Frequent Maximum PC readers will have noticed our love affair with Cooler Master’s Hyper 212 Plus CPU cooler. The 212 Plus came out of nowhere and captured our hearts—and a spot on our Best of the Best list—with its excellent cooling power and rock-bottom $30 price tag way back in 2009. It’s not the best CPU cooler we’ve tested, but we’ve installed it in virtually every stock-clocked PC we’ve built since, thanks to its unbeatable price/performance ratio. Cooler Master’s all-new Hyper 212 Evo costs five dollars more than the Plus. But is it five dollars better?
We recently got our hands on three coolers marketed directly to overclockers, so we clocked our 2.8GHz Core i7-930 up to 3.9GHz and hit it with Intel’s internal stress-testing utility, which has been known to physically damage motherboards and fry CPUs if used improperly. We cranked up the utility until our Hyper 212 Plus (our favorite inexpensive cooler) could barely keep up without throttling, and used that as our baseline. Can any of these coolers beat the heat?
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?
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?
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?
Just five months ago, we reviewed Zalman’s superb CNPS9900Max, which marked a return to the circle-of-fins look that has marked the big Z’s best-performing CPU coolers of the past half-decade or so. The CNPS9900Max resuscitated our faith in Zalman’s heatsinks, which had dwindled in the wake of skyscraper-style coolers and Zalman’s disappointing CNPS10X Extreme, a cooler that was larger and more expensive than its more effective competitors. Now Zalman gives us the CNPS11X, with yet another new cooling-fin configuration.
Earthquakes. Volcanoes. The dead rising from the grave. Human sacrifice. CoolIT and Corsair working together. You get the point. If you had asked us last year whether the two would ever bury the hatchet, we’d have laughed. And we’d have been wrong. At CES this year, Corsair announced a partnership with CoolIT, and the Corsair H60 is the first fruit to come out of that collaboration. Whether Corsair’s embrace of CoolIT drove Asetek into the loving arms of Antec, or the other way around, is a matter for speculation.
If it weren’t for the branding on the Kühler H20 620’s fan and water block, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for a Corsair product. Its mounting bracket is the exact same one used in Corsair’s Hydro H50 and H70 coolers, while its radiator looks like the H50’s and the pump unit looks like the H70’s. Is this a case of industrial espionage?
There was a time when your RAM (and maybe a thumb drive) was the only part of your rig likely to bear the Corsair mark. That time is long gone, and Corsair’s triple-mast logo can now be found on power supplies, cases, speaker sets, SSDs, and water-cooling loops—and now, perhaps inevitably, on CPU air-coolers. Corsair’s A50 and A70 air coolers adopt many of the most successful cooler conventions on the market—but how well do they cool?
Noctua has wowed us before with its coolers: Both the NH-U12P (August 2009) and NH-D14 (April 2010) impressed us with top-tier performance. The NH-C14, which features a perpendicular cooling-fin stack and two fans, is larger than the former but smaller than the 2 pounds, 12 ounces of the latter.