Liquid Cooler Lineup: Intel, Corsair, MainGear Tested

Test Setup, Stock Cooling

All tests were conducted using Intel's Core i7-3960X hexa-core Sandy Bridge-E CPU and DX79SI Siler motherboard. Windows 7 was set to 'Balanced' power mode. Idle temperatures were measured after allowing the system to sit post-boot for 10 minutes. Load temperatures were measured after running Intel's stress test as included in the company's Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU) for one hour. Peak temperatures were taken while running Prime95 for two hours, with that utility configured for maximum heat and power consumption.

We used a Corsair 800D chassis to test mounting and fittings, but left the chassis open.

Intel's stress test appears to load the CPU nearly as well as Prime95, but since it's not widely available, we went with Prime as a generally known and easily replicable test.

Our stock speed and 4.13GHz comparisons were done with the Corsair coolers in 'Quiet' mode (lowest setting).  Our 4.5Ghz test required us to increase fan speeds; so we brought both coolers up to the 'Performance' preset (highest setting). Note that Intel's cooler uses a four-pin fan and default BIOS settings that focus more on quiet operation than maximum performance. During our stock test, the RTS2011LC's fan never spun faster than ~875 RPM.

So how do things look out of the gate?

Pretty darn good. The RTS2011LC's higher temperatures are more the result of ultra-low fan speeds than any particular problem with the cooler. The H80 outperforms Intel's cooler by a fair margin, the H80 is beaten itself by the H100, which goes down in turn to Maingear's Epic 180.

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