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PURPOSE:
We are all tired of answering repetitive questions. The following gives us answers to those most asked questions: What's the best cooler, what fans should I get, and many more questions answered here.

Welcome to:

Shadowclock’s

General Air Cooling Guide

Table of Contents
  1. CPU Coolers
  2. Fans
  3. Fan Controllers
  4. TIM a.k.a. Thermal Paste
  5. Fan Mounting
  6. Positive and Negative Pressure
  7. Tricks to Better/Quieter Air Flow, CFM and CPU Temps
  8. Dust Filters
  9. Favorite Vendors List
  10. Glossary of Terms
  11. Disclaimer
1. CPU Coolers: - Personal Favorite (Venomous X)

Listed below are the most frequently suggested (@ OCN) CPU Coolers on the market today. This is by no means a complete list of coolers but every one of them are excellent and should be able to handle at the very least a quad core processor overclocked to 3.5Ghz within temperature maximums in a "properly" cooled environment.

I have taken most (but not all, hence no quote code) of this CPU cooler detailed information from Nemesi5 so credit goes to him for this portion:
  • Thermalright Venomous X - Already Lapped/shiny base, tested/benched to be the newest top dog, pressure mod is included. RAM height compatibility list(Thanks JeevusCompact). Rampage II Extreme motherboard shorting issue with VenX (Thanks Juravieal)

    NOTE: Ven-X comes in 2 other "flavors". A black model and RT which comes with a fan.
    .
  • NH-D14 - It's new, it's huge and supposedly beats nearly everything on reviews. What more could you ask for? Oh yea, it comes with 2 fans.
    .
  • Cogage Arrow - The replacement of the IFX-14 heatsink. It has the ability to install (3x) 120x38mm fans for some extreme cooling. The problem with the Arrow is that it is rather bulky.
    .
  • Prolimatech Megahalem - This cooler, in my opinion, is currently one of the best heatsinks on the market right now, it has an easy to install solid mount and there is no need to lap the cooler. Quote from Prolimatech site

    Quote:
    Prolimatech does not condone any type of lapping done to the CPU or to heatsink base. Every Prolimatech's heatsink base is designed on a pin-point scale of how the base is to be flat and/or curved where it's needed to be. We have programed our machines to machine the surface in a very calculated way. Any after-manufacture lapping or modding done to the base will alter the design, hence negating its performance factor as well as its warranty.
  • TRUE - Short for ThermalRight Ultra Extreme, is also a very good cooler, it follows right behind the Megahalem. However, the TRUE usually comes with a very non-flat base requiring you lap the cooler (Rev.C is the exception) and other various mods like the washer pressure mod. Still recommended if you can't find the Megahalem.
    .
  • Thor's Hammer - Features Heatpipe Direct Touch (HDT) technology, which should allow for better transfer of heat. A generally solid choice if the above 5 are not available in your area.
    .
  • Scythe Mugen 2 - This cooler is HUGE. However, its very cheap, at only 40$, who could go wrong with this beast? It cools as well as a TRUE (unlapped).
    .
  • Xigmatek Balder - Great looking cooler. Updated version of the Dark Knight, now supporting two fans & and 1156/1366 bolt through kits.
    .
  • Xigmatek S1283 - The exact same cooler as the Dark Knight with two exceptions...its not plated with Black material to make it look cooler and the Dark Knight fan is significantly better.
    .

  • CM Hyper 212+ CM Hyper 212+
    - Great price for damn good HDT cooling. Possibly best bang for buck cooler.
Below is a spreadsheet I have created to show the stats for the above CPU coolers:

Google CPU Coolers Comparison Spreadsheet

http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tP4hr0YsZyNG_Q1DUAMPcwg&w=78&h=650 Google Spreadsheet

The following quote is strictly my opinion based on the mass of responses and reviews in the OCN community. This is the ranking based solely on performance on how I see the above coolers perform IF same TIM, same performance fans, same CPU were used, however this does not take into consideration price, size, or ease of installation:

Quote:
1) NH-D14
2) Cogage Arrow
3) VenX
4) Megahalem
5) TRUE
6) Thor's Hammer
7) Mugen 2
8) Balder
9) Xig S1283
10) 212+
Below are some Low Profile Coolers (in ranked order); brought to you by Tator Tot. More specific info to come but I just wanted to get these up for the moment:
CONTINUED ON NEXT POST...
 

