air cooling


Thermalright Silver Arrow SB-E Review

Close, but no silver bullet

The Thermalright Silver Arrow SB-E doesn’t lack for heat pipes: Eight of them rise from the heat exchanger up into the two sets of cooling fins. The entire thing, from aluminum fins to copper pipes and heat exchanger, is plated in a shiny nickel coat. The two sets of cooling fins are shiny and jagged, and much more stylized than the Noctua DH-14 (reviewed April 2012) or the Phanteks PH-TC14PE (reviewed June 2012), its most obvious competitors of the coolers we’ve tested. The whole assemblage weighs two pounds, 7.6 ounces with both fans. Those fans—a 15cm TY-150 and 14cm TY-141—are both low-RPM 12V fans with 4-pin PWM connectors.

There’s something incongruous about mustard-and-olive fans with those edgy nickel-plated cooling fins.


Cooler Master TPC 812 Review

Vertical vapor chamber—blowing hot air?

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.



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.


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.


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.


Xigmatek Aegir Review

Direct-contact heat pipes, and then some

WE HADN'T HEARD much from Xigmatek in a while until last month’s LGA2011 cooler roundup. In that review roundup, we tested the company’s budget Gaia cooler and found it roughly equivalent to the Hyper 212 Evo—which is a good thing. Now we’ve got our hands on the Aegir, a direct-contact heatsink with more fins, more fans, and more oomph.

The Aegir has a strange heat pipe configuration: Six copper heat pipes rise through its 4.6-inch stack of cooling fins, but only four have direct contact with the CPU heat exchanger. The other two heat pipes are set into channels at the top of the heat exchanger, above the two center direct-contact heat pipes. They don’t contact the CPU directly. They don’t even touch the heat pipes that touch the CPU. Xigmatek calls this "Double Layer with Heat-pipe Direct Touch," or DLHDT. Catchy!

Many coolers designed before the launch of Sandy Bridge-E have LGA2011 support added after the fact, and not always well. With some coolers, we had trouble putting sufficient mounting pressure on the heatsink, leaving the cooler’s LGA2011 performance lagging compared to other platforms. That isn’t a problem with the Aegir: Even on LGA2011, the mounting crossbar clamps down so far we worried we’d break our motherboard. But we didn’t, and thanks to the pressure, the Aegir’s four lower direct-contact heat pipes got plenty of, well, direct contact with the CPU’s heat spreader.