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Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus CPU Cooler Review

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AkG

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Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus CPU Cooler Review




Manufacture Page: Hyper 212 Plus - Cooler Master
Part Number: RR-B10-212P-GP
TechWiki Info: 212+
Price: Approx $30USD / $40CAD



It certainly has been a long, long time since we looked at HDT (Heatpipe Direct Touch) based cooling solutions. The last one we looked at was from OCZ and was essentially a tweaked clone of the Xigmatek S1284. Since then, many air coolers have come and gone…but one thing has remained constant: the three HDTs we have reviewed are still near the top of our charts and are easily some of the best bang for the buck coolers out there. Today we look at another HDT-based solution, one that is poised to upset the Xigmatek / OCZ apple cart and bring in a new reigning king of the budget coolers. The heatsink we are talking about is the brand new Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus. While a relative new comer to this whole HDT game, Cooler Master is not new to the Air Cooling arena.

In the past we have looked at numerous Cooler Master cooling products, all of which had their pros and cons but lacked the HDT feature we really wanted. Well, it appears we are not alone in bemoaning this fact as the new Hyper 212 PLUS is one which not only incorporates HDT but allows for “out of the box” dual 120mm fan cooling.

The Hyper 212 PLUS is brand new so finding one in the wild may prove to be a challenge right now. Knowing Cooler Master, this situation will change quickly and it should come in at about $40 here in Canada, and be widely available from retailers and e-tailers alike everywhere. Just give it a few more weeks.

This cooler really does have a lot of expectations riding on it as it does appear to have the potential to dethrone the OCZ Vendetta 2 / Xigmatek S1283 as our reigning value kings and become our “go to” cooler we would recommend to anyone (regardless of budget) who is not ready to get their feet wet in the water cooling arena. Heck, the just recently crowned Prolimatech Megahalems may have some stiff competition for its kingdom as we think the true and full HDT potential has never been fully tapped by any cooler yet. Can this one do it?


 
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AkG

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Specifications

Specifications


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<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/212P/212Pspecs.jpg" border="0" alt="" /><o:p></o:p>​
 
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AkG

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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories



In the recent past we looked at the Cooler Master Hyper N520 and at that time we commented about its packaging motif and how we liked it. Well, unless you take a careful look at the 212 PLUS’ box you could easily be forgiven for picking up the wrong product.

We like the looks of this box and we are certain that having a consistent colour scheme (just as the V-series lineup has one) is a good thing as most people will remember the box and not necessarily the brand name. This means a given product will not only build off the positive memories of other Hyper coolers, but also help cement the entire line in the minds of consumers.


Moving on from the looks and colour scheme into to nitty-gritty, the box does have everything you would need to make an informed purchasing decision. It has loads of technical information on the back, a nice “money shot” on the front and even informative features and specifications sections. All in all, the outside is everything we have come to expect from Cooler Master.


The internal packaging scheme is the exact same one as the one from the N520 and this is not a bad thing. The plastic clamshell packaging is simple, light weight and above all else EFFECTIVE. What more could you want, need or even desire in a internal protection scheme besides that?


The list of accessories which are included with this HDT cooler really did put a smile on our face.s Unlike previous HDTs which expected you to pay extra for a backplate (and thus included the less than optimal pushpin setup) this cooler includes an all in one mounting plate for Intel 775, i7, forthcoming i5….AND AMD systems! If that doesn’t qualify this backplate as the “Swiss army knife” of backplates we’d hate to see what would.


Also on the positive side is the fact Cooler Master included enough heavy duty wire clips to mount TWO fans. We bemoaned the lack of dual fan goodness on the previous HDT coolers and to see this cooler not only boast this capability but also include free of charge the second set of clips really impressed us. It may not seem like a big thing but we thought other companies were a bit cheap considering they made their loyal customers pay the couple bucks for the second set of wire clips. Bravo Cooler Master for hitting this one out of the park.

Rounding out the list of accessories is a small tube of Cooler Master branded thermal compound, the various nuts and bolts and instruction pamphlets which seen to be ubiquitous to all Cooler Master coolers.

To say we walked away happy and satisfied as our first impression is an understatement! We honestly feel spoiled with the overwhelming number of goodies which accompany this cooler.
 
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AkG

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Heatsink Construction & Design

Heatsink Construction & Design



At its highest point the Hyper 212 PLUS is officially 158.5mm tall, 120mm wide and with one fan attached it is 70mm deep. It weighs in at 626 grams; and on a first cursory look, nothing really jumps out and says “Hi I’m one mean machine built for extreme cooling". It looks like your typical dual slab sided cooler with four copper heatpipes for cooling and a relatively simplistic double face design to the fin array. Well, as the old saying goes you should never judge a book by its cover ‘cause this thing is full of design goodies.