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2. Fans: - Personal Favorite (San Ace 9G...H1011 and Yate Loons)

In this LINK you will find a review by Vapor at Xtremesystems where he tests out a ton of fans in many different situations. HERE is one by Martinm210 with actual YouTube videos so you can hear the exact type of noise each fan makes. Another great fan review done by our very own Ehume HERE showing how fans perform on heatsinks specifically. These reviews should help you decide for yourself which is best for what your looking for.

Note before fan installation: Most fans have small arrows on one side that show the direction the blades spin and the direction of the air flow.

Performance Fans:
Performance fans are generally used to cool radiators and CPU coolers. Keep in mind that connecting these performance fans to your motherboard is generally a bad idea as they may pull too much power and fry your motherboard's fan header. (Check your motherboard user manual for exact specification ranges)

One 38mm fan in push configuration is usually more than enough to cool most CPU Coolers, if you decide to setup a push / pull with 38mm fans you will most likely only see a 1-2c drop in temperatures and the extra weight on your motherboard may not be worth it.

When using 25mm Performance fans on CPU coolers you may want to utilize a push pull configuration as the 25mm fans do not provide a lot of static pressure unlike the 38mm models (make and model your mileage may vary).

38mm:
25mm:
  • Delta High Speed
  • Gentle Typhoon - Double Ball bearing, nice and quiet.
  • Scythe S-Flex G - Another nice and quiet Hydro bearing fan.
  • Yate Loon High Speed - These are still budget priced but perform in the performance range. All Yate's are not created equal SOURCE (Thanks Tator Tot)
  • Zalman ZM-F3 - Another great fan on a budget. As stated from Xoxide this fan is all that and a bucket of oatmeal! Also comes in red, green, blue LED versions.
  • Rosewill RFX-120 - Budget fans, Rosewill yes but good dual ball bearing quality. Specs are accurate. Also comes with fan controller & fan guard.

Budget Fans:

Budget fans are great for use as case fans as you do not need a lot of static pressure and they don't require high CFM to be effective. These fans are generally cheaper due to them not lasting as long or don't provide as much static pressure even with more "rated" CFM.
As always when viewing CFM and dBA ratings they can be deceiving. Realize that some manufacturers can rate CFM at max RPM and the dBA at lowest RPM

http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tbF5t7OZPfpYR4q2jqT8Qlg&w=99&h=375 Google Spreadsheet

Fan Bearings:

Source

Quote:
The type of bearing used in a fan can affect its performance, noise output and life expectancy.

Most computer fans use one of the following bearing types:
  • Sleeve Bearing fans use two surfaces lubricated with oil or grease as a friction contact. Sleeve bearings are less durable as the contact surfaces can become rough and/or the lubricant dry up, eventually leading to failure. Sleeve bearings may be more likely to fail at higher temperatures, and may perform poorly when mounted in any orientation other than vertical. The lifespan of a sleeve bearing fan may be around 40,000 hours at 50 °C. Fans that use sleeve bearings are generally cheaper than fans that use ball bearings, and are quieter at lower speeds early in their life, but can grow considerably noisier as they age.
    ...
  • Ball Bearing fans use ball bearings. Though generally more expensive, ball bearing fans do not suffer the same orientation limitations as sleeve bearing fans, are more durable especially at higher temperatures, and quieter than sleeve bearing fans at higher rotation speeds. The lifespan of a ball bearing fan may be around 63,000 hours at 50 °C.
    .
  • Fluid Bearing fans have the advantages of near-silent operation and high life expectancy (comparable to ball bearing fans). However, these fans tend to be the most expensive. The enter bearing fan is a variation of the fluid bearing fan, developed by Everflow.
3. Fan Controllers: - Personal Favorite (Lamptron FC-5)

