In Pictures: 20 Heat Sinks That Look Cool, Too

Asus Royal Knight

We're assuming that this cooler was designed with a "muscle car" block in mind--one of those fancy beasts that normally protrude from the car's hood. The Asus Royal Knight is somewhat attractive, sporting a set of wings that cover the 120 mm LED fan. These are connected to a copper heat sink base by way of six copper heat pipes like some kind of helium balloon. The fan itself pushes air directly onto the motherboard through a series of large fins.

The "all copper" cooler is designed for Intel LGA 775- and AMD Socket AM2/754/939/940-based CPUs. The fan itself measures speeds of up to 1,290 RPM at 12V, providing a quiet computing environment with operating levels of only 22 dBA. "With the most advanced thermal solution to support impressive overclocking capabilities, coupled with such fine aesthetics, the stunning Royal Knight is truly a crowd-pleaser in terms of looks and performance," the company says.

Scythe Mugen-2

Mounted on a CPU, the Scythe Mugen-2 (SCMG-2000) model looks like a skyscraper, offering four-sided high-density aluminum fans and enough space to insert three extra ones if needed. Compatible with Intel LGA 1366, 775, and 478, along with AMD Socket AM2, AM2+, 940, 939, and 754, the device features a nickel-plated copper base and four large exposed copper heat pipes. Packed with a 120 mm fan, the heat sink offers a low level of noise, rated for a maximum of 26.5 dBA.

In addition to its multi-fan options, the Mugen-2 incorporates the company's multiple airflow pass-through structure technology. "The newly-developed M.A.P.S. is a completely new lamellar structure, where the airflow generated by the Scythe Slip Stream 120 mm fan can be used perfectly," Scythe said.

The company also said that it was possible to mount the stock fan in four directions--that's if the user hasn't mounted fans on the other three sides. This allows the user to arrange the air flow according to the deployment area. However, consumers who wish to purchase the extra three fans will need to install additional fan clips, which are sold separately.

Thermaltake's SpinQ

This Thermaltake SpinQ CPU cooler consists of a cylindrical heat sink and 50 aluminum fins spirally configured around an 80 mm, 1,600 RPM blower, creating an impressive-looking, turbine-shaped device. In addition to the six copper heat pipes and Thermaltake's patented fin design, the copper base pulls the heat from the CPU. As seen with other CPU-cooling solutions, users can adjust the fan speed to accommodate a particular usage model, such as for heavy gaming, when the computer is in idle mode, and so on.

The company claims that its ultra-quiet 19 dBA sound level and white LED in the fan provide a "whisper-silent, stylish addition to your system."  Thermaltake also enables compatibility with multiple AMD and Intel processor interfaces.

Project: Passive

Who needs a simple cooling unit? Why not make the entire computer case one giant heat sink? According to this step-by-step instruction list, Ville "Willek" Kyrö did just that, starting with heat pipes ripped from Thermaltake's Big Typhoon and ending up with a "passively cooled" PC case mod that in itself looks like one giant CPU cooling system weighing over 20 kg. Ultimately, the project was "long and painful," but Kyrö deemed it an overall success, despite the many bumps and challenges along the way.

"[I] can't help but point out that even a little of forced airflow by a fan would have enabled the heat sinks to be much smaller. This case as a whole was a concept, to see for myself if it could be done," Kyrö said. "I never intended to use it 24/7, nor did I pay that much attention to outlooks in design. It might not have been worth it, but it sure was weird watching the computer boot up with no sound at all."

Cooler Master Mars

This unique cooler could be viewed in several ways: as a strange-looking bug with abnormally over-sized eyes or as an alien spaceship that has suddenly landed on your CPU. Either way, the Cooler Master Mars RR-CCX-W9U1-GP could add a little spice to a dull desktop setup, offering a splash of blue from each ringed "eye." Compatible with all modern AMD Athlon and Sempron CPUs and Intel Core, Pentium, and Celeron processors, the 90 mm fan is placed within the cooler, embedded in a shockproof aluminum design.

At the base is a copper heat sink with three connected heat pipes. These curl up and attach to the top without touching the aluminum fins. The built-in fan speed controller allows the end-user to choose the best performance mode, whether the situation calls for intense gaming or quiet time at night.

Prolimatech Megahalems

Here's another CPU cooler that could be mistaken for a miniature skyscraper. However, this fan-less device sports a rather unique "bow tie" look and features heat pipes vertically aligned to prevent air back draft (this allows air to pass through the heat sink body). Minimum air resistance between the fins also provides the best balance between noise and performance. The top fin is made of scratch-resistant stainless steel to preserve its factory-fresh shine.

The Prolimatech Megahalems (Rev. B) is compatible with Intel's LGA 1156, 1366, and 775, by virtue of its universal backplate. The overall heat sink dimensions are 130 mm (L) x 74 mm (W) x 158.7 mm (H) and it weighs 790 g. According to the company, customers are recommended to use a separate fan spinning at 1,600 RPM or more "for all-out performance."

Asus Silent Knight II

Made for high-performance CPUs, yet weighing in at only 610 g, the Asus Silent Knight II looks imposing with its radial design and vibrant colors. From afar, it could pass as an artsy table lamp featuring six copper heat pipes serving as its legs. Mounted on these legs is a 92 mm slide-bearing fan spinning at 2,300 RPM and encased in an array of 128 polished copper ribs. An LED is also mounted within the array, splashing the smooth copper with a blue hue that, when mixed with the red fins, creates a spectacular spectrum.

