The Coolermaster 212 has been around for a little while now in the form of the original 212, the 212 Plus (reviewed here along with the TX3 Plus back in 2009). Now in it's latest incarnation the 212 is presented as the 212 "EVO", confirming the thought that this is a further evolution of the previous models rather than a totally new design. Retailing at £23.98 the cooler enters into a pretty competitive end of the market and will have to prove itself worthy.
So how much does the 212 EVO differ from it's immediate predecessor? Well on the face of it, not a lot. They look practically identical, they are essentially the same size. and allowing for inflation are slotted into the same price point in the market. The fan mounted on the EVO does appear to be slightly different in appearance than the plus, being of the smoked black rather than than flat black variety, looking at the figures it appears to have much the same noise and CFM ratings as the older model. So surely this isn't the same cooler with a slightly different fan? Well as the saying goes, the devil is in the detail and the detail in question here is in the layout of the CPU contact plate. Both the 212 plus and the EVO utilise the direct contact method for their heat-pipes, as opposed to having them embedded within the body of the contact plate. the difference is that with the EVO the gaps between the heat-pipes are reduced thus creating a greater surface area for heat transfer and as such better cooling performance (that's the theory anyway). click on the image below for Coolermasters own take on the differences between direct contact and Continuous direct contact.
Hyper 212 EVO
CPU Socket *
Intel Socket LGA 1366 / 1156 / 1155 / 775
120 x 80 x 159 mm (4.7 x 3.1 x 6.3 in)
Heat Sink Dimensions
116 x 51 x 159 mm (4.6 x 2.0 x 6.3 in)
Heat Sink Material
4 Direct Contact Heat Pipes / Aluminum Fins
Heat Sink Weight
465g (1.03 lb)
Heat Pipe Dimensions
120 x 120 x 25 mm (4.7 x 4.7 x 1 in)
600 - 2,000 RPM (PWM) ± 10%
Fan Air Flow
24.9 - 82.9 CFM ± 10%
Fan Air Pressure
0.3 - 2.7mm H2O ± 10%
Fan Life Expectancy
9 - 36 dBA
Long Life Sleeve
104g (0.23 lb)
The EVO comes packed by Coolermaster in a classy looking satin finish white box with purple accents. Images of the product and details of specification and features are given in the now familiar multi language format. The box the review sample arrived in had clearly taken quite a knock but the cooler inside remained unharmed, bear in mind the box in the pictures was inside another larger transit box. Nice though it would have been to take pictures of a pristine box, we can at least say we are able to evidence the effectiveness of the packaging.
Inside we find that Coolermaster have chosen the dreaded clear rigid heat formed plastic casing so much feared by fingers. Once my sinking heart had recovered from the thought of having my fingers shredded I realised that it's not totally encased, instead it merely sits in a sort of plastic basin. So no worries whatsoever of finishing the job with fewer fingers than you started with....Which is nice...
Nestled in separate compartments so as to avoid damage to the main cooler are a selection of fittings and a set of instructions
Once extracted the EVO reveals itself to be a mid sized tower cooler form the classics school of cooler design. There are a great many coolers on the market with very similar looks. Nothing wrong with that, if it ain't broken don't fix it. Although not an LED model the smoked black of the fan does add a certain air of style to what could otherwise have been a very vanilla looking cooler. While our eyes are pointed in the general direction of the fan it's nice to see that Coolermaster have eschewed the usual spring clips as a method for holding the fans in place, choosing instead to utilise a plastic clip method somewhat similar to that becoming more common in a few cases these days. I was never perfectly convinced that on occasion those old metal spring clips weren't prone to a bit of a high frequency rattle. Coolermaster have also included a second set of plastic clips and rubber isolation pads to enable you to mount a second fan in the same manner as the first.
Flipping the cooler over we get a better look at the "Continuous direct contact" layout of the heat-pipes. Sure enough and good to their word Coolermaster have positioned the 4x6.0mm Heat-pipes pretty much in contact with each other. I have to say that to a degree I can understand the rationale of the changes Coolermaster have made to the heat-pipe layout, logic says if there's more of the heat-pipe in contact and less of a gap in between for air pockets to form then the heat transfer must be improved.
