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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  • Peichen - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    I expect many R9 Fury X users are shopping for large air-cooler now as they have to give up their AIO CPU-cooler to Fury.

    BTW, I really wish you added a Hyper 212X as reference.
    Reply
  • meacupla - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    You could just buy a case like the Fractal Design Define S, which could fit two separate 120mm CLLC in the front, allowing both to get fresh air. Reply
  • Flunk - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    I'm a bit disappointed that you didn't comment on the install process on any of the heatsinks. I recently bought a Dark Rock Pro 3 and while I love how quiet it is and the temps are actually lower than the Corsair Hydro H80 it replaced, the install process requires you to screw the heatsink in from the back of the motherboard. That and the size of the supplied backplate made the heatsink install more difficult that is really necessary.

    If you buy a Dark Rock 3 Pro I recommend removing the motherboard from the case entirely and installing it by flipping the heatsink upside down and balancing the motherboard on top of it in the correct position. This makes it fairly easy to screw in. But if you are using a normal thermal paste you might need to put it on the heatsink instead of the CPU heatspreader. I use IC Diamond and that stuff is so thick that it just stuck there upside down for long enough to finish mounting the thing.
    Reply
  • meacupla - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    Yeah, this is actually quite important. Noctua's mounting brackets are, by far, one of the easiest to work with. Reply
  • 'nar - Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - link

    I never gave it much thought. Installation is such a small concern to me, maybe I do this more than most, price and performance are preferable. That said, I still think Noctua's mounting can be improved, it seems unnecessarily complicated to me. First off, you really do need to replace the plastic bracket, there's no way around that. But secondly, why include a 140mm screw driver? Why not make the screws 140mm taller? Then you can just use a common screw driver, even a stubby or a pocket knife. And make them captive so they do not fall out and you do not need to line them up. These will certainly add to the cost due to extra engineering time and unique screws. Reply
  • Beany2013 - Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - link

    Because the 140mm screwdriver:
    A: Is cheaper than re-engineering the entire product
    B: long screws are *very* easy to cross-thread due to the extra sideways torque you can apply when inserting them.

    I *do* like the Noctua setup system. It's strong, comprehensive, and lets be honest, you only do it once. I'm pretty sure that any gotchas with installation were caught in the descriptions of each cooler, too.
    Reply
  • der - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    WOOOO! Reply
  • golemB - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    For the Macho Zero especially, I'd want to see the tests conducted (additionally) in a vertical motherboard orientation (as you'd have in most tower cases), since convection may have an effect on performance. It may also reveal differences in fan noise due to bearings rubbing more or less on different surfaces. Reply
  • 'nar - Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - link

    Not likely. Convection is slow. Any fans will blow away convection currents. Besides, orientation is strictly a "case by case" basis and beyond the scope of an empirical HSF comparison.

    Fan noise due to orientation may be good to check for though. I doubt it will be any different, if it is, the aberration should be noted.
    Reply
  • flashbacck - Monday, July 6, 2015 - link

    wow, cpu cooler roundup! It seems so rare to see these nowadays. Reply

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