Intel Core i7 / LGA1366 CPU Cooler Roundup

by AkG     |     October 20, 2009

Stock Fan Performance Results

*Please note that the Mega Shadow is not included in these results since it does not include a fan.

2.6 GHz

At stock speeds with their stock fan(s) running flat out the results are very telling. The first and foremost thing we can take away is that any of these coolers destroys the Intel stock cooler. The Zalman certainly comes out swinging and does a commendable job of cooling the i7 920 and we have a sneaking suspicion that its ultra thin base is the secret to its early success. We were also pleasantly surprised by the budget-friendly coolers from Spire and Kingwin here.

Unfortunately, not all the results are as good the Zalman, Spire, or Kingwin; it appears that just like its big brother the TRUE, the True Spirit may only come alive at higher heat loads. Given the difference in weight, size and CFM ratings, the Nirvana 120’s stock showing is very good compared to the bigger Tower 120 Extreme.


Once again the star of the show is the Zalman cooler. We may not like its mounting setup but you have to respect performance numbers like this. It will be interesting to see how well it does when the Mega Shadow (which unfortunately does not ship with a fan) makes its presence known. The TherMax 2 also maintains a strong showing despite our earlier reservations regarding its design. However, it does have one of the highest speed fans of the bunch as well.

As we thought it would, the True Spirit is slowly climbing the ranks as the heat goes up; hopefully it will show its full potential before long. Speaking of showing its real potential the Kingwin XT-1264 is sliding but still stays above the performance of some other HDT coolers probably due to its high RPM fan. The shear size of the Tuniq Tower 120 Extreme seems to coming into play as it is sticking to the top of the ranks impressively well. Meanwhile, the Nirvana 120 is also impressively staying at the top and is actually neck and neck with the bigger, heavier, louder AND harder to install Tower 120 Extreme.


When things are at their hottest the Zalman is STILL firmly in first; but the difference between this large and expensive cooler and the smaller, cheaper and slower fan-equipped 212 PLUS is minor at best. Heck, the Spire with its less than optimal setup is right up there giving it a real run for its money. How much better would both the Zalman and Spire be if they had excellent mounts? THAT is a question we unfortunately can not answer, but our guess is the difference would be significant enough to warrant the added expense.

After its mid term rally it seems the True Spirit still beats the OCZ Vendetta 2 by a nice margin (albeit doing it with a much faster stock fan). Also showing poor results when compared to the competition is the Tuniq Tower 120 Extreme which doesn’t come as much of a surprise since its poor overworked fan just couldn’t keep up with the demands of that massive fin array. It will be interesting to see how slower fans handle the harsh demands of this cooler.

The Kingwin also has shown us its true face and while we are not too surprised we were hoping for a bit more from it as it does have a bigger fin array than the 212+ and should (on paper) have performed better than it has.

To be honest, all of these heatsinks performed extremely well considering the circumstances but what we really want to see is how they perform when we use different fans.

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