Recommended Heatsinks

Cooling | Reference|Recommended
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Current recommended CPU heatsinks are listed in the table below. On the next page are heatsinks for older slot-CPUs, VGA Cards and Chipsets, and Retired models.

Make / Model: Manufacturer and model number

Q: Simply stands for quality, with 10 at the top and 1 at the bottom. It is our assessment of the heatsink's overall design, cooling performance and build quality.

  • A perfect 10 is reserved for, well, perfection. We don't believe it can be achieved.
  • A rank of 1 is good enough fanless for VIA C3 in a reasonably well ventilated case. A rank number followed by a ? indicates we have not fully verified the assessment.
  • The + sign is used where a product has a slight edge over others in the same numeric rank.
  • With a heatsink rated at 6 or better, you can cool any current CPU even dramatically overclocked if you use a powerful enough (and noisy) fan or adequately cool most current CPUs with minimum fan noise.
  • What we are rating is the intrinsic cooling power of the HS. How you choose to use that cooling power is up to you.

CPU: The CPU socket the HS is designed for

AMD socket A for Duron, K7, XP and MP
AMD; replaces 754, 939
Latest AMD; similar to AM2 but uses 4 bolts.
AMD K8 for Athlon 64, Opteron (socket 754, 940, 939 )
Intel socket 370 for P3, Celeron and VIA C3
Intel socket 775 for P4, Pentium D, Core 2
Intel i3/i5
Intel i7
Intel P4 and new Celeron - 478 pins
Intel P4 original - 423 pins
Slot 1 for P2, P3 and Celerons
Slot A for early AMD K7

Comments: The Q rating is incomplete without these comments. The date of the entry or update is given at the end of the comment.

$: Average market price found online time of entry or update, or if not widely available, the manufacturer's suggested price, in US $. MSP is marked with an asterisk (*) following the price. Shipping and taxes are not included. DO NOT COUNT ON THE PRICE CITED HERE! It is impossible to keep this up to date without automating the updates, which at this time is not really feasible or desirable.

Source: All the recent additions to the lists are based on our own reviews, but in the past, a few recommendations were based on other sources of information.

Reviewed: Link to SPCR review.

F: First-hand knowledge gleaned by Silent PC Review staff.

R: Recommended by respected contributors and other associates.

O: Other manufacturer's info and reviews of other web sites

Items in darker blue boxes are new entries.


Motherboard makers generally assume a certain level of "spillover" airflow from the heatsink fan across the voltage regulator module (VRM) components that are placed around the CPU socket. These components include capacitors, power transistors and inductors (coils). When the CPU fan speed is reduced to minimal levels in order to achieve low noise, cooling for the CPU may be perfectly adequate with a good heatsink, but the VRM components may be prone to overheating, which can impair electrical efficiency and reduce component life.

Tall tower (or high rise) heatsinks with fans that blow air parallel to the motherboard rather than down at it are more likely to cause VRM component cooling problems — even when the fan is not run at minimal speed, bcause the airflow is sometimes blocked by the fins from reaching the sufrace of the motherboard. When the fans on such heatsinks are slowed to minimum speed, VRM cooling can suffer quite a bit.

Users should be aware of this potential issue and ensure some additional airflow from at least one case exhaust fan in most systems, especially those with high power CPUs. The quality, efficiency and intrinsic cooling of VRMs varies substantially from motherboard to motherboard, however.

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