CPU Cooler Charts 2008: Part 4

Zalman’s CNPS9700 has held the top spot in the air-cooling category of our cooler charts for the past 18 months now. This makes it a reference against which all new products tested in this comparison are measured. Since the Zalman isn’t exactly a bargain at a price of nearly $80, many buyers choose less expensive alternatives—often regretting their choice later. In the fourth part of our CPU Cooler Charts 2008, we take a look at six new coolers. We’ve also included Zalman’s new CNPS9700 LED to see if it can still keep up with the newer models.

We got a good deal of reader feedback asking us for our opinion on Xigmatek’s products, which can often be found at much lower prices than competing coolers. For this reason we decided to include the company’s two most popular models, the HDT-S1283 and the XP-S964, in our comparison.

Previous installments of this series :

Companies Represented in This Test
3R System Antazone Arctic Cooling
Asus Cooler Master Coolink
CoolJag EKL Foxconn
Gigabyte Glacialtech Hiper
JouJye Dynatron MSI Nexus
Noctua OCZ Scythe
Silentmaxx Silverstone Spire
Tacens Thermaltake Titan
Verax Xigmatek Zalman
Zaward Zerotherm

If you are interested in our test methodology and how we rate the products, feel free to read up on these points here :

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  • david__t
    Poor conclusion THG.
    The page link to the winning cooler clearly says "Cool, not quiet". Unless you keep your PC in a cupboard then noise should play a much larger factor in the cooler choice. What's the point of buying high performance sound cards with lower noise floors if we have to sit and listen to the drone of our system fans at the same time?
    Any fool can stick a high RPM fan on a hunk of metal and cool a CPU. Zalman's winning formula is the ability to do that at very low volume levels - and they are still the clear winners in the air cooling market. Price seems to play too much of a factor in these reviews - scripming in your cooler is a false economy - if you buy one that is too lound and therefore have to go out and buy another then you may as well have bought a decent on in the first place. Also if an extra £10 gets you from noisy to silent then that is a price well worth paying.
  • quantumsheep
    I feel you've missed out far too many air coolers that are much better than any you've looked at in this article. Two coolers that should've been included is the brilliant Thermalright Ultra-120 and the equally brilliant Scythe Ninja.
  • buzznut
    I agree, if you're going to have a complete analysis of the best coolers out there why would you not include the Thermalright Ultra 120? Someone could view this lack of serious competitiion at the top end as preferrential treatment of certain brands.

    Xigmatek? Really?
  • jate
    I was just wondering what was the clock speed the processor was running? and also voltage. Mentioning such small details could greatly help giving readers better idea for coolers performance. If these tests were conducted using default clock speed and voltage, I belive that there is no need for me to spend money for after market coolers like this. I was using "stack" HSF + Intake and exhaust fans, My Q6600 running at 3.5GHZ, 1.485V(this settings could be comparable to the test processor with high TDP i belive), only reach about 72C ave. under prime95 full load and about 43C in idle(a little high though).
  • thepeganator
    Still can't believe how crazy you are Toms.

    Why not Thermalright Ultra-120, especially not the extreme version too!
    That's what's widely regarded as the top of the bunch still!

    And no Tuniq Tower either!!

    What were you thinking??
  • samuraiblade
    also the thermalright 128se is still an awesome cooler and thats not there either
  • kriscookuk
    be careful what you write in the comments, tom doesnt like it when people find lots of flaws in its articles. they tend to just delete them, like they did to me the other day.
  • leexgx
    disappointing realy
  • Kraynor
    quantumsheepand the equally brilliant Scythe Ninja.

    If you look at the charts the Scythe Ninja Rev. B is included, the temperature readings are taken from previous tests Tom's did.

    Though I do agree that the Thermalright Ultra-120 should have been included.
  • Anonymous
    I have an Intel X3220 105W processor on a Gigabyte P35-DS3R. I am using the stock intel cooler and have it running at 3.2GHz @ 1.25V - a 33% overclock (356MHz x 9 with DDR2 mem running at 1066MHz)

    Using speedfan I am able to idle at 45C with a low fan speed and get as low as 33C at 90% fan speed. Running at 100% I never exceed 55C at full load. Now the stock cooler is a little intrusive at 100%, but using speedfan to knock it back to 90% makes it perfectly acceptable.

    I can understand that the Zalman is some pretty computer porn, but really, why bother? It would have been good to see a better quality review, especially against the stock manufacturer's cooler as a reference.

    I am not against aftermarket coolers, per se - I remover an AC7 to use the stock intel just to see how it would perform - and I must say I am impressed.

    Come on THG - a bit more effort and this 'test' could have had some validity - it reads like 'my favourite cooler is...'