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High performance black air cooler...

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#1
So, in the process of upgrading my main machine, it's pretty much become all blacked out with nothing but dark grays and blacks and I figured why not go all in on the cliche and get a black cooler to match? Problem is, I like the Scythe cooler I already have... ...very little will surpass it, so no matter what I get, it will be a downgrade... which is okay, but I don't want to compromise too much on how cool/quiet this build already is. It's just become this big, shiny eyesore now. I know that sounds silly but it is what it is - it's an overkill cooler and I'd like to step down just a *little* to something more in line with the overall aesthetic of my build.

I've been looking around for all-black coolers and pickings seem surprisingly slim. I like the Dark Rock 4 (the look is perfect and it's about the same size as my Mugen Max,) but I don't like the Cryorig H7 levels of cooling (can that really be right? Does the paint hurt it that much?) For a 2600, that's acceptable, but drifting wayy too far from the performance I'm used to with my current cooler. Not to mention I intend to nab a high end Zen 2 chip at some point, and I'd hate to be doing a third cooler swap then.

The Dark Rock PRO 4 is also pretty nice and I could probably make it fit - it'd even clear my RAM, but I really don't want to go that huge if I can help it.

Turns out finding something like this is easier said than done. Just wondering if anybody is aware of some options I just haven't spotted for whatever reason. Any suggestions are appreciated. Or maybe somebody will talk me into something I've passed on before, heh.
 
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#2
I have a Cryorig R1 Ultimate cooling my 2600X. Really nice looking cooler with a gray and black color scheme that I have had a mixed experience with so far.


CPU idles in the high 40s to low 50s, gets up to the high 50s to low 60s in gaming, and reaches the mid 80s when I hit it with AIDA64 (CPU, FPU, and cache). This is with XFR boosting it to 4-4.2GHz on all cores. I have a fan curve that prioritizes low noise (two 140mm fans can make quite a bit of noise at 1400RPM).

The Dark Rock PRO 4 seems like a good option because of the color scheme. I don't have experience with it, but I've heard it performs similarly to the R1.
 
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#3
Run a Dark Rock TF on my 2600X works like a charm its also black and not quite as big as the Pro 4.
Its also extremely quiet and keeps the CPU under 80*c @ 4.1~4.2ghz boost in AIDA64
 

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#4
Noctua are supposedly supposed to be coming out with their new line of black fans soon.
 

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#5
Tape off the cooler you have now and spray some matte black on the top fin/plate? If the results aren't what you want, then throw money at a cooler that looks right.
 
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#6
Dark Rock Pro4 is probably the best of the really black colored heatsinks. Pretty much if you want a good air cooler it has to be big, thats the only way to do it.

Some other alternatives in no particular order
Noctua NHD15S has black color Chromax kits. https://www.amazon.com/Noctua-NA-HC4-chromax-Black-heatsink-NH-D15S/dp/B07656PY4C The NHD15S is a great heatsink.
CryOrig R1 Ultimate/Universal with AM4
Coolermaster MasterAir Maker 8
Scythe Fuma (SCFM-1100) and paint the top-most fins black, mask it with tape and spray paint, good budget choice with stellar performance and decent form factor.
Phanteks PHTC14PE, though older, has fantastic performance, has a black model but the AM4 kit for it is basically unobtainium unless you find the rare ones that came with AM4 IIRC.
Scythe Ninja 5 is black and fits AM4 https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Scythe/Ninja5/.
 
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#7

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#8

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#9
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#10
For what it is worth, if you do decide to go down the Dark Rock Pro 4 route: the outer fan doesn't add much to the overall cooling performance. I removed it to show off my RGB RAM, and it literally added 3c (max!) to the overall core temps. Not a drastic change, if you ask me.
 
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#11
Thanks for the input everyone! I really appreciate it.

Dark Rock Pro4 is probably the best of the really black colored heatsinks. Pretty much if you want a good air cooler it has to be big, thats the only way to do it.
Yeah, I figure as much. I'm okay with a beefy cooler and in fact expect it. My problem with with the DRP 4 is that it's *just* crossing the line of being too big by covering RAM slots. And then beyond that you have the regular Dark Rock 4 which is a midsize tower with sorta lackluster performance, and then all of the Hyper 212 clones which are out of the question for me.

R1 is definitely a consideration. I would expect that to perform at least as well as the Mugen Max I have now. Not really a compromise there. That's a big part of the issue for me. The performance of this cooler is really hard to get away from. It easily and silently keeps my CPU below 55C in any game. Less CPU intensive games may not even break 50! That's overclocked to 4.1ghz. If I max it up at 4.2ghz it will sometimes hit 60C give or take and it finally hits a steady 70C range during stress tests. Can't really ask for much more from an OC with these CPU's.

Tape off the cooler you have now and spray some matte black on the top fin/plate? If the results aren't what you want, then throw money at a cooler that looks right.
Yeap. That's something I've considered, too. Far from the first time I've painted a component. I really, really want the heatsink to be black, too, though. I'm thinking about painting the whole thing (save for the baseplate itself, of course) and seeing how it goes. I know there will be a performance hit and getting it between the fins would be a pain, but I do have a little bit of headroom that I can afford to lose. Even if I lost 10C to hold the same noise level, I'd be okay. I may just have to suck it up and do it, though I'll probably want a paint that can take some heat. And if it ruins it, it ruins it.

