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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  • mrvco - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    I agree. It would be helpful to know how the 212 compares both with regards to cooling and quietness. I typically prefer "quieter" so I'd be curious to know how much better the "Dark Rock Pro 3" is than the 212... is it $40+ better? Reply
  • Eidigean - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    I actually bought the 212 and added a second fan to it, not because it was cheap, but because it would fit between the 2x2 banks of memory on my Rampage IV Formula perfectly (with 1 mm of space on either side) allowing the tall memory heatsinks to rise up, and inconsequentially get a breeze from the fans. The CPU runs nice and cool (and quiet) with a modest overclock.

    I'd get the offset Noctua NH-D15S if I ever upgrade from a 4 core 3820 to a 6 core 4930K.
    Reply
  • effortless - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Exactly my thoughts. The Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO needs to be included in this test, to show exactly what 90% who buys CPU coolers are missing out on, or eventually not missing out on. Reply
  • randomlinh - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    I'm confused about your complaint. What's wrong w/ the 212? What's wrong w/ saving $10 for 1 deg celcius difference?

    I genuinely don't know, I have a 212 from almost 4 yrs ago? It works. It's quiet (for the time). The only complaint is if I try to go super small form factor, it won't work.
    Reply
  • icrf - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    If it were only $10 I might agree with you, but when it's half the price, and sometimes a whole lot less, it makes a lot of sense. I looked at the Noctua when I built my 5820 last fall, and couldn't justify the 2.5x price. For $35, the 212 EVO is a great cooler. As good as the Noctua is, it's not two and a half times as good. That's why the 212 is so popular. It's in the proverbial sweet spot. Reply
  • andrewaggb - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    I agree. I've bought several 212 EVO's and I've been very happy with them. I was mostly looking for something that would run quiet under load (without overclocking) and I think they've been great. I've used some less expensive coolers and they were much worse - so in my opinion it's the cheapest cooler that met my needs. Reply
  • Araemo - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Obsession is pretty harsh given the facts... I went and looked up a comparison over on frostytech, and it looks like the Hyper 212 evo is only 2C hotter than the Noctua chosen as the realistic 'best choice'.. for 1/3 the price. Given that my ambient temps change by more than that 2C over the course of a year, 2C is never the stability margin I use on my overclocks. Reply
  • Nfarce - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Except that the 212 is not a "premium" cooler. When you start getting into extreme overclocks like I have (i5 4690k @4.8GHz, or a 23% overclock) and into water cooling needs territory, the 212 falls well more than a 2C behind which is where it is on lower level overclocks (5-15%) on my chip. Reply
  • StrangerGuy - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Who cares whether if the 212 isn't a "premium" cooler when I can simply buy the 4790K at stock 4.4GHz instead of premium cooling to barely OC a 4690K past a 4790K. You overclockers STILL think there is tremendous value to be had with OCing when the 2500K ship have long sailed. Reply
  • Nfarce - Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - link

    According to my benchmark tests in games and applications like Sony Vegas Studio, my overclock to 4.8GHz yields quite a bit of performance increase over the stock turbo of 3.9GHz. Oh and since I was on a budget and game about 80% of the time on that 4690K rig, I justified saving the extra $100 over a 4790K and put it towards a better GPU solution.

    And yes, I still have a 2500K build as well (not sure what that has to do with the price of ketchup), which used to be overclocked to 4.6GHz on that NH-D14 cooler (it is now relegated to backup duties and running at stock speeds on a Zalman 9700LED cooler). Which, incidentally, roughly equals the performance of my Devil's Canyon chip running at 4.2GHz.
    Reply

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