Stock AMD & Intel Coolers

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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 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.

  • AMD A10-7860K stock cooler fan at 1m
    — at 20% PWM / 1480 PWM (15 dBA)
    — at 30% PWM / 1790 RPM (18~19 dBA)
    — at 40% PWM / 2060 RPM (22~23 dBA)
    — at 50% PWM / 2400 RPM (27~28 dBA)
    — at 80% PWM / 2960 RPM (33 dBA)
    — at 100% PWM / 3460 RPM (38 dBA)
  • Intel Core i7-6700 stock cooler fan at 1m
    — at 20% PWM / 1140 PWM (15 dBA)
    — at 40% PWM / 1260 RPM (17 dBA)
    — at 60% PWM / 1500 RPM (20~21 dBA)
    — at 80% PWM / 1750 RPM (24~25 dBA)
    — at 100% PWM / 2010 RPM (28~29 dBA)


AMD's updated 65W stock cooler is a big downer after seeing the Wraith's capabilities, but not completely unexpected. A single heatpipe is not enough to elevate the performance of an otherwise standard design limited in size. The fan generates a superior sound than Intel's offerings but it's not quieter in real world operation as it requires higher fan speeds. A larger fan would certainly help as well as a tighter mounting mechanism. AMD's tension clip system is great for backwards compatibility but it doesn't generate enough pressure in my opinion and is long overdue for a redesign.

The Intel cooler's radial body is a more efficient use of space as it's noticeably shorter and produces slightly better results than the AMD model. Intel chips seem to be able to handle more heat as well, so you can hit much lower noise levels if you don't mind high temperatures. The subjective noise produced is awful however, as the fan is cursed with substantial tonality.

These two stock coolers are about as good/bad as one would expect given their size. Though neither can be seriously recommended, the results are still notable as they both managed to outperform a pair of third party coolers, albeit low-profile models. If there's something to take away from our tests, it's that smaller aftermarket heatsinks are not necessarily an upgrade over a stock cooling solution.

Our thanks to AMD and Intel for the stock cooler samples.

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
AMD Wraith: Upgraded Stock Cooler
Phanteks PH-TC14S & Cryorig C1 CPU Coolers
New 92mm-fan Tower Coolers from Noctua
Cryorig R1 Ultimate & Universal CPU Coolers
Sub-$20 CPU Coolers: A Reader's Roundup
SilverStone Argon AR02 CPU Cooler

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Discuss this article in the SPCR forums.

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