A few weeks ago we made the move to socket 2011, and having undertaken a group test of some of the more popular all in one water cooling solutions on the market we figured it was aout time we tried out a few traditional air coolers on the toasty socket 2011 chip. If you've had a gander through the water cooler round up you'll already know that the test rig we use for the air coolers is identical to that of the water cooling, so as to reproduce the exact same testing conditions. And boy are those conditions testing. With a period of no less than 45 minutes per setting, and for a cooler able to cope with the truly incinerating temps of the 4.6Ghz overclock, and perhaps with a fan speed reduction cable, that can mean up to 6 hours of testing for a single cooler. Yes, 6 hours of testing per cooler. We do this because you need to know, we do this so you don't have to, but most of all, we do this for love.
So what we have lined up for you today is a little "Friendly" between two of Germany's more well known CPU cooler Manufacturers. In the Red corner we have Prolimatech, a well established firm with some notable sucessess to their name. In the Blue corner, relative new comers Alpenfohn. Hard to pronounce and even harder to spell, but let's not underestimate them. With each manufacturer pitching a twin tower and a single tower into the arena it's time to see how they measure up.
Where would we be without the numbers? If you're a geek, and we know you are, it's top trumps time chaps so get your pad and pens out and get this lot down.
A truly huge cooler, sporting a 120mm and 140mm fans, it's 8x6mm heat pipes and huge contact plate should be enough to spirit that heat away from the CPU.
|Type||Twin Stack Twin fan|
|Weight (gr)||1050 (without fans)|
|Heat pipes||8 x 6mm|
1x140mm @ 1100rpm
1x120mm @ 1500rpm
Alpenfohn Matterhorn Pure
A classic Single tower design, with aluminium fins fed from a copper contact plate via 6 heatpipes the Matterhorn has some interesting fin designs which hope to enable it to maintain heat exchange even at low fan speeds.
|Type||Single Stack, Single Fan|
|Heat pipes||6 x 6mm|
|Fans||1x120mm @ 500-1500rpm|
A twin stack design, but not in the classic sense. With one of the towers angled over through 90 digress the genesis not only provides CPU cooling but also benefits your RAM, Mosfet, Northbridge and VRMs.
|Type||Twin Stack Twin fan|
|Weight (gr)||800 (withot fans)|
|Heat pipes||6 x 6mm|
2x140mm (Not included)
2x120mm (Not included)
Prolimatech Megahalem Black
It's "Back in Black". The well regarded Megahalem with a single tower and 6x6mm heatpipes has changed its clothes and is ready to do battle.
|Name||Prolimatech Megahalem Black|
|Type||Single Stack Single/Twin fan (optional)|
|Cost||£49.99 (fans not included)|
|Dimensions||130x74x158 (without fans)|
|Weight (gr)||790 (without fans)|
|Heat pipes||6 x 6mm|
|Fans||2x120mm (Not included)|
Intel i7 3960X
Stock@ 1.1v (undervolted)
4.0GHz @ 1.25v
4.4GHz @ 1.35v
4.6GHz @ 1.45v
Gigabyte X79 UD3
Corsair Vengeance LP Memory
Corsair HX850 V2
Corsair Force GT 60GB
Coolermaster Storm Trooper
As you can see from the detail above we'll be testing our coolers at varying levels of overclock and increasing levels of voltage. this in turn of course means increasing levels of heat which the coolers need to dissipate. To begin with we start with the undervolted stock speed. Why undervolted? well if you have things set on "Auto", you may well be using more volts than are actually required to run at the chosen frequency, for example our 3960s will run quite happily at just 1.1volts, solid as a rock, 24/7, and as such we use this as our starting point.
Continuity is very important in testing, and for this reason we keep as many of the potential variables as locked down as possible. We will be using OCCT in Linpack X64, AVX compatible with all logical cores tested and 90% free memory utilised. The test is set up to run automatically with just a few clicks to set it going. A 10 minute idle followed by 30 minutes of testing and a 5 minute cool down is the order of the day and brings the total test time per clock speed to 45 minutes. So as to remove subjectivity in determining whether a CPU has failed, OCCT is set to stop the test and register a fail should the max temp exceed 80 degrees. In testing we noted that if even one of the cores exceeds 82 degrees OCCT halts the test and a fail is recorded.
Turning now to the 4GHz test we up the voltage to 1.25 volts, this is what is deemed normally as stock volts. Something we are always harping on about on the forums is AUTO does not mean stock volts, and normally if you overclocking with "auto" volts the motherboard will be upping the volts much more than needed if you were to do it manually. By whichever means it happens, upping the volts (especially from our 1.1v undervolt) does have a big impact on temps, with an average increase of 10-15 degrees seen in the results.
Upping the volts still further we achieve a stable 4.4gHz overclock at 1.35 Volts. It's here we start to separate the wheat from the chaff, with lesser coolers not able to disperse the increased heat effectively. Again we see an jump of 10 degrees or so from the figures at 4GHz. Both the H100 and the well respected D14 are creeping into the 70s here, indicating that only the cream of the crop will excel at this level.
Conclusion and Awards
Although a "friendly" it looks like the match here today was no less fiercely contested. With both Prolimatech and Alpenfohn standing toe to toe, were we really expecting anything less. The four coolers on test today can be split into two groups. Two big twin stack, twin fan units, one from each of the manufacturers and two of the more classic single stack single fan design, again one from each of the manufacturers on test today.
