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.


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
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
+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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  • mikato - Thursday, July 28, 2016 - link

    Is it noisy?
  • yannigr2 - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    AMD should start selling Wraith for $20. If they can make an Intel version, that would have been hilarious. An Intel CPU with a cooler on top of it having the AMD logo.
  • silverblue - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    It might make sense to re-test the Wraith without its shroud to see if it measures up to AMD's claims.
  • Yuriman - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    I'd personally find it a lot more useful if there were some charts showing temperatures with the coolers normalized for acoustic performance, or showing noise while normalized for core temperature or thermal resistance. It's not very useful to know that cooler A is both quieter and performs worse than cooler B when both are at 7v, because they're all PWM and will be targeting a temperature range, rather than running at a fixed fan speed.
  • mikato - Thursday, July 28, 2016 - link

    I agree. Noise is more important to me than this article made it.
  • Einy0 - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    Nice to see the EVO 212 is much better than most stock coolers. I have one on both my home PCs and my work PC. Glad to see the $30 investment is worth it... The wraith is sick, too bad AMD still doesn't have a nice cpu to put under it! I can't wait for Zen, I'm so sick of giving all my cpu money to Intel.
  • Peichen - Monday, July 25, 2016 - link

    Why sick of giving Intel your money? Are you not satisfied with the performance you paid for? Are you CPUs dying young?
  • mikato - Thursday, July 28, 2016 - link

    Maybe because he/she has the feeling that Intel is charging more for a given item than they would otherwise be if they had better competition, and he/she does not like paying more than may be normally justified.
  • nismotigerwvu - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    Very cool! It's nice to have a quantifiable value for the improvement an aftermarket cooler can provide. My only nitpick would be to see if a push/pull setup on the 212 was worthwhile. On my system it seems to be a bit quieter since I can keep the fans at a lower RPM, but it could also just be a placebo.
  • Voldenuit - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    My old Opteron 165 (Toledo?) came with a heatpipe cooler, so that definitely predates the AV-Z7UB408003 cooler that came with the Phenom X4.

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