Fan controllers are great if you don't want or need your fans running at full speed all the time. Want to bench and stress, turn those babies up! Want to sleep at night, throttle them back. Fan controllers are also great for trying to find that right Positive/Negative pressure for you case (see section 6 for details) Keep in mind that most fans only pull from 1-7 watts but check your fans specs before hooking them up to your particular fan controller.

Performance, high watt / channel:
Performance engineered fan controllers have high enough watt / channel that you can pretty much connect any PC based fan and not worry about frying the controller. If your going with Performance Fans then these controllers are the ones to get. In most cases you can even hookup 2 fans or more per channel.
Pretty, but expensive:
If you want a pretty LCD display style design.
CONTINUED ON NEXT POST...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
4. TIM a.k.a. Thermal Paste- Personal Favorite (OCZ Freeze, MX2 or 3, IC7)

I can't say anything better then what BenchmarkReviews has already shown in the below link:

80-way Thermal Paste Shootout

How to apply TIM is also covered in the review above.

Choosing the right TIM for you? HERE is a guide by Nemesi5.

TIM Removal:
When removing TIM you want to make sure all leftover residue is completely gone. Below is another quote from Nemesi5.

Quote:
Materiel used to remove TIM

* ArctiClean - This materiel perfect for removing the TIM off your CPU & Heatsink, it works instantly dissolving the TIM leaving room for another TIM.

* Tuniq T1-R - Just like ArctiClean, very easy to apply. The TIM dissolves very quickly making TIM removal much easier.

* However, if you do not want to purchase the ArtiClean, you can simply use Isopropyl Alcohol commonly known as Rubbing Alcohol to remove the TIM
If you choose to go with (Isopropyl alcohol) Rubbing alcohol make sure it is 80% or higher and wipe it clean and dry with lint free material like a coffee filter.

5. Fan mounting

Fan Clips can be used to mount your fans to your CPU Cooler. EXAMPLE

Home-made remedies to mount your CPU cooler:
  • Make your own fan clips like killa_concept did in THIS post.
  • Twisty ties can also be used, are cheaper and found in any hardware store.
6. Positive and Negative Pressure - Personal Favorite (Positive)

Positive

If you have more CFM coming IN, then OUT, you will have hot air cycling in your case waiting to go out, called positive air flow. However, most hot air will be pushed out through your available exhaust fans.

The benefit of having a positive pressure case is that all of your intake air is being cycled in strictly from your intake fans which should have dust filters installed. Therefore, a positive pressure case tends to have much less dust then a Negative pressure case.

Negative

If you have more CFM pushing air OUT than IN. This makes a negative airflow.

Basically you need more air OUT, then goes IN using the fans. The additional air needed will be sucked through the mesh and other holes in your case. The benefit, in theory, is that more cold air is being pulled in through the extra gaps and therefore keeping things cooler than a Positive pressure case.

Don't Go Overboard

Too much of one pressure can be a bad thing. Too much positive pressure can cause turbulent air inside your case and create pockets of hot air that can't escape in parts of your case. Too much negative pressure can prevent some components from getting any air flow at all. Try to attain a mostly neutral air pressure with a slight pressure change towards the pressure type you want to gain the advantages of that type.

Simple Pressure Test

Easiest way to check for what pressure you have is to apply a square of toilet paper to an empty hole on your case (use your watercooling holes if you have them, but any decent sized hole/mesh area where air flow can get through will work) and place the TP over the hole. If the TP is being blown outward then you have positive pressure; if it is being sucked in then you have negative pressure.

