SilverStone AR02 CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Otto Coelho on July 3, 2013


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Bronze Award

This time, we tested the SilverStone AR02 CPU cooler. It has a tower heatsink, three 6 mm heatpipes and one 92 mm fan, supporting up to two fans. Let’s see if this “compact” cooler performs well.

The AR02 seems to be a smaller version of the SilverStone AR01, which we tested recently, and proved to be an excellent cooler.

Figure 1 shows the box of the cooler.

SilverStone AR02
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Figure 1: Package

Figure 2 shows the contents of the box: heatsink, fan, a small bag of thermal compound, a manual, and installation hardware.

SilverStone AR02
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Figure 2: Accessories

Figure 3 displays the AR02 heatsink.

SilverStone AR02
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Figure 3: Heatsink

This cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.

The SilverStone AR02

Figure 4 illustrates the front of the heatsink. As we mentioned before, the AR02 uses a traditional design for tower coolers, with the heatpipes in a single row at each side of the heatsink.

SilverStone AR02
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Figure 4: Front view

Figure 5 reveals the side of the cooler. The fins are folded in the center, creating a partially closed surface.

SilverStone AR02
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Figure 5: Side view

The top of the heatsink is visible in Figure 6, showing the tips of the heatpipes.

SilverStone AR02
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Figure 6: Top view

The SilverStone AR02 (Cont’d)

Figure 7 shows the base of the cooler. The heatpipes make direct contact with the CPU. The surface is smooth but not mirrored.

SilverStone AR02
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Figure 7: Base

In Figure 8, you can see the 92 mm PWM fan that comes with the AR02. Its model is AS9225H12, with a nominal speed of 2,800 rpm and airflow of 56 cfm.

SilverStone AR02
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Figure 8: Fan

Figure 9 presents the AR02 with the fan installed. The fan holding system is one of the best we have ever seen, with rubber pieces that connect to the sides of the heatsink. It is very secure and also easy to install and remove, and also avoids vibrations.

SilverStone AR02
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Figure 9: Fan installed

Installation

Figure 10 shows the backplate for use with AMD and Intel processors. The threaded holes on the “Intel side” are compatible with sockets LGA775, LGA1155, LGA1156, and LGA1366 CPUs. Socket LGA2011 systems will use the stock mounting system, and AMD systems use the other side of the backplate.

SilverStone AR02
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Figure 10: Backplate

Put the backplate on the solder side of the motherboard, and screw four spacers (shown in Figure 11) by the component side. Then, install the two bars shown in Figure 12.

SilverStone AR02
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Figure 11: Spacers installed

SilverStone AR02
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Figure 12: Metal bars installed

Then, install the heatsink over the CPU, holding it with two screws and a transversal bar.

SilverStone AR02
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Figure 13: Heatsink installed

Finally, install the fan.

SilverStone AR02
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Figure 14: Fan installed

How We Tested

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, and to the stock cooler that comes with the Core i5-2500K CPU. 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.

Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 2°C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2°C are considered irrelevant.

