Ease of Installation

After reviewing the Deepcool coolers, the ones I have on hand for this roundup feel like a night and day difference. Deepcool's products seem clearly designed to undercut more expensive propositions like most of the ones found here, but everything about the packages surrounding all the coolers here but but the bargain Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO scream quality.

Noctua's mounting system for the NH-D14 and NH-L12 is pretty similar to what Deepcool was doing, and in fact I've found most of the mounts I've tested so far have hewed to the same general designs. There's a backplate with four screws that goes through the holes in the motherboard, and then spacers and mounting brackets are secured on top of them. The mount for the Heligon HE01 is virtually identical. There are two studs on the brackets that another bracket (mounted between the cooler's heatpipes) affixes on to. It's a good system and allows the user to adjust orientation of the cooler pretty easily.

For the Noctua NH-L9i and be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2, four screws essentially come up through the motherboard's mounting holes and directly into sockets affixed directly to the coolers themselves. The Dark Rock Pro 2 uses a backplate while the L9i does not due to essentially operating within Intel's own cooler spec.

Of all the coolers, the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO's mounting may be the most aggravating for newer users. I've used a couple of 212 Plus units on builds for myself and other people, and I've had to move the 212 EVO a few times, so the quirks of the mechanism Cooler Master employs are old hat at this point. There's a backplate that goes behind the motherboard, and from there you insert four mounting standoffs and secure them to the backplate with bolts. The problem is that it can often be difficult to jam the screw parts of the standoffs through the backplate in the first place. The size of the backplate also means that if there are any electronics on the back of the motherboard, the plate is going to be butting up against them.

From there you move a mounting bracket between the heatpipes and push the screws into the standoffs. The problem with the design here is that even with the bracket securely fastened, you can still rotate the cooler slightly. It's not really a huge deal; if you applied thermal paste properly, the paste prevents anything from scratching, and obviously it doesn't bother me enough to stop using the Hyper 212 EVO in the case testbed.

I will say that where the 212 EVO shines is in the mounts it uses for the fans. There are plastic brackets with rubber pads that screw into the fan, and then the brackets snap on to the heatsink. These brackets are far, far easier to use than the cheap wire brackets used the majority of the time. Noctua avoids the pitfall of the wire brackets by having them affixed to the fans themselves, but SilverStone's Heligon HE01 requires a bit of dexterity to mount the fan.

Introduction Testing Methodology
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  • kmmatney - Saturday, March 16, 2013 - link

    The test setup was fine to me, and all coolers are measured under the same conditions, which is what is really important. I have an 212 EVO cooling a Core i5 running at 4.3 Ghz. I can't stand any noise, so only have a single case fan, running very slow. I've been thinking about moving my single exhaust fan to be an intake to get positive pressure.
  • Egg - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    What about a test bench? I can see where Dustin is coming from regarding not wanting the case fans to affect the test result.
  • JeBarr - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    quote " the NH-L12 stands to impress as potentially the most powerful downward-flow cooler on the market."

    Correction: Noctua NH-C14 or Phanteks PH-TC14CS hold that title.

    Thanks again Dustin for another fine air cooler review. Keep 'em comin'!
  • rhx123 - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    I have a NH-L9i and I pretty much got it as a stock cooler replacement, my temps were fine on a i5-3470 but the noise was not.

    I have a huge phobia of of a large chunk of metal damaging my machine when I move it, but for a multiplier-locked CPU getting a closed loop would be mad.

    The NH-L9i is very quiet on idle, and more importantly the fan doesn't have an obvious tonality like some fans do.
  • jrs77 - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    The CM Hyper 212 Evo is still the best cooler, when you take it's price into account. Additionally you can make it even better with a $15-fan like the Akasa Apache PWM, which outperforms the stock-fan in both: noise and airflow. And even with an additional fan you're still paying less then for the other bigger coolers.

    The AIO-liquid coolers are not really that impressive imho. I've had a Corsair H50 and H60 and an intel AIO-liquid cooler and allthough they showed better temps, the pumps and fans were loud and made irritating high-pitched noises. Not to mention that I had to RMA both Corsair-coolers (the H50 even twice) because the pump made rattling noises.
    Also, for the money of them you can get a very good aircooler, performing just as well, especially if you're not overclocking. With regards to that, you should test a Prolimatech Genesis with two silent 140mm fans sometime.
  • A5 - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    To be fair, the H50 and H60 are the two cheapest CLCs on the market. If one is going that route, this testing shows the larger CLCs to be the ones to look at. The "cheap" ones don't really perform appreciably better than the CM 212 EVO and cost 50+% more.
  • HisDivineOrder - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Pumps fail. That's enough for me right there to stay air. Sure, fans fail, too, but with a CLC you have the fans AND the pump at risk of failure. With air cooling, it's just the fan.

    The difference between those coolers--air and water--is so small so as to be insignificant in day to day usage. The only reason someone should go for water cooling is if they want to break some speed records, but CLC should stay out of mainstream, every day systems.

  • Rick83 - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Is there an error in the noise chart?
    How can the PWM L9i be louder than the 100% L9i?
    Especially, as in the text it doesn't say so.
    Would be great if you could fix that.
  • DanNeely - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Thanks for finally reviewing a Coolermaster 212 series unit; because their ubiquity gives lots of people a known reference point to compare performance with.

    Could you add a YateLoon fan to your next fan roundup for the same purpose since they're one of the most popular budget 120mm fans?
  • Beenthere - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Dustin - Again you display a strange and absurd POV on HSFs...

    "...and if for whatever reason a closed loop cooler isn't on your list..."

    Why would any technically astute consumer have a CLC on their "list" of desirable CPU coolers when CLCs are inferior in every typical CPU cooling metric used by consumers, including thermal efficiency, noise, cost and reliability. If you ignore all of the obvious reasons to not buy a CLC and just buy one because you want one or don't know any better, that is fine but no one with a technical clue would buy or recommend a CLC based on merit.

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