Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Otto Coelho on September 10, 2009


Introduction

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.

Alpine 11 Pro
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Figure 1: Box.

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.

Alpine 11 Pro
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Figure 2: Box contents.

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.

Alpine 11 Pro
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Figure 3: Alpine 11 Pro.

Introduction (Cont'd)

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.

Alpine 11 Pro
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Figure 4: Top view.

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
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Figure 5: Fan holder.

The heatsink is made of pure aluminum, with no copper parts. There is no heatpipe nor any non-conventional heat conducting system. The base is plain with its surface being far from having a mirror-like finishing. The thermal compound comes preapplyed, so you just have to install the cooler on your CPU without needing to apply thermal grease. Just remember that if you are replacing the Intel stock cooler with Alpine 11 Pro you need to remove the old thermal compound from your processor before installing the new cooler, because excessive quantity of  thermal grease hinders the heat flow from the CPU to the cooler.
Alpine 11 Pro
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Figure 6: Base.

Installation

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.

Alpine 11 Pro
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Figure 7: Holding frame.

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.

Alpine 11 Pro
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Figure 8: Frame installed.

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.

Alpine 11 Pro
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Figure 9: Installed on case.

How We Tested

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.

Hardware Configuration

Software Configuration

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 2 °C error margin, i.e., temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.

Our Tests

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.

CPU Idle

CoolerRoom Temp.NoiseFan SpeedBase Temp.Core Temp.
Intel stock14 °C44 dBA1000 rpm31 °C42 °C
BigTyp 14Pro (min. speed)17 °C47 dBA880 rpm29 °C36 °C
BigTyp 14Pro (max. speed)17 °C59 dBA1500 rpm26 °C34 °C
Akasa Nero18 °C41 dBA500 rpm26 °C35 oC
Cooler Master V1014 °C44 dBA1200 rpm21 °C26 °C
TMG IA1 (max. speed)16 °C47 dBA1500 rpm22 °C30 °C
TMG IA1 (min. speed)16 °C57 dBA2250 rpm21 °C30 °C
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme16 °C44 dBA1200 rpm21 °C29 °C
Thermaltake ISGC-10018 °C44 dBA1450 rpm35 °C49 °C
Noctua NH-U12P (low speed)15 °C42 dBA1000 rpm20 °C30 °C
Noctua NH-U12P15 °C46 dBA1400 rpm20 °C28 °C
Noctua NH-C12P17 °C46 dBA1400 rpm23 °C28 °C
Thermaltake ISGC-20021 °C43 dBA1100 rpm31 °C35 °C
Schythe Kabuto22 °C42 dBA800 rpm29 °C34 °C
Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro20 °C43 dBA1500 rpm32 °C39 °C

CPU Fully Loaded

CoolerRoom Temp.

Noise

Fan SpeedBase Temp.Core Temp.
Intel stock14 °C48 dBA1740 rpm42 °C100 °C
BigTyp 14Pro (min. speed)17 °C47 dBA880 rpm43 °C77 °C
BigTyp 14Pro (max. speed)17 °C59 dBA1500 rpm35 °C70 °C
Akasa Nero18 °C48 dBA1500 rpm34 °C68 °C
Cooler Master V1014 °C54 dBA1900 rpm24 °C52 °C
TMG IA1 (max. speed)16 °C47 dBA1500 rpm27 °C63 °C
TMG IA1 (min. speed)16 °C57 dBA2250 rpm25 °C60 °C
Zalman CNPS10X Extreme16 °C51 dBA1900 rpm24 °C50 °C
Thermaltake ISG-10018 °C50 dBA1800 rpm58 °C93 °C
Noctua NH-U12P (low speed)15 °C42 dBA1000 rpm28 °C59 °C
Noctua NH-U12P15 °C46 dBA1400 rpm25 °C54 °C
Noctua NH-C12P17 °C46 dBA1400 rpm37 °C76 °C
Thermaltake ISGC-20021 °C48 dBA1900 rpm42 °C68 °C
Scythe Kabuto22 °C47 dBA1200 rpm38 °C63 °C
Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro20 °C51 dBA2300 rpm49 °C85 °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.

Alpine 11 Pro

On the next graph you can have an idea on how many Celsius degrees was CPU core hotter than room temperature during the tests.

Alpine 11 Pro

Main Specifications

Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro main features are:

Conclusions

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.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Arctic-Cooling-Alpine-11-Pro-CPU-Cooler-Review/802


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