Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Coelho on September 10, 2009
After testing some "giant coolers" today we reviewed a "normal sized" model, Alpine 11 Pro from Arctic Cooling, which has a conventional size, no heatpipes and a full-aluminum heatsink. Will it perform well in our tests?From the box you can see the difference: it is far smaller than the one from other models we have tested recently. Even Thermaltake ISGC-100 box is bigger than this one. General aspect is good, in white and bright gray shadows, matching the idea behind the model name.
Inside the box we found the cooler with the fan preinstalled, installation manual and a bag with the clips that hold the cooler on the motherboard.
In Figure 3 you can have a general view of Alpine 11 Pro, with its 92 mm white fan inside a plastic cage. Its looks a little like the Intel stock cooler, but a little bit bigger.
Viewed from the top Alpine 11 Pro has a simple but nice design. An interesting detail is the fact that the fan wires are very thin. The connector is a four-pin miniature type, meaning the motherboard controls the fan speed using the PWM pin.
The fan retention system is amazing and you can see it in detail in Figure 5. The fan is inside a cage that pratically "hovers" over the cooler, attached to it by four soft rubber holders, standing very loose on its place. This system surely absorbs any vibration from the fan.
Alpine 11 Pro fits Intel sockets 775 (used by Pentium 4, Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad, etc) and 1156 (recently launched, used on Core i3, Core i5 and some Core i7 models) CPUs. In both cases, first you need to unscrew the cooler from the plastic frame shown in Figure 7.
After that this frame must be installed on the motherboard using four pegs. In Figure 8, you can see how this frame looks like after being installed on the motherboard.
Finally, put the cooler in the frame and fasten both the screws that hold the cooler in place. In Figure 9, you can see how the cooler looks like after installed inside our chassis. Note that there almost no room left between the cooler and the chipset heatsink.
We are adopting the following metodology on our CPU cooler reviews.
First, we chose the CPU with the highest TDP (Thermal Design Power) we had available, a Core 2 Extreme QX6850, which has a 130 W TDP. The choice for a CPU with a high TDP is obvious: as we want to measure how efficient is the tested cooler, we need a processor that gets very hot. This CPU works by default at 3.0 GHz, but we overclocked it to 3.33 GHz, in order to heat it as much as possible.
We took noise and temperature measurements with the CPU idle and under full load. In order to achieve 100% CPU load on the four processing cores we ran at the same time Prime95 in "In-place Large FFTs" option and three instances of StressCPU program.
We also compared the reviewed cooler to Intel stock cooler (with copper base), which comes with the processor we used, and also with some other coolers we have tested using the same methodology.
Temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer, with the sensor touching the base of the cooler, and also with the core temperature reading (given by the CPU thermal sensor) from SpeedFan program. For this measurement we used an arithmetic average of the four core temperature readings.
The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed 4" (10 cm) from the fan. We turned off the video board cooler so it wouldn't interfere with the results, but this measurement is only for comparative purposes, because a precise SPL measurement needs to be done inside an acoustically insulated room with no other noise sources, what we do not have.
We adopted a 2 °C error margin, i.e., temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.
On the tables below you can see our results. We ran the same tests with Intel stock cooler, Thermaltake BigTyp 14Pro, Akasa Nero, Cooler Master V10, Thermaltake TMG IA1, Zalman CNPS10X Extreme, Thermaltake ISGC-100, Noctua NH-U12P Noctua NH-C12P, Thermaltake ISGC-200, Scythe Kabuto and Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro. Each test ran with the CPU idle and the with the CPU fully loaded. On BigTyp 14Pro and TMG IA1 the tests were done with the fan at full speed and at minimum speed. On Noctua NH-U12P we tested using the fan speed reducing device (U.L.N.A.) and then tested again with the fan connected directly to the motherboard (full speed). Noctua NH-C12P was tested connected directly to the motherboard. With the other coolers, the motherboard controls the fan speed based on CPU load level and temperature.
