Towers of Power: Four Large CPU Air Coolers Face Off
Introduction and Specifications
In this roundup we'll explore the performance of three premium (and large) air coolers - with the ultra-popular Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO in the mix to see how this $29 option stacks up against the big dogs on test.
Many of the large air coolers on the market are built for ultra-efficient cooling at whisper-quiet volume levels. With massive heatsinks (and sometimes pairs of them) they can often cool demanding CPU loads with minimal fan speeds, and this usually results in very low noise output. Another advantage is the increased thermal headroom such a cooler provides, which can allow for overclocking without the need for liquid cooling - or even much additional noise.
So what coolers are included? In alphabetical order we have:
- Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO - $28.99, Amazon
- Noctua NH-D14 SE2011- $79.99, Amazon
- Scythe Ninja 4 (SCNJ-4000) - $46.95, Amazon
- Thermalright Le Grand Macho RT - $79.99, Amazon
Can the $29 Hyper 212 EVO hold its own in this group?
Kicking Cooler Testing up a Notch
I reviewed the Thermalright Le Grand Macho RT recently, using a Core i5 6600K-based test platform (the Scythe Ninja 4 was also reviewed using this platform), and readers correctly pointed out that a cooler of this size should really be tested with some more challenging thermal loads. The Core i5-6600K is a quad-core, single-threaded design with a 91W TDP, and in moving to a new CPU cooler test system I decided to make the jump to the 140W TDPs of Intel's LGA2011 processors.
So I ended up with a Core i7-6800K; a newer Broadwell-E design with a 6 core/12 thread configuration (and of course that 140W TDP). The base speed of the CPU is 3.40 GHz, with a maximum turbo frequency of 3.60 GHz. Without much trouble I was able to push the CPU to 4.0 GHz on each core, and proceeded to test each of these coolers at both stock and OC frequencies. My hope is that the results to follow will adequately demonstrate just how effective these coolers are when really pressed.
Before continuing, here's a look at the specs for the coolers in today's roundup:
|Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO||Noctua NH-D14 SE2011||Scythe Ninja 4 (SCNJ-4000)||Thermaltake Le Grand Macho RT|
|Overall Dimensions (HxWxD)||159x120x80mm||160x140x158mm||155x130x153mm||159x150x152mm|
|GlideStream 120 PWM
|Fan Speed||600-2000 RPM||300-1200 RPM,
|Heatsink Material||4 Direct Contact Heat Pipes, Aluminum Fins||
Nickel-Plated Copper, Aluminium Fins
|Nickel-Plated Copper, Aluminium Fins||Nickel-Plated Copper, Aluminium Fins|
|Weight (with fans)||569g||1240g||900g||1060g|
I won't delve into the mounting hardware or installation of these coolers, as they have all been previously reviewed. Speaking of hardware, the SE2011 version of the NH-D14 tested here doesn't include a mount for Intel LGA115x processors, so an adapter is needed for those processors if you want the version with PWM fans (Noctua NM-i115x Mounting Kit - $7.99, Amazon).
Next up, we'll dive right into the performance numbers to see which cooler came out on top!