Sub-$20 CPU Coolers: A Reader's Roundup

Cooling
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Rosewill RCX-Z90-AL

The Rosewill RCX gets the dubious honor of being the cheapest cooler in this roundup. Were corners cut and sacrifices made to achieve an $8 cooler?

Right away, the first sacrifice becomes obvious: any and all R&D budget. This cooler looks almost exactly like the Intel cooler (and the Thermaltake it's based on). Aside from a frameless fan and adjustable pushpins, this is basically the stock cooler.



Well, the Intel cooler did what it could with a copper core and aluminum fins. Surely, at $8, we couldn't be so lucky with the Rosewill, could we?


No, we're not. Aluminum core, aluminum fins... this doesn't add up to promising performance potential.

Let's see how it did on the CPU.

Sound Characteristics

Oh man, I thought the Alpine GT was loud. Firing this sucker up full-speed yields a shocking amount of broadband wind noise. This cooler actually made me wish I had an SPL meter, just to demonstrate how much louder this cooler was than the rest of the batch. The fan quieted down significantly when reduced with the FanMate, but never quite dipped under the hard drive. There was a persistent low-frequency pulsation that, no matter how much I lowered the speed, kept me aware of the cooler's presence the whole time.

Performance

Fortunately, this cooler wasn't a complete repeat of the Alpine GT, and the noise actually pays off in cooling performance. Never underestimate a high-static-pressure heatsink fan.

Rosewill RCX-Z90-AL
Quiet
Max
RPM
Idle
Load
Rise
RPM
Idle
Load
Rise
1136
27°C
58°C
31°C
3027
25°C
48°C
21°C


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