The “boring” looking double faced fin array is the first thing worth mentioning. This IS an HDT cooler and this is the first one we have reviewed which takes this double faced approach. Being able to easily and “officially” mount a secondary fan to the 212 PLUS may just tip the balance on the i7 gauntlet and give the Prolimatech cooler a run for its money.


When you take an even closer look at those two faces of the fin array, you notice that the little tunnel and wave appearance on each end of the face is not there for looks but to act as a de facto fan shroud. By pushing the fan approximately 1/8" away from the heatsink's face, some air may escape from the top an bottom but the majority of the air will flow easily through the face…without any dead zone for the fan hub. It may not sound like much but this little tweak should do amazing things for the static pressure levels needed to properly push air through the fins and should make any fan work smarter, not harder. In the past we bemoaned the lack of high tech tweaks to the faces of the HDT coolers we had seen, and while the actual face of the unit is still a slab sided “old school” face, we actually don’t think this one needs any more tweaks.


The heatpipes themselves -of which there are four large U-type units- are staggered in a left to right fashion in order to allow more fresh air to flow over them when compared to the more mundane double row affair (as seen on the PromlimaTech). These heatpipes may be the smaller 6mm heatpipes versus the 8mm pipes found on the OCZ Vendetta 2 but since there are more of them, the overall efficiency of this setup should be greater. This of course assumes all four heatpipes are in contact with the CPU. In the past, we found that the four heatpipes directly touching the CPU to be less efficient on the 775 test bed, but as the OCZ Gladiator Max was reviewed long before our i7 system arrived on the scene…things may not be so cut and dry.


Moving onto to base of this unit we come to the main event…so to speak. As stated previously, this is a four x 6mm HDT cooler with the pipes in a double staggered row. Unlike the bases on previous HDTs -which while polished adequately were far from a mirror bright finish- the 212 Plus' is finished awfully darn well. It may not make a great mirror for shaving but this is more the fault of the aluminum inserts than the quality of the finishing work on the heatpipes themselves. We consider this HDT cooler to be easily the best finished one we have seen. On a side note, the 3 inner aluminum pillars / inserts have small lines scored into them which should make applying TIM to them even easier.
 
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AkG

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The Great Fan Debate

Fan Design



The fan which accompanies the 212 Plus is a 7 bladed, 120mm unit made by an unknown Chinese manufacturer and labeled as model FA7C1212ME-SBPNA or in Cooler Master nomenclature the A12025-20CB-4BP-C1. In typical Cooler Master fashion they have released some much need yet curious specifications. This is a Sleeve Bearing fan…or at least it is supposed to be a Sleeve Bearing fan that is capable of 2000RPMs and at its max speed it moves 76.8CFM at an impressive 3.9mmH20. Let’s take this at face value for the moment and move on.


As with other Cooler Master stock fans we have looked at in the past one displays no shaft slop and just a minuscule amount of off-axis blade slop which is consistent with a well constructed fan. As it is running at 2000RPM we expected a certain amount of noise and we certainly got it but we did notice that the majority of noise did not sound like any sleeve bearing fan we had ever heard before.

It was such a unique sound signature for a sleeve bearing fan we assumed we had one with a defective drive mechanism and requested a replacement from Cooler Master (on a side note this is half the reason why HWC did not make the NDA lift date). When we received the replacement, it sounded exactly the same. We then tried our usual spin test to get a feel for the vibrations created from it and hoped this would help shed some much needed light on just where things were going wrong. Here too we did not get the typical vibration response we have come to associate with sleeve bearing fans.

At this point we were 99% sure that we were dealing with a mislabeled Rifle Bearing fan as it made not only the typical “clicking” noise classic of that design but also the same vibration pattern (which reminds us a lot of a train on its tracks with a minute click – clack feel to it). We went back to our Cooler Master rep and they confirmed it was supposed to be a Sleeve Bearing fan. Since we had two of these things here (and we were determined to get to the bottom of this mystery) we cracked one open the get a good look at the bearing.

But first of all, let's take a look at two fans we knew were properly labeled.


The above left photo is that of a Cooler Master Rifle Bearing fan model A12025-24RB-4BP taken from a Cooler Master V10 cooler. On the right we have a Cooler Master Sleeve Bearing fan model A12025-12CB-3BN which we salvaged from our parts bin. As you can see the differences between a Sleeve Bearing and a Rifle Bearing fan are obvious.


This is a picture of the bearing which graces the fan of the Hyper 212+. As you can see its is clearly does NOT look like the other sleeve bearing fan we have pictured above or any other sleeve bearing fan we have come across in the past.

