KitGuru recently tested the Coolit Vantage and it earned a high award from us, even if it didn't manage to best our current performance leader The Noctua NH D14 – or as we nicknamed it, the Austrian Sandwich. The Vantage is a fantastic cooler and much easier to work with, but for outright performance it fell a little short of the performance mark the NH D14 delivered in our labs.
We see no point today including 15 other coolers in the overclocked testing, we already know the NH D14 is the target that Corsair need to aim for to take the performance crown and the only way to properly test this is to crank the hell out of our Core i7 970 CPU – to over 4.5ghz with a core voltage increase of 0.25 volts. Lesser coolers will not handle this overclock and only the Vantage and the NH D14 delivered good enough results that we would be happy running this configuration 24/7. Lets be honest anyway, very few people spend £90-100 on a cooler to run at stock speeds.
As I said earlier this week, a few people have questioned how I get such great overclocks with some of the products in our labs and the only thing I can suggest is decades of experience. Many publications have said that their 970 i7 Intel chip struggles to hit 4ghz with most limited to 4.1ghz, but I have had two of these now able to hit 4.6ghz, abeit with slightly dangerous levels of voltage.
As the image above shows, to get a true indication of cooler performance our 970 is clocked to a level we can run 24/7 but with only the best consumer coolers on the market. For those of you who think the 4.5ghz+ OC might be photoshopped then please feel free to get online validation for yourself over here http://valid.canardpc.com/show_oc.php?id=1358922. No servers were hacked in the process.
Our Crucial Ballistic Tracer 1600mhz is running at 1900mhz at 1.65 volts. The FSB is 189×24 giving a total speed of 4536mhz. Prime is used for testing.
At reference clock speeds and voltages, everything looks very boring indeed with the Corsair H70 falling between the NH D14 and the Coolit Vantage by a single degree. Now we have a reference ball park to play with, lets get the big three coolers into the overclocked environment. Core speed is increased to 4.53 ghz with a voltage increase of 0.25 over reference.
Well this was closer than we thought, the Corsair H70 is only 2 degrees behind the Noctua NH D14 with the Vantage trailing by a further 5c. The Thermaltake frio sounds like a helicopter at high fan speeds so thankfully this test didn't last too long.
What happens if we decide to add a third fan to the Noctua NH D14?
Adding a third fan to the Noctua NH D14 lowered temperatures by a further 2c meaning the lead pulled out to 4c when compared with the Corsair H70 and 9c over the Vantage. Noctua really have built the best mainstream cooler on the market, bar none.
It is worth stopping for a minute to reflect – all of these temperatures are seriously impressive. The Cryo Nemesis we reviewed last month was running at the same speed as this 970 and it had a hardcore watercooling system in it. Corsair, Noctua and Coolit should be extremely proud of what they have achieved with such modest ‘mainstream' solutions.