After reviewing the 3990X Threadripper, it was made clear that AMD's 64-core / 128-thread beast adds waste to every HEDT part we've ever tested. It's a crazy productivity CPU that we took to the extreme just this week to torture a couple of motherboards. Then we thought, why don't we try some big, bulky coolers too?
So far, all of our TR 3990X tests have been performed using a large 360mm custom loop setup with Corsair HydroX bits. This allowed us to keep the 64-core part below 70 ° C during a one-hour Blender stress test, although as expected, overclocking temperatures rose quickly and peaked at over 90 degrees.
We wondered how convenient air cooling the 3990X would be, especially for those who want to overclock. As luck would have it, we had four custom-made Threadripper air coolers from Noctua, Arctic, DeepCool and Cooler Master on hand.
For testing, we use the DeepCool New Ark 90SE case from our VRM test setup, which was tested at an ambient temperature of 21 ° C. We used the Gigabyte TRX40 Aorus Xtreme motherboard and the workload of the Gooseberry Blender to load the CPU.
All fan speeds were controlled from the motherboard using the CPU PWM fan header. With the F4a BIOS for the Aorus Xtreme, we left the "normal" fan profile active, so that the fan curve was not changed in any way. With these notes, let's get out of the way and jump into the results. Then I'll talk about the pros and cons of each option.
First things first: Find out how each cooling solution works with the Threadripper 3990X in stock. As expected, the Corsair HydroX gives the best result thanks to this large 360mm cooler, but we have to say that the profits are very small compared to the Noctua NH-U14S. Only 4 degrees when configuring the Noctua cooler with two fans in a push / pull configuration. The fans also turned relatively slowly at 1,200 rpm.
With just a single fan, the NH-U14S peaked at 76 ° C. A 4C rise is not bad, although to some extent it was the hottest configuration tested. The Arctic Freezer 50 TR also performed well and although it was only one degree hotter than the NH-U14S, the fans turned 50% faster and made noticeably more noise, which we will look at soon.
The DeepCool Fryzen seems to be worse, the fans turned 200rpm faster while the temperature rose 2 degrees. However, the Fryzen is significantly quieter than the Freezer 50 TR with two fans.
The Cooler Master Wraithripper has always disappointed me, it looks incredibly good, but the performance is so bad. Since the single, centrally located fan squeaked at 2,500 rpm, it only managed to keep the 3990X at 75 ° C. While that's a degree cooler than the NH-U14S with a single fan, the Noctua cooler was basically quiet in this configuration.
The Wraithripper really needs a fan on the outside of the heat sink, as we see on the Freezer 50 TR. The fan, which is trapped between two stacks of fins, has to rotate far too quickly to force air through the heat sink.
We are actually surprised at how similar the temperature results are with the 3990X, which has been overclocked at 1.25 V to 3.8 GHz. We only see a 6 degree difference between the best and the worst cooling solution. The Wraith Ripper has managed to avoid thermal throttling despite maximum temperatures at 100 ° C, but that's obviously not a temperature at which you want to run your $ 4,000 processor for an extended period of time.
The Noctua NH-U14S with two fans ran well and was one degree hotter than the Corsair HydroX Custom Loop. The Arctic Freezer 50 TR also performed well, although it was considerably louder than the Corsair and Noctua setups.
Speaking of noise: Here's how much noise each configuration creates. Basically, Corsair and Noctua are the kings of calm, although we compare two very different products. So it is only Noctua who pats on the back here. The two-fan configuration provides the best results and runs just a few decibels louder than the custom loop to achieve a similar thermal result.
DeepCools Fryzen performed slightly better than the Arctic Freezer 50 TR in this regard, while the Wraith Ripper hummed at 52 dBA.
Finally, when we look at the operating temperature and noise level, we get a clearer picture of how good the Noctua NH-U14S is. The configuration with two fans was significantly quieter than the options Arctic, DeepCool and Cooler Master and at the same time delivered a slightly better heat output.
The Arctic Freezer 50 TR and DeepCool Fryzen look pretty similar, and we would say that you would get identical results at normalized volume. In the Wraith Ripper, the fan has to turn well above 2,000 rpm in order to avoid unacceptably high temperatures for such a massive cooler. The design looks good, but it's not very efficient or effective.
If you lower the fan speed of the Wraith Ripper to 1,800 rpm, the 3990-fold temperature increases by about 10 ° C.
That is so cool
It turns out that not only is air cooling of the Threadripper 3990X possible, it is also very practical with something like the Noctua NH-U14S, although we recommend adding this second fan. The NH-U14S is also an affordable $ 70 solution, though a second NF-A15 will bring you an additional $ 22, making a total of $ 92 for the two-fan configuration.
That's not much more than the $ 84 you pay for the DeepCool Fryzen. In the meantime, Arctic is charging $ 70 for the Freezer 50 TR. Then there is the Wraith Ripper, which did not do very well in our tests and which costs $ 120. At this point, you can also watch AIOs.
Although we cannot recommend the Wraith Ripper due to its loud operating volume and average performance, installation is an area in which it excels. It is by far the fastest and easiest to install cooler. Where Cooler Master didn't do a good job was this centrally located fan. Not only does this affect performance, but after testing with three retail models, we found that the fan produced a really strange high pitch after a short while.
The Arctic Freezer 50 TR does better than the Wraith Ripper and is over 40% cheaper, so it's a big win. It is not the quietest cooler, but it does offer a reasonable balance between heat output and operating volume. While the installation process is a bit jerky, it's easy enough to remove the fan, but it's a bit difficult to plug it back in without rubbing anything. Vibration seemed to be a big problem here too, so we're not sure how well this thing will develop over time. The memory release isn't great either, nothing is bigger than G. Skills Trident Z, and you'll be up the famous creek without a paddle.
This is an area in which the DeepCool Fryzen excels. Due to the compact design of this cooler, the memory release is not a problem. In fact, it's remarkable how well the Fryzen works for a relatively small heatsink with just one fan. It's a decent cooler that looks great and performs well, has excellent build quality, and the installation process is fairly simple.
If you're looking for something that looks good and does a good job, the Fryzen is a great option. The only problem we see is that you can secure the Noctua NH-U14S with an extra fan for a few dollars more, and that's really the ultimate air cooling combination for a Threadripper CPU.