While the COoler Master reps took a look at these pictures and said that it was still a sleeve bearing fan we be believe this fan is in fact a Rifle Bearing fan. While it is not as silent as a Sleeve Bearing fan, there was a marked lack of squeal, chirps or any other noise that point to a bad fan and in this particular fan's case we would have no hesitation using it, as long as the noise output fit in with the rest of the computer build. To put it bluntly it is very, very quite for a 2000RPM rifle bearing unit.


We love the fact that Cooler Master decked this fan out with pre-installed rubber anti-vibration pads to help keep the vibrations from being transferred from the fan to the heatsink itself. We found this setup works very well but it did have the unfortunate consequences of making a gap between the fan and the fin array. This gap tends to leak air and has a negative impact on the overall effectiveness of this fan.


Also like many Cooler Master fans we have seen in the past this fan comes with the newer 4 pin plug and is thus PWM complaint. Unfortunately, there is no sleeving the wires which makes the setup look a bit messy in an otherwise clean build.
 
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AkG

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Installation

Installation


Unless you have a case with an aftermarket backplate cut-out in the motherboard area (HAF 932, ATCS 840, etc.) you will have to yank the motherboard before you can install the Cooler Master 212 PLUS. Since this cooler can accommodate such a wide range of systems (everything from AM2 to i7 to i5) it does not come set up from any one of these and as such you have to a bit of work ahead of you before you can mount the 212 PLUS.

Let's start with the motherboard removed from your case and continue through to the full installation.


The very first thing you have to do is dig out the four short standoff bolts, thread them through their proper holes in the motherboard, through the back plate and finally attach small nuts to them. This may sound complicated but it is actually very easy.

Making this task even easier is the fact that the threads on these bolts are removed on one side for quick insertion through the backplate. However, there is more than enough threading left to securely fasten the nuts.


When this task is complete you have four standoff bolts in place which have threads cut deeply into their heads. These bolts are the basis for holding the mounting bracket in place. What is very interesting about this setup is that this does not require you to balance the cooler in place and flip the works over and feed its bracket screws through the holes like the Cooler Master’s V-series (or even the previous Hyper model we recently tested). When the bolts are firmly screwed down all you have to do is take your time, apply TIM to the based of the cooler, gently place the 212 PLUS in position and then put the bracket in place and screw it down. The bracket has ball indent locking positions for the various CPU socket styles which allows it to become narrow for easy threading through the gap between the bottom of the fin assembly and the top of the base.



The top of the cooler's base has a single hole in which a screw/pin in the center of the bracket engages. This keeps the bracket in place and ensures the cooler cannot slide out of place.


Unfortunately, with only one center pressure point the cooler can spin around this central axis. We prefer a two pin setup to this style since it does not provide an even enough pressure over the entire surface of the CPU. Rather, it radiates out from the center with the four corners having (theoretically) less pressure than the center. On the positive side this central pin is adjustable for depth so you can leave it loose to easily set the four corners and then tighten it down.



To be fair, the four corner bolts of the bracket do tighten down to help keep the pressure even across the entire CPU. If only Cooler Master's great engineers could have figured out how to add a second stabilizing pin in the center area of the cooler, we would be even happier with this setup.



When the cooler itself is installed, you can then proceed to mount your fan(s). This is simplicity itself as this HDT cooler DOES NOT use those god awful rubber mounts which Xigmatek (and thus by association OCZ) use. In the 212's case, the ends of the wire stick in to the holes of the fan and hold it in place via tension. Unlike many similar setups, there are two areas bent out to allow easy removal but other than this minor (yet very nice) tweak darn near any fan wires will probably work perfectly fine on this cooler.



All in all, this is a very well engineered installation process but we do believe Cooler Master had to make compromises to get this bracket to be compatible with 775, i3/i5 AND i7 systems….as well as an AMD. Please don’t get us wrong, this installation may not be as good as some but it is still a huge leap in the right direction AND eons better than the older balancing act we had to do when installing past Cooler Master units. The only issue we really have with it is the fact that it allows a bit too much movement of the heatsink. We just hope that future revisions will surprise us and they will not only improve upon this admittedly very good setup but actually meet or exceed the ProlimaTech mounting system as that is our Gold Standard.
 
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AkG

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Installation Con't

Installation Con't


To show you exactly how much room this cooler requires we have taken photos and notes of it installed in both a North/South and East/West orientations. Here is what we found out.