Our Tests

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.
Intel stock cooler 18 °C 41 dBA 2000 rpm 97 °C 79 °C
Cooler Master Hyper TX3 18 °C 50 dBA 2850 rpm 69 ºC 51 °C
Corsair A70 23 °C 51 dBA 2000 rpm 66 ºC 43 °C
Corsair H100 26 °C 62 dBA 2000 rpm 64 ºC 38 °C
EVGA Superclock 26 °C 57 dBA 2550 rpm 67 ºC 41 °C
NZXT HAVIK 140 20 °C 46 dBA 1250 rpm 65 ºC 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
Deepcool Gammaxx 300 18 °C 43 dBA 1650 rpm 74 °C 56 °C
Intel stock cooler 18 °C 41 dBA 2000 rpm 97 °C 79 °C
Xigmatek Praeton 19 °C 52 dBA 2900 rpm 83 °C 64 °C
Noctua NH-U12P SE2 18 °C 42 dBA 1300 rpm 69 °C 51 °C
Deepcool Frostwin 24 °C 46 dBA 1650 rpm 78 °C 54 °C
Thermaltake Frio Advanced 13 °C 56 dBA 2000 rpm 62 °C 49 °C
Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition 9 °C 48 dBA 2100 rpm 53 °C 44 °C
Thermaltake Frio Extreme 21 °C 53 dBA 1750 rpm 59 °C 38 °C
Noctua NH-U9B SE2 12 °C 44 dBA 1700 rpm 64 °C 52 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Pro 15 °C 54 dBA 2000 rpm 52 °C 37 °C
Deepcool Fiend Shark 18 °C 45 dBA 1500 rpm 74 °C 56 °C
Arctic Freezer i30 13 °C 42 dBA 1350 rpm 63 °C 50 °C
Spire TME III 8 °C 46 dBA 1700 rpm 70 °C 62 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Performer 11 °C 54 dBA 2000 rpm 49 °C 38 °C
Arctic Alpine 11 PLUS 11 °C 45 dBA 2000 rpm 82 °C 71 °C
be quiet! Dark Rock 2 10 °C 41 dBA 1300 rpm 58 °C 48 °C
Phanteks PH-TC14CS 16 °C 47 dBA 1300 rpm 58 °C 42 °C
Phanteks PH-TC14PE 16 °C 48 dBA 1300 rpm 57 °C 41 °C
SilverStone HE01 (Q) 19 °C 44 dBA 1150 rpm 63 °C 44 °C
SilverStone HE01 (P) 20 °C 57 dBA 2050 rpm 62 °C 42 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme (S) 17 °C 44 dBA 1250 rpm 52 °C 35 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme (E) 17 °C 53 dBA 1900 rpm 50 °C 33 °C
Deepcool Neptwin 11 °C 46 dBA 1500 rpm 56 °C 45 °C
SilverStone HE02 19 °C 49 dBA 2000 rpm 64 °C 45 °C
Zalman CNPS9900DF 23 °C 45 dBA 1400 rpm 68 °C 45 °C
Deepcool ICE BLADE PRO V2.0 22 °C 43 dBA 1500 rpm 67 °C 45 °C
Phanteks PH-TC90LS 24 °C 47 dBA 2600 rpm 95 °C 71 °C
Rosewill AIOLOS 20 °C 40 dBA 1600 rpm 94 °C 74 °C
Corsair H60 20 °C 49 dBA 2000 rpm 64 °C 44 °C
Zalman LQ310 27 °C 51 dBA 2050 rpm 65 °C 38 °C
Noctua NH-L9i 24 °C 44 dBA 2500 rpm 95 °C 71 °C
NZXT Respire T40 20 °C 45 dBA 1850 rpm 76 °C 56 °C
NZXT Respire T20 21 °C 45 dBA 1900 rpm 77 °C 56 °C
Zalman LQ315 20 °C 52 dBA 1950 rpm 57 °C 37 °C
Corsair H80i (Quiet) 19 °C 44 dBA 1100 rpm 61 °C 42 °C
Corsair H80i (Maximum) 19 °C 57 dBA 2500 rpm 55 °C 36 °C
NZXT Kraken X40 (Silent) 25 °C 44 dBA 1050 rpm 66 °C 41 °C
NZXT Kraken X40 (Extreme) 25 °C 53 dBA 1650 rpm 62 °C 37 °C
Zalman LQ320 20 °C 52 dBA 2100 rpm 57 °C 37 °C
Corsair H100i (Quiet) 22 °C 45 dBA 1150 rpm 58 °C 36 °C
Corsair H100i (Maximum) 22 °C 61 dBA 2500 rpm 54 °C 32 °C
NZXT Kraken X60 (Silent) 26 °C 46 dBA 1000 rpm 62 °C 36 °C
NZXT Kraken X60 (Extreme) 26 °C 60 dBA 1650 rpm 60 °C 34 °C
Prolimatech Genesis Black Series 25 °C 46 dBA 1150 rpm 69 °C 44 °C
Phanteks PH-TC12DX 25 °C 51 dBA 1850 rpm 74 °C 49 °C
Corsair H90 23 °C 51 dBA 1550 rpm 61 °C 38 °C
Corsair H110 27 °C 58 dBA 1500 rpm 60 °C 33 °C
Evercool Venti 23 °C 49 dBA 2250 rpm 72 °C 49 °C
Thermalright Archon SB-E X2 22 °C 45 dBA 1400 rpm 68 °C 46 °C
Scythe Kabuto II 20 °C 41 dBA 1450 rpm 67 °C 47 °C
Prolimatech Megahalems Red Series 20 °C 51 dBA 1500 rpm 63 °C 43 °C
Zalman FX100 (fanless) 18 °C NA NA 98 °C 80 °C
Zalman FX100 (92 mm fan) 18 °C 50 dBA 2850 rpm 69 °C 51 °C
Gelid The Black Edition 21 °C 45 dBA 1650 rpm 66 °C 45 °C
Thermalright AXP-100 22 °C 42 dBA 2400 rpm 76 °C 54 °C
SilverStone NT06-PRO 19 °C 50 dBA 2400 rpm 72 °C 53 °C
SilverStone AR01 11 °C 46 dBA 2150 rpm 53 °C 42 °C
Cooler Master Seidon 120M 16 °C 52 dBA 2300 rpm 58 °C 42 °C
Enermax ETS-T40-White Cluster 16 °C 50 dBA 2200 rpm 63 °C 47 °C
Cooler Master Seidon 120XL 17 °C 54 dBA 2250 rpm 55 °C 38 °C
Cooler Master Seidon 240M 13 °C 59 dBA 2200 rpm 49 °C 36 °C
SilverStone AR02 9 °C 46 dBA 2800 rpm 60 °C 51 °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.

SilverStone AR02

In the graph below, you can see how many decibels of noise each cooler makes.

 SilverStone AR02

Main Specifications

The main specifications for the SilverStone AR02 CPU cooler include:

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

Conclusions

When we tested the SilverStone AR01, “bigger brother” to the AR02, we said it has everything we like on a CPU cooler. Well, the AR02 is a smaller and more inexpensive version, and the cooling performance is lower too. It performs like several other average coolers we tested so far.

It would be a great deal if it was relatively inexpensive, but the price difference to the AR01 is small (USD 28 against USD 35), which means the AR01 has a better cost/benefit ratio. It doesn’t mean the SilverStone AR02 isn’t a good cooler; it just is not as good as its brother. The only reason to choose the AR02 over the AR01 is that it is shorter, which means it will fit cases with less than 6.3” (159 mm) clearance.

Being a well-made, nice-looking, good performance cooler, the SilverStone AR02 receives our Bronze Award.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/SilverStone-AR02-CPU-Cooler-Review/1794


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