Completing our tour of the cooler with a few views of the top of the unit we can see that it's quite a slim affair at only 51mm (77mm including the fan). There's no fancy top caps to the heat-pipes as we've seen with other manufacturers recently, but Coolermaster have taken the usual step of embossing their logo onto the fins so as to be visible on the top fin.
Instructions and Fitting
Lets not beat about the bush here, if this page has a lot on it then i've not had a wonderful time fitting the cooler. First off, the instructions provided although magnificent in their multi language/multi processor splendour are just too darned small to be of any real use. Now as you might know from previous reviews, as I'm a bloke I will always class having to to look at instructions as some small failure. Not so much a failure in myself you understand (I am a bloke remember), but as a failing in the product itself in not being intuitive enough to assemble without instructions. Now assuming that the product is not intuitive (or I'm being a bit dim, which as i've already said couldn't possibly be the case) and I'm left in the very awkward position of having to secretly read the instructions (usually involves locking the office door or waiting until the good lady has popped out less she discover me and begin to doubt my masculinity)...Where was I...ah yes, if I've actually got to resort to reading the instructions then they should at least be legible, and by legible I mean the diagrams should be large enough to see without the use of a scanning electron microscope. OK, so perhaps not quite as bad as that but there were a few elements of detail which I later picked up on which owing to the size of the pictures could not be discerned from the instructions.
While I have the button labelled "RANT MODE" fully depressed lets talk about the fitting of the 212 EVO. It's the same as the 212 plus, but boy could it have done with not being the same. It's not that it's over complicated, it's not, it's just that it's a real faff and, as gently alluded to above is not made any easier by the lack of a clear set of instructions. Attaching the back-plate is a good example of where clear instructions and readable diagrams would have been helpful. The back-plate is held in place by 4 screws with hex heads on them. these hex heads accept another set of screws which pin down the front part of the mounting assembly (the thing that looks like a big X but is in fact an articulated scissor assembly). It's reasonably clear that the back-plate has 3 sets of holes towards its outer margins, each of which is designed to be used for a different CPU socket. The back plate is not threaded, so it's clear that these hex screws just pass through it to the other side. So you hold the back plate in place and slip the hex screw through then lock it down with a hex nut on the back. Simple yes......Well No, because the hex screws won't go through the back plate cleanly and actually have to be pushed through with a socket driver from the other side. which makes you think the quality of the engineering is a bit off as things don't quite fit. At least this is what I thought until I came to dimount the cooler following the testing, at which point after dropping one of the hex bolts on the floor as I was having to force it back through the mobo from the reverse side I noticed that they're actually flat on one side and devoid of thread on the flat side. Ah! I thinks, I wonder if this is relevant or just further bad engineering. On closer examination it seems that if, in assembly you line the hex screw up perfectly with the hole (which turns out not to be circular but ever-so-slightly D shaped) then the hex screw passes through with no problem. Be nice if the instructions showed this, maybe they do, but the diagrams are so small you'd never know.
And another thing...I'm not done yet, remember the X shaped thing. Well it's articulated in the middle so it will collapse down slim to pass through the heat-pipes at the bottom of the cooler, opening up to the desired spread depending on which Chip you have fitted. It's actually quite a nice design, problem is it feels so insecure and wobbly on the copper contact plate of the cooler that it takes a lot of convincing yourself to think its positively engaged and you can tighten the screws down.
I'm not intending to be harsh or overly critical of the fitting mechanism, It's actually quite an elegant and simple solution, it's just that it's really let down by the unclear instructions. If you know how it all goes together, appreciate that the hex screws have a flat side that must be orientated correctly into the correspondeing hole and trust that although it might not feel sturdily mounted it actually is, then all is good.
