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Old 18th April, 2006, 10:16 AM
aghastpumpkin aghastpumpkin is offline
Join Date: January 2005
Location: Brighton
Posts: 4,856

Heatsinks and CPU Cooling De-mystified

CPU Cooling. Ah, perhaps the modification second only to overclocking, CPU cooling is vitally important in helping you achieve those kick-ass HT frequencies and getting your Ram timings close to perfection.

Having had experience with a variety oc cooling systems, I thought I'd share my knowledge with you all.
I start off by mentioning Watercooling. It used to be that water cooling was the only way to get your CPU to sub-30 celsius temperatures, with cpu coolers being heavy, bulky and loud fans that blew more hot air than anything else. Kits such as the Asetek Waterchill and Zalman Reserator systems can cool you CPU to now un-beleiveable temperatures. But this all comes at a cost, with watercooling costing in excess of £100, even £200 pounds.
And I haven't even metioned phase change cooling.

However, Air Cooling has since moved on leaps and bounds, thanks to innovative products from Zalman, Thermaltake, Akasa and most importantly Arctic Cooling.
I start first off with the Zalman CNPS7000B Super Flower CPU Cooler. This interesting design, consisting of copper fins radiating out from a copper base with a 92mm fan is an effctive air mover. The heat from the CPU moves up the fins which spread the heat out. The fan blows air throguh these fins to take the heat away.
What is great about this cooler is the test CPU, a Pentium D, never went above 47 Celsius, which is considerably better than the reference Intel Heatsink. Not only this, but the Zalman achieves this with the minimum of fuss, noise levels were abrely audible when playing a game and the low noise will make the Zalman a fantastic solution for a Media Centre PC. The Zalman Superflower is available for all sockets (An adapter is needed for 775) and costs between £15 and £30 making this great value. It is very old now, having been around since 2004. However, Zalman have other more modern heatsinks that have even greater cooling ability.

The second Air cooler I tested was my own, an Akasa Evo 33. This heatsink and fan has been around for a while now, but it's cooling abilities are still superior even to it's successor, the Evo 120. The Evo 120 cools rather miserably in comparison to the cheaper Evo 33. The 33 is tall compared to the Zalman, standing at around 10cm. The black box and orange Amber fan gives the cooler an interesting sophisticated look. The Evo 33 also comes with a backplate mounted fan controller.
At full fan speed, the Akasa Evo 33 achieves some stunning results, cooling my AMD rig to a almost unbeleiveable 18 Celsius. This is the sort of temperature we only previously thought watercooling was capable of - and the great thing is, the Evo 33 costs just £18.
Of course, at full speed, the fan is noisy but even at the lowest speed it still cooled to a stunning 20 Celsius, with the temperature at a mere 35 Celsius on full load.

Last on test is the Gigagbyte G-Power Cooler Pro. This cpu cooler is one of Gigabytes first attempts, and I have to say I'm very impressed. The cooler uses the same heatpipe idea as the Evo 33, but instead of the Evo's single large pipe the Gigabyte has 4 pipes attached to a heatsink base. These pipes bend over onto another heatsink upon which the fan sits.
The G-Power is certainly attractive, although not as subtle as the Evo 33. It's cooling ability also matches the Evos good looks, cooling just 1 degree hotter than the Akasa and 2 degrees cooler under full load. This makes the G-Power very tempting, but at £35, it's hard to justify the extra £15 over the evo unless you prefer to have a front, 3.5" mounted fan controller.

All three of these coolers do wonderous things, their prices mean Watercooling no longer makes any sense and their quiet running means noise should also be a thing of the past.
My pick of the bunch? It really depends. For cooling, the Evo 33. But if you also like the sound of silence, the Zalman is a great buy. However, the Zalman and the Evo I have reviewed ehre are showing their age. You might want to look into the new Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 heatsinks or the newer Zalmans. But I hope this has helped!


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Last edited by Gizmo; 18th April, 2006 at 03:39 PM. Reason: Add image links
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