Weekend Open Forum: Do you use a custom cooler?

By on July 15, 2011, 8:30 PM

A decade ago, custom heatsinks and liquid cooling solutions were all the rage among techies. While overclockers and other such performance junkies still commonly purchase aftermarket coolers, they seem less popular among your average system builder these days. Today's processors are more power efficient than ever and they ship with adequate air coolers, while full blown liquid cooling loops are generally more hassle than they're worth for most power users.

Considering the interest expressed in Sandia's rotating heatsink concept, we're wondering how many of you use custom coolers. My Thermaltake Tai-Chi shipped with internal liquid cooling when I bought it in 2005, but I eventually scrapped that for the Thermalright Ultra-120, and that was later shelved in favor of the Core i5-750's stock HSF. As always, you're welcome to flaunt your rig in the comments and feel free to use our gallery if you need an image host.

**Image via Desktopped.com.

User Comments: 81

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HaMsTeYr HaMsTeYr said:

Nothing much to flaunt, but I'm running an i5-760 @ 4.0Ghz with a Thermaltake Frio, Idling at 30 Celcius now


I have a Corsair H70 with an indigo patch, AMD P2 955 (C2) at 3.8Ghz, idles at about 35-38 Celsius.

ihaveaname said:

I got the cheapest Noctua heatsink I could find, and it made the CPU run a good 20 degrees (Celsius) cooler than the stock heatsink, so I'm very happy.

Guest said:

I have, in the past, tried to use such aftermarket heatsinks. But the only reason that I would use one now would be for audio concerns -- not for cooling per se. If the stock sink works without causing undue noise, then I'll stick with it. Otherwise, I'll get something that promises about 10-20 dB -- period.


captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I've found that the stock Intel HSFs tend to spike quickly in the summer months. That said, I usually replace them with a step up unit, but not the top of the line, since all my machines are very mainstream, and not OC'ed.

It's comical to watch my i3-530 temps pretty much mimic room temperature, with a CM Hyper 212 as the cooler. This rig, in a CM Storm "Scout", is very quiet.

I stuffed an earlier 86 watt Intel cooler on my Pent Dual Core E2200. (65 watt TDP CPU) There's a lot more metal in the earlier HSF.

Believe it or not my eMachines T-5026 (Prescott P-4) has a better than stock cooling solution from the factory. (It's based on a CM "X-Dream" with a 92mm PWM fan and custom side duct. But, the blasted thing still carries a 50c idle through much of the year.

(Really hot days I turn it off, and use something else). I'm toying with the idea of stuffing these guts in a CM "Elite 335" case. But I fear "Old E", might feel violated by this, and give up the ghost on me. (The "Elite 335" has 120mm front & rear fans, which I suppose would help quite a bit with the temps, any thoughts)?

Guest said:

Running a Core i7 920 at stock speeds with a Thermalright Ultra 120 and a 120mm fan. Idles at about 35 - 36 celcius.

cgrue said:

I have an i5 2600k with the regular HSF packaged with the processor. Idles at 32-35c in a room that ranges in the low 80s-f. No problems. It's in a huge case that has three case fans. Not presently OC'd.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'm running on stock with AMD's C&Q active I'm not really a performance junkie although I stressed my computer overclocking it a couple of months ago, I have installed a CoolerMaster Hyper TX2, nothing too fancy but it keeps the proc really really cool!

Superpeter Superpeter said:

Definitely, always the best...Noctua NH-D14. Not sure why the idle temps matter but 30c on a warm day. lower otherwise. Phenom2x6 Oc'd to 4.0 Ddr3@ 2000 CH4 mobo.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

When I got an H50 for my i7 920, I moved my Cooler Master V8 onto my Athlon, which was a great case of overkill.

When my i7 computer locked up last week I took it completely apart, and then reassembled it (putting the stock cooler on instead of the H50) and there is a huge difference.

I used to run the 920 at 3.8 Ghz, and it idled at high 30s. Now with the stock cooler, at stock speed, it idles mid 40s. Definitely going to put the H50 back on it ASAP.

Guest said:

I have an i5-2500k @ 4.0Ghz with a H70, and it idles around 38-40 Celsius in a room that's about 7-10 degrees cooler then that. I'm quite happy with my set up :)

Guest said:

For me, it's all about noise. I bought an oversized heatsink for lga775 (3Ghz dual core processor) and fitted an ultra quiet 12" case fan to it. Even under load the cooling is so good the fan doesn't turn at over 750rpm. PSU is fanless ST40NF so my desktop is virtually silent.


i7-980 Antec H-90

OC'D to 4.5Ghz

Running real stable at 90.0 F


free4rm said:

Installed a Freezer 7 Pro Rev.2 when I upgraded my system, only remaining components before the upgrade are the motherboard, cpu and memory. Running an AMD Phenom II X4 @ 3.0 GHz. Unfortunately I didn't record the cpu temp when it was running with the stock cooler. Very quiet and my system runs pretty good.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

I bought a Noctua NH-D14 and a Thermalright Silver Arrow to compare and contrast. I ended up using the Silver Arrow with 3 140mm fans (push) on my 4.3Ghz 1100T. The only negative review I saw was Tom over at O3D.

