To put CPU cooler performance into perspective we're testing using a high-end Intel Ivy Bridge system. A detailed description of our test bench and all comparison coolers can be found in the tables below.
|Processor||Intel Core i5-3570K (up to 3.8GHz, 6MB cache, quad-core)|
|Motherboard||ASUS Sabertooth Z77|
|Memory||G.Skill Ripjaws-X 8GB (F3-12800CL7D-8GBXH)|
|Memory Timings||1,600MHz, 7-8-7-24-2N|
|Graphics Cards||2x Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 OC in CrossFireX|
|Storage||120GB SanDisk Extreme SSD|
|Optical Drive||Pioneer DVR-S19LBK DVD Writer|
|Chassis||Corsair Obsidian Series 900D|
|Power Supply||Corsair HX1050W|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Home Premium (SP1, 64-bit)|
|Fan(s)||Fan speed||Radiator dimensions||Heatsink dimensions (inc. fans)||Warranty||Retail Price|
|Arctic Cooling Freezer 13||Arctic Cooling 92mm||600 RPM - 2,000 RPM||-||Height: 130mm
|Corsair Hydro Series H100i||2 x Corsair 120mm||2,700 RPM||Width: 275mm
|Corsair Hydro Series H110||2 x Corsair 140mm||1,500 RPM||Width: 312mm
To get a feel for how well the above coolers compare, we run our Core i7-3570K processor overclocked to a modest 4.6GHz - with voltage bumped up from 1.12V to 1.24V - and run Prime95's small FFT test to apply maximum load to all four cores. This test is run for 15 minutes while temperature is logged and in order to provide a stabilised reading we then calculate an average temperature across all cores from the last five minutes of testing.
Actual CPU temperature is recorded, but to take into account any temperature fluctuations in our lab, we also graph the delta temperature - that's CPU temperature minus ambient temperature. And, last but not least, to give you an idea of cooler acoustics, we use a PCE-318 noise meter to measure overall system noise in both idle and load states.
Our regular CPU cooler test bed, which utilises a Corsair Graphite Series 600T chassis, simply can't accommodate the large Hydro Series H110 cooler. Therefore, Corsair's biggest liquid cooler, along with the Hydro Series H100i and Arctic Cooling Freezer 13, have been tested from scratch inside a gargantuan Obsidian Series 900D.
The chassis' fan configuration is kept as default throughout testing; meaning three 120mm front intakes and a single 140mm rear exhaust. All chassis fans are set to run as 'silent' from within the Asus BIOS, while each CPU cooler is set to a 'normal' profile. In the interests of full transparency, the Hydro Series H100i was benchmarked using the latest available firmware at the time of writing (v1.0.5) and was set to a 'balanced' profile through the Corsair Link software interface.
Each cooler is orientated for optimum performance as per the manufacturer's recommendations, and any fans connected to a radiator are configured to draw air in from outside the chassis - hereby ensuring that the delta between the air temperature and the temperature of the radiator is maximised.