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

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SilenX Effizio EFZ-92HA2

The last two "conventional" coolers aren't really that conventional.

Now we're going to look at one of the more interesting coolers on the market at any price, let alone the $10 I paid for it online: SilenX's crazy-looking EFZ-92HA2.

The SilenX, like the Alpine 11 Pro, clips tightly to a separate bracket secured to the motherboard with plastic pushpins. This makes it compatible with AMD coolers, unlike the Rosewill and Alpine 11 GT.

Overall, the design seems to make sense: a metal block that wicks away heat from the CPU and conducts it out to an impressive array of fins arranged around a frameless fan. Seems logical, right?

The SilenX is thoughtfully sculpted to avoid interfering with motherboard components. It's not as tall as the Intel cooler, but it is quite a bit wider, so this is a welcome bit of engineering on SilenX's part.

So, then, what is this base made of? What futuristic heat-conducting material is this cooler equipped with?

It's a $10 cooler, so it's 100% aluminum. However, most interesting is its construction. Rather than being made from a solid block of metal to which many fins are soldered, the Effizio is actually composed of 48 specially-shaped aluminum fins that are clamped together at extreme pressure and naturally fan out in the manner seen here.

The fins are very wavy, which is a promising nod towards cooling performance, as more fin surface area and turbulence around those fins leads to better cooling capability, in general.

The bottom appears to have then been machined flat. It's not particularly smooth, but it should get the job done. I was very interested to see how this cooler performed after seeing how it was constructed. Clamping multiple discrete cooling fins together should work... there's no reason it wouldn't. But how well would it work? Let's find out.

Sound Characteristics

The SilenX's Effizio frameless fan produces a pleasant-sounding higher-pitched hum at full speed, and the whoosh of turbulent air through the cooler's fins is very evident. Still, this is the quietest cooler in the roundup so far, and reducing the fan speed lead to a reduction in pitch of the fan hum from the top speed near 1800 RPM down through about 1200 RPM, when the intensity finally started to drop away. By about 1000 RPM, the cooler had dropped back into the background behind the harddrive's idle noise. I was extremely impressed by how quiet this cooler was at all speeds.


The SilenX turned in a solid performance, slotting in ahead of the stock cooler at "quiet" and just behind it at full speed.

SilenX Effizio EFZ-92HA2

One caveat with this cooler, and the reason I'd hesitate to recommend it is that unlike every other cooler in this roundup, the SilenX lacked a PWM-controlled fan. If you've got a fan controller already (like my FanMate), it's a non-issue, but with so many motherboards only able to control fan speeds through PWM, I'd reserve this cooler for an advanced builder.

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