Performance Analysis & Conclusion
Right from the get go, I was impressed with the quality of such a cheap cooler. I know that it is still only a block of aluminum, but it still takes time and money to produce such a product. Regardless of the fact, I was eager to get it on my CPU to find out what it can do. Much to my surprise, it was capable of keeping the 35w TDP CPU at a very reasonable temperature, which impressed me greatly given that there was no active airflow other than the small bits that seep around the PCI-E TV tuner card.
Given that this cooler costs a meager $12.99, according to the ARCTIC website, this is a bargain! Silence is typically something that comes with a price attached to it, but not here. ARCTIC brought us the Alpine 12 Passive for the most reasonable price I think I’ve ever seen, and it has a great finish to go with it. The micro-porosity resulting from the heatsink surface treatment optimizes the heat exchange between the aluminium and the surrounding air, thus the cooling performance in passive mode is greatly improved. If there was a way to test it without the anodizing, I’d love to be able to do that. For now, though, we will have to take ARCTIC’s word for it.
So, ultimately, should you spend thirteen of your hard earned bucks on this cooler if you are chasing the silent PC dream? Oh, absolutely! It’s easily the best bang for your buck out there. I’ve seen fan-less coolers go for stupid money, but this one is so simplistic yet efficient that it’s just nuts. You cannot go wrong with it, unless you ask too much of the cooler and run it out of specs, but that’s your own fault at that point. It had absolutely zero issue keeping the G3250T in my HTPC cool without any additional airflow to the cooler. In fact, it only got a few degrees warmer than using an active airflow solution. That is simply astonishing, and shows you how much effort ARCTIC put into this cooler. I know it is a very low TPD chip, and honestly, it was probably not even pushing the 35w it is meant to, but that’s still a great showing.
If you have some active airflow in your chassis, and by that, I mean more than two tiny 80mm fans at a low RPM that are obstructed by a TV tuner, then I’m sure your results will be fare a little better than ours as well. The only benefit our chassis has is that there is meant to be a fan above the CPU area, which allowed for a lot of the warmer air to vent straight out of the chassis and pull some cooler air from the sides with natural convection taking place.
As far as the design goes, it’s nothing special to look at. However, I wouldn’t expect anything from a $13 cooler, nor would it benefit the cooling capacity in any way unless it had a larger surface area or was larger than the product already is. As mentioned before, the black anodizing is meant to be help with heat to air transfers, which makes sense as it creates microscopic dimples in the paint and therefore increases surface area; for most of us, however, it’s just a fancy paint job.
It goes without saying that ARCTIC is picking up an award from us, and that would be the our Great Value award. They also deserve our Good Hardware award for the simplicity and overall performance for a $13 lump of metal.