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Roundup: Six Sub-$40 Performance CPU Coolers Compared

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November 24, 2010 4:00:04 AM

Remember when overclocking was all about getting more performance for less money? It's hard to do that when you're spending top dollar on premium heatsinks and fans. Today we round up six true value-oriented coolers that could help unleash hidden speed.

Roundup: Six Sub-$40 Performance CPU Coolers Compared : Read more
November 24, 2010 4:23:07 AM

i wished you included a cooler such as the coolermaster hyper 212, that seems to be a highly recommended cooler and it would have been nice to see how it squared up against these ones.
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November 24, 2010 4:43:16 AM

amk09i wished you included a cooler such as the coolermaster hyper 212, that seems to be a highly recommended cooler and it would have been nice to see how it squared up against these ones.
We did:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/lga-1156-heatsink,2...
That's why the same system was used for both tests. It's all mentioned in the article, too.
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November 24, 2010 4:50:16 AM

Its incomprehensible that the Hyper 212 was left out of this kind of review. That decision makes this article worthless.
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November 24, 2010 4:52:49 AM

"Its incomprehensible that the Hyper 212 was left out of this kind of review. That decision makes this article worthless."


Read the article before posting please.
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November 24, 2010 4:58:42 AM

Sorry, I read your Opening page, the thermal results page, and the conclusion page. Did I miss how these products compare to the Hyper 212?
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November 24, 2010 5:03:25 AM

^ Or water cooling. It was a great article but, How about comparing to Hydro cooling and add an AMD system too. Intel is great at generating heat, AMD is better thought!
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November 24, 2010 5:22:42 AM

How did the Zalman CNPS10X Performa get into this review at $35?
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November 24, 2010 5:23:58 AM

was waiting for this kind of article for some time now, thanks toms. Loved the article, thinking about to go with Zalman's Cooler.
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November 24, 2010 5:42:17 AM

duk3How did the Zalman CNPS10X Performa get into this review at $35?
It was $35. It went up at Newegg about a week ago, but if you look around enough you might find the launch price elsewhere.
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November 24, 2010 5:45:22 AM

Just wanted to say thanks for the article. And I think it's extra awesome that you actually respond to the comments/questions (I just read through the other roundup from earlier this year).
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November 24, 2010 6:00:12 AM

good article. it would be nice to see the standard cooler on the charts just for comparison though.
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November 24, 2010 6:01:33 AM

Great article tackling the budget builder but with an overclocker's heart :p . There are a few things I would like to mention/request:
- Heatpipe orientation .. I know all about capillary action but since I don't know of any manufacturer that advertises/places the type of wick they use on the box of the cooler, believing that all coolers are the same and therefor heatpipe orientation does not matter, is a bit idiotic. I know that on a open test bed with the motherboard sitting flat/horizontally the heatpipe orientation isn't relevant but inside a PC case it might be .. and here is my dilemma. Did some research about this, but other then forums and "i believe so" arguments I haven't found anything relevant on this subject. The thing is I was looking these past few weeks at reviews for arctic cooling's 13 on different websites and even though the test method (and room temp)is slightly different from one reviewer to the other, the temp values differ quite a bit which is normal but the biggest difference seams to stem from it's orientation in a pc case.

Main point of my rambling ... since this is probably one of the oldest tech websites out there, could you bust/prove this myth? Get a bunch of coolers from all price ranges (i have a feeling that cheaper coolers would turn up a bigger difference in values that the expensive ones) and place them est-west and north-south inside a closed pc case. Run a couple of tests and gives us the results.

PS: i know that case fans matter but since most pc cases now have a psu mounted at the bottom and there is a exhaust fan/grill at the top, you could use that as the "standard case" for this test.
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November 24, 2010 7:10:25 AM

Thanks tom.
Great article.
I wanted a comparison between the CM 212+ and Xigmatek Gaia.
I think i'm going for the Gaia for its easier installation and to use it in a 2-fan setup with a fan that i allready have and don't know where to use it.
It would be even better if you added the performance of the coolers that support 2-fan setups.
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November 24, 2010 7:34:34 AM

djmik21Thanks tom.Great article.I wanted a comparison between the CM 212+ and Xigmatek Gaia.I think i'm going for the Gaia for its easier installation and to use it in a 2-fan setup with a fan that i allready have and don't know where to use it.It would be even better if you added the performance of the coolers that support 2-fan setups.

