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Value Conclusion

Roundup: Six Sub-$40 Performance CPU Coolers Compared

No high-value cooler comparison would be complete without a chart that compares cooling to price, and this is where budget candidate Rosewill was hoping to take its crown.

A Web price of only $20 puts the RCX-ZAIO-92 on top, but not by the 100% difference we’d expect to see had it actually cooled as well as its pricier competitors. Though it was somewhat hot and noisy on our Core i7 test system, we could recommend the Rosewill unit specifically to Core i3 overclockers with extremely tight budgets. Unfortunately, its installation method doesn’t allow cross flow orientation on most Socket AM3 motherboards.

Xigmatek’s modest $30 Web price allows the Gaia to take second place in value, without the big sacrifice in cooling performance and noise seen in the low-cost Rosewill product. A look back at our cooling charts also shows that it was the cheapest cooler to provide adequate performance for our overclocked Core i7-870 processor. That might not mean much to owners of lower-heat dual-core chips, but pairing a second-place value score with a second-quietest noise measurement makes it a winner in our books. It’s also the cheapest cooler in this roundup to support a proper cross flow installation on most AMD motherboards.

We can’t quite justify presenting our value award to the product that took second place in our value charts, but Xigmatek certainly deserves some credit for a cooler that fits more boards correctly, supports hotter processors thermally, and does its job quietly. And so the Xigmatek Gaia gets that honor… annotatively.

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