AIO CPU COOLERS
ANTONY LEATHER PUTS THE LATEST 120MM ALL-IN-ONE LIQUID COOLERS THROUGH THEIR PACES ON THE THREE MAIN CPU SOCKETS
Keep your temps low and PC silent with a good water cooler
When testing CPU coolers, it’s important to examine performance across a range of sockets, as mounting mechanisms vary between them. Some coolers perform well on some CPU sockets, but not on others. For this reason, we now test cooling on LGA115x, LGA2011 and AM4 motherboards. As this is a test of maximum cooling abilities all our CPUs are overclocked too, so we can weed out the wheat from the chaff.
Our LGA115x test system uses a Core i7-4770K overclocked to 4.3GHz with a 1.15V vcore, a Gigabyte Z97X-UD5H motherboard, 4GB of 1600MHz Crucial Ballistix DDR3 RAM and a 240GB Intel SSD 730. Meanwhile, our LGA2011 rig has a Core i7-3960X overclocked to 4.2GHz with a 1.275V vcore, an MSI X79A-GD45 motherboard, 16GB of G.Skill Ripjaws 1600MHz RAM and a Samsung 830 SSD.
Finally, our AM4 system sports a Ryzen 7 1700 overclocked to 3.8GHz using a 1.34V vcore on an Asus ROG Strix B350 Gaming motherboard, with 16GB of 3000MHz Corsair Vengeance LPX memory and a Crucial MX100 SSD. We’ve also rehoused our test systems in Fractal Design’s Meshify C case, using a be quiet! PurePower 400W PSU, a Sapphire Radeon 5700 graphics card and Windows 10.
We use CoreTemp to measure the CPU temperature, before subtracting the ambient air temperature to give a delta T result, allowing us to test in a lab that isn’t temperature controlled. We use Prime95’s smallfft test to load the CPU and take the reading after ten minutes.
We’ve also taken sound readings from 70cm away. Once with the fans and pumps at full speed, and again at low speed with the motherboard fan profile set to silent, to help us gauge each cooler’s ability to cool at various fan speeds while minimising noise, although the noise results are only comparable within the confines of this group test.
There’s a separate score for each CPU socket, to take into account the different cooling and mounting mechanisms as well as value for money. The feature score includes aspects such as software control, lighting, expansion possibilities and PWM fans, while the design score considers installation, noise and aesthetics. The value score takes all these results into account with the price.