SPCR's Updated 2012 Small CPU Heatsink Test Platform

Cooling | Reference|Recommended
Viewing page 5 of 5 pages. Previous 1 2 3 4 5

Heatsink Comparison Tables

°C rise Comparison (CPU Temperature)
SPL (dBA@1m)
20
19
18
17
16
15
14
13
12
Noctua NH-L12
(both fans)
33
-
-
34
-
35
-
36
Noctua NH-L12
(ref. 120mm fan)
-
-
-
-
-
34
-
37
Noctua NH-L12
(120mm fan)
-
-
37
-
-
38
-
39
42
Scythe Big Shuriken
(ref. 120mm fan)
-
-
-
-
-
41
-
43
Scythe Samurai ZZ
(ref. 92mm fan)
-
-
-
-
-
-
44
-
51
Scythe Samurai ZZ
-
-
45
-
-
46
-
52
Noctua NH-L12
(92mm fan)
42
-
44
-
47
-
51
57
Scythe Big Shuriken
43
-
-
-
-
46
-
61
Scythe Kozuti
-
-
57
-
-
62
-
65

In our new performance chart, the Noctua NH-L12 comes out on top once again. The two stock fan configuration was neck-and-neck with just one of our reference Nexus 120 mm fans, while Noctua's 120 mm fan by itself was 4~5°C worse. The 120 mm Nexus also enabled the Scythe Big Shuriken to claim fourth place despite its much smaller size compared to the Noctua. There's a big gap at the 12 dBA@1m level before the Samurai ZZ with reference Nexus 92 mm fan appears, followed closely by the same heatsink utilizing its stock fan. The NH-L12 with the stock 92 mm fan isn't far behind, clearly not the same heatsink when saddled with a smaller fan. The stock Big Shuriken sits in second to last place, but with a fan half the standard thickness, it's a respectable result. Finally, the Scythe Kozuti brings up the rear as one would expect though it's hardly a disappointment for a heatsink literally half the size of the competition.

°C rise Comparison (VRM Temperature)
SPL (dBA@1m)
20
19
18
17
16
15
14
13
12
Noctua NH-L12
(both fans)
17
-
-
19
-
21
-
23
Noctua NH-L12
(ref. 120mm fan)
-
-
-
-
-
20
-
25
Scythe Big Shuriken
(ref. 120mm fan)
-
-
-
-
-
25
-
29
Noctua NH-L12
(120mm fan)
-
-
24
-
-
26
-
27
32
Noctua NH-L12
(92mm fan)
28
-
31
-
33
-
38
43
Scythe Samurai ZZ
(ref. 92mm fan)
-
-
-
-
-
-
36
-
43
Scythe Big Shuriken
28
-
-
-
-
30
-
47
Scythe Kozuti
-
-
36
-
-
40
-
45
Scythe Samurai ZZ
-
-
38
-
-
39
-
47

When we look at VRM cooling, the results are shuffled a bit with the Samurai ZZ being the biggest loser; paired with its stock fan, the Samurai was even edged out by the tiny Kozuti. The distance of the fan from the board seems to be the most important factor.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The high energy efficiency of Sandy/Ivy Bridge processors makes them a perfect fit for smaller systems and motherboard manufacturers have responded by releasing a slew of mini-ITX models. The hardware of our updated small heatsink test platform is now much closer to what is currently being used by DIY builders, making our results more relevant. Also, the Intel Core i5-2400's higher throttling temperature gives us a wider range of data, making it easier to differentiate the performance of competing coolers, while the Intel DP67BG's additional temperature sensors reveals each heatsink's ability to cool the area around the CPU socket.

With the high-end cooler market more or less saturated with high performance products, we hope to see more attention being paid to modestly sized heatsinks. It's a more interesting area in a sense, as the thermal and physical limitations of smaller cases makes it difficult for poorly designed heatsinks to perform well. Manufacturers of larger models often compensate for this with mass, more fins, more heatpipes, and bigger fans, but it's not so easy when a size limit is imposed. The four heatsinks we re-tested today vary significantly in weight, size, and design, at least more so than the countless tower heatsinks utilized by enthusiasts.

The Noctua NH-L12 is the only heatsink in our roundup that can be considered premium. Except for its size, it is a classic Noctua in every way, shape, and form, carrying a high price tag but offering exceptional performance. It retains its previous champion status, but with both fans mounted, it is fairly large. Thankfully if you can fit its 120 mm fan under the fin stack, it can still achieve superb performance without a second fan on top, cutting its height down to a modest 66 mm.

The Scythe Big Shuriken isn't the best performer, but it does provide an unbeatable level of cooling for any heatsink up to 58 mm high. It doesn't have the best mounting system, either, but this has been rectified in the latest version, the Shuriken 2 Rev.B. Even if the new version only matches the performance of the old, you'd be hard pressed to find something better at this size and price.

The Scythe Samurai ZZ fails to impress given its 94 mm height. It's not a bad cooler by any stretch of the imagination, but it's certainly outclassed by the NH-L12. However, if you're planning on a LGA1155 mini-ITX build with a discrete graphics card, the Samurai might be your best bet. The CPU socket on mini-ITX Sandy Bridge boards are so close to the PCI Express slot that most heatsinks interfere with it. The Samurai doesn't.

The Scythe Kozuti seems awfully expensive for such a tiny piece of metal and plastic, but it's a formidable little beast that is truly low profile. This 40 mm tall heatsink successfully tackled our overclocked quad core Sandy Bridge processor, though the CPU temperature did get quite toasty at lower fan speeds. It should be able to comfortably handle a 65W CPU without producing too much noise, even in an ultra slim case.

Our thanks to Noctua and Scythe for the CPU coolers used in this article.

* * *

Articles of Related Interest

Noctua NH-L12 Low Profile Cooler
Scythe Kozuti Low Profile CPU Heatsink
Gelid Slim Silence & Prolimatech Samuel 17 Low Profile CPU Coolers
Fan Roundup #6: Scythe, Noiseblocker, Antec, Nexus, Thermalright
AMD Phenom II Stock Coolers
Intel LGA1366 Stock Cooler: Good Enough?
Gelid Silent Spirit & Scythe Samurai ZZ CPU Coolers

* * *

Discuss this article in the SPCR forums.



Previous 1 2 3 4 5

Reference|Recommended - Article Index
Help support this site, buy from one of our affiliate retailers!
Search: