120mm, 240mm etc—

Th­ese are cat­e­go­rized by how large their ra­di­a­tors are. The small­est use a ra­di­a­tor that’s the size of a sin­gle 120mm case fan—it’s th­ese that don’t have the cool­ing power for Thread­rip­per and Socket 2066/2011 pro­ces­sors. Then there are dou­ble-length 240mm ra­di­a­tors, and even larger 280mm ra­di­a­tors that use 140mm fans. The big­ger the cooler, the greater the cool­ing abil­ity, and the slower the fans spin to keep things quiet.


Ther­mal De­sign Power (TDP) is the max­i­mum heat gen­er­ated by a chip. It’s good for telling how pow­er­ful a cooler you’ll need.


We’ve mea­sured the noise cre­ated by each of th­ese cool­ers, mea­sured in deci­bels (dB). This is a log­a­rith­mic unit, so if some­thing is 10dB louder it’s ac­tu­ally 10 times as loud. There­fore just a cou­ple of dB dif­fer­ence in our cool­ers is sig­nif­i­cant. Am­bi­ent noise in our test labs was 30dB, and noise lev­els were mea­sured 30cm from the cooler.

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