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Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 Review

Cooling prowess as massive as its dual heatsinks.

WHEN WE REVIEWED the first-edition Noctua NH-D14 back in April 2010, we praised its quiet performance, but our then-current test bed didn’t put out enough heat to best showcase its cooling chops. Fortunately, our new one does. This coincides nicely with Noctua’s release of the NH-D14 SE2011, which includes (gasp) LGA2011 support and updates the D14’s two fans to include PWM, or pulse-width modulation.

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Xigmatek Gaia Review

A challenger appears!

SOMETIMES WHEN we use the Hyper 212 Plus in a build we get comments to the effect of, “Why don’t you use Xigmatek’s Gaia? It’s just as good and just as cheap!” Just as cheap? Definitely. Just as good? We’ll see!

Stop us if you’ve heard this before: The Gaia is a skyscraper-style stack of aluminum cooling fins on top of three direct-contact copper heat pipes. The Gaia is 6.5 inches high by 2.9 inches thick (with the fan) and 4.9 inches wide. At one pound, 4.7 ounces, it’s practically the same weight as the Hyper 212 Evo. Aside from the slightly narrower cooling fins and the fact that it has three heat pipes rather than four, and its 12cm PWM fan is held on by rubber pegs rather than a plastic clip, the Gaia looks a lot like the Evo.

We just realized that the Xigmatek Gaia’s cooling fins resemble the letter X.

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NZXT Havik 120 Review

NZXT’s second air cooler, and they still can’t spell ‘havoc’

NZXT DIDN’T ENTER the CPU cooling game until quite recently. We reviewed its first cooler, the skyscraper Havik 140, in December 2011. The Havik 140’s dual 14cm fans helped it power to the top of our air-cooling charts, though the slightly cheap-feeling mounting bracket kept it from Kick Ass Award status. NZXT’s second air cooler is the smaller, less expensive Havik 120.

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Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo Review

What, this old thing? Cooler Master’s Hyper 212 Evo is the new‑and‑improved version of our standby CPU cooler. It’s just $35 and offers performance far exceeding other coolers in its price range, so it’s the first thing we reach for when we build a new budget-conscious rig. Given that LGA2011 CPUs don’t come with heatsinks, the Evo is the closest thing we have to a stock cooler, and it will be the standard against which all other Sandy Bridge-E coolers are judged.

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Phanteks PH-TC14PE Review

Noctua imitator impresses

YOU'RE FORGIVEN if you’ve never heard of Phanteks. After all, the company only makes one heatsink, though it comes in four colors, and it’s only been out since last fall. The Phanteks PH-TC14PE consists of a nickel-plated copper heatsink and five thick heat pipes, rising through two sets of anodized aluminum cooling fins in orange, blue, red, or plain ol’ aluminum.

Fans of Austrian engineering might notice that the PH-TC14PE looks a lot like Noctua’s NH-D14. They’re almost exactly the same (massive) size and follow the same basic design. The TC14PE’s box even says “Designed in Europe.” But, see, it’s totally different, because the Phanteks cooler has five thick heat pipes and the Noctua has six smaller-diameter pipes. The Phanteks’ colored fin stack is a tiny bit shorter than the tips of the Noctua’s heat pipes and around a tenth of an inch wider. Also like the Noctua, the Phanteks cooler can interfere with the RAM slots on some motherboards. We couldn’t install it at all on a microATX Rampage IV board, and we had to use RAM without towering heat spreaders on our P9X79 Deluxe board in order to install the Phanteks.

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EVGA Superclock Review

NZXT isn’t the only company branching into CPU coolers. EVGA—better known for videocards and motherboards—recently released its Superclock cooler, with five direct-contact copper heat pipes, one clear 12cm fan with red LEDs, and a sharp-looking black finish to its skyscraper-style copper cooling fin stack.

At $50, the Superclock is around the midpoint of CPU cooler prices, but can its performance live up to its name?

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Thermaltake Frio OCK Review

We have to hand it to Thermaltake: Nearly everything about the Frio OCK is well thought out. The two 13cm fans are secured in a black, red, and blue cowling that clips on and off of the heatsink with ease, eliminating many of the installation frustrations inherent in two-fan (or one-fan) heatsinks. Are the Frio OCK's performance numbers as cool as its design?

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NZXT Havik 140 Review

NZXT is new to the cooler game, but if the Havik 140 is any indication, the company isn’t being dumb about it. The Havik 140 is a hefty cooler in the stacked-fins “skyscraper” style, with six copper heat pipes rising from the heat exchanger through 4.25 inches of nickel-plated‑copper heat-dissipation fins.

Once mounted, the Havik performed admirably, besting the Hyper 212 Plus in our stress test by nearly 18 degrees Celsius, but was it good enough to dethrone the Best of the Best?