He apparently had a problem with two of them, so I tried to break mine. Upon coming home last week and it was 27C in the house. I upped the Vcore to 1.55v and I could only OCCT it to a top temp of 56C. (thats the CPU temp, not the lower reading core temp) The thing is silent, and a diffusing monstrosity.....and it sure is purty!


dexterkarthik dexterkarthik said:

Thermaltake FRIO OCK - proud owner of one of the only 2 piece's in India.

I was on a AMD Phenom II X6 1010T - but that was overkill for me - so sold it and back to my Core 2 Quad Q6600

Idle temp - 35

Load - 55

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

As of right now I'm still using a Zalman CNPS 9900NT heatsink fan on my gaming rig, though I am currently compiling all the parts for a fully liquid cooled system.

Right now I have everything but 2x Aqua Computer aquagraFX GTX460 blocks, and the 18 Bitspower Shining Silver compression fittings I need.

Parts I do have are:

1x HWLabs Black Ice SR-1 360

1x HWLabs Black Ice SR-1 240

2x D5 pumps (Bitspower mod tops to come in the future)

1x Aqua Computer Kryos XT cpu block

2x Bitspower 150 water tank z

10x 120mm Sharkoon Silent Eagle fans

klepto12 klepto12, TechSpot Paladin, said:

im running an i5 2500k @ 4.6Ghz with an Corsair H50 with 2 100 cfm noctua fans. All that while running at a cool 35 C in an antec 900 case.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

"Do you use a custom cooler?"



No exceptions.

If only there were some use for the stock heatsink fans- a tech version of a foodbank or Goodwill. I'd love to know that the godawful bifurcated pieces of Intel engineering are being cherished by remote tribes in New Guinea or Indiana as fertility fetishes or decorative headwear ornamentation. At least the older heatsinks can be put to some awesome uses

Leeky Leeky said:

I've got a un-named tower cooler with a 120mm fan and that keeps my current Core2Quad Q6600 happy at around 28-32'C idle, and under 40'C under load when gaming etc.

My planned AMD build will use my H50 water cooler, which is currently sat in the box next to the CPU. Just need the motherboard and I can build it!

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

My planned AMD build will use my H50 water cooler, which is currently sat in the box next to the CPU. Just need the motherboard and a flame retardant suit, and I can build it!


Leeky Leeky said:



yRaz yRaz said:

Zalman 9700 with a phenom 2 X3 720 BE. I have it on a 24/7 overclock of 3.5 but I've had it as high as 4. It runs between 45c-50c depending on the weather(hot and humid in my area).

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:


I think A water cooled solution for you should consist of a sprinkler system

Leeky Leeky said:


I think A water cooled solution for you should consist of a sprinkler system

I considered this in detail, and I've opted for a fountain situated in the location currently occupied by the SSD enclosure... I feel it will provide the best fire-resistant solution whilst appearing cosmetically appealing at the same time!

Guest said:

My rig started out with the stock cooler on an AMD Phenom II 955BE. Forever it was at the stock speeds, then i became frisky and managed a slight overclock to bring it to 965 speeds. Here recently I replaced the stock heat sink with a Corsair H60, and WOW is it amazing. While at first I considered this a compromise since my RAM is literally touching the mounting bracket for the CPU, and I needed something small to replace the stock HSF, but I didn't want something that would be just the same performance. I however was completely and totally surprised with the cooling performance out of this little black square. I went from 55-60C idle with a slight overclock of 3.4Ghz to 31-33C idle with the CPU overclocked to 3.84Ghz. I cannot do anything but recommend this CPU cooler. It's also dead quiet compared to the stock HSF. I have this in a push/pull configuration with 2 Thermaltake Thunderblade's with 70ish CFM's. I love this cooler. I really do.

Mikymjr Mikymjr said:

I have one Asus Triton 75 in use on my main rig, cooling my AMD PhenomII X3 710 @ 2.99 GHz and an Asus Silent Knight (chrome) just waiting for a new build =)

negroplasty negroplasty said:

Noctua NH-D14 for my i7 and LOVING it so far.

oz1819 said:

I am using a Corsair H50 to cool my AMD Phenom II x4 970. It's significantly better that the stock cooler, but i think high end air coolers of the same price could do as good or better of a job to cool my CPU. With my AC set at 74 degrees my CPU idles at 30 Celsius and gaming around 50. When i have my AC set at 78 idle is around 34 Celsius and gaming near 55. I do not recommend the H50 for a Phenom II X4.

aspleme said:

I've got the Sandy Bridge i5 2500. I don't overclock because I'm more interested in system stability than in raw power. Most applications don't use everything my processor can put out, and if they do... well, I can live with taking a little more time to encode video.

