings so are fully comparable.
- Each test is repeated 3 times with 3 remounts for consistency of results
- There is approximately a 1 degree celsius margin of error in our temperature recording software CPUID HW Monitor
- There is approximately a 1.5dBA margin of error with our Benetech GM1351 decibel meter
Since I recently took over our cooling reviews section we have started our graphs again to keep things consistent with my own testing methodology. If you wish to view any of the previous results you can do so on any of our prior cooling reviews in the Cooling section.
We currently have four main categorisations for CPU coolers that are:
- Budget CPU coolers (sub £40 in typical RRP)
- Low Profile CPU coolers (Often top-down design, but any CPU cooler that is designed to be small)
- Water cooling AIO CPU coolers (Both closed loop and expandable water CPU coolers that come pre-built – no custom kits)
- Performance Heatsink coolers (Heatsinks designed for performance, typically cost upwards of £40)
In all these graphs we may have a few “reference” results of particular products that do not fit within that category for comparative purposes.