📅 March 21, 2017
Whrrrrrrrr. Buzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Whiiiiiiinnnnnnnne…
Guess what? It’s a noisy CPU fan on a stock CPU heat sink. Can we do better?
Is an improvement available that results in lower CPU temperatures and near-silence fan performance?
One CPU cooler that I am impressed with is the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO. Whenever I build or upgrade a Linux system, I usually purchase one of these little marvels because it works reliably well with almost no noise.
I upgraded the stock AMD CPU cooler on a Linux system using an APU in an FM2 socket because it was too noisy and inefficient. What did I replace it with? Why, the Hyper 212 EVO, of course!
Here are some pictures…
The culprit: a stock AMD CPU cooler. It is small, and the fan is annoyingly loud. This piece of trash never offered adequate cooling for an AMD 4000+ CPU. It often collected dust between the fins, so it required constant maintenance to be effective. Why use it? Because, at the time of the CPU purchase, the warranty would be voided if the stock cooler was not installed. The CPU is out of warranty now, so this no longer matters.
Hello, Happiness! Meet the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO. This is an impressive CPU cooler with a quiet 120mm fan. It is compatible with both Intel and AMD CPUs since the same mounting hardware is used for both.
Pictures show how to install the unit. The package also includes a box of well-packed mounting hardware and two extra fan brackets in case you want to mount a second 120mm fan to the heat sink.
Here is the heat sink on its side.The copper heat pipes have direct contact with the CPU. (Be sure to remove the small plastic protector from the bottom of the heat sink before mounting.)
Everything you need is included for installation. The small black rectangle in the upper right corner of the image consists of four rubber sticky mounts that absorb fan vibrations when mounting a second fan. The included fan already has four of these attached.
Two types of mounting screws accommodate differing motherboards. The larger standoff (left) is for an AMD motherboard, and the shorter standoff (right) is for an Intel motherboard. There are four of each.
This metal bracket is the main support of the installation. (You will need to remove the existing metal backplate included with the motherboard.) The Hyper 212 EVO is not a “snap-in-and-click” heat sink. You must remove the entire motherboard and work from both sides to install the heat sink. Note that you must also remove the motherboard’s plastic heat sink mount.
The same bracket is used for both AMD and Intel motherboards. For an AMD motherboard we must flip the bracket so that the four corners are away from the motherboard as shown here. Intel motherboards require that the corners flip around and touch the motherboard. Both sides of the bracket are covered with green insulation. Do not peel this off.
The standoffs are inserted through the top of the motherboard while nuts hold them in place from the bottom. A screw cup (shown here) is included to help tighten the hardware. This avoids using pliers that could accidentally scratch the motherboard circuit traces.
Complete! The mounting bracket is firmly installed, and we see the top of the motherboard with the CPU present. The four standoffs should look like this picture for the FM2 socket motherboard used here. Thermal paste has already been applied to the CPU. All we need to do is mount the heat sink.
I never bother with included thermal paste since it is usually junk. Instead, I prefer quality CPU goo: Arctic Silver 5! It has never let me down, and it offers excellent thermal performance and produces a smooth, dark-grey gooey glob between the CPU and the cooler.
The large X bracket fits on top of the heat sink’s base and screws into the four standoffs on the motherboard. This fastens the heat sink to the top of the CPU. Note in the picture that the small metal pin must fit in the notch of the X bracket to ensure a flush contact. It can be tricky to align and keep aligned during installation, but this is important or else the heat sink will not screw evenly.
Think about airflow direction before installation. For this situation, I wanted the fan to aim toward the back of the case in line with an outtake fan. This required that I adjust the X bracket as seen here. The X bracket can be adjusted to fit practically any configuration.
The spring-loaded screws on the X bracket screw into the standoffs we mounted earlier. Because of the arrangement on this FM2 socket, I had to remove the heat sink fan (it snaps off) in order to reach the screw with a screwdriver. The heat sink contains a vertical indentation along all four sides so you can reach the screws for this reason. Intel installations usually do not require fan removal due to a different placement of the standoffs.
Done! The heat sink is installed on an AMD FM2 socket. Simply attach the fan over the memory (aiming the airflow INTO the heat sink), and plug the fan connector into the motherboard. Air flows over the memory, into the heat sink, and out the case in the back.
I made a boo-boo! The case cover would not clear the top of the heat sink. The case I was using was not wide enough to accommodate the heat pipe protrusions located at the top of the heat sink. Of course, this was my fault, not the heat sink.
What to do? First of all, DO NOT use a hack saw to saw off the ends of the heat sink in order to make it fit. I tried that once, and it does not work. The copper heat pipes are hollow inside, and exposing the hollow tubes eliminates the heat sink benefits. “Chopping” the heat sink down to size results in a wasted heat sink.
My solution was to remove this Hyper 212 EVO and install in into a different AMD system with a case large enough to accommodate it. (Swapping cases was not an option in this situation.) I used a different heat sink contraption for this case.
After completely removing the heat sink and all mounting hardware from the previous build, I installed the Hyper 212 EVO mounting hardware into this AMD AM2+ motherboard that was also using the same noisy stock AMD fan/heat sink combination. Here, the CPU is plastered with a thin layer of Arctic Silver 5 (good stuff!).
Hyper 212 EVO installed in a larger case. Given that this case has two fans, one on the top and one at the back, a CPU fan is probably not necessary for this AMD 4000+ CPU.
…but I installed the CPU fan anyway. The Hyper’s fan is almost inaudible at a low RPM, so this should not make much of a difference. The CPU fan blows air into the heat sink, and the outtake fan helps pull air out of the case. The two fans are in line with each other. It is possible to arrange the heat sink so the fan blows upwards and out the top of the case.
After all of that work, is there any improvement?
Most definitely, yes. First, the noise. The case with three fans is quieter than the one fan on the stock AMD cooler. During everyday computer usage, the CPU fan is almost inaudible, but it will ramp up when the CPU reaches 100% usage.
However, while the Hyper’s fan is noticeable at 100% CPU, it is still much more quiet than the stock fan. Any sound the Hyper produces is lower and deeper compared to the high-pitched, tinny whine of the stock fan. Plus, the Hyper moves more air with its 120mm fan.
What about cooling?
The CPU runs a few degrees Celsius cooler. During a few unofficial measurements using BIOS reporting and psensor, the CPU stayed within 43-45C with the Hyper while the stock cooler raised the temperature to about 50C. (This is an older, less efficient CPU.)
The Hyper 212 EVO is a purchase I am happy with. The large heat sink with copper heat pipes and the quiet 120mm fan make a superb combination at a low cost. The added heat fins are spaced further apart than the stock AMD cooler, so they do not become clogged with dust as often. Thermal performance is better. Certainly, it is a good idea to clean the dust from your system, and there will be dust on the Hyper over time, but it is nowhere near as bad as the stock cooler.
The included CPU fan is one of the most silent CPU fans I have used. From my experience, I would say that the Noctua NF-F12 is more quiet at a higher RPM. However, the included Cooler Master fan is quiet enough, so there is little need to replace it. Either way, the resulting peace and quiet is welcome.
Is the Hyper 212 EVO the most efficient CPU cooler ever made? Probably not, but if you are building or upgrading a system, the Hyper offers superb cooling and quiet operation at a low cost. Best of all, this cooler is compatible with a wide range of motherboards and sockets allowing you to reuse it in rebuilds to save costs.
I have used many of these Hyper 212 coolers over the years, and while other CPU coolers come and go, this remains the Ol’ Reliable when others fail.