Building a gaming PC is an expensive proposition, even on the “value” side of things—we’re talking about at lest $500 for a new machine. Penny-pinchers often forego unnecessary extras. And since most CPUs come with a cooler right in the box, why bother with a big bulky aftermarket cooler, especially if you’re not going to overclock anything?
We decided to quantify this sentiment: we know aftermarket coolers are better, but how much better are they? We set up our test bench, grabbed a popular Intel CPU, and compared the stock coolers to a basic expanded CPU cooler from Cooler Master. This is hardly an exhaustive investigation, but it should be able to demonstrate how much benefit a little extra investment at the beginning of your PC build can make.
Our test bench uses Thermaltake’s Core P3 ATX case, which is basically a suspended steel wall with open air on four sides. With the plexiglass window removed, there’s practically nothing around the CPU mounting area aside from the RAM DIMMs and the graphics card below. That means we’re testing this in open air, rather than a closed case, but the environment was kept the same for each test, so it shouldn’t affect our basic conclusion—just know that your temperature values will be different depending on the CPU, case, and specific coolers you use.Read More...
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