When stock isnít good enough
CPUs today keep getting hotter and more power hungry. Some CPUs, like Intelís Prescott core, and AMDís FX chips have pushed to about 120W of power consumption. Even now, even when CPUs consume less power, their thermal densities (process size) increases their heat output. Unless you buy an OEM CPU (just the CPU in a plastic box), all CPUs come with a heatsink and fan designated to cool it. Over time these get better as the CPU gets hotter. However, these cooling solutions are usually the minimum to cool a CPU, or extremely loud, or even both. This is why third party manufacturers have created quieter, more efficient heatsinks to alleviate the problems of a stock cooler.
The two main uses for an aftermarket cooler are to either to reduce noise in the computer, or provide overclocking headroom while at the same time lowering the temperature at full load. HTPCs (Home Theater PCs) especially need a very quiet or fanless cooler. This would provide fewer distractions while using the pc. Overclocking benefits greatly from aftermarket cooling. With a stock cooler you will most likely not reach your CPUs maximum. Temperatures will get too high because of voltage increases and you will have to stop. This is because the stock CPU cooler is only designed to handle the CPU at stock speed and voltage.
Adding an aftermarket cooler will greatly increase the speed and voltage limit of your CPU. This way, for only a $30-$50 investment, you have a good chance of overclocking your CPU to the level of CPUs that are worth double or triple the price you paid for your processor.
We tested 12 heatsinks from 6 different companies. They range in price from $30 to $50.
They vary from having 10 heatpipes down to none. Their bases are mirror-coated and very dull. Turn to the next page to see the featured heatsinks.