In the BIOS you can do many things with the FAN connectors. Some coolers will be PWM controlled, others are set (by manufacturer) at a fixed RPM. We choose to apply a normal fan profile that most motherboard manufacturers set as default.
In-between 20 and 70 Degrees C we allow the fan or fans to have 50% as lowest fan RPM with a minimum of 600 RPM for low RPM fans. The upper threshold is 80% RPM up-to 70 Degrees C. Most motherboard manufacturers use this setting to find a good balance in-between performance and noise levels.
Once the processor passes 70 Degrees C it may utilize 100% fan RPM.
TIM (Thermal Insulation Material)
For all coolers we applied the very same thermal paste; a thin film layer of Arctic Cooling MX-4 Thermal compound. We could have used silver grade compound or very cheap compound. Fact remains that the more expensive solutions can shave off a few degrees in temperature, it is a known fact. Some manufacturers will deliver TIM with the cooler. It's expensive we know, but we do recommend good thermal paste. We opted for a more mainstream compound.
The CPU stresser
We test the coolers following a strict protocol. We have already shown you the BIOS settings for the overclock. To stress the CPU we apply the stress modes (default/OC 1.2V /OC 1.3V) and have our stress software, Prime95, finish a full run. If Prime95 returns an invalid result, the overclock failed. This did not happen. We did however have a security feature enabled, if a cooler reaches 98 Degrees C the system will power down to prevent it from damage.
Below, a couple of examples of our test runs. We note down the package temperature, the per core temps as such can differ here and there. For LOAD testing we note down the MAXIMUM measured temperature after a full Prime95 run.
Above, you can see one of the Scythe coolers under stress. In this example we use the default clock settings on the processor, thus non-overclocked.
Above, we just started a session for the Noctua NH-D14 which to date has to be one of the best CPU coolers invented. With the processor at 4600 MHz with 1.3 Volts and even in the third run we hit 70 Degrees C.
The Alpenfohn K2 is another example of an excellent cooling solution. Here we have the processor at 4600 MHz with 1.3 Volts. It is not as good as the Noctua, but not passing 80 Degrees C in this test is an acknowledgment all by itself. Less then a handfull of coolers can manage to stay under 80 Degrees C in this test.
CPU cooler group test review with 3770K In this review we test over a dozen CPU coolers, mainly heatpipe based. We'll test them on a Core i7 3770K. In this group test we'll use Scythe, Noctua, Coolink, Deepcool, Alpenfohn, Gelid and Cooler Master coolers.
Gelid GX-7 CPU cooler review Gelid is a company that made a nice impression a year or two ago introducing themselves by releasing their first aftermarket CPU cooler, the 'Silent Spirit' cooler. After Gelid released that Silent Spirit and then Tranqillo CPU coolers it was time for a new model. Progress is made and anno Q4 2011 it's time to release their third consumer grade CPU cooler. Their latest creation comes in the form of a tower cooler called GX-7 -- aimed at gamers apparently.
Noctua NH-C14 CPU cooler review In the long line of Noctua CPU coolers they introduced another CPU cooler, tagged with the name NH-C14, the heatpipes bent in a C shape and armed with not one, but two Noctua NF-P14 FLX 140mm fans this product is bound to keep any CPU released to date nicely cooled and chilled.
Thermalright HR-02 CPU cooler review We test and review the Thermalright HR-02 CPU cooler. Thermalright actually introduces this product as a passive CPU Cooler. The HR-02 is the second revision of the legacy Thermalright HR-01 cooler. We'll test it passively cooled yet we'll also pair it with Thermalright's TY-140 fan, a 1300 RPM fan that is silent, yet high performing. As stated, the results stunned me, this is really really good stuff.