Users can adjust the fan (via motherboard BIOS) according to their thermal needs. Compatible with Intel's LGA 775 and AMD's Socket 754, 939, 940, AM2, and AM2+, the heat sink safely towers above most motherboard components, eliminating physical conflicts. The fan dimensions are 92 mm x 92 mm x 25 mm, while the overall heat sink dimensions are 115 mm (L) x 140 mm (W) x 100 mm (H). It's purportedly very quiet, rated at a mere 25 dBA.

Scythe Kama Cross

This cooler resembles a few things: a director's chair, a broken accordion, and a hot rod's protruding motor. Take your pick. Either way, the Scythe Kama Cross is a call above the standard reference cooler. Seen from a side view, this heat sink is shaped like the letter "X," with the three heat pipes creating the "legs" of this unusual design, allowing the airflow to cool the CPU, as well as the motherboard components. High-performance users can switch out the default 100 mm fan for a meatier 120 mm cooler, too.

As for compatibility, this CPU cooler can fit on AMD Socket 754, 939, 940 and AM2, as well as Intel LGA 775 and 478. Users can configure the optimized airflow direction inside the chassis without any restrictions, as a result of its four-way directional mounting. Weighing 530 g, the device measures 140 mm (W) x 120 mm (D) x 132 mm (H).

Zaward Vivo (PCJ004)

While this heat sink isn't as spectacular as the Asus Silent Knight II or Cooler Master Mars, Zaward's Vivo is a still more interesting than most reference fans. If anything, it resembles a brand-new high-rise HVAC unit with a fresh coat of white paint. Bells and whistles include a solder-free heat pipe direct-touch design, three U-shape heat pipes, and dual 92 mm fans with fan speeds of 2,000 RPM--one fan blows the air in while the other fan sucks the air out.

Weighing around 520 g, the heat sink measures 120 mm (L) x 98 mm (W) x 151 mm (H) and has a noise level of 24.7 dBA. It's also compatible with Intel LGA 775 and AMD Socket AM2, 940, and 939, thanks to a universal clip. Zaward claims that the Vivo outperforms any other air-cooling product and is as efficient as water-cooling. (Ed.: ...really? Hah!) Zaward has even thrown in its unique thermal grease that apparently enhances thermal efficiency. No word on whether it increases performance elsewhere, too.

Zalman CNPS8700 LED

Built for Intel's LGA 775 and AMD's Socket AM2, 754, 939, and 940, the Zalman CNPS8700 LED fan looks like a colorful carnival ride, without the safety harnesses or seats. A diagram provided by the company indicates that this copper heat sink cools more than just the CPU. In fact, it sends additional relief to the graphics card, northbridge, and memory, thanks to its aerodynamically optimized "tunnel" design and the 110 mm fan.

According to Zalman, the heat sink does not generate perceptible noise or vibration when set in Silent Mode. Users can adjust the fan speed using the accompanying Fan Mate 2. Other highlights include a patented curved heat pipe design. The heat sink weighs a mere 475 g and measures 120 mm (L) x 123 mm (W) x 67 mm (H). A blue LED mounted within the fan washes against the red blades, projecting an attractive blue-purple-red illumination.

Rosewill RCX-Z5-Ultra

Talk about unique. The Rosewill RCX-Z5-Ultra could pose as some kind of Transformer inside your chassis. This crazy-looking contraption consists of two adjustable 92 mm fans and fins, allowing users to direct the airflow where it's needed. Four heat pipes dissipate heat away from the CPU and up into a radially-oriented set of fins mounted between the fans, allowing the heat to be pulled away and blown out.

Beyond its unique design, the heat sink features a copper base with a nickel-plated finish, automatic fan speed control, and super-bright blue LEDs to get your bling on. Although weight is unspecified, the Rosewill device measures 113 mm (L) x 105.4 mm (W) x 135.2 mm (H) and fits Intel's LGA 775 interface, along with AMD's Sockets 754, 939, and AM2.

  • ingodwestream
    i have the royal knight. still haven't used it yet..but its out of the box and its a part of my old school CPU cooler collection...sits right next toe the Gemini II.
  • hok
    Not one Noctua.... are you guys crazy?
  • Mark Heath
    There is no fan, nor are there heat pipes to carry the heat off the CPU. Instead, it uses the heat to create hot liquid and gas bubbles within the device's tubing. These bubbles circulate through the system, carrying the heat away from the CPU, and then condensing back to repeat the process again.
    A lava lamp on the cpu?
  • philologos
    I have the Scythe Mugen 2. I think it looks rather prosaic except in its sheer size. Its wide fin spacing makes it work well with low RPM fans, making a good choice for quiet computing. I also think its among the very best in value.
  • anamaniac
    I love my CM V8. Sure, not the prettiest thing around, and it's a horrible cooler if you want high end air cooling (get a TRUE for that), but damn, even at max speed, I can't hear it over even my case fans and GPU all at minimum RPM.
    Though I have been tempted to slap two more fans on it (for each side).
    The sheer size of it though makes it so I have to remove the HSF before removing the first DIMM. Pain in the ass when I have a corrupt stick of memory.
  • Zalman CNPS10X Extreme, no 6 in Amd on frostytech, what a cooler! virtually silent, on my machine, (every fan is controlled for silence except when gaming, all I can hear is the feint clicking of the HDD,s)
  • u forgot
  • arkadi
    V8 it one of the best coolers i had, silent, can handle good overclock on my 920. Unfortunately the fan started to vibrate after year of 24/7 user.
    But no bigy i got better fan inside :)
  • Crazy V
    Where can i pickup the SILENTFLUX passive pro?
  • Like the Noctua NH-D14 wasn't cool enough...