Here we go again.
Simple fact: Top air coolers are as good or better than top CLC for less money, run quieter, are more dependable, and the only thing that can go wrong is the fan/s .. cheap and easy fix. The most common problem with CLCs is the pump. When pump fails your system has no cooler and can't be used until the complete CLC is replaced. .. not cheap or easy.
It's the inaccuracy of most testing.
The single biggest problem with cooler testing and reviews is very few are tested using the cooler intake air temperature as the baseline. Most reviewers use the room temperature as a baseline, not the actual temperature of air going into the cooler .. and they are not the same!
Using room temp is like looking at the thermometer in your bedroom to find out how warm your kitchen is. They might be the same .. but probably are not.
Every change in air temperature going into cooler causes a similar change to CPU temperature.
Even when testing on a open test bench the cooler intake air temp is often not the same as the room. The heated air coming off of GPU, CPU, PSU, even a human body changes the air temp. And the closer these are to cooler, the more the change. I have seen 8-15c difference on open bench! (With down-flow coolers). Testing in a case without monitoring cooler intake air temperature is at best just plain stupid .. at worst knowingly deceptive .. smoke and mirrors because they don't want accurate results. Using a case on the pretext of simulating "real world use"?? Really?? The only "real world" invoked is the testers system in their environment. Each of our "real worlds" is different than the tester's .. I would be surprised if 1 in 1000 is close to being the same.
Same applies to most testing results comparing large numbers of coolers. It's not just the air temperature that determines how well the air absorbs the heat from cooler, the air pressure, humidity, etc. all effect it. We have to allow at the minimum of 2c margin of error (+1c / -1c) .. and this can realistically be 4c margin of error when we take variances in production quality of cooler, of fans, TIM seat, etc. into account
It's a conspiracy!
And just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they are not watching me.
** Climbs down off of soapbox **
** Takes a deep breath **
That said, there are some small coolers that do a very good job. Much of this is the quality of construction.
Most motherboards will accept 140mm fan coolers .. Coolers 140mm wide. But there are a few that will not. Thermalright has several coolers with offset bases for this reason.Edited by doyll - 3/25/15 at 5:19am