Which is The Best Position for a Tower CPU Cooler?

How We Tested

We ran the tests on a Core i5-2500K CPU (quad-core, 3.3 GHz), which is a socket LGA1155 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 4.0 GHz (100 MHz base clock and x40 multiplier), with default core voltage (Vcore).

We used the SilverStone AR01 cooler, which has the typical design for tower coolers.

We measured temperature with the CPU under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all cores, we ran Prime 95 25.11 with the “In-place Large FFTs” option. (In this version, the software uses all available threads.)

Room temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer. The core temperature was read with the SpeedFan program (available from the CPU thermal sensors), using an arithmetic average of the core temperature readings.

During the tests, the panels of the computer case were closed. The front case fan was spinning at minimum speed in order to simulate the “normal” cooler used on a well-ventilated case. We assume that is the common setup used by a cooling enthusiast or overclocker.

After the first test session, we remounted the cooler in both positions and tested again, and tested again to ensure there were no mounting issues. The results were the same as the first time.

Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit SP1

Software Used

Error Margin

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

Author: Rafael Coelho

Rafael Otto Coelho is a physicist with a master's degree in Education, and is a college professor in Brazil.

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