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Roundup: Six Sub-$40 Performance CPU Coolers Compared

Value Conclusion

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.

  • amk09
    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.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    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,2535-4.html
    That's why the same system was used for both tests. It's all mentioned in the article, too.
    Reply
  • Twoboxer
    Its incomprehensible that the Hyper 212 was left out of this kind of review. That decision makes this article worthless.
    Reply
  • Wolygon
    "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.
    Reply
  • Twoboxer
    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?
    Reply
  • dogman_1234
    ^ 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!
    Reply
  • duk3
    How did the Zalman CNPS10X Performa get into this review at $35?
    Reply
  • sudeshc
    was waiting for this kind of article for some time now, thanks toms. Loved the article, thinking about to go with Zalman's Cooler.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    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.
    Reply
  • 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).
    Reply