Picking A Winner:
With the new Intel LGA2011 socket comes a new list of things to worry about. What seems to be almost a given is that with the new LGA2011 socket paired up with a solid, well-performing air cooler the use of tall RAM is not going to happen. Thus, low profile RAM kits like the Corsair Vengeance-LP kit that we use on the test system are going to be needed by lots of users. All nine of the CPU coolers that we tested here today have pros and cons, but before we get into that let’s figure out who is the clear winner using our load temps and the price-performance ratios of the coolers.
|CPU Cooler||Stock Temps||Stock Value||OC Temps||OC Value||Totals||Place|
|Coolink Corator DS SE2011||5||1||9||7||22||7th|
|Noctua NH-D14 SE2011||2||4||3||3||12||1st|
|NZXT HAVIK 120||7||2||6||2||17||4th|
|Zalman CNPS 11X Performa||8||3||8||1||20||6th|
|Zalman CNPS 12X||6||8||5||8||27||8th|
Based on temperature performance and the value analysis of the coolers the winner was the Noctua NH-D14 SE2011! The Corsair H100 was a close second and lost by just two points due to the higher cost of the water cooler even though it ranked first in performance. Price and Performance aren’t the only two areas to look at though, so let’s talk about some of the other coolers.
The Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 at $84.95 is the top air cooler when it comes to temperature performance and it should be as it’s massive and built right. The NH-D14 SE2011 not only performed very well, but it was very quiet in the process. The NH-D14 uses different fans and the performance was lower, so it fell in the middle of the pack cost/performance wise. The NH-D14 does have one major downside, and that is its sheer physical size. It blocks all but the rear two RAM slots, and depending on where power connections are on your board it might block those as well. So, with the Noctua NH-D14 there are few things to take into account when planning the build with it.
The water cooling kits that we looked at today don’t have any of the socket memory module clearance issues that the air coolers have. This is very nice and makes building your system much easier. Of the sealed water kits we have tested the Corsair Hydro Series H100 is the top of the list. The H100 performed very well, but its fans on the “high” setting and at 100% fan speed the H100 can get a little loud. This is especially so when up against the Noctua NH-D14. The H100 comes in at 48.67*C at stock settings, 17 degrees cooler than the Intel RTS2011LC. With the system overclocked to 4.5GHz, the H100 comes in at 59.17*C, an impressive 15.3 degrees cooler than the Intel RTS2011LC. The H100 has a couple of drawbacks; the biggest is the case compatibility. The H100 requires a case with some headroom and vents for dual 120mm fans at the top of the case. Second is price. At $103.74 it’s one of two coolers in the round up that is over the $100 mark. The Corsair H100 topped the temperature testing results, but its performance comes at a cost and that is what caused it to end up in second place.
Small water coolers like the Corsair H80 are ideal for those that have smaller cases that do not have dual 120mm fan ports on their PC case. With the single 120mm radiator all that is needed is a rear 120mm exhaust port, and just about every case on the market now has this. The Corsair H80 performed a couple degrees behind that of the H100, and its cost/performance ratio was better than the Corsair H100. This is mainly due to its lower cost of $93.24. This cooler finished third in our roundup and is a solid cooling option.
Only one air cooler we have in the roundup allows for tall RAM being used and that is the Zalman CNPS11X Performa. The CNPS11X Performa performed well for its size and also was in the top 3 for cost/performance ratio, coming in at 55.83*C at stock settings and 74.83*C when overclocked to 4.5GHz. That is 10 degrees cooler than the Intel RTS2011LC at stock settings and 5 degrees cooler at 4.5GHz. Zalman says the CNPS11X Performa will carry an MSRP of $54.99 and will be available in February 2012. It’s not a bad little cooler, but finished at the back of the pack.
Out of the coolers tested here today we are happy with the results and comfortable recommending any of the top three finishers. The Noctua NH-D14 SE2011, Corsair H100 and H80 are all great products and each suit different needs and cases. Personally, I like the Corsair H80 due to the better of the cost/performance ratio and
overall system compatibility. For the air side I like the Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 if it fits and doesn’t keep you from running quad-channel memory as it offers solid performance and near silent
For the average user that is not milking their system for
everything they can get from it, the NZXT Havik 120 is a solid cooler. It placed 4th overall and while it wasn’t the best at any one thing it performed good enough at the end of the day. The bad thing is that it won’t be available until January 2012. The similarly priced Zalman CNPS11X gives
the best overall compatibility of parts and can handle the heat at
4.5GHz. It also fell into the top 3 in regards to cost/performance, but
also won’t be available until February 2012.
|CPU Cooler||Dimension (mm)||Weight||Fan size||Price|
|Coolink Corator DS SE2011||155||140||121||1040g||120mm||MSRP $44.90|
|Corsair H80||38||120||152||680g||120mm x2||$93.24|
|Corsair H100||27||122||275||1030g||120mm x2||$103.74|
|Noctua NH-D14 SE2011||160||140||158||1240g||120/140mm||$84.95|
|NZXT HAVIK 120||160||125||112||980g||120mm x2||MSRP $54.99|
|Zalman CNPS 11X Performa||154||135||80||450g||120mm||MSRP $54.99|
|Zalman CNPS 12X||154||132||151||1,000g||120mm x3||$103.99|
At the end of the day you have a wide selection of CPU coolers to pick from, but your case, memory modules and budget will limit the cooler that you can use. On top of that you have to worry about performance and the noise level. The Noctua NH-D14 SE2011, Corsair H100 and H80 are the coolers that won our roundup that focused on load temperatures and cost. We highly recommend these three coolers, but keep in mind that none failed testing or limited our overclock.
Legit Bottom Line: Picking a CPU cooler for Intel LGA2011 Sandy Bridge-E processors isn’t easy, but there is one out there that will fit your needs!