We have been anxious to test Cooler Master’s TPC 812 since we saw a prototype at this year’s CES—or was it last year’s? Regardless, the company piqued our interest with its talk of “vertical vapor chamber cooling,” and we finally have our hands on the TPC 812, a massive air cooler with six heat pipes and two vertical vapor chambers.
The TPC 812 is 6.4 inches high, 4.1 inches deep (with fan), and 5.4 inches wide, and weighs over two pounds, four ounces. Unlike Cooler Master’s wildly successful Hyper 212 coolers, the TPC 812 doesn’t have direct-contact heat pipes. Or direct-contact vapor chambers. Instead, its six heat pipes are soldered to the (nickel-coated) copper heatsink, and the bottoms of the vapor chambers rest atop the heat pipes. The heat pipes and vapor chambers rise through a large stack of aluminum fins. The TPC 812 ships with one 12cm PWM fan with a set of plastic mounting clips, beefier versions of the ones that ship with the Hyper 212 Evo (April 2012), as well as a set of clips for attaching an additional fan. The cooler also ships with a resistor cable if you prefer to run your fan at lower rpms, which you might, given its noise at full throttle.
The TPC 812 mounts to the motherboard with the same sort of mounting bracket we’ve seen on the Hyper 212 series coolers: an X-shaped crossbar with spring-screws at the ends, which mounts to four posts in the motherboard’s cooler mounting holes. The posts are either screwed directly into the integrated backplate (LGA2011) or into a universal backplate (all other sockets).
The TPC 812 cooled our overclocked i7-3960X to 71.2 C—47.2 C above the 24 C ambient temperature in the room. By contrast, the Xigmatek Aegir, our champion at this price/size range, got the CPU down to 69.2 C in a 25.6 C room (43.6 C difference), and the CM Hyper 212 Evo, our favorite budget cooler, got the CPU to 70.2 C while the room was 25.7 C (44.5 C difference). The TPC 812 isn’t a bad cooler—its performance is still impressive. It’s just not enough to dethrone the Hyper 212 Evo or the Xigmatek Aegir. Both, incidentally, are direct-contact coolers, and the Evo is half the price of the TPC 812.
Those massive heat pipes protruding from the top of the cooler? They’re decorative caps, sitting on the real (and smaller) heat pipes.
We’re not sure why Cooler Master chose to use vapor chambers at all on this cooler, given that a vapor chamber is essentially a wide, flat heat pipe. They’re useful in space-constrained applications like videocards, but the TPC 812 hardly has that problem, and putting vapor chambers atop the six heat pipes the cooler already has feels like an afterthought, or a gimmick.
Given that this is the only vertical vapor chamber cooler we’ve tested, we’re not ready to dismiss the technology outright, and the TPC 812 is a fine cooler, but compared to cheaper, lighter direct-contact coolers, the TPC 812 can’t win.
Cooler Master TPC 812
Chamber of Secrets
Good looks; relatively easy install; decent performance.
Performance lags behind best-in-class, which are smaller and cheaper; noisy fan.
Dimensions H x D x W (inches, with fan)
6.4 x 4.1 x 5.4
2 lbs, 4.6 oz
6, plus two vertical vapor chambers
Add’l Fan Support
1 (plastic clips included)
CM TPC 812
CM Hyper 212 Evo
All temperatures in degrees Celsius. Best scores bolded. All tests performed using an Intel Core i7-3960X at 4.2GHz, on an Asus Sabertooth X79 motherboard with 16GB DDR3/1600, in a Thermaltake Level 10 GT with stock fans set to Low.