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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  • Drumsticks - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    They did one of these round ups with the 212 Evo or + a while back, also involving high ends from Noctua (U14 and U12S I believe). They found that it doesn't quite match up, but I know it got a mention for exceptional performance for cheap. I think it falls behind more in noise than performance.

    It definitely would have been interesting to see it in here, but nevertheless, thanks for the review!
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    I usually undervolt the fan a little - takes care iof any noise issues. Reply
  • Arnulf - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    +1 Reply
  • Nagorak - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    I would have also liked to have a "decent" CPU cooler like that included, as well as the stock Intel/AMD HSF. It's great seeing how these coolers stack up to one another, but it doesn't truly quantify how much of an improvement you're getting over a cheap alternative, or the stock fan. For the record, I haven't run with a stock fan on any main PC I've owned in the past 15 years, but I would be curious to see how much I'm actually gaining. Reply
  • Araemo - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Especially given the raw value of the Hyper 212 Evo at $30, it may get within a degree or two of some of these for half the price or less... which is why my last build had the Hyper 212+ (It's been a few years) - I could have gained maybe 5C by spending 4 times as much.. which didn't seem worth it to me. Reply
  • TheJian - Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - link

    AGREED. I have one, and at $29.95 from newegg just a few months ago on sale it was an AWESOME deal. i4790k can do massive oc's with it and even at full load is not terribly annoying with my 5850 causing most noise when gaming. This is still a top seller and for good reason. Reply
  • LittleLeo - Thursday, July 9, 2015 - link

    Since its about the most popular cooler for gamers that would have been nice. Reply
  • jay401 - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    I'm actually really glad to see this article, it's been ages since I've seen a good CPU air cooler roundup and sockets have changed several times over the years so it's nice to know what works well these days. Reply
  • jmke - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    air cooling has plenty much run into a wall; heatpipes to copper base, aluminum fins on the heatpipes, put 140mm or 120mm fan... there is not a lot of wiggle room, so performance of those that follow this recipe is very close.

    differentiators now for most part are: socket compatibility, price, installation method. Raw performance/noise is no longer the focus imho if you want a successful product
    Reply
  • meacupla - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    It's not so much socket compatibility, so much as how compatible you can make your heatsink against mobos that have poor design choices.

    Although not as common on mATX and larger boards, mITX suffers a lot from this, because manufacturers attach fragile bits onto the back of the mobo, near the CPU socket, that interfere with the mounting bracket. Either that, or the CPU socket is placed too close to the PCIe, etc.

    That Reeven Okeanos is something I haven't seen since Athlon 64 days, which are heatsinks paired with a stupidly loud fan. Look, if I wanted a heatsink with stupidly loud fan, I would buy an amazing heatsink or watercooler first, then attach the stupidly loud fan to that, instead of some mediocre heatsink with a mediocre fan.
    Reply

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