Cooler Master, DEEPCOOL, Noctua, and Thermaltake CPU Cooler RoundupWaco - January 20, 2013
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You'll notice as you read through this roundup that I've left price out of the equation. This is because I actually didn't even look up the prices until after testing and writing about each cooler. Sure, I had some notion of cost based on the different styles of coolers, but I didn't know for sure. Second, assuming you read through the review instead of jumping directly to this page, it allowed you to get a good idea of how the different heat sinks performed without pre-judging based on their price tag. That all said; some of the prices surprised me. The Cooler Master TPC 812 is priced at $64.99, the DEEPCOOL Ice Blade Pro V2.0 at $44.99, the DEEPCOOL Neptwin at $50.99, the Noctua NH-L12 at $69.99 and the Thermaltake Water 2.0 Extreme rounds out the pack at $129.99. Read on to see how that finalizes my opinion of each!
Cooler Master TPC 812
The Cooler Master TPC 812 is a nice cooler. Installation was straightforward, the fan clips are extremely easy to use, and the overall design works well. That said, the overclocked performance really doesn't live up to expectations based on the price tag. In stock testing it performed within a single degree of the much louder and more expensive water cooling units but when pushed with the overclocked heat load the TPC 812 was simply overwhelmed and fell to nearly the bottom of the rankings. The fan on this cooler, at full speed, produces a medium-pitch drone along with the sound of rushing air that is not inherently unpleasant but would probably be audible in most cases. For the price it works well at stock speeds and could be suitable for moderate overclocking on less power-hungry CPUs.
- Great performance at stock speeds
- Simple and effective design
- Reasonably quiet
- Can be overwhelmed with higher overclocks
- A bit pricey
DEEPCOOL Ice Blade Pro V2.0
At $44.99 the DEEPCOOL Ice Blade Pro V2.0 rings in as the least expensive cooler in this roundup. At $20 less expensive than the Cooler Master TPC 812 it delivered identical performance in the overclocked tests even though it didn't rule the roost in the stock tests. This lower cost comes at a price of a bit of ear sanity though, as the Ice Blade Pro V2.0 does have a bit more of an annoying whine to it when spinning at maximum RPM. I have the feeling that it would perform better on a larger CPU like a Sandy Bridge-E or a Bulldozer, because of the size of the base and how the heat pipes are positioned, but it still performed adequately on the relatively tiny Sandy Bridge i7 2600K. If you like blue lighting and don't want to spend an arm and a leg to keep your reasonably-overclocked CPU cool then the Ice Blade Pro V2.0 may be worth a look!
- Decent cooling at both stock and overclocked
- Small price tag
- Easy installation
- BRIGHT blue LED fan
- Somewhat louder than the other tower coolers
- Can't quite keep up at high clocks
The DEEPCOOL Neptwin is the real diamond in the rough here. At just $50.99 it beats all of the other air coolers in the roundup in the overclocked tests and best of all, it managed to do that without being obnoxiously loud! The twin fans were barely audible over the case fans in the Corsair 650D test case and as long as you don't have exceedingly tall RAM modules, you won't run into clearance issues in the vast majority of cases. If I had to pick a favorite purely in terms of price and performance, the Neptwin would be my choice. The focus on cooling efficiency over any kind of "bling" might not be to everyone's liking, but personally it appealed to me more because of that trait.
- Excellent performance at high clocks
- Reasonably quiet fans even at full speed
- Bare-bones styling
- Great pricing
- May not fit over tall RAM sticks
- Bare-bones styling may not be for everyone
The Noctua NH-L12 is a bit out of its element in this comparison. Being the only low-profile cooler as well as being one of the quietest coolers in the roundup it was at a distinct disadvantage. That said, for lower power CPUs and for light overclocking, it will certainly keep your CPU cool and safe without wrecking the silence of your office or living room. While I probably wouldn't choose the NH-L12 for a gaming computer, it would fit right at home in its target market: a micro-ATX or mini-ITX HTPC case. The price tag of $69.99 is a bit lofty compared to the other higher-performing coolers I tested, but at the same time, it will fit into almost any case (especially in single-fan mode) and carries with it an incredible six year warranty, just in case anything goes wrong. If you're building a smaller HTPC and don't want to hear a stock cooler droning away all day the NH-L12 demands your consideration.
- Reasonable cooling performance in near silence
- 6 year warranty
- Small stature will allow installation in almost any case
- Cools RAM and CPU VRMs
- Pricey in terms of pure performance
- Installation is a bit tricky
Thermaltake Water 2.0 Extreme
Last but not least, the Thermaltake Water 2.0 Extreme really lead the pack in terms of performance. That performance comes at a price though; at $129.99 the Water 2.0 Extreme is a a lot more expensive than the other air coolers it was compared to and even eclipses the cost of the Corsair H100 by $20. That $20 doesn't go to waste, however, as the built-in fan controller works admirably to tailor the sound profile of the Water 2.0 Extreme to your liking. Even at full speed (which matches the Corsair H100 in terms of cooling), it is substantially less loud than the H100. That's not to say it's a quiet cooler when cranked up to full throttle, but it is tolerable if you are in a noisy room or are wearing a decent headset. If you've been on the fence about jumping into water cooling and don't want to go for a full custom solution with all of the included headaches, then a self-contained system like the Water 2.0 Extreme may very well be exactly what you've been waiting for!
- Extremely good cooling at stock and overclocked speeds
- Reasonable noise levels at full speed, extremely quiet on the "Silent" preset
- Custom fan profiles using the integrated fan controller
- Zero chance for motherboard component interference with the pump
- Price tag
- Requires a case that can fit a 240mm radiator + fans
- Fan and pump wiring is hard to hide