Among PC builders, Zalman is practically legendary. The company was the pioneer in the design of beautiful copper air coolers that offered both low temperatures and low noise. In recent years, though, the market has shifted from its “radial” or cylindrical design to blocky stacks of fins and even closed-loop liquid coolers (CLCs). The company has been selling conventional CLCs for several years now, but it obviously decided to do something really distinctive with the Reserator 3 Max Dual.
If you're in the market for a new CPU cooler, Enermax has announced a a mid-range tower-style cooler with LED lights, U-shaped heat pipes, and Enermax's patented Stack Effect Flow (SEF) technology. On top of that, the blue LED lights add a cool sci-fi lilt to what could otherwise be a boring plain cooler. And who would want that?
When it comes to keeping your CPU cool under pressure, it’s hard to beat a closed-loop liquid cooler (CLC). They’re on the expensive side, though, so there’s still plenty of room at $50 and below for conventional air cooling. What, then, do we make of an air cooler with an MSRP of $100? It’s gotta be pretty fancy to command that kind of scratch, and the Cooler Master V8 GTS sure seems like a contender.
Note: This review was originally featured in the Holiday 2013 issue of the magazine
The latest Zalman heatsink looks cooler than it is
THE CNPS12X MIGHT be Zalman’s most eye-catching cooler, with two arrays of black-nickel-coated cooling fins and three 12cm fans to push air through them. And it is massive. It’s 6.1 inches tall, 5.25 deep, and more than 6 inches wide, and weighs two pounds, four ounces. It’s so big it overhangs the inner four RAM slots on our Asus P9X79 Deluxe test motherboard, requiring the use of RAM without tall heat spreaders. The six direct-contact heat pipes rise into two sets of cooling fins, with the front and rear fans nestled into their respective fins, and the middle fan in between the two sets. All three fans are controlled via a single 3-pin power connector.
Zalman's latest approach to air cooling is to pound away at the problem of heat building with three -- yes, THREE -- 120mm Long Life Bearing fans with blue LEDs. The triple fan configuration comes standard on Zalman's new CNPS12X, a hulk-sized air cooler measuring 151mm (L) x 132mm (W) x 154mm (H) weighing 1kg, or just over 2.2 pounds.
Cooler Master's new Hyper 412 PWM CPU cooler has some mighty big shoes to fill. The company's Hyper 212 Plus set the bar in terms of price/performance ratio and impressed us so much it earned a perfect 10 and walked away with a Kick Ass award (you can read our review here). The Hyper 412 PWM is a similar looking cooler that promises the same "delicate balance between cooling potential and noise."
Given its small size, we didn’t expect maximum cooling performance from Arctic Cooling’s Alpine 7 Pro. And while the Alpine 7 Pro doesn’t set any performance records, in some situations it does match the capabilities of our cooler of choice, Thermaltake’s DuOrb. Given the sheer size difference between this 9x9x3cm cooler and the, well, monstrous DuOrb, the Alpine 7’s performance was a pleasant surprise.
Zalman’s CNPS9700 has been the Godzilla of coolers and a Best of the Best champion for more than a year. But it’s finally facing its Megalon in Thermaltake’s DuOrb cooler. The extra-wide cooler, shaped in a 20-centimeter-wide figure eight, comes with two 8cm blue and red LED fans tucked inside two rings of copper fins.
Let nobody say that Gigabyte didn’t break the mold with its 3D Rocket II heatsink/fan combination. As the name alludes, the device resembles a rocket ship sitting atop a launch pad. It’s about as well strapped in, too; we applaud the 3D Rocket II for its efforts to sail amongst the heavenly stars of CPU coolers, but its installation process keeps the device strapped firmly to the ground.
We’re always suspicious of cooling devices that promote their silent functionality. Quiet devices tend to use less-powerful fans or run normal fans at painfully slow speeds. And while this can do wonders for one’s hearing and general peace of mind, our reasonably noisy stock AMD cooler performs much better than the quieter devices we’ve tested.