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Fan Speed||Base Temp.||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock||14 °C||44 dBA||1000 rpm||31 °C||42 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (min. speed)||17 °C||47 dBA||880 rpm||29 °C||36 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (max. speed)||17 °C||59 dBA||1500 rpm||26 °C||34 °C|
|Akasa Nero||18 °C||41 dBA||500 rpm||26 °C||35 oC|
|Cooler Master V10||14 °C||44 dBA||1200 rpm||21 °C||26 °C|
|TMG IA1 (max. speed)||16 °C||47 dBA||1500 rpm||22 °C||30 °C|
|TMG IA1 (min. speed)||16 °C||57 dBA||2250 rpm||21 °C||30 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Extreme||16 °C||44 dBA||1200 rpm||21 °C||29 °C|
|Thermaltake ISGC-100||18 °C||44 dBA||1450 rpm||35 °C||49 °C|
|Noctua NH-U12P (low speed)||15 °C||42 dBA||1000 rpm||20 °C||30 °C|
|Noctua NH-U12P||15 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||20 °C||28 °C|
|Noctua NH-C12P||17 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||23 °C||28 °C|
|Thermaltake ISGC-200||21 °C||43 dBA||1100 rpm||31 °C||35 °C|
|Schythe Kabuto||22 °C||42 dBA||800 rpm||29 °C||34 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro||20 °C||43 dBA||1500 rpm||32 °C||39 °C|
CPU Fully Loaded
|Fan Speed||Base Temp.||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock||14 °C||48 dBA||1740 rpm||42 °C||100 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (min. speed)||17 °C||47 dBA||880 rpm||43 °C||77 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (max. speed)||17 °C||59 dBA||1500 rpm||35 °C||70 °C|
|Akasa Nero||18 °C||48 dBA||1500 rpm||34 °C||68 °C|
|Cooler Master V10||14 °C||54 dBA||1900 rpm||24 °C||52 °C|
|TMG IA1 (max. speed)||16 °C||47 dBA||1500 rpm||27 °C||63 °C|
|TMG IA1 (min. speed)||16 °C||57 dBA||2250 rpm||25 °C||60 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Extreme||16 °C||51 dBA||1900 rpm||24 °C||50 °C|
|Thermaltake ISG-100||18 °C||50 dBA||1800 rpm||58 °C||93 °C|
|Noctua NH-U12P (low speed)||15 °C||42 dBA||1000 rpm||28 °C||59 °C|
|Noctua NH-U12P||15 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||25 °C||54 °C|
|Noctua NH-C12P||17 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||37 °C||76 °C|
|Thermaltake ISGC-200||21 °C||48 dBA||1900 rpm||42 °C||68 °C|
|Scythe Kabuto||22 °C||47 dBA||1200 rpm||38 °C||63 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro||20 °C||51 dBA||2300 rpm||49 °C||85 °C|
On the graph below you can see the temperature difference between the cooler base and the room temperature with the CPU idle and fully loaded. Values shown are in Celsius degrees. Remember that the lower the number the better is cooling performance.
On the next graph you can have an idea on how many Celsius degrees was CPU core hotter than room temperature during the tests.
Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro main features are:
Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro is focused on silence, not on performance, as written on the box, "Ultra quiet cooling solution for Intel CPUs", and also by its TDP of just 95 W.
However, besides its poor performance compared to most coolers we reviewed recently, it was also not so good on noise level with our CPU under full load. Note, however, that our CPU has a TDP higher than the recommended for this cooler, plus it was overclocked. With low TDP CPUs it will probably keep a lower rotation speed and generate less noise.
But the good point is that it performed a little bit better than Thermaltake ISGC-100, another cooler focused on silence that did not performed well in cooling or in noise level. Besides its better performance, there is a point where Alpine 11 Pro is far better than ISGC-100: price. In this parameter this cooler shows its main advantage, being at least three times cheaper than any cooler we compared it to.So, it can be an interesting solution to the user that has a low TDP processor and wants to replace the stock cooler without a great impact in its wallet.