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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  • TheJian - Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - link

    It is far more impressive than you give it credit for. I easily hit >5ghz on this fan with i4790K.
  • Shadow7037932 - Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - link

    If you're going to extreme OCing, why the hell aren't you on custom water cooling or Dice/LN2?
  • Nfarce - Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - link

    Because where I am in overclock, the best air keeps up with the best closed loop kit cooling for far less money.
  • tabascosauz - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    What farce said is true. At high voltages and overclocks, the 212 EVO breaks down and the dual towers begin to shine.
  • DanNeely - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Which with simulated thermal loads ranging from 60-340W should have been made apparent in the course of testing.

    I would hope and expect that most if not all of these coolers would out perform it, especially at higher loads. But as a de-facto standard budget cooler for people who want something better than Intel's I think it should've been added to the matrix to show how much better these bigger ones performed. A stock Intel cooler should've been included as well for the same purposes (at least at the lower loads; no sense risking burning the test setup by trying to broil 340W through it). Including a mainstream reference point is especially important in this case because E. Fylladitakis's synthetic test load means that we can't cross reference his results with those found elsewhere.
  • SUpstone - Thursday, October 29, 2015 - link

    Totally agree - to get the full picture and to aid comparability with other tests the reference points of the Intel stock cooler (free) and CM 212 EVO (£25) should be included.
  • Flunk - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    If you buy one of those things on sale I've seen them as low as $30, which if you don't need better cooling, is a good deal. The reason the Hyper 212 EVO is popular is that it's cheaper than most of it's competition and easily available. They're good enough for moderate overclocking on a 1150-series chip so they do fit the bill for a lot of people. Something being popular doesn't make it bad.
  • Pastuch - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    I have 2 of the original Hyper 212 (Non-evo) on two different I5-2500Ks that have been running super quiet at 4.4ghz for the last 4+ years. No coil whine or bearing degradation on the fans. I paid $20 for each Hyper 212 Evo. The value for the money is amazing. It's an excellent quality reliable product and it's easy to install.

    I paid $220 for my I5-2500k, 20$ for the Hyper 212 Evo, and $70 for 8gbs of PC 1333 in February of 2011. At 4.4ghz, it's still within 5% as fast as any CPU on the market. Sandy Bridge FOREVER! I'll keep buying video cards. You can waste your money on HSF upgrades for CPUs that become less important every day. DX12 is just going to make the CPU even less useful.
  • Pastuch - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Just to clarify, those are Canadian prices which makes them even more amazing. The new I5-K in Canada is almost $300! No thanks.
  • northward - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Remember, the average exchange in 2011 was 1.011 (CAD to USD). It is presently 0.79 (CAD to USD). Assuming US/CAN price parity in 2011, that $220 cooler would cost ~$278, not that far behind the $284 i5 4690K.

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