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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  • TrantaLocked - Monday, November 27, 2017 - link

    Lining up the pins should be super easy just from above, and you can feel and see if the pins have dropped through each hole by paying attention to elevation of each corner of the heatsink.
  • JonnyDough - Monday, August 1, 2016 - link

    I have no issue with getting them to work, but they still suck. I like AMD's retention clip, no tools needed. The only issue is when it's in a tight mid-tower case or has a heatsink butted up against it. I don't like needing tools to seat or unseat a heatsink, but if a long standard screwdriver was the only tool needed to make it simpler and quick I'd be all for it. Too many coolers mount one direction (up or rear blowing) and are too difficult to either seat, unseat, or both.
  • mikato - Thursday, July 28, 2016 - link

    Yes, those push pins are terrible.
  • FriendlyUser - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    Excellent, very useful review! People really need to know if they have to budget a cooler or not and what improvement to expect.
  • BrokenCrayons - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    I recently built a system around an Athlon X4 860K that shipped with AMD's FHSA7015B. I had some reservations about using the boxed cooler, but apathy won out in the end so locked it down over the chip and forgot about it. It does what its supposed to do and at this point, I just can't rationalize going through the trouble of pulling out the thumbscrew on the side panel, removing it, and installing something else. It's not worth my time so for someone like me an OEM boxed cooler is good enough.
  • cowbutt - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    It'd be interesting to see the results for the copper-cored 150W TDP Intel BXTS13A for socket 2011-3 CPUs (e.g. i7-5xxx). When I got mine about 18 months ago, it was about £15, so about half the price of a Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo in the UK. If it's anything like the BXTS15A, that seems pretty reasonable for the performance it offers.
  • evilspoons - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    It's actually remarkable how many similar-but-different coolers Intel has sold. I went through about 15 of them from a pile of stuff at work and only found two that were the same, meaning I had 14 different heatsink/fan combinations. (FWIW some were almost the same but with different fans, but the fans were substantially different in power rating...)

    Note to future self: if chucking aside Intel stock heatsinks for potential future re-use, label what CPU the came with to save yourself a headache.
  • dave_the_nerd - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    Wow. The stock cooler on my i5 really _is_ crap.
  • Ratman6161 - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    Maybe it isn't. If your system is running fine and you were not having any problems with it, reading an article doesn't suddenly make it crap :)
  • dave_the_nerd - Friday, July 22, 2016 - link

    It's been fine for three years. But I can get temps up into the 80s if I'm running Prime95.

    To futz with it, or not to futz with it. That is the question. :-)

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