7. Tricks to Better/Quieter Air Flow, CFM and CPU Temps

Common Air Flow

Try to remember that you generally want the Air Flow of your case to run front to back and bottom to top as seen by the picture below:



Clear Air Flow
Cut out the mesh on your case where your fans are mounted to and add in some fan guards or if your brave and don't mind losing a finger go commando. Do this mod and watch your CFMs soar and your noise levels drop. I performed this on my own case mod which you can find pictures of HERE.

Cool and Quiet
The subject above and below will also help to quiet your system a little by decreasing air turbulence. If your looking for more advice on how to keep your computer more quiet I would like to refer you to Behemoth777's guide HERE.

Cable Management
Your best friend when it comes to creating better air flow inside of your case. Shove those wires behind your motherboard tray and make sure your fans have a clear flow through your case. There is so much you can do in regards to managing your cables so I will point you to one of my most watched posts for an idea on how your cables should look. Rate My Cables For specific instructions on how to improve your cables see Deano12345's great guide HERE

Improve CPU Temps
Angmaar has a great guide on improving temps via mods directly to your heatsink in his How to: Modify Your Heatsink Guide.
If you are looking for software to stress test and monitor your temperatures go HERE.

8. Dust Filters

Dust filters are used on your intake fans to prevent dust from being sucked into your case.EXAMPLE

There is also a cheaper and home made way to make your own dust filter. Panty hoes! That's right, grab your wife's, girlfriend's, strange cousin, or grandma's holey panty hoes and get to modding. This is especially useful for those fans that are oversized that you usually find on the side of some cases such as the HAF 932.

Jmcmtank has a great post with pictures on how to create your own panty hose dust filter HERE

Not sure on how dust filters and mesh will prohibit your CFM? Take a look HERE for actual testing done on different types of mesh and dust filters.

And here is a video guide:
film_go.png
YouTube- Custom Dust Filters Using a Pantyhose
9. Favorite Vendor List:

At THIS link you will find a list by OCN members of where to shop online around the world. (Thanks BlankThis)
  • ChilledPC.co.uk - Gentle Typhoon / Scythe S-Flex / Yate Loon / San Ace (Sanyo Denki)
  • FrozenCPU.com - IFX-14 / Megahalem / TRUE / Thor's Hammer / Mugen 2 / Dark Knight / OCZ Vendetta 2 / Panaflo / Scythe S-Flex / CM R4 / Yate Loon
  • Jab-Tech.com - IFX-14 / TRUE / Mugen 2 / Panaflo / Gentle Typhoon / Scythe S-Flex / Yate Loon
  • Microcenter.com - TRUE / Mugen 2 / Dark Knight / Xig S1283 / OCZ Vendetta 2 / CM Hyper 212+ / Scythe S-Flex / CM R4 / Yate Loon
  • Newark.com - Panaflo / San Ace(Sanyo Denki)
  • Newegg.com - Thor's Hammer / Mugen 2 / Dark Knight / Xig S1283 / Panaflo / Scythe S-Flex / CM R4
  • Performance-PCs.com - IFX-14 / Megahalem / TRUE / Thor's Hammer / Mugen 2 / Dark Knight / Xig S1283 / OCZ Vendetta 2 / CM Hyper 212+ / Panaflo / Gentle Typhoon / Scythe S-Flex / CM R4 / Yate Loon
  • PetrasTechShop.com - TRUE / Mugen 2 / Panaflo / Scythe S-Flex / Yate Loon
  • Scythe-usa.com - Mugen 2 / Scythe S-Flex /
  • SidewinderComputers.com - Megahalem / TRUE / Scythe S-Flex / Lamptron
  • Xoxide.com - IFX-14 / TRUE / Panaflo / Gentle Typhoon / Scythe S-Flex / CM R4 / Yate Loon
  • HeatsinkFactory.com - Items list pending
  • SVC.com - Items list pending
  • MNPCTech.com - Mod your case and make it look Badass!
  • Aquatuning
10. Glossary of Terms

CFM - Cubic Feet per Minute. For our purposes CFM is defined as a unit of measurement of the flow of air that indicates how much volume in cubic feet pass by a stationary point in one minute.

dBA - Decibels (A-weighting). A measurement that expresses the magnitude of sound intensity. Some statistics for dBA used for fans can be inaccurate due to the distance of the measuring microphone from a sound source being "forgotten", when measurements are quoted, making the data pretty useless.