North / South Cooler Orientation



In the alternate North South orientation, the fans are pointing up and down in relation to a standard ATX setup. This orientation does have some major benefits IF you have a case which is side and top fan heavy (such as the HAF 932). One fan sucking the heat out the back versus three….sounds like a no brainer right? Well not in all instances since it really does depend on the motherboard you are using and the clearance to its heat sinks, the ram and other crucial parts which really shouldn’t come into contact with the cooler. In the instance of the Hyper 212 PLUS, this is what we found.

Please note:
The heatsink on our Gigabyte X58-UD3R which closest to the PCI-E slots stands about 32mm tall, the heatsink closest to the I/O panel stands about 34mm tall and the small silver one stands about 28mm tall.


With most coolers in this orientation the RAM and chipset heatsink are the critical factors to a successful mount. As you can see, we have taken the worst case scenario and installed TWO fans. When it comes to ram clearance you should have no problems what so ever even with higher memory heatsinks as we had loads of room. The same cannot be said about the heatsink on the other side and if the ones on your board are taller than ours you may run afoul not of the 212 PLUS itself or even the fan's wire brackets. Even pushing the fan up as far it can go still meant it rubbed the top of the heatsink. We don’t consider this a huge deal BUT this can be considered the absolute MAXIMUM height restriction for this cooler.


As you can see, even with two fans attached this cooler has tons of room and if your motherboard uses the standard clearance around the i7 mounting area you should have no concerns or worries. All in all you really only have to worry about one contact point when mounting in a N/S orientation. Additionally, we don’t think it would be too hard to mod the offending wire clips so they don’t stick out if you motherboard uses taller heatsinks. In our books, this not to shabby for a dual fan wielding cooler.

East / West Orientation




The East/West orientation (AKA front to back) is the typical cooler orientation found in most setups. This is because while not all cases have top exhaust fans, darn near every one we have heard of (except for the occasion exotic passive case) has a rear exhaust port. Thus, it makes perfect sense to have the hot air pushed towards this fan so it can be quickly and efficiently sucked out of the case. As with the N/S orientation, we installed this cooler with both fans attached.


As you can see, the 212 PLUS may be close to the heatsink but there is still loads of room. If you use thicker fans things may not go as smoothly. As our motherboard has a fairly small heatsink over the VRM area, we are not surprised that there were no worries here either. If your motherboard packs big and exotic heatsinks over the VRMs, you may run into issues but then again you are probably already aware of the limitations imposed upon coolers by your motherboard.


As with the N/S orientation you have lots of room between the cooler and the ram so even users with the tallest of RAM need not worry. Interestingly enough and unlike the N/S orientation you need not worry about the motherboard heatsink as it should be far enough away from the cooler as to not be a worry. This of course goes along with the caveat that we mentioned before in that if your motherboard has extra wide or exotically shaped heatsinks you may be in trouble.

All in all, we ran into no issues worth mentioning with the East / West orientation. To further help you we can say this cooler we fully rigged with dual fans is 120mm wide, 102mm long and 158.5mm high. The fin array starts fairly high up at 37mm above the base.

While this does not sound like much clearance this does not include your typical height of about 8mm for the CPU socket. If you are not using a Gigabyte X58-UD3R motherboard you should be able to size things up first with these numbers and see if it will fit.
 
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AkG

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Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology


To ensure that the results from one review to another are not only reproducible but actually pertinent to this review, the Testing Methodology will be the same throughout all reviews used. If something does change we will be sure to make a special note of it and explain why this change was done and more importantly why it had to be changed or altered.

All CPU Cooling Solutions which do not come with their own fan, a Noctua NF-P12-1300 will be used if it accepts 120mm fans, if it only accepts 92mm a Noctua NF-B9-1600 will be used. Any and all fans are run at their highest speed.

Except where noted all comparison testing was done on an open bench with a constant ambient temperature of 20c. If at any time the room temperature increased or decreased by more than 1°C testing was halted untill the temperature constant was reestablished.

Recorded temps were as reported via CoreTemp's "Temp Log". Average load temps were taken after 15 minutes of running Prime95 “small fft” and are taken directly from CoreTemp’s temperature text file. Excel was used to average the results of all cores. Idle temps were taken 15 minutes after Load testing ceased. Motherboard temperatures were recorded using SpeedFan. All CPU throttling technology was disabled in the BIOS; as was all CPU fan speed control.

Arctic Cooling MX-2 thermal paste was used for all coolers during these tests unless otherwise noted. For all non HDT coolers, application of thermal paste was in accordance with TIM manufacturer’s instructions; and while not necessary, the TIM was allowed to cure for 24 hours under moderate to high loads (with periods of low loads) prior to testing.

