Which processor cooler is the best? The choices are overwhelming. Hardware.Info to the rescue! We test no less than 49 different coolers in a consistent test environment producing very reliable results. After reading this you will know which fan will blow you away.
Even with the processors getting new and smarter energy saving features and small production processes ensuring that the transistors use less and less energy, the x86 processors remain up at the top of energy consumption tables. Well-functioning cooling is still a must but that does not have to mean a lot of noise.
In this article we are looking at 49 tower coolers which consist of heat pipes transporting the heat away from the processor into a big heatsink from where the fan attached to the side of the heatsink leads the air away towards the outtake fans at the back of the chassis. The tower coolers are by far the most popular processor coolers currently. Years of improvements have contributed to more efficiency and better integration into the front to back airflow within an ATX chassis. The biggest downside is the height of the coolers due to the 10-12 cm fan attached to them. If your housing is not very deep, then you should probably consider a topflow cooler. It is not as good for the airflow, but the upside is that you can arrange other components such as the power supply to benefit from the cooling airflow.
The third alternative for cooling the processor is water cooling. Water cooling is becoming easier accessible to the general public as there are more and more kits available on the market. A couple of things to consider: not every chassis is easy to integrate water cooling into and the price still remains higher than that of regular air coolers. Here we limit ourselves to the tower coolers, but we are also working on a review of the topflow and water cooling systems.
Some of the coolers have been tested or reviewed before both individually and in other round-ups and some you will get to know for the first time. This year, we have changed up or setup and that is at least partially the reason for us to test all the current cooler models.