Article Updated 6/27/2021 to correct a few grammatical errors
Per request of our readers, I am starting to expand my cooler testing to include high end coolers. The first high end cooler that I will be testing comes courteousy of Noctua. Today’s review also includes a budget CPU Cooler, Enermax’s ETS-T50 Axe.
The installation of the the Enermax cooler was both easier and more difficult than other coolers. On the positive side, the fan and air guide installation was much easier than other types because it doesn’t use metal clips like most other coolers do. The backplate took a few more steps to install then I’d prefer.
I tested all coolers in the same testing conditions. My home’s computer room with central air set to 22.8c.
I tested each cooler with unlimited power limits and an enforced 100w TDP (to simulate an overclocked 6-core CPU) using both the “standard” and “full speed” profiles available from my motherboard.
Prior to testing at each TDP level, I would run AIDA64 CPU & FPU Stability test for one hour to soak the room with the heat generated from the CPU to ensure consistency in results.
I lack the proper equipment to do sound level testing (I’ll be rectifying that soon), but here is what I perceived while testing these coolers. Using larger fans, and 2 of them, obviously the NH-D15 was the loudest cooler. I did not test the low RPM adapters with the NH-D15, as I wanted to see it perform at it’s best possible. I would estimate that the Enermax cooler is similar to the NH-U12S in loudness levels.
100w TDP Testing
The first tests were done with a TDP enforced at a 100W limit, because most consumers considering this cooler will likely be using a mid-range CPU like the Ryzen 5 3600X. The NH-D15 of course performed best in these tests, which we would expect considering it is the only high end cooler we’ve tested. The ETS-T50’s temperatures stayed on par with the previously reviewed AS500 , and provided up to a 100mhz higher clockspeed in AIDA64.
No Power Limits Testing
While TDP limited testing is interesting, most enthusiasts using i9 CPUs will be running their CPUs without power limits. In this testing most coolers reveal their limits when running the most intensive loads – running right at or slightly below the 100c TJMax.
In AIDA64, all coolers thermal throttled to varying degrees, except for the NH-D15, with a CPU power consumption of just under 200W. The ETS-T50 performed better than the NH-U12S and FUMA 2, but slightly behind the AS500 in this test.
Cinebench R23 results are similar to the AIDA64 results, with the ETS-T50 pulling slightly behind the AS500.
In gaming, the NH-D15 continued to dominate performance, and the ETS-T50 performed similar to it’s competitors in the same price range.
I was, of course, impressed by the NH-D15’s performance – but I expected to be impressed by a $100 CPU Cooler. It is the only cooler I have tested which didn’t thermally throttle my i9-10900k in the most intensive of workloads – but I say this with the disclaimer that Noctua’s cooler is the first high end cooler I have reviewed.
I have a few thoughts on the ETS-T50. I really dislike the cumbersome installation of the mounting bracket, but attaching the fan was pleasantly simple. I wish Enermax had included a 2nd fan mount instead of the air clip. It’s performance was mixed, performing mostly on par with its competitors of the same price range. I was really surprised to see it offer nearly 100mhz faster clockspeeds in AIDA64’s CPU & FPU Stability test in TDP limited testing. Noctua’s NH-D15 offers exactly the performance I would expect from a cooler of it’s price, and the ETS-T50 offers a good competitive offering for those looking for a midrange cooler.
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