Testing Results, Maximum Fan Speed (12 Volts)

Most of the stock coolers were tested with a maximum load of 150W, lest we start a fire. These products were not meant to handle thermal loads way higher than the stock specifications of the CPUs they were being shipped with.

Average thermal resistance, 60 W to 340 W

Looking immediately at the average thermal resistance and we see three main coolers out in front, and it is no surprise that these three are the beefiest - the EVO 212, the Wraith and the BXTS15A. The small Kabini cooler is designed for very low power, and our small test here pushes it outside of its window.

Core Temperature, Constant Thermal Load (Max Fan Speed)

As we move up the thermal loads, from 60W all the way up, the coolers by and large stay in their positions, with small differences becoming more pronounced as the load increases.

Fan Speed (12 Volts)

The EVO's large 120mm fan keeps the RPM down here, and it is interesting to see the RPM and noise of the BXTS15-A go far and above the other coolers.

Noise level

An interesting observation would be that Intel’s coolers meant for a specific socket have about the same absolute thermal resistance regardless of the core’s material. Taking socket 775 coolers as an example, the aluminum D75716-002 performs similarly with the copper C25704-002, most likely due to its solid core, and the tall copper D60188-001 also performs similarly due to the much slower (and quieter) fan. The same goes for the aluminum E97379-001 and the copper E97378-001 socket 1155 coolers, the former of which simply has a significantly more powerful fan attached. The E31964-001 performs significantly better but its high performance is not just due to its size and copper fins, as the fan is quite fast and loud as well.

In AMD’s camp, the simple and cheap FHSA7015B displays reasonable thermal performance at the expense of comfort, as the maximum speed of its fan is quite high. The more advanced AV-Z7UB408003 offers only slightly better thermal performance but noise levels were significantly lower. The Cooler Master HK8-00005 beats both of the aforementioned coolers in terms of thermal performance but its noise levels are rather high. This was to be expected, as it is based on the core design of the AV-Z7UB408003 but is significantly smaller, therefore a more powerful fan would have to make up for the loss of mass. Finally, the small 1A213LQ00 realistically has by far the worst overall performance of every cooler we tested here today, as the little cooler is designed with AMD’s power efficient AM1 CPUs in mind and cannot be directly compared to any of the other coolers in this review.

Both of AMD’s Wraith and Intel’s aftermarket BXTS15A stand out, pulling ahead in terms of performance the rest of the stock coolers. AMD’s Wraith is but a breath away from Cooler Master’s EVO 212 and the BXTS15A does not fall far behind. There is a catch though and that is the fans. Both the Wraith and the BXTS15A are making use of very strong fans, with a much higher top speed than that of the 120 mm fan that the EVO 212 is using. Strong fans are not just inherently louder themselves but the high air turbulence they create effectively multiplies the sound pressure level of the setup. 

Testing Methodology Testing Results, Low Fan Speed (7 Volts)


View All Comments

  • yannigr2 - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    Your comment makes you look stupidly indeed. A company is giving a top quality cooler that saves you $20-$30 and you find it stupidly sad? Reply
  • SetiroN - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    Yes, I find the fact that the best thing a CPU manufacturer's got going is their bundled cooler extremely sad. Reply
  • yannigr2 - Saturday, July 23, 2016 - link

    Some people will find sadness in everything AMD does. At the same time they will praise Nvidia or Intel for doing the exact same thing. Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    I disagree. While part of this demonstrates clearly what most of us already know; most stock coolers suck. It also shows that AMD actually did deliver a good stock cooler in the Wraith. Cooling wise it matches the budget standby Cooler Master 212; and comes close to matching it in terms of sound as well making it the first stock cooler I wouldn't automatically recommend trashing for an aftermarket job.

    If I were nit picking, I'd've liked to've seen an affordable non-tower aftermarket cooler in the mix as well because slim profile cases don't have room for big towers. OTOH by including a 212 in the mix this article can be used as a baseline to compare testing results on them elsewhere.
  • A5 - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    Meh. If AT is going to get back in the CPU cooler review game, this is a good place to start for two reasons.

    1) Make sure they're starting from a good assumption (stock coolers suck).
    2) Compare it to the current most popular replacement.

    From there, you can start adding in higher-end coolers and comparing them to the baseline.
  • Ratman6161 - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    I don't necessarily agree that "stock coolers suck". They suck for most of the people who would be reading this article in the first place :) but are generally more than adequate for people running their system at stock speeds and more or less typical conditions.

    I think Intel has essentially taken the right approach. Bundle a good enough cooler with most CPU's since they are adequate to the task and the people using them won't know the difference anyway. Sell the "K" CPU's without a cooler. If you are buying a K, then then you are probably also a person who wants to chose their own cooling solution too. Everybody wins.
  • JoeyJoJo123 - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    Except in the latter case you're actually losing.

    They USED to bundle the stock cooler, and even if it wasn't used permanently, it was certainly useful for testing boot or as something to hold you over until you save another ~$100 for an all-in-one CLC that couldn't fit your initial PC budget.

    I'd be all in if the lack of the stock cooler also meant they dropped prices on those same kinds of CPUs, but the prices actually went up AND they lost the stock cooler. Double loss for the consumer.
  • mikato - Thursday, July 28, 2016 - link

    I bought non-K Intel CPUs (and AMD CPUs) and aftermarket coolers. Up to this point, I had useless stock coolers that NEVER got used since most of the time I bought a decent aftermarket cooler at the same time I build the computer. There is no point selling them on ebay. They were just an unfortunate waste of resources.

    So now I appreciate both strategies. Either don't include a cooler (and its price), or include a decent budget cooler (for less added price than a low-end aftermarket cooler). Both work for me. But as you say, if Intel hasn't passed on that cost saving then that isn't good.

    It would be interesting to know how many people that build their own computers also use a non-stock CPU cooler (excluding the higher end Intel and AMD's Wraith). And how has that evolved over time since CPUs produce less heat now, and since budget coolers have improved quite a bit for their price.

    To me water cooling is just plain unnecessary and has been for a long time. Air cooling does easily well enough, for less money, and less hassle. You don't get much for spending the extra money.
  • JonnyDough - Monday, August 1, 2016 - link

    Best comment. I have about 18 desktop PCs, all of them from the last 6 years or so. Only one has a stock cooler and that's my HTPC, because it's so watt that it's quiet with the stock and sits in my living room far from me. I also think water cooling is a waste, when all one needs is a good cooler and some case fans. Water cooling nets just a few degrees difference in ambient case. If your VRMs are getting hot because the mobo maker didn't put a heatsink on it, just throw some cheap heatsinks on it. Reply
  • dishayu - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    It IS useful. It helps put definite numbers to the theory that we already know to be true (that stock coolers suck). It tells users how much of a benefit they would get, going from their stock cooler to a 212 Evo (and subsequently other coolers they test in the future).

    This is good work, show some respect.

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