AMD Phenom II Stock Coolers

Cooling
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MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recording starts with 5~10 second segments of room ambiance, then the fan at various levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again.

Comparable CPU cooler sound files:

FINAL THOUGHTS

The updated heatpipe cooler that AMD ships with their high power AM3 processors is rather disappointing compared to the previous AM2/AM2+ version. Switching to a smaller heatsink with a thicker fan resulted in a significant drop in thermal performance. It managed to cool our processor adequately at a reasonably quiet 17 dBA@1m, but at 15 dBA@1m it failed completely, causing the CPU to throttle. This is the first time this has occurred on our AMD heatsink test platform which is driven by a 95W TDP Athlon II X4 630. If tasked with keeping a 125W Phenom II X4/X6 stable at full load, the minimum operating noise level would be much higher.

The older stock heatpipe cooler is heftier and despite its thinner fan, is a much stronger heatsink. At noise levels around 14~15 dBA@1m, its cooling proficiency is more or less equal to that of the Arctic Cooling Alpine 64, one of the most popular budget AMD heatsinks. It would actually be a better choice in cases with a low CPU heatsink height limit as the Alpine 64 is 3 cm taller. In that situation, it's well worth shelling out say $10 for one.

While these two heatsinks are lacking in performance like most stock coolers, the fan on both models have decently smooth acoustics once undervolted. All the Intel stock coolers we've used have a very dry-sounding tonal hum that doesn't go away unless the fan is set to near inaudible levels. When compared at equivalent measured noise levels, the AMD fans sound smoother by a country mile.

Our thanks to AMD for the stock heatsink samples.

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