Sorry, but the Hyper 212+ is too old to be part of a "new for 2010" cooler roundup, but that's why the link was provided in the article and the response thread:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/lga-1156-heatsink,2...
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November 24, 2010 8:31:48 AM

I knew that and so i went and compared the test results and that's how i decided on the gaia.
thnx again
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Anonymous
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November 24, 2010 8:39:42 AM

does every page HAVE to have a popup ad/page?
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November 24, 2010 9:16:04 AM

tarawadoes every page HAVE to have a popup ad/page?
Nah, I have mine disabled.
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November 24, 2010 10:21:04 AM

CrashmanNah, I have mine disabled.


funny
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November 24, 2010 10:21:50 AM

Crashman nice article ... seriously.

I can see this time you took your time editing it and the end result is excellent.

On an unrelated note ... any news on whether your "grumpiness" is improving or can I expect a "slap" for my cheeky comment ... heh heh.

Seriously, If this is the new standard required for the other reviewers then the rest (Bar Chris and Don) have some work to do mate.

Well done ... very well done.
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November 24, 2010 11:24:07 AM

Thanks Crashman for the review.

Are you guys adding a "Coolers P/P rank" anytime soon? That would be so helpful 8)

Cheers!
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November 24, 2010 12:16:33 PM

A good thing to cover would be if you can OC a cpu so much, that you get enough performance to make the cooler repay for itself. Like cpu(0)+cooler=>cpu(1)
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November 24, 2010 12:34:34 PM

I'm slightly surprise that the Cooler Master Hyper 212+ wasn't included here, as it is the most recommended HSF on the forums.
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November 24, 2010 12:35:51 PM

coolermaster hyper n520 is the one to get, i was running my i530 at 4.4 ghz and never went over 70 degrees while playing games, just installed one on a phenom 955 thing is only 55 degrees at 3.8 ghz but haven't gamed it yet.
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November 24, 2010 12:36:28 PM

mistype 35 degrees on the the phenom 955
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November 24, 2010 12:59:53 PM

This is what I'm gonna buy.
http://www.scythe-eu.com/en/products/cpu-cooler/mugen-2...
It's as quiet as the quietest one compared in this article.
It costs $35 (not expensive).
And cools better than the Cooler Master Hyper 212.

The only drawback is the size. It's big enough that the fan hangs over the ram. So if you use high profile cooling for your ram this baby won't fit. But thanks to OCZ that's not an issue for me.
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November 24, 2010 1:25:18 PM

Wow nice Dark_lord NICE!
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November 24, 2010 1:34:39 PM

I am unimpressed with the coolers here as usual. Most look rather cheaply made and I prefer a all copper cooler but they are seam to be getting rather few in number these days.
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November 24, 2010 1:48:17 PM

no Cm 212+? so basically they ran a test for the second best under $40 cooler?
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November 24, 2010 1:51:06 PM

Nice article till you failed to run these on an AMD processor, you tell us all about how they mount to the AMD socket and then dont test on AMD??
WHY?

BTW I'm running my AMD CPU overclocked by 25% on stock air.....so maybe the stock coolers arent as bad as everyone assumes??
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November 24, 2010 2:14:15 PM

I'd like to have seen an AM3 CPU tested so as to see if the "updraft" or "crossflow" configurations produce any significant cooling differentials.
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November 24, 2010 2:33:11 PM

Well, I have the PERFORMA on a Phenom II 965, and it's pretty good. It keeps my CPU under 62 degrees with 1.5875v@19%LLC@2.8VDDA while running Prime95 - it's the only way I can get a 4GHz OC. :/ 

With that being said, I don't know if I'd recommend it to anybody, mainly because it wasn't this good when I first got it - it was actually pretty terrible. I couldn't even achieve a 3.7GHz OC@1.4v without going over 62 degrees just playing games. When I got the cooler there were some black marks on it, and a good amount of scratches too. I ended up having to pay an extra $10 at an auto shop to get some sand paper and lap it up to 2500 grit.
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November 24, 2010 2:35:39 PM

Obviously "CoolerMaster Hyper 212+" became reference cooler for many people. There are some reasons for that:
1. good performer
2. cheap
3. compatible to all recent sockets
4. easy to install
5. clips for a second fan
6. it is truly available (for little money) in all regions

