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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [02.20.03]
Manufactured by: Cooler Master 

Est. Street Price: $35

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The bottom surface is protected by a plastic strip in the packaging.  After removing it, you can see that the surface isn't exactly a mirror-like shine, but there are no imperfections.  On a scale of 1-10 in terms of smoothness, I'd give it an 8.

Included in the package are 3 brackets.  This is a detail I wish every manufacturer would consider! Although the clips are not directly attached to the heatsink, they are very easy to install.  So easy, in fact, that an extra clip seems almost redundtant.  Still, it's a nice feature worth mentioning, as not all motherboards use the same Socket 478 heatsink bracket, and some may be harder to use than others.


To test its capabilities, we're putting it against a regular Intel cooler.  Since the IHC-L71 isn't meant to be a high end performer, but rather a silent 'middle of the road' solution, we aren't going to overclock or put it up against the big guns.  Of course the 2.8 is more than hot enough to push almost any S478 cooler to its limit.

For testing purposes, the case door was left open, so the fact that I am currently using a crappy oven case isn't an issue.  To stress the CPU, a Prime95 torture test was run for 2 hours on each cooler.  Idle tests were taken 1 hour after a cold boot.  Ambient case temperature was 34 degrees.

There you go - quite a nice jump in performance, considering the fan is running at over 1000 RPM lower than the Intel unit.

I don't have my acoustic measuring tools with me at the moment, so sound level testing was done by ear.  For this test, I used an extension wire, and had each heatsink plugged in so I could directly compare noise made by the fans.

After directly comparing the two, I can say that the Cooler Master is most definitely more quiet than the Intel cooler.  By how much is a bit harder to determine, but put it this way - if silent computing is your goal, and you have other silent components in your PC, then it is definitely worth switching.  If you have a ton of 80mm fans running and a noisy Power Supply, you won't notice a difference at all.

What you will notice is quite a nice performance increase.  Enough to solve my overheating problems indeed!

I have to admit that heatsinks are becoming less and less interesting.  Companies seem to be running out of solutions beyond "a block of metal with air blowing over it".  It is nice to see a company do what Cooler Master is attempting here, by adding something unique like heatpipes to enhance cooling on a quiet product.

The question is, do the heatpipes really do anything here? We know when used well, they can be very effective, such as with the Zalman video cooler, but how much are they helping here?

Looking at the design, I'd say that they must be doing something - the cooler performs well enough to convince me that.  I guess the only way to tell would be to find a copper heatsink with identical specifications minus the heatpips.  Until I am able to do that, I am going to reserve FULL judgement on this cooler.

However looking at the build quality and noise/cooling performance of the IHC-L71, I can still recommend it as a quiet computing solution, if that's your goal.

  • Well built, looks great
  • Comes with extra retaining clip
  • Performs quite well as a silent cooler

  • Quite pricey

Final Score: 85%