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Quiet heatsink+fan for CPU
Apr 7 2016, 3:25 am
By: ShadowFlare  

Apr 7 2016, 3:25 am ShadowFlare Post #1

I have a computer I built last year, which has a Core i7 4790 (not a k) with the stock cooler, and the motor whine has started to bug me somewhat, especially when certain usage patterns make it constantly shift CPU speed, and thus heat output, and makes the fan speed change nearly as often, making the pitch of the whine constantly change. I know it is the CPU fan because when I adjust the CPU fan speed in the motherboard settings, that is the sound that changes.

I'd like to replace the heatsink/fan with something that will be quieter and was wondering if anyone here had any particular recommendations. If it costs $100 or a little more, that's fine if that's what I need to spend to get something good. For references to figure out how much space I have and socket type:

Case: (got it on sale at Amazon for about $50 or $60 rather than this price, btw)
RAM: (they are a little taller, so make note of that if a cooler might have clearance issues)
Graphics card is in the x16 slot closest to the CPU.

In case it is relevant to how much airflow a particular heatsink needs, I have a rear fan and 2 front fans that are both at significantly reduced speeds compared to the rear (but I can change that if appropriate).

Post has been edited 1 time(s), last time on Apr 7 2016, 4:17 pm by ShadowFlare.


Apr 7 2016, 1:47 pm Roy Post #2

An artist's depiction of an Extended Unit Death

Regular coolers:

Cryorig M9i for $20:
Cooler Master 212+ for $20:
Cooler Master 212 EVO for $24:

Low profile coolers:

Cryorig C7 for $30:
be quiet! Shadow Rock LP for $40:
Noctua L9i for $42:

I've left off the Cryorig H7 and be quiet! Pure Rock because they aren't at a good sale price, but they're also worthy entry-level coolers.

Your case will fit any of the above. The current prices for everything seem decent. The Cryorig C7 has some complaints about the fan starting to make noise, so you might want to pass on it. If you don't need/want a low profile cooler, the Cryorig M9i is definitely the best value. The CM 212+ and 212 EVO have been about $5 cheaper in the past, but they're also usually about $5 more expensive. Without overclocking, any of the above coolers should be overkill.

I'd go with the M9i; have the fan speed low and it'll be dead silent while doing an excellent job keeping the CPU cool.

Since you mentioned a budget of $100 I'm not sure if you're actually looking for an enthusiast cooler, in which case, I'm not one to comment; my interest is in entry-level coolers.

Apr 7 2016, 3:53 pm ShadowFlare Post #3

Not looking for any type in particular, just something that cools well enough and that its fan motor doesn't make an annoying sound. Probably no liquid cooling, though. An easily replaceable fan would be a plus, since I could replace the fan if it starts to get noisy without having to remove the heatsink and mount a new heatsink (haven't clicked all the links yet, but looks like some you suggested have this feature).

I only mentioned the price because I remember that when I looked I think I had seen some up to maybe like $80, and I didn't want ones like that to not get suggested if they were good just because they are a little expensive, but on the other hand I don't want something extremely expensive either. The $100 I mentioned was just kind of arbitrary; my actual budget on it is quite flexible. Don't be hesitant to mention something good just because it isn't currently on sale either, especially if it still has value over cheaper options.

btw, I'm not going to be overclocking this CPU (it is fast enough for me that it is unnecessary). Of course, I still want a good heatsink so I can have the fan speed low.

Post has been edited 6 time(s), last time on Apr 7 2016, 4:23 pm by ShadowFlare.


Apr 7 2016, 6:52 pm Roy Post #4

An artist's depiction of an Extended Unit Death

I assumed you hadn't intended on overclocking when you mentioned your CPU is the locked (non-K) version, because overclocking locked CPUs is more trouble than it's worth, in my opinion.

Among the ones I listed, the Shadow Rock LP is the quietest, but the low profile heatsinks are also worse performers. The M9i does a decent job of remaining quiet in regards to its competition:

More expensive coolers have serious diminishing returns, and they're more for getting every last ounce of performance than for quiet operation. There are some brands that specialize in silent performance, like Scythe and be quiet!, but since you aren't overclocking, basically any decent cooler at around 30% fan speed will be inaudible and able to take care of the CPU temps. (Also, based on the dimensions of your case, some of the larger heatsinks probably wouldn't fit.)

And your observation on replaceable fans is correct: most aftermarket coolers are designed with detachable fans. I've never had to replace the fan that came with my 212+, but it did come with an extra mounting bracket for adding another 120mm fan for a push-pull setup.

Apr 7 2016, 8:19 pm NudeRaider Post #5

We can't explain the universe, just describe it; and we don't know whether our theories are true, we just know they're not wrong. >Harald Lesch

Just confirming for emphasis: Any somewhat decent cooler will be whisper quiet/inaudible for your CPU.

Keep in mind to regularly clean for dust, which kind of requires canned air with the fine cooler ribs nowadays.

Apr 7 2016, 8:22 pm Excalibur Post #6

The sword and the faith

The Scythe Big Shuriken is known for being large, performing well, and doing so at moderate acoustics.

Noctua is renowned for their quality and performance, and I know from my own D15 that they include adapters to keep the fans at lower RPMs. Consider perhaps the more moderately priced D14?

Post has been edited 1 time(s), last time on Apr 8 2016, 6:36 am by Excalibur.

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Jun 1 2016, 1:03 am ShadowFlare Post #7

Finally got around to measuring clearance for my case, since the heatsinks I'm considering are kind of tall. I figured a measurement from the bottom of my current one should be fine, and based on that I found I've got around 170mm +/-1mm between the CPU socket and the left side of the case. I also measured from the approximate center of the heatsink (I'm assuming the stock heatsink fits symmetrically over the CPU) and I have at least 98mm to my graphics card or PSU - at least 196mm total with the CPU seeming to be centered right in the middle of the space.

The ones I've currently been considering are the Noctua NH-U14S, which is 165mm tall, and the Noctua NH-D15, which is 160mm tall; both are 150mm wide. I'm most likely only going to use a single fan, regardless of which heatsink I get, and a review site (I think it was said the NH-U14S is actually slightly better at single fan performance, despite being a lighter weight heatsink. I've seen at least a couple photos of the NH-D15 mounted on my motherboard model with a graphics card (though not all the angles I'd like to see). Based on that and my measurements, I think either should fit fine on my motherboard.

I kind of want the NH-U14S over the NH-D15, but I'm not sure if I should get something that might only leave about 4 or 5 mm clearance between it and the left panel of my case (possibly slightly less if my measurement is off). The NH-D15 is heavier and slightly worse single fan performance, but I'll have closer to 9 or 10 mm clearance.

By the way, I've decided not to get the D14 since its stock fans don't support PWM fan speed control, which would allow lower fan speeds. My motherboard supports either mode of fan control, but it would be nice to have a better lower limit on the fan speed. I'm somewhat hesitant to consider the Cryorig heatsinks with some people having mentioned that the included backplate flexes noticeably with the heatsink installed.

Ended up ordering NH-D15S.

Post has been edited 3 time(s), last time on Jun 5 2016, 6:43 am by ShadowFlare.


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