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A Five CPU Cooler Barbecue

OCCT-Linpack was used to load up our 980XE processor and produce some heat. A decent 4.1GHz hex-core overclock was thrown in for good measure. Only idle , load, and overclocked temperatures were recorded. Keep in mind that if these coolers can handle 6 cores at full load, they’ll laugh at you when using a quad core.

First up, we tested all the coolers in single fan configurations. We then retested with a second fan if one was included. The group produced relatively similar idle temps with the exception of the retail cooler which isn’t unusual. There’s not a lot going on underneath the CPU thanks to some of the more efficient motherboards these days. However, at full load, this is where the pack’s performance numbers separated.

Some of the coolers, like the CNPS10X Extreme, NH-U12P, and MUX ship with slower RPM cooling fans. Slower fans mean decreased cooling performance, but are less noisy and more pleasant to the ear. The coolers with higher RPM fans, like the Venomous X, will see increased performance as well as increaed fan noise.

Overclocking really put these coolers to the test. This time, some of them changed places indicating that some designs seem to handle higher temps differently. For the most part, all of them handled the load temps with the Venomous X leading the pack by just a bit.

Final Thoughts

There really isn’t anything simple you can do to improve cooler performance. Most of the issues are in the engineering of the base, from the heat pipes to the contact surface. In the case of all of our test coolers, a better fan can and has actually helped but at the cost of more noise. However, since we tested the lot based on their retail stock configurations, none of the performance scores were added to the results. It wouldn’t have been fair. But there are times when they make a difference and it’s my opinion that any performance CPU cooler should come with a very capable fan and fan controller. That way you can customize for a mix of noise and performance.

Ultimately, the Thermalright Venomous X CPU Cooler topped the test group in both single and dual fan configurations. While the Venomous X did the best when the fans were cut loose, it was actually more efficient than all the others at low speeds. When the frequencies were cranked up, the X stepped away from the pack. Perhaps the convex base really does make all the difference after all.

As far as free range individual tower coolers go, the Thermalright Venomous X is the premiere choice. At a current price of $59.95 US from AcousticPC as tested, it’s at an excellent price for a premium performance cooler. It deserves our Editors’ Choice Award.


  • High quality construction and materials
  • Convex copper base
  • Ships with two 120mm cooling fans
  • Simple, unique Pressure Adjustable mounting system
  • No tools required
  • Top notch performance cooler


  • Needs some performance looking flare

Overall Rating: 9.25 / 10.0

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