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
Current Retail Pricing
be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 1 × 135mm
1 × 120mm
Cryorig R1 Ultimate 2 × 140mm 700-1300 $196**
Logisys (DeepCool)
GamerStorm Assassin
1 × 140mm
1 × 120mm
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
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 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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  • MartenKL - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    I would of course like to see the testbed updated to have fan/s controlled by thermals, ie something like ASUS Fan Expert. Set for a target temperature and loads in the more realistic range of 15-150 watts. And of course when reducing voltage it should be via PWM and not simply reducing static voltage. The results should then be presented in temperature variance and noise levels/profile.
  • MrSpadge - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Good suggestions. I hate those charts with "full fan voltage" and "fan voltage reduced to ..". What I really care about is "how silent can the cooler be for a given temperature / cooling performance?" And "which one cools better at similar noise level".

    It doesn't help much to see a strong fan with inbearable noise in those charts. Even if someone is interested in such solutions - wouldn't his question rather be "which heatsink performs best with this high-speed fan"? Which would again be something he couldn't answer from this data.

    I know making noise based comparisons is difficult. But the raw sound pressure could be accompanied by some subjective remarks regarding the noise spectrum.
  • Cookiespy - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    It would be interesting to see how the stock coolers compare to this high performance cooler. I wouldn't pay $80-100 just to see 5degrees improvement.
  • Eidigean - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Chips big enough to need these coolers, such as Socket 2011, do not come with stock coolers.
  • meacupla - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    The stock heatsink cools great and is pretty silent with stock settings in a case with decent airflow, end of story.

    These kinds of $80 heatsinks are what you want when you overclock, but with the same or lower noise levels.

    If you don't overclock, then a $20~25 heatsink can do a 5~20C improvement and keep the computer quieter at the same time too.
  • Eidigean - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    What are you, a shill for Intel? The Intel stock heatsinks are the absolute worst. Check out the graphs from this Anandtech article:

    Dead last in performance AND noise. Stock heatsink was greater than 30 degrees C hotter, and 20 decibels louder.
  • meacupla - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    It says right there in the system specs used to test those coolers...
    "Intel Core i7-2700K overclocked to 4.4GHz @ 1.4V"

    I'm surprised the stock intel heatsink was able to complete the tests.
  • meacupla - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    no wait, look, it says the stock heatsink and a low profile heatsink failed on an overclocked i7.

    Like I said, stock intel heatsink, especially the one with a copper core, works great at stock speeds.
  • Azurael - Friday, July 17, 2015 - link

    I don't know if the stock HSFs have changed since Sandy Bridge, but my 2500k would hit 98+ degrees and throttle under AVX loads with the pathetic little stock thing whilst sounding like a small tornado had developed inside my case (how is it that a 95w CPU comes with an HSF half the size of the ones they used to ship with 65w C2Ds?!)

    Whichever cheap tower cooler I replaced it with does the job just fine, though. It's been running like a champ at 4.5GHz for near enough 4 years now. (I think it's a Xigmatek SD1283 - I haven't even taken the side off my machine for over a year, those heady days of tinkering and yearly upgrades long since passed.)
  • bug77 - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    What, no mention of the weight of each cooler? I think that's a rather important aspect.

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