For all 3 pipe HDT coolers two lines of TIM are applied to the two center metal posts and for all 4 pipe HDTS three (smaller) lines of TIM are applied to the metal posts. With this method it has been found to provide significantly better coverage than the more typical methods.

Please note: All possible mounting orientations are tested and only the best results is represented. All tests are run a minium of 4 times if only one mounting orientation is possible, and 8 times if both N-S and E-W oreintations are possible.

Please Note: To keep the motherboard chipsets from overheating a single 40mm Scythe Ultra Kaze was used, but was orientated in such a way as to not interfere with nor help the CPU cooler (i.e. it was basically on top of the South Bridge and pointed down). The 120mm Scythe E on the side of the open test bench was unplugged during temperature testing.


Notes about Overclocking:

For Q6600’s I consider 1.45 volts to be the most that I would seriously consider for a moderate-to-long term overclock.

For i7’s I consider 1.45 VCore and VTT to be the most that I would seriously consider for a moderate-to-long term overclock. As luck would have it this particular 920 would not overclock any better that 3.8 irregardless of how much voltage we pushed (we literally maxed out the Vcore and VTT/PLL available in the BIOS options and it still wouldn’t be stable).

Yes you can go much higher but the longevity of the CPU is then called into question. Just as importantly the CPU should average out at LESS than 65c for the Q6600 and 75° C for the i7 as this is also what I consider the safest, maximum long term overclocking temp for each of those CPUs. For the purposes of these tests I was willing to overlook higher temperatures as long as they averaged below 65c/80c (775 and i7 respectively) and did not peak over 75/80c. If 75/80c was displayed for more than 10seconds in CoreTemp all testing was stopped and that test run was considered a fail.

With these two general guidelines I overclocked both systems until either one (or both) of these "rules" was needed to be broken to continue.

Overclocking was accomplished by increasing FSB/Bclk speed and then Vcore/VTT (only if necessary).

Before testing for idle and max temperatures Orthos was run for 1 hour to make sure that it was stable at a given overclock and voltage. If both finished with no errors SuperPi set to 32m was run twice. After the stability testing was accomplished the given system was allowed to sit idle for 30 minutes before starting the official tests. IF both of the above stated guidelines were not broken then testing continued with an increased overclock. These steps were then repeated until 1 or both of the general guidelines were broken.

As they have no bearing on these tests the RAM’s voltage and timings are not recorded. Please do not consider this a full “how to” review on overclocking or “safe guidelines” for overclocking nor even an indicator on how well a given CPU will overclock. IF you are interested in OC’ing your system, and use these guidelines we at HWC take no responsibility for the results. Bad Things can happen if you are not careful.


Complete Test System:

Processor:
Q6600
Intel i7 920

Motherboard:
Gigabyte p35 DS4
Gigabyte X58-UD3R

Memory:
4GB Mushkin DDR2-800
6GB Aneon Xtune DDR3-1600

Graphics card:
Asus 8800GT TOP
Hard Drive: 1x OCZ Apex 120GB
Power Supply: Topower Powerbird 900W

Special thanks to Direct Canada for their support and supplying the i7 920 CPU.


Special thanks to Gigabyte for their support and supplying the i7 motherboard.
 
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AkG

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Q6600 Performance Results

Q6600 Performance Results


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/212P/q6600_24.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/212P/q6600_30.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/212P/q6600_34.jpg" border="0" alt="" />​

It seems that while the 212 PLUS' smaller 6mm heatpipes do limit its efficiency on the smaller and older 775 to a certain extent. That being said, its stock 2000RPM fan combined with a good, solid backplate does tend to ameliorate this “weakness".

As the heat was turned up, so did the performance of this cooler increase…just like we saw with the Prolimatech cooler. Will it continue to improve on the i7 testbed and even overtake the best of the best? While we have a sneaking suspicion this cooler (as most newer ones) is designed for maximum performance when on the bigger CPUs like the i7; these numbers are awfully darn good on their own and do help show the age of many more expensive coolers.
 
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AkG

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i7 920 Performance Results

i7 920 Performance Results


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/212P/i7_26.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/212P/i7_34.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/212P/i7_38.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

While it does come out swinging and does continue to keep swinging even with the speed dial set to 11, in the end the 212 PLUS was edged out by the Prolimatech…which was also paired with a slower, quieter fan. We have a sneaking suspicion that this cooler was about maxed out and that if we had gone even higher the large mass of the Prolimatech would have continued to prove its worth. We also have to wonder if the numbers would have been as close IF the Prolimiatech had also been paired with a 2000rpm fan. On the positive side…oh my GOD! This cooler kicks some major butt and while it is edged out it does post some awesome numbers. Now to see what it can do with DUAL fans.
 
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