Applying thermal paste to a CPU before dropping a heat sink on it isn't too much of a pain in the butt, but you have to do it carefully; as pretty much everybody reading this site probably knows, air bubbles and uneven application can affect cooling performance. What if you didn't have to worry about applying thermal paste? Crazy talk, I know, but during last week's Techno-Frontier convention in Tokyo, Sony Chemical & Information Device Corp was showing off a thermal sheet that it said has the same thermal conductivity of traditional paste.
Think your CPU cooler kicks ass? Some of the top minds in the country disagree. Researchers at the Sandia National Laboratories have been working on a novel new design for a rapidly spinning cooler, one that they say is up to 30 percent more efficient than traditional models AND virtually silent in typical use cases. Sounds crazy ambitious? Apparently, it isn't; Sandia's looking to license the technology out to electronics suppliers, and one unidentified CPU cooling company has already hopped on the bandwagon.
WE HADN'T HEARD much from Xigmatek in a while until last month’s LGA2011 cooler roundup. In that review roundup, we tested the company’s budget Gaia cooler and found it roughly equivalent to the Hyper 212 Evo—which is a good thing. Now we’ve got our hands on the Aegir, a direct-contact heatsink with more fins, more fans, and more oomph.
The Aegir has a strange heat pipe configuration: Six copper heat pipes rise through its 4.6-inch stack of cooling fins, but only four have direct contact with the CPU heat exchanger. The other two heat pipes are set into channels at the top of the heat exchanger, above the two center direct-contact heat pipes. They don’t contact the CPU directly. They don’t even touch the heat pipes that touch the CPU. Xigmatek calls this "Double Layer with Heat-pipe Direct Touch," or DLHDT. Catchy!
Many coolers designed before the launch of Sandy Bridge-E have LGA2011 support added after the fact, and not always well. With some coolers, we had trouble putting sufficient mounting pressure on the heatsink, leaving the cooler’s LGA2011 performance lagging compared to other platforms. That isn’t a problem with the Aegir: Even on LGA2011, the mounting crossbar clamps down so far we worried we’d break our motherboard. But we didn’t, and thanks to the pressure, the Aegir’s four lower direct-contact heat pipes got plenty of, well, direct contact with the CPU’s heat spreader.
Cooler Master has spread its wings into a lot of different product lines, but it's still best known for its namesake: stuff that keeps your PC running cool. To that effect, today the company announced an update to the design of its Hyper 412 Slim CPU cooler as well as three new thermal pastes.
Ask ten geeks about their preferred thermal interface material (TIM) and you’ll get six different answers. Five will go with Arctic Silver 5 and the others will have five totally different favorites. Ask a non-geek about their favorite thermal paste and you might get slapped.
But is Arctic Silver 5 really the best? Is the thermal testing compound we’ve been using in the lab really cutting the mustard? We gathered seventeen premium thermal pastes and an overclocked test bed and set about finding out whether thermal paste really makes a difference, and if so, which one is the best.
We recently got our hands on three coolers marketed directly to overclockers, so we clocked our 2.8GHz Core i7-930 up to 3.9GHz and hit it with Intel’s internal stress-testing utility, which has been known to physically damage motherboards and fry CPUs if used improperly. We cranked up the utility until our Hyper 212 Plus (our favorite inexpensive cooler) could barely keep up without throttling, and used that as our baseline. Can any of these coolers beat the heat?
NZXT isn’t the only company branching into CPU coolers. EVGA—better known for videocards and motherboards—recently released its Superclock cooler, with five direct-contact copper heat pipes, one clear 12cm fan with red LEDs, and a sharp-looking black finish to its skyscraper-style copper cooling fin stack.
At $50, the Superclock is around the midpoint of CPU cooler prices, but can its performance live up to its name?
We have to hand it to Thermaltake: Nearly everything about the Frio OCK is well thought out. The two 13cm fans are secured in a black, red, and blue cowling that clips on and off of the heatsink with ease, eliminating many of the installation frustrations inherent in two-fan (or one-fan) heatsinks. Are the Frio OCK's performance numbers as cool as its design?
NZXT is new to the cooler game, but if the Havik 140 is any indication, the company isn’t being dumb about it. The Havik 140 is a hefty cooler in the stacked-fins “skyscraper” style, with six copper heat pipes rising from the heat exchanger through 4.25 inches of nickel-plated‑copper heat-dissipation fins.
Once mounted, the Havik performed admirably, besting the Hyper 212 Plus in our stress test by nearly 18 degrees Celsius, but was it good enough to dethrone the Best of the Best?
zThe Thermaltake Frio is a hefty cooler in the dual-fan skyscraper tradition. With both fans attached, it’s a staggering 4.75x5.37x6.5 inches and clocks in at two pounds, 10.6 ounces. It’s not the biggest we’ve ever tested—Noctua’s NH-D14 and Scythe’s Mugen 2 share that dubious distinction—but it’s among the heaviest. Its plastic fan mounts and trim add unnecessary weight, though most of the heft comes from the five meaty heat pipes and stack of heat-dissipating fins.
The two 1,200–2,500rpm 12cm fans that ship with the Frio attach to its preinstalled plastic casing via rubber mounting posts, which add bulk but are easier to use than wire clips. Unlike most skyscraper coolers, which screw down from the top (and thus require removing the fans to get to the mounting screws), the Frio’s mounting system uses screw-on nuts that mount behind the motherboard backplate, so you can leave the fans on during installation. This does mean you have to have hands on both sides of the motherboard during install so the cooler doesn’t fall off, but that’s what motherboard tray cutouts are for, right?