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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
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
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,
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
Scythe Mugen-2 CPU Cooler
Scythe Katana 3: Same slant, new version
CNPS10X Extreme: Zalman's Extreme Makeover
ZEROtherm CORE92 Direct-Touch CPU
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