Last year test configuration doubles value of both articles - it should have been mentioned in the head.
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November 24, 2010 2:36:24 PM

thank you crashman, i was actually lookign into a good heatsink fo rmy new build. i shall order the Xigmatek, thank you looks like a good value and i'll be using an amd 4 core so it should orient right. as always well done :D 
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November 24, 2010 3:21:55 PM

so based on this test and the january test the Noctua NH-D14 still wins the best performance rite? and the price has already dropped to 60$
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November 24, 2010 3:26:52 PM

Quote:
so based on this test and the january test the Noctua NH-D14 still wins the best performance rite? and the price has already dropped to 60$


The Silver Arrow is head up with the NH-D14.
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November 24, 2010 4:20:05 PM

Well, I can find the Xigmatek Gaia SD1283 only in newegg. That's a problem for me, wish the have it in another site.
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November 24, 2010 4:46:07 PM

a good read so far ... and a nice comparison with 2009 competition
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November 24, 2010 5:05:01 PM

The CoolerMaster Hyper 212+ is best HSF for the $$$ on the planet boys!
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November 24, 2010 5:33:30 PM

The article mentions that most of the fans have can be controlled by PWM or voltage. The last time I tried a PWM fan, I found that the switching speed was just low enough to create a high-pitched whine when the card was at less then 100%. It sounded similar to the electronic whine you can sometimes get from video cards or motherboards. Has anyone else experienced this? Does this happen with all PWM fans or just some models?
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November 24, 2010 5:33:48 PM

Quote:
Thomas Soderstrom: We ran into a bit of trouble while testing Deepcool's solution: after watching our first motherboard’s voltage regulator go up in smoke, we had to lower our ambient temperature to 10 C to finish testing on a second, identical motherboard.


Ouch sorry to hear that, is the board still salvageable? So it seems Deepcool Matrix 400 is something you wouldn't recommend, but you didn't mention any of that in the conclusion.

The way stock cooler is facing down so VRMs can get adequate cooling is taken for granted, but when all of sudden we replace it with after market tower cooler, it's not so sure anymore. To be honest when I read these cooler reviews, the only things I care about is how low the CPU temperature can get and how quiet they are, never thought VRM could go up in smoke because of overheating. So I have to thank you for including this info. And it also brings up another issue, VRM temperature can be a problem with water cooling.
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November 24, 2010 6:06:29 PM

my thermal issues are resolved in an entirely different manner. External whole box fan. I don't use ANY internal fans at all (even the power supply fan(s) are removed). Just the CPU heatsink. the downside of my method is that it takes a bit more mechanical skill here. First I install a 12" X 12" X 1" filter into a "cooling box" mounted within the room somewhat near the box to cooled. Then I use aluminum 4" diameter dryer vent hose from the input air box (somewhat similar to a vehicle diesel engine's) whose airflow is derived from a large 115VAC, 265 CFM squirrel cage fan) whose output is ducted back to a 2" X 10" cutout in the rear of the box. the output is redirected within the box by another box inserted about 8" into same whose motherboard side is open. This directs a massive amount of air directly onto the CPU heatsink; memory sticks, support chips and sinks, hard drives, and everyhing else mounted in the box. So not only is the CPU super cooled.. but so is everything else mounted within the box. The warm air is vented out through the FRONT AND REAR of the box to the point that any paper, even pens sitting in front of same will be blown clear across the room!

And not only that. My box stays super clean inside even after years of service... just change the input filter every quarter. fan to use? look here:

http://www.horticulturesource.com/hydrofarm-active-air-...

you pay more, yes. but you also get a LOT more. oh... plug the fan power into your UPS. when the UPS turns on so does the fan (thus a switch for the fan is not necessary). this particular fan draws about 1 amp from the UPS which is about typical for the amount of CFM. The fan is good for at least 5 YEARS of 24/7 use.
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November 24, 2010 6:10:38 PM

