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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  • mr_tawan - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Used to have 212+ once. Later I swapped out for a cheap closed-loop. Though the CPU temp is a few C lower, the closed-loop was much louder than the 212+ (due the the 'pump whine').

    Years later I upgrade the rig to a Core i5, which is not really that hot, and I'm not interested in overclocking anymore (being more mature I guess).

    I find the 212 is pretty good for its price. It's a great entry-level cooler for those who want to upgrade. I also think that it could serve well as a baseline for the comparision.
    Reply
  • zodiacfml - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    I didn't know that overclocking enthusiast would prefer a lower performing heatsink instead of the best available. The reason is simple; CPUs consume less power throughout the years even with continuous but non synthetic workloads including gaming.

    Many years ago, I was a fan of watercooling then big-air heatsinks then not anymore. It is just not logical anymore as they are more expensive, larger, and cumbersome.
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    To me, the whole point of overclocking is to get a better cpu than what you paid for. So overpaying for a heat sink doesn't make sense - the whole point is to get the best possible performance, while spending the least amount of money. At least that is what overclocking means to me, and I'm sure a lot of other people as well. Reply
  • Ian Cutress - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    That's usually how most people start with overclocking. For others, it's getting the best performance regardless. That's why people still that the i7-K and push it, rather than a Pentium-K and tweak it. Reply
  • kmmatney - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    I bought my Hyper 212 for $19.99 - a much bigger savings than $10. It does the job, and in the end my overclock was not limited by temperature, but by the CPU itself. A more expensive heatsink wouldn't gain me anything. Reply
  • aj654987 - Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - link

    What are you even talking about. The 212 is $35 and half the cost of many of these heatsinks. Its been the gold standard for years, if you only get another 1 C out of a HSF that cost double then its not worth it. Reply
  • CummingsSM - Thursday, July 9, 2015 - link

    Yep. You save $9.99 and then this happens: https://i.imgur.com/COC5qW9.jpg

    (In case someone is wondering: No, I didn't over-torque it, the bolt got caught in the back-plate and sheared under the power of a screwdriver lightly applied; And yes, that bolt is hollow; And yes, that is the mounting hardware from a CM 212 EVO; And yes, I'm done buying CM products.)
    Reply
  • LittleLeo - Thursday, July 9, 2015 - link

    Or a Beer and a bag of chips Reply
  • tabascosauz - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Are you kidding me? Intel's CPUs might be efficient compared to AMD's, but there is hardly a valid reason to dismiss the dual-tower crowd. Intel's CPUs are hotter than they have been in years, thermal performance having declined steadily since Sandy Bridge due to sh*ttier and sh*ttier TIM and other reasons. Reply
  • rickon66 - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Regarding the CM 212+/EVO -They did not want to show a $25 cooler that beat the expensive guys. Reply

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