You've seen our battle between Ryzen 5 3600 and Core i5-9400F in over 30 games. You've also seen the R9 3900X and Core i9 9900K fought in a few dozen titles, but today we have the most epic battle of all of them … Intel vs. AMD's Box Cooler Battle. Okay, maybe we sell this product too much, but it is something we have wanted to do for a long time but could not do it with a satisfactory test method.
In a failed attempt last year, we cut off the mounting hardware from the Wraith Stealth and the Intel box cooler and mounted it on an AM4 motherboard with similar pressure using a Jerry Rig. The results were interesting, but since the right pressure was not available, we decided not to publish these results for both coolers.
Recently, shortly after testing the Wraith Spire, we received a tip comparing the box coolers from Intel and AMD with the new Asrock X570 Phantom Gaming ITX / TB3 motherboard. This particular card uses LGA1156 mounting holes, which means that it natively supports Intel coolers. Asrock did this to save space on the board, and we wouldn't miss the opportunity to glue the crappy Intel box cooler onto the Ryzen 5 3600. So we bought a Phantom Gaming-ITX and went to the exam.
Now this motherboard only supports Intel coolers. We used the Asrock Steel Legend to test the Wraith series on the same Ryzen 5 3600 CPU. Since we're using exactly the same CPU with the same settings, this should still give accurate results, with the only potential problem being the board layout. The mini ITX board is cramped and there is no open space around the cooler. This has a negative impact on CPU cooling performance. To repeat this on the Steel Legend, which is a more open motherboard, we provided the Wraith coolers with a cardboard strip that was modified to mimic the airflow obstructions on the ITX board.
The next problem we encountered was the fan speed. Typically, Intel box coolers are noisy guys who spin very quickly. Last time we tested one with the Core i7-8700 on a Z390 board that spun between 3000 and 3500 RPM. With the Phantom Gaming-ITX, the fan never turned faster than 2100 rpm. This is a problem for the Intel cooler because it relies on fan speed to keep temperatures under control, or at least prevents the CPU from melting through the circuit board. We played around for a while, but couldn't keep the fan spinning at full speed for more than a few seconds.
With the limited fan speed, we decided to aim for a speed of 2000 rpm with all tested coolers. With somewhat normalized fan speeds and the same airflow restrictions, we decided to test again. We should have locked the voltage and multiplier for really accurate data, but since this is not meant to be a scientific test, but to satisfy our curiosity, we set the R5 3600 to Auto to do its job.
There have been many different Intel cooler models over the years. We use the Intel E97378-001 and E97379-001 coolers – we know pretty catchy names. The E97378 has a copper core with aluminum fins and was first bundled with Sandy Bridge Core i5 and i7 processors. The E97379 is an all-aluminum cooler and was first bundled with the Core i3 Sandy Bridge processors.
Intel used the copper insert version not only for the Sandy Bridge i5 and i7 processors, but also for the Ivy Bridge and Haswell generations. At the time of Skylake's release, Intel completely dumped the copper model in favor of the cheaper aluminum model. In other words, CPUs like the 6-core / 12-thread core i7-8700 came with the lousy aluminum cooler that I remember when testing how it was throttled and running at 100 ° C immediately.
But Intel doesn't care, and they ship the newer Core i7-9700, an 8-core processor for $ 330, with the exact same cooler, which is tragic to say the least.
The Wraith Prism is the cooler that AMD delivers together with the Ryzen 7 3700X and 3800X together with the Ryzen 9 3900X. We saw the R5 3600 at only 71 degrees when it spun its fan at 2100rpm, and remember that it was clogged with cardboard. The prism set standards at 71 degrees.
The copper version of the Wraith Spire is only a few degrees warmer. This enabled the Ryzen processor to reach 74 degrees, even though the CPU dropped by 50 MHz at the slightly higher temperature, so the thermal load was reduced slightly. Then we have the all-aluminum version of the Spire that comes with the 3600X. It allowed the 3600 to peak at 77 degrees up there.
With the Wraith Stealth, the Ryzen processor reached 90 degrees and that is anything but ideal. At this temperature, the R5 3600 still maintained 4050 MHz, but had to drop almost to 4000 MHz as this is exactly the frequency we saw with the copper version of Intel's box cooler and it was just a degree hotter.
The aluminum box cooler, which Intel has bundled with all of its non-K SKUs for years, allowed the R5 3600 to reach 95 degrees, which lowered it to 3975 MHz.
Was that a senseless test? We had fun putting it together, to be honest. Many of you will be shocked to learn that the Intel box cooler shouldn't be placed on a 65W CPU, let alone one that can chew 140 watts. Granted, the Wraith Stealth wasn't much better.
Our favorite budget CPU, the Ryzen 5 3600, comes with the stealth CPU, but at $ 200, it's such an inexpensive CPU that throwing another $ 20 isn't a big deal. The $ 220- $ 300 CPUs were always upgraded to the Wraith Spire, so the Ryzen 5 3600 could work almost 20 degrees cooler. If you then spend $ 330 or more, you'll get the Wraith prism that was 24 degrees cooler.
It is less forgivable that Intel delivers its current generation Core i7-9700 with this aluminum cooler. The thing only weighs 168 grams and we know it makes the 8700 throttle quite a bit, so it will do the same for the 9700. No doubt. For the same price, the Ryzen 7 3700X comes with the 552-gram Wraith prism, which is more than three times the metal.
A little over a year ago we wrote an editorial series called "Needs to Fix" that dealt with things that we thought Intel, AMD and Nvidia should address. There were a lot of Intel issues to fix and one of the first things we mentioned back then was the box cooler, but nothing has changed. It will be interesting to see if they make improvements for the upcoming 10th generation core series in this area.
Though AMD's Wraith coolers aren't loved by everyone – and you can obviously do better by just spending $ 20 to $ 30 for an aftermarket tower cooler – the convenience of a decent box cooler means that one Upgrade doesn't have to be a problem and ultimately many people don't. We have found that the 3700X can be used perfectly with the included Wraith prism. It's not particularly loud and runs in a well-ventilated case at 78 degrees.
We don't expect these results to be a complete surprise to many of you, and if anything, the Intel box cooler might have performed better than expected. Note, however, that the Ryzen 5 3600 has lost a little frequency.