dark_lord69This is what I'm gonna buy.http://www.scythe-eu.com/en/produc [...] ooler.htmlIt's as quiet as the quietest one compared in this article.It costs $35 (not expensive).And cools better than the Cooler Master Hyper 212.The only drawback is the size. It's big enough that the fan hangs over the ram. So if you use high profile cooling for your ram this baby won't fit. But thanks to OCZ that's not an issue for me.
Looks good to me:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/lga-1156-heatsink,2...
Th-zOuch sorry to hear that, is the board still salvageable? So it seems Deepcool Matrix 400 is something you wouldn't recommend, but you didn't mention any of that in the conclusion. The way stock cooler is facing down so VRMs can get adequate cooling is taken for granted, but when all of sudden we replace it with after market tower cooler, it's not so sure anymore. To be honest when I read these cooler reviews, the only things I care about is how low the CPU temperature can get and how quiet they are, never thought VRM could go up in smoke because of overheating. So I have to thank you for including this info. And it also brings up another issue, VRM temperature can be a problem with water cooling.
I normally use an Antec SpotCool for VRM cooling in water-cooled systems. Of course there's always the option to use a lower O/C voltage, or fewer CPU cores, to reduce VRM output and heat.


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November 24, 2010 8:01:30 PM

Be nice to see some of the generally accepted "$40 category winners" like the Scythe Mugen 2 in an article such as this.
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November 24, 2010 8:26:04 PM

Why didn't you test something from Arctic Cooling ?

I have a 775 based system with an Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro, and they still make an updated version for new platforms, both Intel and AMD.

It's just that when I read value for money, Arctic Cooling is a classic.
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November 24, 2010 8:45:25 PM

tpi2007Why didn't you test something from Arctic Cooling ?I have a 775 based system with an Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro, and they still make an updated version for new platforms, both Intel and AMD. It's just that when I read value for money, Arctic Cooling is a classic.
Like this?
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/lga-1156-heatsink,2...
Arctic Cooling said they didn't want the previous 2010 models added because they had new 2010 models coming out...oh, like around now...after the article was finished.
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November 24, 2010 8:56:25 PM

where is cooler master? thermaltake? Scythe?
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November 24, 2010 8:56:46 PM

CrashmanLike this?http://www.tomshardware.com/review [...] 535-3.htmlArctic Cooling said they didn't want the previous 2010 models added because they had new 2010 models coming out...oh, like around now...after the article was finished.



Exactly! Mine is now more than two years old now, working perfectly, first with a Core 2 Duo E8400, now with a Core 2 Quad Q9550. Mine still has a black fan, which I find better looking (especially when it's dirty LOL. A white fan might make you more aware it needs cleaning though LOL).

Well, given that new models are now out, you have another excuse to do another article soon ;)  Or why not even update this article ?
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November 24, 2010 8:59:10 PM

lewacmy thermal issues are resolved in an entirely different manner. External whole box fan. I don't use ANY internal fans at all (even the power supply fan(s) are removed). Just the CPU heatsink. the downside of my method is that it takes a bit more mechanical skill here. First I install a 12" X 12" X 1" filter into a "cooling box" mounted within the room somewhat near the box to cooled. Then I use aluminum 4" diameter dryer vent hose from the input air box (somewhat similar to a vehicle diesel engine's) whose airflow is derived from a large 115VAC, 265 CFM squirrel cage fan) whose output is ducted back to a 2" X 10" cutout in the rear of the box. the output is redirected within the box by another box inserted about 8" into same whose motherboard side is open. This directs a massive amount of air directly onto the CPU heatsink; memory sticks, support chips and sinks, hard drives, and everyhing else mounted in the box. So not only is the CPU super cooled.. but so is everything else mounted within the box. The warm air is vented out through the FRONT AND REAR of the box to the point that any paper, even pens sitting in front of same will be blown clear across the room! And not only that. My box stays super clean inside even after years of service... just change the input filter every quarter. fan to use? look here:http://www.horticulturesource.com/ [...] d4afabc6bdyou pay more, yes. but you also get a LOT more. oh... plug the fan power into your UPS. when the UPS turns on so does the fan (thus a switch for the fan is not necessary). this particular fan draws about 1 amp from the UPS which is about typical for the amount of CFM. The fan is good for at least 5 YEARS of 24/7 use.


very interesting but soooooo much hassle
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November 25, 2010 12:23:01 AM

youssef 2010where is cooler master? thermaltake? Scythe?
Another complainer that didn't actually read the review, or even bother reading the SECOND POST in this thread?
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/lga-1156-heatsink,2...
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/lga-1156-heatsink,2...
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/lga-1156-heatsink,2...

Everyone got invited. One company decided to wait for the next roundup because its new product wasn't ready. The new article has new models, the old article has older models, the same system was used in both article and all this information was yours for the reading, in the newer article.
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!