Around this time last year, we were able to get our hands on the predecessor to Zalman’s CNPS9700 LED CPU cooler—cleverly titled the CNPS9500. The blooming, copper-finned device not only rocked our socks off but also beautifully cooled them as they went sailing through the air. Kick ass, indeed.
Swiftech’s dual-radiator Apex Ultra water-cooling kit is the current cooling record-holder (in our Lab, at least), so when the company told us it had a Micro kit that was designed to fit in tight, cramped cases, we were intrigued. Like most hardcore PC users, we assumed a small radiator couldn’t get the job done—at least without making a ton of noise. Boy, were we ever wrong.
This month, memory-maker OCZ wades into the hotly contested CPU cooling arena with its blingy Tempest cooler. Though the Tempest has the signature OCZ flair, we were let down by its midrange performance and loud operation.
Zalman’s Reserator is a silent, fanless cooler that needs no introduction. Though we’ve praised the previous versions of this water cooler, Zalman has seen fit to completely redesign the newest Reserator model. And in doing so, it addresses the few issues people had with earlier versions, while unceremoniously introducing a few new issues.
Koolance’s new Exos-LT is a cross between the too-expensive Exos 2 and the previous-gen Exos system. At just $200 (plus an extra $40 for a Koolance CPU block, which isn’t included), it’s the budget contender of this roundup. Of course, it’s the sole CPU-only kit in the group—if it were spec’d with extra blocks, we’d expect it to be priced like the others.
We all know that water-cooling delivers more cooling power to the CPU than air-cooling does, but even water-cooling has an Achilles’ heel. It can’t achieve temperatures below the ambient room temperature. The Coolit Freezone gets around this limitation by using six thermoelectric coolers (TEC), aka Peltier coolers, to chill the water to below room temps. It’s a fantastic idea, and it seems like the best CPU cooler ever made, on paper. In practice, however, it’s not quite as awesome as we expected.
Sytrin is a newcomer to the cooling scene, and this is the second product we’ve seen from the company. The first product we sampled was its air-conditioned PC case (reviewed March 2006), which impressed the hell out of us. Sytrin’s VF1 Plus GPU cooler is also impressive, although it has a few faults.
Though the Akuatek looks like a run-of-the-mill heatsink/fan setup, it’s actually a water-cooler in the same vein as Cooler Master’s Aquagate Mini. The heatsink comes prefilled with water, which circulates throughout the device, aiding in cooling.