Advanced PC users that like to care for their system commonly believe stock cooling solutions that are supplied with processors to be either barely adequate or too noisy even for a standard, unmodified system operating at stock frequencies. With bulk PC orders it is, of course, a difference scenario when every penny counts. But as a result of the perception of poor cooling from these 'default' coolers, most enthusiast users seek aftermarket cooling solutions. This has created a vast and multivariate demand, and there are so many companies offering such a wide variety of cooling products, from $20 all the way up to custom water cooling solutions. But is that really necessary for a mid-range build? We gathered together around a dozen stock coolers from across the years, from AMD and Intel, and pitted them against the highly rated EVO 212 from Cooler Master.

Introduction

Modern CPUs have become more efficient over time, and have begun to have lower cooling requirements. As a result, the CPU manufacturers have designed some rather advanced stock coolers and are either supplying them alongside their top-tier CPUs or selling them as aftermarket solutions. Despite the fact that these are the 'certified' coolers for the processors, the CPU manufacturer has to make millions, to every hundredth of a cent in manufacturing can be important to the bottom line. It is not easy for the average user to assess just how good the stock cooler really is and how much of an improvement, if any at all, there will be from the purchase of an aftermarket cooler. End users need to be aware of the performance of their current cooling solutions in order to reasonably assess the upgrade that will fit their needs.

In this review we will showcase the thermal performance of some popular stock CPU coolers of the last few years, including the controversial aftermarket Intel BXTS15A and the highly touted AMD Wraith. We also included one of the most popular mainstream coolers available, the Cooler Master EVO 212, as a baseline comparison against aftermarket solutions.

The coolers that we will be testing are in the following table, along with core/fin material listed, the size of the fan, and the overall mass of the cooler as measured on our units. Where heatpipes are in play, these are added into the Core section.

Vendor Cooler Common Bundle Core Fins Fan
(mm)
Mass
(g)
Intel D75716-002 Socket 775 Celerons Alu Alu 80 118
C25704-002 Socket 775 P4 6x0 Cu Alu 80 132
E97378-001 Socket 1155 Intel i5 Cu Alu 80 146
E97379-001 Socket 1155 Intel i3 Alu Alu 80 92
D60188-001 Socket 775, C2D E8x00 Cu Alu 80 419
E31964-001 Socket 1366 i7-X Cu Cu/Alu 100 435
BXTS15A Aftermarket, ≈$30 Cu Alu 80 362
AMD 1A213LQ00 AMD “Kabini” AM1 Alu Alu 50 75
FHSA7015B Several AMD Lines Alu Alu 70 164
AV-Z7UB408003 Black Edition Phenom Alu 
+2 Cu HP
Alu 70 374
Wraith (125W) AMD FX-8370
AMD A10-7890K
Cu 
+4 Cu HP
Alu 90 304
Cooler Master HK8-00005 AMD FM2+ “Godavari” CPUs Alu Alu 70 125
EVO 212 Aftermarket, ≈$30 Cu
+4 Cu HP
Alu 120 436
The Cooler Master EVO 212
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  • SetiroN - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    Such a useful comparison!
    Let's see which other stock cooler that you will never get to replace your own stock cooler would be better.

    /s
    Reply
  • SetiroN - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    I mean seriously, the massive marketing campaign AMD has been doing for this wraith cooler is the epitome of their lack of R&D investments. Makes me so stupidly sad. Reply
  • JoeyJoJo123 - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    Makes you stupidly sad that they bundle the best stock cpu cooler out of any released ever? Why?

    It's a cooler that I wouldn't be shamed to choose not to get an aftermarket HSF for, as it's basically just as good as one, and it's one of the only things they can do to get people interested in their CPUs, as they know and you know and I know that their CPUs would be lackluster until Zen potentially comes out with potentially competitive value against Intel CPUs. In other words, they know they're stuck shipping slow CPUs right now, but the least they know they can do is bundle in a pretty neat stock cooler, and that might be enough to sway some buyers in their favor, which isn't a terrible thing, as AMD's already struggling to stay afloat.
    Reply
  • SetiroN - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    How much energy they have to put into marketing their stock cooler makes me sad, yes, because at this point it's the best part of the bundle.

    When a once great CPU manufacturer has to tell their customers that their CPU is better because... it has a better cooler, I think of the moment I first saw a K7 and tear up a little.
    Reply
  • looncraz - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    AMD hasn't put a lot of energy in at all, they made the cooler, they made a quick video, uploaded it, and everyone else did most of the work. Beyond that, they just list it as a value-add - and it is a very good value-add, indeed. Reply
  • close - Monday, July 25, 2016 - link

    Ignore him. He's a troll and not even a very good one. I bet he was hoping for some kind of support. He'll keep repeating the same "the best thing a CPU manufacturer's got going is their bundled cooler" because he somehow thinks that backing out from this stupid statement will make him look even dumber in other people's eyes than keeping it up. Reply
  • nathanddrews - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    Eh? The AMD Wraith is clearly a kickass stock cooler. I, for one, welcome the opportunity to not need to buy additional bulky HSFs. I've got 212s on most of my PCs. It's nice to know that I don't need to for an FX build. Reply
  • AS118 - Saturday, July 23, 2016 - link

    I agree. I can't say this enough, the Wraith is pretty much a 212 in terms of performance yet it is SO easy to install. Don't even have to put on a custom backplate. I really hope Zen CPU's have the Wraith or something similar.

    I'd never have to buy another 212 again if AMD keeps making these. (As long as I was buying an AMD CPU that had one)
    Reply
  • Samus - Sunday, July 24, 2016 - link

    Personally I like the direction Intel went in, by not including a cooler at all and reducing the price of the CPU accordingly ($10-$20 vs Haswell) Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Wednesday, July 27, 2016 - link

    the 6700k is $10 more then a devil's canyon 4790k. The price went UP, not down. Reply

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