As for interest in the rotating heat sink... it offers something that none of the current custom coolers can, a low profile with a low maintenance demand. For something even quieter and more efficient than the stock cooler, without the negatives of current custom coolers... I would definitely be interested. But I'd still rather run my hardware at default speeds and simply enhance cooling and efficiency rather than overclocking and needing extra cooling just to stay stable.

Guest said:

my old core i7 920 with a corsair H50 not the best but does the job

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'm currently using a Prolimatech Samuel 17 to cool an i5 2500k. Partly because I'm using said processor in the Lian Li PC-Q08 and have VERY LITTLE clearance for a heatsink. Even the stock heatsink was pushing it, but I'm kinda glad I have that massive chunk of metal that dwarfs the motherboard.*


Guest said:

955 BE @4.0Ghz and Mugen 2 rev. B. 59 Celsius at full load.

mosu said:

almost from my first computer, I like them silent and slightly overclocked.

Guest said:

I've got a Core i5 750 overclocked to 3.6GHz with a Cooler Master Hyper 212+ cooler. It idles somewhere around 30C and i've never seen it hit past 65C under full load.

Guest said:

Zalman CNPS10x Flex ftw! Horrible mounting process on socket 1155/1156, but the cooling is good. It's really just a heatsink, so you can pair it up with whatever fan(s) you wish to use. It can have one on the front and one in the back. I went for a single low-rpm Akasa Apache fan, to keep my rig quiet. Actually, I got the same heatsink and fan in both my computers now.

The i7-2600K idles at 25-33c across all cores. My old i7-860 idles at ~25c on all cores. I dunno why core #3 on my i7-2600K always seems to run 8c hotter than core #0. I first thought I must have really messed up the application of cooling paste, so I redid it and it's still the same. I'm guessing it's just the architecture of the CPU, or core priority or something. I read the temps with HWMonitor from CPUID.

Anyone else having similar temp differences on their i7-2600K cores?

r8bwp said:

i7 2600k @4.5 alpenfohn matterhorn, no problems here,

Have more heat from the ka2 560 ti oc, plays most games at 60 fps no problems but runs around 70c even with its two fans and not overclocked

Mizzou Mizzou said:

I have a box full of OEM coolers that have never been used, save them in case I wind up selling the processor. Zalman, Noctua, Corsair, Swiftech, etc. - anything but stock.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Stock cooler.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Nothing to flaunt here for me either. I keep meaning to step it up and do a complete rig out with all the latest stuff, but i'm just always bloody working or doing something else.

Then again, I would say that i'm not 'bursting' to get a new set up with a custom cooler, my little E3200 does everything i ask of it without breaking any sweats.

yowanvista yowanvista said:

Cooler Master V6GT

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

I have a shelf full of OEM HS/F's as well. My ten year old daughter was in the shop last week and started looking at the shelf of old motherboards. Being the artistic soul she is, made the observation that they look like "tiny cityscapes" a couple hours later she turned an AM2+ DFI 790 FX M2RS into a rather nifty diorama, and lit it with some LED's.

fpsgamerJR62 said:

I use a Cooler Master V8 with my Phenom II X4 955 BE. Processor is currently running at stock clocks but I plan to overclock it to around 4 Ghz while waiting for Bulldozer to arrive. I hope the V8 is up to the task.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:


First: Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro

Second: OCZ Vendetta 2

Current: Zalman Flex

Stock cooling is for suckers.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

I use a Cooler Master V8 with my Phenom II X4 955 BE. Processor is currently running at stock clocks but I plan to overclock it to around 4 Ghz while waiting for Bulldozer to arrive. I hope the V8 is up to the task.

Unless you live near the equator with no air conditioning fps, The V-8 will cope nicely with a 4.0Ghz OC on a 955. i had a V8 on an Phenom II x6 @ 4.2 with additional Voltage and it handled it nicely.

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

Not since my Athlon Xp 3200 (areo 7 plus). The size and weight of most aftermarket coolers have made me worry that they'll damage the motherboard.

Mizzou Mizzou said:

Not since my Athlon Xp 3200 (areo 7 plus). The size and weight of most aftermarket coolers have made me worry that they'll damage the motherboard.

I was also initially concerned about the weight of some of the aftermarket coolers but many of the higher end units have mounting systems that replace the stock brackets. At one point was running a Noctua NH-U12P SE1366 with dual fans on my X58 system, wasn't a problem and can see no evidence of it warping the motherboard.

Guest said:

For my latest build I used the stock cooler that comes with the i7-2600k, with no immediate plans to overclock yet. However, the fan nose was irritating me, so within a week, I upgraded to a zalman 120mm CPU cooler. Fan runs slow and silent.

colinf said:

955be @ 3.6

corsair H70

the stock that came with my phenom wasn't that bad tbh

tonylukac said:

I don't overclock so I use the stock cooler. I'd like to hear of horror stories of leaky water coolers.

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