Push / Pull - Fan configuration that refers to two fans being utilized on a heatsink/radiator so that one fan is pushing air in and one fan pulling the air out.

Static Pressure - Static pressure is used to evaluate the amount of impact components (heatsink/radiators) have on the airflow path within a given system. The performance of a fan is defined as the amount of airflow in CFM at a given static pressure. Therefore in order for a fan to overpower the static pressure caused by restrictive heatsinks and radiators, a high static pressure fan is most efficient (see 38mm Performance Fans section). Pa=Pascal is the measurement unit used for Static Pressure. mmH20 is also often given and can be converted to Pa using THIS converter (Thanks Gyro).

TIM (Thermal Interface Material) - Also known as thermal paste. This material is used to increase the thermal conductivity of a thermal interface by compensating for the irregular surfaces of the components.

11. Disclaimer

The lists I provide in this post are of the most popular and well respected brands and models. This is in no way a complete list. If you have a suggestion or addition to the information provided please post here and send a PM so that I will be notified to update this post.

I accept no responsibility whatsoever for anyone using this posts information in any way. All modifications by you are the full responsibility of you. Anything done to your property is done at your own risk. If you happen to find an error, PM me. If I did quote you or utilize your information inappropriately and you don't like this PM me.
 

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hmm looks okay. You should ad some pictures and how to install the tim. Also the thread would need to be constantly updated with the newest best air coolers if it is going to be a sticky.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by UnAimed View Post
hmm looks okay. You should ad some pictures and how to install the tim. Also the thread would need to be constantly updated with the newest best air coolers if it is going to be a sticky.

Agreed, thats why I never got mine stickied

Anyways, pretty nice guide, you explain the general areas of air cooling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by boebi View Post
Nice writeup.
+rep
Thanks for the Rep


Quote:

Originally Posted by UnAimed View Post
hmm looks okay. You should ad some pictures and how to install the tim. Also the thread would need to be constantly updated with the newest best air coolers if it is going to be a sticky.
Plan on updating and tweaking the guide as time goes by and as I get more requests for changes and updates. Installing TIM request is a good idea...will at least link to a general guide for that if not input my own knowledge. Thanks for the idea +rep EDIT: The link in the TIM section actually has instructions on applying TIM


Quote:

Originally Posted by nemesi5 View Post
Agreed, thats why I never got mine stickied

Anyways, pretty nice guide, you explain the general areas of air cooling.
Was very much intended for use as a general guide for sure. Thanks for the props.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Added a bit more info and cleaned up some of the layout. Best way to get this stickied?

Rep + for any additional information you guys might think useful for a General Air Cooling guide.
 

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It would be nice to have some static pressures listed for any recommended cpu cooler fans.

As alot of specs only show cfm.rpm

Here are few I have found;

xigmatek s1283 stock fan is 1.57mmH2O
DK s1283v stock fan 4.1mmH2O
RS s1283 stock fan 1.516mmH2O

Cooler master R4's 3.09 mmH2O

Gyro
 

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Really good info in this thread I think this should be stickied.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by Gyro View Post
It would be nice to have some static pressures listed for any recommended cpu cooler fans.

