Brace yourselves, summer is coming. As it happens every summer, the sales of advanced cooling solutions tend to increase this time of the year. This year a little more than usual, as many enthusiasts likely found the perfect excuse for an upgrade in light of the new Windows 10 release. Rising temperatures are a concern for both the casual user, who usually is just psychologically stressed by the higher temperature readings, and the advanced enthusiast, whose overclocked system is now facing random stability issues. And of course there are those who are simply annoyed by the increasing noise of their current cooling solution and are in need of something less intrusive.

Liquid-based cooling solutions are becoming easier to install and AIO kits generally are hassle-free, yet they are still not favored by the majority of the users. Their space requirements, increased complexity and price hold most people to simple air-based cooling solutions. After all, most advanced users are not quite convinced about the performance of AIO coolers to begin with, with some even claiming that air-based solutions can be as good or even better.

We have not had a review of simple air-based cooling solutions in a while here in AnandTech. With a new advanced testing setup and equipment, it makes sense to begin with roundup reviews, which present multiple current solutions and create a healthy reference database. However, there are thousands of air-based cooling products available and almost every one of them is designed for a specific purpose and target group. We had to start from a single category, therefore we simply requested from a number of companies to ship us whichever product they consider their best. Nine companies answered our call, alphabetically listed in the table below.

Product Fans Fan Speed
(RPM)
Current Retail Pricing
be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 1 × 135mm
1 × 120mm
1400
1700
$86.50
Cryorig R1 Ultimate 2 × 140mm 700-1300 $196**
Logisys (DeepCool)
GamerStorm Assassin
1 × 140mm
1 × 120mm
700-1400
1200
$56.90
Noctua NH-D15 2 × 140mm 300-1500 $93
Phanteks PH-TC14PE 2 × 140mm 700-1200 $80
Raijintek Tisis 2 × 140mm 600-1000 64€ (≈$72*)
Reeven Okeanos RC-1402 1 × 140mm
1 × 120mm
300-1700
300-1800
60€ (≈$66*)
SilentiumPC Grandis XE1236 2 × 120mm 500-1500 £34.90 (≈$45*)
Thermalright Macho Zero - - $65 (no fan)

*As these coolers are not available in the US at the time of the review, these are the average retail prices in USD, excluding taxes.

**The Cryorig R1 Ultimate currently is available only through a foreign store registered in Amazon.com that ships from Korea. The current retail price is extremely bloated, far above the MSRP.

The Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3
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  • Narcissist - Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - link

    I fully agree with the Oxford Guy. I've got a NoFan CR-95C cooling my non-OC i7 4790K. This in conjuction with a couple of M.2 SSD-units, a passively cooled PSU and a passively cooled graphics card makes for a 100% quiet and rather powerful computer. To be on the safe side I've added a Noctua D14 which is configured to force air across all components when the motherboard temperature gets over 50 degC. I is almost never active, though. I've run the Prime95 "Torture Test" for prolonged periods but the CPU-temp consistently stays below 70 degC. In my opinion the NoFan unit is doing a splendid job, although at a price. Reply
  • Sivar - Friday, February 5, 2016 - link

    Listen to Oxford Guy. I've used three NoFan models and they all work amazingly well...as long as your CPU's power consumption stays under 100W. If you use a 6- or 8- core i7, or if you overclock enough to hit the 100W envelope, fanless is not for you.
    Note that NoFan coolers benefit only slightly when a fan is used. They are truly built as fanless coolers from the ground up.
    Reply
  • lagittaja - Monday, July 20, 2015 - link

    My HTPC has a G2120 with NH-U12P, HD5670 with Accelero S1r2, 64GB Samsung 830 + 1TB WD Black along with 80+ Plat 400W fanless PSU. Inside Lian Li A05N.
    Only fans being filtered intake Gentle Typhoon @~600rpm and exhaust Slip Stream ~400rpm.

    Pretty overkill cooling wise. Could drop the fan speeds even further..
    To answer your question, yes it can easily handle it provided there's a teeny weeny bit of airflow in the case.

    Work rig has a HR-02 Macho with 800rpm Slip Stream cooling a 3770K@4.7Ghz/1.336V. Could run it fanless if I'd drop the clocks to say 4.3/1.1 or so..
    Reply
  • Cvengr - Friday, December 25, 2015 - link

    It would simply be the ratio of surface area of the fins to the surface area of the top of the CPU making contact with the heat collector. The fans merely dissipate the heat more quickly over the same area.

    The advantage of the fans are to transfer the heat by convection to the outer environment more quickly than allowing the heat to build up closer to other components in the system.

    If designed for heat transfer, the other components are likely to have been designed assuming an ambient temperature at a particular max level, say 100-130degF. As the delta Temp between the environment and the part generating the heat will increase, so will the heat flow by conduction.

    Intent is to draw the heat as far away from the components as possible.

    One problem in these designs is to get the heat away from the CPU, as well as the Motherboard components, as well as other components in the case, so the interior case temperatures don't approach the environmental max design temps of those components.

    A disadvantage in building by components, is that the component manufacturers are likely to only design for their particular component or one they support.

    A common problem in Data Centers is how to remove all the heat from the racks and equipment within them. ANSI/TIA 942 stds go a long way to coordinate between disciplines and trades to effect proper HVAC in the server areas, but even within the racks and cabinets, too many designs limit themselves to providing a temperature set point at different areas in the room, but fail to flow adequate air over the equipment to transfer the heat away from the local electronics environments.

    Computer Room Air Conditioners (CRAC) units are notorious for being installed to remove heat, but fail to provide adequate ventilation (air movement) within the computer rooms.

    Since most of the CRAC units use split systems (condensate lines in 1/2" copper tubing running through the wall to a condenser outside the building), The natural trend would be to incorporate a small heat exchanger using a CPU water cooling fluid as the secondary, and the chilled water from the condensate of a HVAC system as the primary chilled water to remove the heat.

    I haven't shopped the Enterprise level systems. I wonder if such systems are commodities.
    Reply
  • sjakti - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Interesting article, thank you! I especially appreciate the "Quick Conclusions", that's a great table. Reply
  • Shadow7037932 - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    I wish you guys had included the Hyper 212+/EVO in the review as the base comparison. Reply
  • zodiacfml - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    True. It should be the default heatsink to compare with. Now that majority of Intel's CPUs become low power and efficient, these dual tower designs seem overkill except for the unlocked multiplier overclocker or fanless PCs. Reply
  • Achaios - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Obsession with CM Hyper 212 EVO "Hypertwohundredtwelvetitis" is a disease also prevalent in Overclock.net. People go berserk over the 212, almost as if they have been mass brainwashed or mass hypnotized. To my best understanding, this mass hysteria is due to the fact that cheap "enthusiasts" may save up to the hugely important sum of $9.99 if they go with the 212 compared to other coolers for the wondrous performance gain of 0.8 Celsius. In other words, the mass hysteria with the 212 is because if you go with the 212, you will save enough money in the end to buy a pack of cigarettes and a can of beer. Reply
  • Nagorak - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Well every little bit counts, and to be honest I can understand why people would not want to spend $70-$80 on a heatsink. Getting a decent heatsink for $30-$40 makes sense for a lot of people. However, if you consider wasting money buying cigarettes to be reasonable, I can understand why you wouldn't put much stock in saving a few bucks. Reply
  • Achaios - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Given how many overclockers and enthusiasts actually use the CM Hyper Evo 212 in their rigs (as eveidenced at Overclock.net) I think that Zodiacfml's suggestion of the CM hyper Evo 212 being used as a baseline cooler is a good one and I recommend the OP to take it. Reply

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