Prolimatech Magahalem "Black"
It's fair to say we get a good few coolers through our TIM stained hands here at OC3D, and in general build quality varies little from unit to unit, with most companies on the whole producing sound engineering at a reasonable level of quality. The Prolimatech Megahalem "Black" however is a definite cut above the average with regards to build quality and presentation. The sleek satin black colouring of the unit aside the Megahalem simply oozes quality, put it this way, It's rare for us to take a cooler out of the box and just spend a few minutes handling (if not actually fondling) one of the retention brackets. Made from a thick billet of Aluminium with precision cross cuts and black anodised finish we defy you not to have a quick stroke of it before guiltily slipping it back into its plastic sheath. As with all units on test the fitting of the unit was simplicity itself, with a central bar clamping the contact plate in place between 2 parallel retention brackets either side of the CPU. As Prolimatech do not supply fans with either of the units on test we opted to match the "Black" up with a single 120mm, 1600rpm Prolimatech Vortex fan. If you're planning on buying the Black, it's worth factoring in that the cost of a fan, which with a half decent unit costing about £10 brings the cost of the Black up to £60. In use the Black faired reasonably well at the undervolted stock frequency, able to keep the max temp under 50 degrees, the same as the much larger Alpenfohn K2, but with 7v fan speed reducer in place, making the K2 a much quieter option. At 4.0GHz things start to get a bit toasty for the Black, with average max temps hitting 65 degrees, making the highest result of the coolers on test This temp was not entirely unexpected, and wasn't exactly way higher than the competition. It was however a bit of a hint that the Black was not to make it through the much more demanding 4.4 and 4.6GHz tests, maxing out above the 80 degrees limit only seconds into the test and automatically triggering the end of the test period for the Black.
Turning to the first of the big boys now and the Prolimetech Genesis. Eschewing the traditional "Fan sandwich" design of most twin stacks, with the Genesis Prolimatech have chosen to rotate one of the stacks through 90 degrees. In this configuration the vertical stack gives optimum cooling to the CPU, whilst the horizontal stack provides cooling for the Motherboard, RAM and Northbridge areas. In practice it worked better than we expected, fitted with a pair of 140mm 1000 rpm Prolimatech Vortex fans, at stock clock and undervolted the Genesis didn't exceed 47 degrees, which was actually 2 degrees cooler than its main rival in this test; the K2 and considerably quieter. Pushing the clocks and volts up to the next level saw the Genesis hit an average max of 62.5, this time 3.5 degrees warmer than the K2 showing perhaps the limitations of the split stack design. Still, we were hopeful of a pass at 4.4 but sadly it was not to be, with one of the cores exceeding the 80 degree limit about half way into the test. It has to be said that the Genesis was built to the very same high standards as the Megahalem Black, and should you desire something a bit sexier than the naked Aluminium it's also available in black! It's hard to ignore Prolimatech's build quality and finish, however with high prices and the need to buy fans on top of the cost of the cooler it's also hard to ignore the high cost of their coolers, for example pair of £15 140mm fans will bring the cost of the Genesis to an eye watering £90 . Couple this with a level of performance on a par with cheaper coolers and it's hard to justify an award for this cooler. Yes it has great build quality, and yes it provides RAM and mobo cooling, but so do many others, and at nothing like the price of the Genesis.
Alpenfohn Matterhohn "Pure"
The Alpenfohn Matterhorn Pure is a very similar unit to the Black, being approximately the same size and combining the same sort of materials, with both having a vertical stack of aluminium fins and both having 6x6mm copper heatpipes. However, as the "Pure" is a good £30 cheaper than the Black, and comes with a rather sexy rubberised 120mm fan, you're not going to have to part with one of your Kindeys to buy one. Half the price of the Black then , but are you getting half the performance? Well no, actually you're getting slightly better performance, granted not by much, at 49 degrees the Pure is only 1 degree lower than the Black at stock, but at 4.0GHz the gap widens slightly with the Pure shaving 3 degrees of the Black coming in with an average max of 62 degrees. With this slightly lower temp at 4.0GHz we were hopeful of a pass at 4.4GHz but sadly it was not to be. It did get further into the test but like the Black, maxed out over the 80 degree threshold, triggering an automatic fail. We make the rules, and we stick to em as they say.
And finally we come to the mighty K2. Although having an arguably greater physical presence than the other coolers on test here today the K2 is actually only 160mm in height, so should fit easily into all but the smallest mid tower ATX cases. Like the Pure the K2 comes with sexy black rubberised fans, this time however in addition to the 1500rpm 120mm unit we have an added 1100rpm 140mm unit. As the K2 also comes with a 7v fan speed reduction cable we also tested at the full fan speeds of the 12v supply as well as the reduced speeds enabled by the 7v cable, a full 4.5 hours of testing in case you're wondering. From the off it's fair to say we weren't impressed with the K2s performance at the lower 7v fan speeds. the fans at 12v are quiet anyway so little is gained from the reduction in speed, but a great deal is lost in cooling performance, with a max temp of 55 degrees at stock and a max of 71 degrees at just 4.0GHz and with one of the cores hovering around the 78 degrees mark for the majority of the testing the K2 came dangerously close to failing the test. And fail it did at both 4.4 and 4.6GHz. With the full fat 12v supply however the K2 performs substantially better. With a max temp of 59 degrees the K2 records the lowest temp of the testing at 4.0 Ghz, and with a max temp of 73 degrees at 4.4GHz becomes the first of the air coolers tested on the 2011 chipset to pass this demanding test. Although the K2 gave the best performance of any of the coolers on test here, that's not to say it's going to stand well in the charts once they start to fill out a bit. Our experience of the K2 on the old i7 950 chip leads us to believe that by comparison it's performance may well be easily bettered, not least by the D14 reviewed by Tom as a comparison benchmark in the AIO watercooling tests. It scrapes a Broze, but only just.
You can discuss your thoughts on this review in the OC3D Forums.