Fall 2014 Cooler Roundup - Fall 2014 Cooler Performance

Article Index
Fall 2014 Cooler Roundup
NZXT Kraken X31 LCS
NZXT Kraken X41 LCS
NZXT Kraken X61 LCS
Thermaltake Water 3.0 Pro LCS
Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate LCS
Thermaltake NiC L32 HSF
Thermaltake Frio Extreme HSF
Thermaltake NiC C5 HSF
Fall 2014 Cooler Performance
Final Thoughts


Test Setup:

This article is not as much about individual coolers as it is about how they all compare to each other when it comes to maximum cooling performance. For the performance tests we turned up the fans to maximum in our motherboard software and let them scream away. While you certainly don't want to have a system running at 100% fan speed all the time, this shows the maximum cooling potential of each system. During internal testing we backed the fan speed down to 50% to see how that affected performance. The performance scaled quite evenly without exception so we opted for maximum CPU load as well as minimum idle temperature.

To get these temperatures, we used CoreTemp and took readings from the maximum logged temperatures on each core and averaged them. The CPU was heated up by using the Prime95 stress test with the setting for "maximum heat". To get our minimum idle temperatures we did the same average - after letting the system cool down from the maximum load test. This is indicative of letting your system cool down after a hard gaming session.

Our test system was comprised of an Intel Core i7 4790K clocked in at a solid 4.4GHz. It was plugged into an MSI Z87-GD65 motherboard using 8GB of DDR3 1600 memory. We also have a Radeon R9 270X plugged in as well as booting Windows 10 on a Crucial M500 512GB SSD. Ambient temperature here at BCCHQ South was kept at 23°C. All temperatures recorded below are in Celcius.

Cooling Performance

The chart tells only part of the story. While the Thermaltake Water 3.0 Ultimate comes in with the best cooling performance (followed very closely by the NZXT Kraken X61), the fact is it is quite loud. In terms of air-cooling, the clear winner is the Noctua NH-D15 as it bests (only slightly) the Thermaltake Water 3.0 Pro but that falls within margin of error. The fact is that even with that Noctua behemoth spinning at full speed, it is quieter than the Thermaltake Water 3.0 Pro.


CPU Temp vs Price

The chart above shows the cooling performance next to the price of the cooler. As you can see, some coolers are quite affordable - such as the Thermaltake NiC C5 and still offer good performance. Other coolers are more expensive and offer poorer performance. Even this chart doesn't tell the entire story as you have to be able to stand the noise from the coolers and some of these are crazy loud.

On the last page we'll break down our thoughts on each of these coolers.