Smallish LGA775 Heatsink Roundup - Part 2

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 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.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Our roundup can't pinpoint a single "best" model, because that depends on just how tight a space you have and how hot a CPU you're trying to cool. But it should help you choose one that works best for you. Here's our summary:

Silverstone NT07-775: The smallest CPU heatsink we've tested performs as expected. The heatsink itself is pretty much the same design as Intel's stock coolers, but it is even smaller than the stock low profile versions shipping with Intel's 45 nm retail box processors. It does generate slightly less noise at full speed, but the acoustic character is not that much better. It is a specialty product designed for super slim cases like the LC19 and ML02 — if your case has clearance for something bigger, no reason to consider it.

Nexus-fan modded Intel heatsink: If you'd rather not replace the Intel stock cooler, pairing it with a quality fan (if you have one handy) is a worthwhile endeavor. Placing a Nexus 120 mm fan atop a full-sized Intel cooler with a copper core resulted in an improvement in both CPU temperature and especially acoustics. With a combined height of 67 mm, it won't exceed the limit in most cases, and will provide better cooling for the components around the socket as well. [Editor's Note: In a Silverstone NT05 case, a stock Intel heatsink modded with a Scythe Slipstream 120mm fan kept an Intel E7200 CPU at 43°C in idle and 78°C after an hour of Prime95 stress testing, while generating a constant 13 dBA@1m, spinning at ~600rpm. This was with 23°C room ambient.]

Arctic Cooling Alpine Alpine 7 Pro: A re-test of the Alpine 7 Pro, this time in our anechoic chamber, confirms it is a suitable quiet replacement for a full-sized Intel stock cooler. They perform similarly at high speed, but the Alpine 7 Pro exerts a substantial lead at lower fan speeds to its wide fin placement. The character of the noise it generates is also far superior, very smooth and innocuous. At 86 mm tall, it is nowhere close to low profile, but it will fit in a lot of cases where taller heatsinks with 92/120 mm fans will not. $15 is a very fair price for the product.

Nexus LOW-7000: The Nexus LOW-7000 acquitted itself very nicely, performing on par with the Scythe Big Shuriken. The Nexus is taller, but much easier to install since it doesn't rely on pushpins and the extra height insures nothing on the PCB will interfere with it. Unfortunately at $55, it caries a $25 price premium over the Shuriken. Furthermore, the included fan, while much better acoustically than many stock models, isn't nearly as smooth as the Slipstreams that Scythe ships with its heatsinks.

Silverstone NT06-E: The other Silverstone in our roundup was also a disappointment. It has a solid mounting system, but its performance was underwhelming considering its cost and physical dimensions. Even using our reference Nexus fan (which typically performs better than most fans) it failed to keep pace with the Shuriken and LOW-7000. When the fan speed was reduced, it fell even further behind. It retails for $55, which is the same as the LOW-7000, but you also need to purchase a fan as Silverstone does not include one. It seems that they designed it specifically to be used fanlessly in a Sugo SG05/06 where the power supply fan is directly above it — if you add a fan on top, it is too big to fit in most low profile and cube-style cases.

Cooler Master Geminii S: The Geminii S performed fairly well, keeping pace with the Shuriken and LOW-7000 until fan speeds were decreased drastically. It's affordable, has a good solid mounting system and ships with a surprisingly good fan with excellent acoustics. If you have enough space to accommodate the Geminii S, it is a worthwhile investment.

The big winner from the first part of our roundup, the Scythe Big Shuriken, edged out our honorable mentions, the Nexus LOW-7000 due to its lower price, and the Geminii S due to its much shorter profile. However it is nice to have alternatives which take aim at the Shuriken's shortcomings, namely its frustrating mounting system and lack of clearance. Still, the Shuriken undoubtedly delivers the best value of the bunch, providing excellent performance, a smooth quiet fan, and a price-tag that won't make you cringe.

Our thanks to Silverstone, Arctic Cooling, Nexus, and Cooler Master for the heatsinks used in today's roundup.

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Articles of Related Interest
Scythe Top-Down Coolers: Kabuto vs. Zipang 2
LGA775 Low Profile Heatsink Roundup
Scythe Mugen-2 CPU Cooler
Scythe Katana 3: Same slant, new version
CNPS10X Extreme: Zalman's Extreme Makeover
ZEROtherm CORE92 Direct-Touch CPU Cooler

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Discuss this article in the SPCR forums.



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