To provide continuity the test set up is as always
Gigabyte UD3R V2
Intel i7 950 @ 4GHz 1.25v
Mushkin Radioactive 2000MHz
Corsair Carbide 500R
For the first test we set our i7-950 overclocked to 200x20 @ 1.25v for a clock speed of 4.0GHz. We allow the system to idle for 10 minutes and then run Prime95 'maximum heat maximum stress' setting for a further 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes we note the temperatures of all cores and the ambient temperature of the room. An average of all cores is taken, then the ambient temperature is removed from this figure and this gives us the delta temperature. Delta is the temperature difference above ambient which is a truer reflection of the heat-sink performance rather than mere maximum figures. Testing in an Igloo or the Sahara would give vastly different maximum temperatures, yet the Delta could be the same.
The second test follows all steps from above but with a 200x21 @ 1.35v for 4.2GHz overclock, the extra voltage in this test allows us to see if the heat-sink can cope when extreme loads and overclocks are applied. Regretfully although at idle the cooler was able to stay at a reasonable delta T of 22 degrees, after only 5 minutes of Prime load testing the indicated temperatures exceeded the 90 degrees limit above which a cooler is considered to fail the test.
So what do we make of the Coolermaster Hyper 212 EVO? Well I think the first thing to bear in mind here is the price. £23.98 is not a lot of money for a cooler of this type. But have Coolermaster cut corners somewhere to bring it to market at this price point? In essence, is it "cheap" or is it inexpensive and good value?
Lets start with the looks, nothing special, but then neither are any coolers of this style. The inclusion by Coolermaster of a nice looking dark smoked grey fan does lift the appearance over the older 212+ which had a simple solid black fan and the inclusion of plastic fan retention clips rather than the wire spring clips popular with some manufacturers adds to the air of intergration of the fan mounting mechanism (Coolermaster also include a second set of clips and rubber isolating pads to mount a fan on the reverse side of the cooler should you so desire). According to Coolermasters own figures the 600-1600RPM PWM non LED fan is able to shift 24.9 and 66.3 CFM of air depending on fan speed and does this while emitting between 9 and 31 dBA. in practice the fan is barely audible at low fan speeds, and not much louder at full tat, although with the case side off a smooth Whoosh can be heard, which may well be the noise of the air moving over the cooling fins more than the fan itself, either way it's nothing to worry about as with the case side on nothing can really be heard over the case fans themselves.
Quality wise things are fine too, no bent fins, good solid assembly. It comes well packed and protected with the packaging adding to the impression that what lies within is a quality product. I've already mentioned the fitting and the instructions, so I'm not going to go on about them again, they're not so much bad, but as my school reports used to say "Could do better" (turns out the school reports were wrong)
In naming this 212 the "EVO" Coolermaster are showing that they have evolved the previous model, the most obvious evolution being the use of 4 x 6mm continuous direct contact heat-pipes, the idea being that the increased surface area and decreased gap between the pipes will better enable heat transfer and so improve performance.
£23.98 is good value then, the 212 EVO ticks all the right boxes. Problem is that it's also a very popular price point for what can be called "entry level performance coolers" There are a lot of other coolers out there ticking the right boxes to varying degrees, such as the Corsair A50, the Arctic cooling freezer 13, the Gelid Tranquillo rev 2 and the Titan Hati to name but a few. All fall to within a few pence to a pound or so of the price of the 212 EVO. With all the coolers mentioned above looking basically the same, give or take a fancy fan here and there, the 212 EVO has it's work cut out for it then and must give a good report of itself well when it comes to performance.
The review of the Enermax ETD-T40 earlier this month prompted a few people to ask how well it was thought it would stack up against the 212. As we've now tested the 212 EVO we can answer the question objectively. A glance at the figures above shows us that it doesn't perform quite as well, with a max temp of 77 degrees compared to the T-40s 74.5 Given that all testing is carried out at max fan RPM it may well be that the T40s higher top fan speed of 1800 RPM explains some of this variance. Fan speed variance aside, the T40 reports better performance figures, but then lets remember what we said in the first line of the conclusion, this cooler costs just £23.98, a good £10 or so less than the T40. The decision then as to which is better depends on whether you want to shave a few degrees, or save a few quid.
Thanks to Cooler Master for the 212 Evo on review today, you can discuss your thoughts on this review in our forums.