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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  • extide - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    How do you measure thermal efficiency? Just by how cool it gets the cpu? If so then CLC's do well.
    Noise wise, has a lot to do with the fans and can be very similar to other coolers.
    Cost? They are a bit expensive but their ability to cool well and also exhaust heat directly out the case is typically enough justification. I mean we are only talking about maybe $20 max, far less than a tank of gas even.
    Reliability? I have had two in service for quite a while now and they have been fine but I can see how adding a pump into the mix is a recipe for lowering overall reliability potential.

    However the simple fact is water moves heat better than heat-pipes, period. So you can move heat to a larger radiator, and also put that radiator in a larger variety of places. That is why even the small closed loop coolers do well. I have built several full custom loops in the past, and the closed loop coolers are not nearly as good as a high end custom setup, but FAR easier to get going and little to not maintenance. They have their place IMHO. They are not perfect but they definitely have their place.

    Do you have any facts or reasons behind your statement or are you just saying stuff because it sounds cool? Maybe your idea of technically astute is incorrect, or you are simply not technically astute yourself.
  • cjs150 - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Of course there is the downside to water coolers. They are spot not area coolers. Air will cool everything (to a certain extent) in the case as it flows over it, water will only cool those spots which have a waterblock.

    That is why you need to have decent airflow in a watercooled case - if not you fry the RAM (and yes I have done that)
  • DanNeely - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    A few years ago I saw a CPU waterblock by a low-tier vendor that had brackets for a down blowing fan on top to keep the ram/mosfets from baking; and have always wondered why none of the other vendors have ever offered anything similar.
  • mevans336 - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    I would love it if there were a way for the noise to be recorded so we can listen. Sure dBA numbers are great, but the actual pitch of the sound emitted is very important. I also have a hard time translating dBA numbers into perceived sound increase. I have a Noctua NH-D14 and according to your charts, there is only a 2dBA increase from silent to 100%. I would have guessed it to be MUCH larger than that as the perceptible sound increase from silent to 100% in my rig is massive. The pitch/tone of the sound (if that's the right terminology) at 100% changes drastically too.
  • kmi187 - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Here in Europe the DarkRock Pro is typically 1 to 2 euro's cheaper than the Noctua NH-D14, sometimes a bit cheaper even, if you can be bothered to look around. The new BeQuiet Shadow Rock also performs quite well imho, haven't used it myself but it's the cooler we put in budget systems at the shop whenever coolermaster EVO's aren't available.
  • IanCutress - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    We used the original Dark Rock Pro for an ASUS S2011 contest early last year, and it was quickly overwhelmed by the heat generated from the CPU past 5 GHz. So much that we had to force extra pressure on the socket so the processor didn't downclock and bork the scores.
  • lwatcdr - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Good review. The only thing I would suggest would be to also use a test bench for testing the coolers so you can take the case out of the equation. I would still test in a case as well but pick one you really like to build in because you will need to do it forever. Of course maybe you have.
    Now you just need to test every cooler in every case and with every CPU. Can you have it by next week?
  • wongwarren - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    No sorry the Plus' fan is better than the Evo's fan.
  • lichoblack - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    What about comparing low-profile coolers with some CLC's? Given the new trend towards smaller cases, and the height restriction of those microATX (Thermaltake LANBox for instance) or microITX cases (a LianLi one has 38mm height restriction, fitting for the noctua reviewed here) it would be interesting to compare a CLC to a compact cooler that has to be smaller than, say 100mm height.
  • shaolin95 - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Good stuff. I hope you add the Thermaltake Water 2.0 extreme to the mix.
    I moved from D14 to it and love it.

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