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Choosing the CPU Cooler

It’s true that the Core 2 Duo is a fantastic processor. However, the stock heatsink and fan that ships with it is quite loud, inefficient, and annoying. Therefore, you are certainly going to have to get an aftermarket cooler when you’re building a quiet performance system.

In the 2006 build, the Zalman flagship CPU cooler took the lead (the ZALMAN CNPS9500 LED 92mm 2 Ball Cooling Fan with Heatsink). In fact, Zalman has stepped it up a notch by making their massive cooler even more massive! We're talking about the Zalman Tech Co. Ltd CNPS 9700 NT CPU Cooling 110mm 2 Ball Ultra Quiet CPU Cooler. However, Zalman's new fan is really too massive to fit into many cases and mainboard layouts. Also, as we will see later in this article, the design conflicts with the integrated sub-board heatsink of the mainboard that we chose.

Instead, this year we opted for the Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

Figure 1 The Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro provides massive air cooling with little noise.

This is a finely engineered cooler with six heat pipes and stacked layers of very thin aluminum fins in a radiator-style layout. An ultra-silent mounted fan will keep your CPU as nearly as cool as the best Zalman cooler, but at a much lower cost and a great savings of space. Arctic Cooling's Freezer Pro is becoming the choice of an increasing number of performance-PC building enthusiasts.

One key to achieving significant temperature drops is to use the MX-1 high performance thermal compound from Arctic Cooling. This is a nonmetallic, non-capaciative, non-electrically conductive thermal compound that initially seems to be only slightly better than stock thermal paste. However, as the material cures, it acts as a superior heat conductor, allowing heat flux transfer and a significant improvement over both stock thermal compound and other competitors. It is worth noting that the ARCTIC Cooling Freezer 7 Pro has its fan speed controlled on-the-fly by the System BIOS, so that it is maximally silenced unless under load.

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