It's already been a year since our last round-up of CPU coolers. Therefore it's high time for a new test that includes newer models. In this review we'll be taking a look at 22 new CPU coolers priced between 20 and 50 pounds and we'll be comparing them to the best coolers from our previous tests.
Building a well-cooled system or a silent system is relatively easy, but a combination of the two is becoming harder and harder. Quiet CPU coolers usually don't cool very well, and powerful models tend to be rather loud. What are you supposed to do if you're looking for a silent and cool system?
In that case you'll have to look at the efficiency of CPU coolers. Ergo, how does the cooling stack up against the noise levels? If you're looking for the most efficient CPU cooler possible, your system will remain much cooler at the same noise levels, compared to a less efficient cooler.
When testing CPU coolers we always take a good look at two aspects, namely temperature and noise levels. Those are two very different things, which are measured in two very different units. Temperature is a linear variable, whereas noise levels are a logarithmic value (every increase of 3 dB(A) equals a doubling of the noise). Determining a cooler efficiency is therefore not an easy task.
If you want to make a good comparison, you'll have to keep both values constant. It's fairly obvious which cooler is better if you're comparing two equally noisy coolers with varying cooling performance. For this reason we adopted a new test method last year, where we measure the temperature of the CPU at fixed noise levels. This makes comparing various CPU coolers an easy task. If a product cools better at the same noise level, it's objectively the better product.
We've got one last variable too look at though, namely the price of a cooler. Unfortunately we didn't find many well-performing budget models, when we were testing CPU coolers with our new test method last year. This year we've done our best job at obtaining as many models priced between 15 and 25 pounds, so that we hopefully find a few products that perform well without breaking the bank.