Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

Intel Core i7 Heatsink Roundup Q309

Thermalright TRUE processor cooler has been king of the hill for quite some time. Today we bring in four new challengers to see if any of them have what it takes to make our short list of coolers to buy for your next enthusiast box build.



All the coolers reviewed here today have shown themselves to be up to the task. The question you need to ask yourself is what matters to you? Are you looking for a silent heat sink for an HTPC or the very best heat sink money can buy. Maybe you’re looking more middle-of-the-road for your choice.


The charts below show the cost you will pay for each degree in temperature reduction the heat sink gives you over the Intel stock cooler. The two areas that influence this chart are cost of the heat sink and its performance. An expensive cooler that gives you superior performance will be rated as average here since its cost hurts its rating. Conversely, a poor performing heat sink that costs next to nothing will be rated as average since its performance will hurt its ratings. We ideally look for low cost and high performance. All prices were gathered by doing a very quick search of the web for each cooler and listing it here sans S/H and tax (these can vary widely from region to region).

As an example, if a cooler outperforms the stock cooler by 10آ؛C and costs USD $5.00 it would be listed in our chart as $.50. You would pay fifty cents for each degree of better performance over the box cooler.

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This chart shows you the cost each degree of performance will cost you over using Intel’s stock cooler. And from the looks of it, it would appear that Noctua, Prolimatech, Zalman and Thermalright are in trouble if they intend to charge so much for their coolers. It seems that paying more does not always get you more. The TRUE Spirit from COGAGE is a solid competitor offered at a great price.



The ZALMAN cooler offers some nice features like the integrated fan controller but I don’t see it as adding much value to the equation. How often do you intend to go into your PC to adjust the fan speed? Once you find the sweet spot you pretty much set it and forget it. Thankfully the fan can be run in auto mode to allow it to speed up when necessary though any fan with a 4-pin header can do the same if your motherboard supports it. At $70.00 USD this cooler is very expensive and rather complicated to install. It’s a good cooler but if you’re doing any serious overclocking you want to look elsewhere.

The Bottom Line

Noctua NH-U12P SE1366

The second most expensive cooler today is the Noctua. It performed admirably and did come with two fans though those were easily beat by one stronger fan. If silence is the name of the game and the only thing you’re looking for then Noctua has a cooler worth looking into. For those looking for better performance you’ll want to look elsewhere.

Titan Fenrir

Perhaps mythology is where this cooler should have stayed. With its asymmetrical design there is no chance of installing a second fan which would help the performance of this cooler as it trailed the pack in today’s roundup. It is a big cooler and one that will cause serious conflicts with your RAM depending on the board you use. In its defense it does come with a powerful fan as long as sound is not a concern for you. Let’s just hope you get a better sample than we did today and its base makes better contact. From what we saw here, we simple do not suggest you purchase a Titan Fenrir.


The ‘spiritual’ winner of today’s roundup goes to the TRUE spirit. As the most inexpensive cooler it is easy on your wallet all the while giving you exceptional performance without interfering with your motherboard components. This is one cooler everyone should consider for the next build and one I am certainly going to be using in my personal rig. There is a lot to like about this cooler and hopefully this is a sign of things to come from the crew at COGAGE.

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Thanks go out to FrozenCPU for making today's heatsink review a reality by supplying our retail coolers. We suggest you give FrozenCPU a look for all your computer cooling needs!