Buying Tips : Cooling Bargains (Part 2)

11/29/2012 9:08:29 AM

Office Cases

If you are looking for quality all-rounder for a good price, the Akasa Raptor is a tough case to beat. Mixing contemporary USB 3.0 connectivity with handsome understated looks that should appeal to everyone, this case is perfect for a low-key and quiet office machine. It comes in a selection of colors so you are bound to find one to fit in with your office color scheme. The best price we found for this great case was $72.83 from AdvanceTec.

Description: Cooler Master Elite 334

Cooler Master Elite 334

An oldie but goodie that just refuses to go away is the Cooler Master Elite 334. This case can be snapped up for $45.32 and has attractive black and chrome styling. Its bottom-mounted PSU tray leave space for venting at the top, and it accommodates plenty of drives using its unique twist-on tool-less mountings. It lacks USB 3.0 but for its asking price this case is a great office workhorse.

CPU Coolers

After the case, the CPU cooler is arguably the most important component for system temperatures. We have selected three great products to appeal to different kinds of users. Our first recommendation is a classic - the Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro. Easy to mount and with its ability to fit in even the smallest cases, this cooler is far more effective than a stock unit. It's also quiet and capable of keeping modest overclocks happy. It supports all current sockets apart from Socket 2011 and doesn't require motherboard removal to fit, making it ideal for those looking to upgrade an existing system.

Description: Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro

Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro

For those seeking the quietest cooling possible the Gelid Tranquillo is a great choice. It costs $38.84 and emits just 12dBA at its nominal RPM, making it essentially noiseless unless you put your ear right up against it. Its large 120 mm cooling fan keeps even substantial overclocks happy and it's relatively easy to mount, although it needs motherboard removal so is best tackled as part of a new system build.

Description: Ximgatek Prime

Ximgatek Prime

Our final recommendation is for those seeking the highest overclocks. The Ximgatek Prime offers cooling right up there with the best available like the $113.30 Noctua NH-D14 and the Thermalright Silver Arrow, yet costs less than half the price at $55.03. Two 140 mm PRM fans keep the proceedings quiet and the cooler is effective enough to allow you to shoot for 4.8-5.0GHz overclocks with a decent processor. This cooler is ideal for keeping hot Socket 2011 chips cool when pushing the limit, and is easy to fit to these chips after installation without removing the motherboard.

Case Fans

It's easy to assume that all case fans are created equal, but as our sister magazine Custom PC found out, this is far from the truth. Attractive LED fans rarely offer a good noise-to-airflow ratio and you can expect to pay more money for a fan that will actually increase cooling measurably. Some of our favorites include the Sharkoon Silent Eagle 2000. This 80 mm fan is ideal for older cases that lack the more modern 120 mm intakes and pushes a respectable 22CFM of air at just 17.8dB. These can be snapped up for $11.33 from Amazon.

Description: Sharkoon Silent Eagle 2000

Sharkoon Silent Eagle 2000

For 120 mm models the BitFenix Spectres are tough to beat. For $9.69 each they throw out a lot of air (43CFM) at less than 20 decibels. There are more effective fans on the market, but for price vs. performance, these are an excellent choice.

If you are looking for the best water-cooling fans around, the Scythe Gentle Typhoons are a great choice. Their unique blade design means they have a higher air pressure than most alternatives and their high-quality bearings mean they are quiet for their airflow. These fans are not cheap at around $19.42 each, but if you have invested in a water cooler, it makes sense to have a decent set of fans to get the best out of it.

Laptop Coolers

Not only desktops need cooling - laptops, gaming models in particular - can get very hot if being worked hard in hot conditions. If you want to extend your machine's life, not to mention getting yourself a more comfortable typing angle, a laptop cooler is a good investment. One of the best products for the price is the Cooler Master Notepad U2. It supports 15" laptops and has USB powered fans. Its lightweight aluminium construction means it's pretty portable, and we found it to significantly reduce laptop noise output, as the large 80mm fans were more effective than the noisy fans on the underside of our test MSI laptop at keeping the GPU cool.

Description: A good cooling investment for your laptop

A good cooling investment for your laptop

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