Here's some help there. It's probably not very organized, or perfectly coherent, but here's something to go off of:
Cooling Can Be Either Passive or Active.
Passive (Conduction & Free Convection) - Generally Heatsinks that disperse heat through metal fins into the ambient environment. These generate no sound.
Active (Forced Convection) - Forces flow of air or liquid past the object needing cooling (or a heatsink attached to it), e.g. - fans. This is always more efficient than Passive Cooling. There are always inherent noise levels as sound is generated.
Here are the 3 most popular options for cooling:
I)Air Cooling - Currently the best is the ThermalRight Ultra-120 eXtreme, with the Tuniq Tower & ThermalRight Ultra-120 following closely behind. Here's a picture of benchmarks with all the leading air coolers right now:
here's another image of the top leading fans: temperature vs. overclocking speed on Intel Core 2 Duo X6800 [from anandtech]:
and the link to the review:
Zalmans are cheaper and self-contained (don't need to buy a fan) and pretty, Tuniq is self-contained but a little more expensive, TR Ultras are not self-contained and most expensive (but best performance).
II) Peltier (Thermoelectric) Cooling - "They have a Thermoelectric plate attached to them. In simple terms, a peltier (or TEC as it's sometimes called) is basically 2 disimilar metals fused together, and when you apply voltage to them a certain way, one side gets hot and the other gets cold. On the Ultra. the cold side goes on the cpu, and the hot side gets cooled by heatpipes and the heatsink. It's all controlled by the bay accessory that they give you, to ensure that the pelt doesn't get below ambient temps, and cause condensation." - qtd. Wile_E :: Generally pretty expensive, upwards of $100.
III) Water/Liquid Cooling - I have no experience with this, and know very little about it. All I know is that flowing liquid is the best possible means of cooling anything, especially a liquid with a high specific heat (thus radiator fluid vs. water in cars, etc.). As to application to computers, there's a lot of technical details I do not know.
There are also other coolers that are worth looking at, especially if overclocking or using high performance components: Northbridge/Southbridge Coolers, DIMM coolers , HDD coolers, VGA Coolers, Mosfet Coolers.
Fans: Pay attention to CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute) Rating - want high, RPMS (Rotations per Minute) - want variable, dB (decibel - sound intensity) rating - want low, fan size - large = low frequency noise (deep humming), small = high frequency noise (high pitch screaming).
Hopefully I should be able to throw some mobo info up soon. School's keepin me busy atm. Hope this helps.