As alot of specs only show cfm.rpm

Here are few I have found;

xigmatek s1283 stock fan is 1.57mmH2O
DK s1283v stock fan 4.1mmH2O
RS s1283 stock fan 1.516mmH2O

Cooler master R4's 3.09 mmH2O

Gyro
Thanks for looking up some info and for the suggestion Gyro. I will add this to the spreadsheet and try and find the rest. Think I should do a spreadsheet for the Fan section as well?


Quote:

Originally Posted by Anth0789 View Post
Really good info in this thread I think this should be stickied.

Working on talking to a mod to get it stickied...more votes and ratings would help I am sure. Someone rated this guide terrible
(Rating is top right)
 

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Very solid, basic guide. This is just what I need to get my foot in the door.

Many thanks, Shadow.

Rep!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by Gyro View Post
Here is a link for converting mmH20 to Pascal and/or pascal to mmH20http://www.convertunits.com/from/mmH2O/to/pascal

Gyro
Thanks for the link Gyro. Used it to convert a couple more stats.

Added the Fan spreadsheet. I am having a hard time finding the static pressure for the other fans. As you can see I am missing some info here and there for each fan. +rep for any help and findings as always.
 

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Excellent guide. +rep

Just a note, the actual replacement to the 109R1212H1011, the 9G1212H1011, is now in stock here*, and they should still have close to 40 fans in stock. Updating the second post with this information would be fantastic.
I've got one on the way since they ship worldwide, and I'll compare it, noise and temperature wise, on all voltages, to my Panaflo U1BX. I should have the time to put up a thread with the comparison, then you can reference it as the Thor's Hammer is as fond of high-pressure fans as the TRUE.

*They will pin it for 2 pounds extra, and sleeve it for 3 pounds extra, just check the "Customers who bought this also bought" links below the description on the product page.
 

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Nice guide. It'd be nice to see more examples of high end fans and such, but that should come in time.
+Rep
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by Chunky_Chimp View Post
Excellent guide. +rep

Just a note, the actual replacement to the 109R1212H1011, the 9G1212H1011, is now in stock here*, and they should still have close to 40 fans in stock. Updating the second post with this information would be fantastic.
I've got one on the way since they ship worldwide, and I'll compare it, noise and temperature wise, on all voltages, to my Panaflo U1BX. I should have the time to put up a thread with the comparison, then you can reference it as the Thor's Hammer is as fond of high-pressure fans as the TRUE.

*They will pin it for 2 pounds extra, and sleeve it for 3 pounds extra, just check the "Customers who bought this also bought" links below the description on the product page.
Modified and added section for a list of Favorite Vendors. Thanks for finding and sharing the site for San Ace fans Chunky. Not many people would do that. +rep for you as well.

Quote:

Originally Posted by awaizy View Post
Nice guide. It'd be nice to see more examples of high end fans and such, but that should come in time.
+Rep
Not sure how many more examples of fans I want to add. I am trying to stick with the most popular/best fans and coolers used by OCN members as these would be the most suggested if someone were to ask in another new post. If you do have some to add to the list I would be glad to take a look at it as a possibility.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Shadowclock View Post
Modified and added section for a list of Favorite Vendors. Thanks for finding and sharing the site for San Ace fans Chunky. Not many people would do that. +rep for you as well.
Thanks, although the point was to modify it so instead of the Newark link to the H101 (ribbed) you could have the link to the new H1011 (ribless, the new "Fan of the Gods" if you ask me). The vendors list looks good, though.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Chunky_Chimp View Post
Thanks, although the point was to modify it so instead of the Newark link to the H101 (ribbed) you could have the link to the new H1011 (ribless, the new "Fan of the Gods" if you ask me). The vendors list looks good, though.
Good point Chunky...would be better to at least link someone that has them available.


Quote:

Originally Posted by dennyb View Post
Nice guide --but a bit of misinformation on the Dark Knight and S1283
DK=89.45 CFM
S1283=56.3 CFM

Nice to know for selecting one over the other

reps
Caught this earlier...think I fixed it hours before your post but maybe something didn't update quick enough?
 
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