Cooler Master TPC 812 CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Coelho on May 18, 2012
The newest CPU cooler from the traditional manufacturer, Cooler Master, is the TPC 812, which has a tower heatsink with a 120 mm fan, six U-shaped heatpipes, and two vapor chambers. Let’s see if it really offers the “True Performance Cooling” that its name suggests.
The vapor chamber is a heat-transfer device where a phase-changing compound flows. This compound receives heat on one end, becoming vapor. It flows along the chamber and, when it reaches the “cold side,” it condenses again to the liquid state, releasing the heat previously absorbed. For all practical purposes, it is actually a “flat heatpipe.”
Unlike most Cooler Master products, the box of the TPC 812 uses black and bordeaux tones, as you can see in Figure 1.
Figure 2 shows the contents of the box: heatsink, fan, a small tube of thermal compound, manuals, and installation hardware. The cooler comes with only one fan, but you can install a second optional 120 mm fan; the plastic frame to install the second fan is included.
Figure 3 displays the TPC 812 heatsink.
This cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.
Figure 4 illustrates the front of the cooler. There are three rows inside each side of the heatsink: two rows of heatpipes and the vapor chambers near the middle of the fins.
Figure 5 reveals the side of the cooler. The heatsink is open at the sides.
The top of the heatsink has a beautiful metallic cap, and each one of the heatpipes’ tips has a chromed cap, as well as the vapor chambers.
Figure 7 shows the six U-shaped, nickel-plated heatpipes found on the TPC 812. The heatpipes are disposed on two rows inside each half of the heatsink, but they are on a single line on the base of the cooler.
The vapor chambers can be seen in Figure 8. Each vapor chamber goes to one side of the heatsink. Notice that the vapor chambers stay over the heatpipes.
The base of the cooler is a nickel-plated copper plate that is soldered to the heatpipes. It is nicely polished for a mirrored look.
The 120 mm black fan is mounted on a plastic frame that makes it very easy to remove and install. The four-pin connector shows that this fan is PWM compatible.
The installation of the Cooler Master TPC 812 is simple. First, install the scissor-like clip over the base of the cooler, as shown in Figure 11. This clip comes with the screws that will hold the cooler in place.
The second step is to install the screws shown in Figure 12. Just insert the screws from the component side, put the backplate on the solder side of the motherboard, and then install four nuts that secure everything in place.
Apply the thermal compound, put the cooler in place, and fasten the four screws.
The last step is easy: install the fan in place.
We tested the cooler with a Core i5-2500K CPU (quad-core, 3.3 GHz), which is a socket LGA1155 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 4.0 GHz (100 MHz base clock and x40 multiplier), with 1.3 V core voltage (Vcore). This CPU was able to reach 4.8 GHz with its default core voltage, but at this setting, the processor enters thermal throttling when using mainstream coolers, reducing the clock and thus the thermal dissipation. This could interfere with the temperature readings, so we chose to maintain a moderate overclocking.
We measured noise and temperature with the CPU under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all cores, we ran Prime 95 25.11 with the “In-place Large FFTs” option. (In this version, the software uses all available threads.)
We compared the tested cooler to other coolers we already tested. Note that the results cannot be compared to measures taken on a different hardware configuration, so we retested some “old” coolers with this new methodology. This means you can find different values in older reviews than the values you will read on the next page. Every cooler was tested with the thermal compound that comes with it.
Room temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer. The core temperature was read with the SpeedFan program (available from the CPU thermal sensors), using an arithmetic average of the core temperature readings.
During the tests, the panels of the computer case were closed. The front and rear case fans were spinning at minimum speed in order to simulate the “normal” cooler use on a well-ventilated case. We assume that is the common setup used by a cooling enthusiast or overclocker.
The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed near the top opening of the case. This measurement is only for comparison purposes, because a precise SPL measurement needs to be made inside an acoustically insulated room with no other noise sources, which is not the case here.
Operating System Configuration
We adopted a 2°C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2°C are considered irrelevant.
The table below presents the results of our measurements. We repeated the same test on all coolers listed below. Each measurement was taken with the CPU at full load. In the models with a fan supporting PWM, the motherboard controlled the fan speed according to core load and temperature. On coolers with an integrated fan controller, the fan was set at the full speed.
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Speed||Core Temp.||Temp. Diff.|
|Cooler Master Hyper TX3||18 °C||50 dBA||2850 rpm||69 °C||51 °C|
|Corsair A70||23 °C||51 dBA||2000 rpm||66 °C||43 °C|
|Corsair H100||26 °C||62 dBA||2000 rpm||64 °C||38 °C|
|EVGA Superclock||26 °C||57 dBA||2550 rpm||67 °C||41 °C|
|NZXT HAVIK 140||20 °C||46 dBA||1250 rpm||65 °C||45 °C|
|Thermalright True Spirit 120||26 °C||42 dBA||1500 rpm||82 °C||56 °C|
|Zalman CNPS12X||26 °C||43 dBA||1200 rpm||71 °C||45 °C|
|Zalman CNPS9900 Max||20 °C||51 dBA||1700 rpm||62 °C||42 °C|
|Titan Fenrir Siberia Edition||22 °C||50 dBA||2400 rpm||65 °C||43 °C|
|SilenX EFZ-120HA5||18 °C||44 dBA||1500 rpm||70 °C||52 °C|
|Noctua NH-L12||20 °C||44 dBA||1450 rpm||70 °C||50 °C|
|Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme||21 °C||53 dBA||2550 rpm||71 °C||50 °C|
|Gamer Storm Assassin||15 °C||48 dBA||1450 rpm||58 °C||43 °C|
|Deepcool Gammaxx 400||15 °C||44 dBA||1500 rpm||60 °C||45 °C|
|Cooler Master TPC 812||23 °C||51 dBA||2350 rpm||66 °C||43 °C|
In the graph below, you can see how many degrees Celsius hotter the CPU core is than the air outside the case. The lower this difference, the better is the performance of the cooler.
In the graph below, you can see how many decibels of noise each cooler makes.
The main specifications for the Cooler Master TPC 812 CPU cooler include:
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day this review was published.
We were very curious about the real-world performance of the new vapor chamber technology. Although following the same principle of a heatpipe (phase changing and latent heat exchange), it could improve the heat conduction from the base of the cooler to the fins.
However, what we saw on the Cooler Master TPC 812 is a good, but not revolutionary, cooling performance. It performed nearly as well as the best air coolers we tested so far, and with a reasonable noise level.
In addition to its performance, the price tag of the TPC 812 is similar to the most high-end air coolers on the market.
Due to its excellent cooling performance, we are giving the Cooler Master TPC 812 the Hardware Secrets Golden Award.
But, to be honest, we were a little disappointed about what we had hoped would be a revolutionary performance.