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Tom's Hardware's Reader's Choice Awards 2013

Cooling Solutions

Arctic Accelero Xtreme III (Smart Buy)
From the article: Fixing The Radeon R9 290 With Arctic's Accelero Xtreme III, Written by Igor Wallossek, November 17, 2013

Here's what we said: Our Smart Buy award goes to Arctic's cooler, which turns AMD's newest high-end cards into faster, quieter, better versions of themselves. AMD needs to take a page out of Nvidia's book. Its reference cooler shouldn't be considered reference at all. It's more of a torture device for an otherwise very capable graphics Processor. Someone over there should be thanking Arctic for providing a reprieve.

Noctua NH-U14S (Approved)
From the article: Nine Big Air Coolers For Intel's Haswell CPUs, Reviewed, Written by Thomas Soderstrom, July 14, 2013

Here's what we said: Noctua's NH-U14S isn't the strongest performer qualifying for our stamp of our approval, but it is the least-expensive option able to do what we need it to. Second place on our value charts behind the Ashura, which barely qualifies, the NH-U14S is effective enough to allow a 31° case temperature before our Core i7-4770K at 4.5 GHz started throttling under unusually stressful test loads. In other words, it allows us to get most of our intended performance most of the time. If that sounds like a half-hearted justification, consider the field and consider our tepid response to Core i7-4770K in the first place. We aren't particularly enthused about Intel's latest effort, but Noctua's NH-U14S makes the best of a difficult situation.

NZXT Kraken X40 (Smart Buy)
From the article: Four More Closed-Loop Liquid Coolers Take On The NH-D14, Written by Thomas Soderstrom, March 5, 2013

Here's what we said: Closed-loop coolers are the top option for damage reduction, and the NZXT Kraken X40’s combination of low price and high performance makes it the best value among these. It fits most systems that have a 140mm exhaust fan mount and a vacant top expansion slot, which means that it fits most of today's enthusiast-oriented hardware.

Thermalright True Spirit 140(BW) (Smart Buy)
From the article: Three Thermalright True Spirit Heat Sinks, Reviewed, Written by Kai Tubbesing, August 5, 2013

Here's what we said: Value is probably not the first thing that springs to mind when faced with its $50 price tag. But make no mistake; that's inexpensive considering the cooler’s performance level. You might be tempted to save a couple of bucks by buying the smaller 120M(BW), but the seven extra dollars you spend buys a lot of additional performance, which is important when you're gunning for a aggressive overclock on a system you plan to use daily. Its fan is also quieter than the other two models we reviewed, making it the most pleasant of the three coolers in practical use. Even at 100% duty cycle, the cooler did well in our acoustic benchmarks. In light of that, the Thermalright True Spirit 140(BW) secures our Smart Buy award for excellent performance at a reasonable price.

Thermaltake Water2.0 Extreme (Tom's Hardware Elite)
From the article: Four More Closed-Loop Liquid Coolers Take On The NH-D14, Written by Thomas Soderstrom, March 5, 2013

Here's what we said: Knowing that you’re the best might be an award unto itself, but being the best-in-class makes a product eligible for our Tom's Hardware Elite award, which is affected less by pricing and more by performance. If you’re building a system with top-end hardware and don’t want the maintenance hassle of an open-loop cooler, the Water2.0 Extreme could very well be your best choice.

Zalman CNPS8900 Quiet (Smart Buy)
From the article: Eight Low-Profile CPU Coolers For Your Compact PC, Reviewed, Written by Thomas Soderstrom, November 13, 2013

Here's what we said: Two candidates emerge for our top-honor Elite award, the Zalman CNPS8900 Quiet that fits most "slim" enclosures and Noctua NH-L12 that fits only a few. But there can only be one best. And since one of the two products also qualifies for a value award, I’m bypassing the debate between performance superiority and enclosure compatibility. The CNPS8900 Quiet combines good cooling performance, low noise, broad case compatibility, and a moderate price to make it the smartest choice for the majority of compact system builders.

Fritz Nelson
Fritz Nelson is Editor-at-Large of Tom's Hardware US.