I use the Corsair H55 its running about $65 on Amazon right now. It works like a charm. Never really had problems installing clamps or screws, its just sometimes annoying to take them off. The H55 though is simple and provides enough cooling on my 8350 that is OC'd keeps it at around 40-49C when running games.
Thanks! IIRC after reading the thermal paste roundup on here, Phantek coolers come with one of the best pastes that comes with a cooler. (bonus )
I'm curious though, would I get enough of an advantage over the Hyper Evo 212 to be worth basically double the cost? (my g/f is tight with our money, so I have to squeeze as much out of every dollar I can wrestle away as I can, especially when spending on "frivolous" items )
The realm of CPU cooling is one with high initial cost and a high degree of diminishing returns. To get a clear advantage over entry-level cooling solutions you end up spending at least $50 to get a marked improvement.
The jury is still out if the PH-TC12DX is better by a margin or not. The next best competitor is the Thermalright True Spirit 140M, if you have the space (170mm clearance) and Noctua NH-U14S. After that, you need some variety of dual-tower configuration, which cost $70+, to get that step up in performance.
If you can get the Hyper 212 EVO for $35, go for it. A lot of places have raised its price, again, to $40, which makes it's bang-for-buck position falter. Other direct competitors, like the Xigmatek Gaia and Enermax ETS-T40-TB will be worth a look at that point. Alternative, the previous variant, the Hyper 212 Plus, is usually cheaper and offers very similar performance.
Yes I would just go with the Hyper EVO if money is an issue. Newegg has them for $10 off and like you said the paste is the bonus. I personally would go with the phantek but thats my opinion since my budget isnt as tight.