ZEROtherm CORE92 Direct-Touch CPU Cooler

Cooling
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FINAL THOUGHTS

The CORE92's direct-touch heatpipe technology is implemented well. By making them tightly-spaced, good, efficient contact with the center of the CPU heatspreader is ensured — possibly the most important factor in transferring heat. Other aspects of the design are less ideal, at least from a quiet cooling point of view. While cooling performance is excellent with the stock fan at the default 12V, the noise level is high and obtrusive. When the fan speed is decreased, airflow is choked due to the tight fin spacing and the position of the fan in the center. Surrounded by densely packed fins, with little breathing room, quiet CPU cooling is a challenge.

The fan is reminiscent of Zalman and Thermaltake models. Rarely do we find a translucent fan that is quiet and this fan is no exception. ZEROtherm would be wise to ditch the blue LED motif that so many manufacturers seem to think is an absolute necessity. Doing so would allow them to use smoother sounding fans. In addition, the stock fan has a much higher top speed than necessary, though this will result in the CORE92 scoring much better on review sites that do not take noise into consideration. It is a truly impressive high airflow cooler.

The way the fan is mounts is not ideal — attaching it to a metal frame is never a good idea. The rattle it produces is noticeable, though reduced when the top cover is secured more tightly. If the fan was mounted on the outside, there would be for more flexible soft-mounting options. Such a configuration probably wouldn't hurt performance as the distance the air has to travel through the heatsink would still be fairly short.

The heatsink mounting system could also use some work. We don't mind pushpins for a low-weight cooler, but they could have been implemented better. It is neat that the pins can simply be slid into the correct position for the CPU socket, but there is nothing to hold them in place once there. After placing the cooler onto the CPU, we found the pushpins pointing every which way, and getting them into proper position was tedious. Doing this inside a case would be tricky, especially for LGA775 motherboards as the heatsink body overhangs where the pushpins need to be. The lack of support for AMD processors is another negative.

After reading all our comments, you may think this is a terrible cooler, but despite its shortcomings, the Zerotherm Core92 is a pretty good performing heatsink for its size. Our remarks sound negative because there are several fundamental design flaws, which if corrected, could make the CORE92 the ultimate 92mm low-noise CPU cooler. It does very well when the fan speed is cranked up high, but when it is lowered to quiet levels, its performance advantage erodes in dramatic fashion. For many users, however, the stock cooler with its fan controlled by a good motherboard-embedded fan controller could well be cool and quiet enough; 16 dBA@1m for 19°C temperature rise is plenty good for many a system. A key issue is price, of course. At the current $32~40 market price, it's probably a bit too high compared to the Xigmatek HDT-SD964's $25~32. On the other hand, if noise is no concern, the Core92 is a very good, price-competitive cooler.

ZEROtherm CORE92
PROS

* Excellent cooling w/ high airflow
* Relatively small, light
* LGA1366 compatibility
CONS

* Loud fan
* Poorer cooling with low airflow
* Mounting needs improvement
* Lack of AMD compatibility

Our thanks to ZEROtherm for the CORE92 heatsink sample.

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Articles of Related Interest
Cooler Master Hyper N520 dual 92mm fan cooler
Prolima Megahalems: A Mega Nehalem Cooler
Thermaltake BigTyp 14Pro: A Bigger Typhoon
Zalman 9300AT: Not me too, but me again
Thermaltake SpinQ: Unique Blower-fan Heatsink
Xigmatek HDT-S1283 & SD964 "heatpipe direct-touch" CPU coolers

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