For what it is worth, if you do decide to go down the Dark Rock Pro 4 route: the outer fan doesn't add much to the overall cooling performance. I removed it to show off my RGB RAM, and it literally added 3c (max!) to the overall core temps. Not a drastic change, if you ask me.
See, now that is interesting. And I can see that being true. And if that is true it makes the DRP 4 a real contender for me. I will absolutely keep that in mind...

I've been looking more at benchmarks/reviews of the regular Dark Rock 4. I might've underestimated it a little. Kind of on the fence about it. But looks and scale-wise it's right in my sweet spot. Hurrr.
 
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#13
Little spendy but Noctua Chromax Fans and NH D15 or NH-U12

 
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#14
Tape off the cooler you have now and spray some matte black on the top fin/plate? If the results aren't what you want, then throw money at a cooler that looks right.
If you want to go the extra mile, use an ACID ETCH Primer, such as : https://www.amazon.com/U-POL-ACID-PRIMER-M-I-R-COMPLIANT/dp/B00NOIKV9A?th=1

You can try most automotive stores for similar products.

You could also try a High Temp engine paint: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_...+temp+spray,automotive,130&crid=2XNVQM4E99BLQ
 
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#16
I'll just chime in and say I really like my DRP3.

Might try removing that outer fan at some point, see what happens.
Well, if you do try it, let me know how it goes. If the performance is still pretty much there, that might be my ticket. Looks like the heatsink itself stops just before the first ram slot on ATX boards. My primary pair is second and last, so that actually works great.

Little spendy but Noctua Chromax Fans and NH D15 or NH-U12
They do look awesome and I know the NH-D15 is a top-tier air cooler, but by the time I grab the shrouds and the replacement fans it really is spendy for something so minor and simple. Noctua has always had my respect, but never my desire because they never make the options I want reasonable for me to get. I hate how everything has a conversion kit if you happen to not like their color scheme, as many don't. If they made a cooler that was anything but brown/tan out of the box, with no need to drop extravagant amounts of money on more than just the cooler itself, I'm sure it would sell well. Why do I have to pay for 4 fans just to have 2 in black? Maybe they could just sell the heatsinks/brackets and fans separately? I hope they do some runs of those black coolers they talked about however long ago soon. I just don't know that I wanna wait that long.

Definitely will be going that route if I choose to paint it.



Thanks again for the tips yall. Right now it looks like it's still between the DR 4 and DRP 4 if I get shy about painting the Mugen Max or too impatient to wait a little while for a good time. Just trying to find the best compromise. I'd hate to throw all of the great thermals I'm getting completely out of whack.

I did a fair bit of gaming today. Running my 2600 @ 4ghz, performance held steady while temperatures maxed at 49.5C. Meanwhile my 2060 is hitting 2ghz+ boosts without passing 58C, with the fastest fan peaking at 50% but averaging 20%. To some that's probably not a big deal, but it still took care and forethought on my part. Now, my computer sits right next to me, completely zen and quiet at all times. Does everything I want it to flawlessly and never complains. It's hard to bring myself to mess with that balance too much. I've put a good bit of time gathering the parts I need and tuning it with the goal of reaching the balance I now have. I've gathered a decent amount of headroom without compromising more than that last itty little bit of performance. It does not get better without making major changes. So now, even what should be a minor cooler swap makes me stop and think. I know I probably won't be able to maintain quite the level I'm at now to get what I want, but the performance still means more to me than the aesthetic. A black cooler is no good to me if it's not also exceptionally cool and quiet. Doesn't have to be the best, but it better be good... you know?

Ever get a machine running so perfectly and just been so happy with it only to find yourself wanting to change it again? Why does this happen? Is that, like, a dopamine thing or something? It looks good, it runs great, and yet I feel I must make another change.

That's kind got me thinking that maybe it's prudent to just grab a cooler and try it. I can always return it, I suppose. If it doesn't go how I want, maybe then I'll try painting my current cooler. I could hold onto the new cooler until after I paint the old one and try it. That way if I completely ruin the old cooler's performance, I at least have a contingency. Who knows? Maybe the cooler I'll get will work great and then I can preserve the Mugen Max in all of its silent glory so that it can live on in another machine one day. Availability on this model is worse than other Scythe models - it's a unique entry among their best coolers... maybe even one of THE best. I trust my knowledge and experience when it comes to painting the thing, but it still feels kinda like a desecration to take a truly good cooler and lower it for looks.
 
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#17
I can promise you this Scythe cooler would be an upgrade to yours.

DSCF4395.JPG


Had that all over my little Impact setup.

Getting a cooler is one thing, making sure it's the right choice is another since regardless of color it still has a job to do. The suggestion of maybe painting the one you have now isn't a bad idea as long as the paint doesn't "Insulate" the cooler, making it less efficient in heat transfer. One that's already made the color you want would probrably be the best choice to go with as suggested earlier, that cooler looks like it would work.

What I'm getting at is whatever you buy or just do yourself make sure for your sake it's the right choice and will do the job.
 
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#18
I can promise you this Scythe cooler would be an upgrade to yours.

Had that all over my little Impact setup.
LMAO now that is a sight. My brain is melting trying to make sense of what you did there. Love it. I've dreamt up my share of Frankenstein rigs like that, but I've never had the stuff laying around to do it. Kudos to you for concieving of that... freakish machination of parts.

Getting a cooler is one thing, making sure it's the right choice is another since regardless of color it still has a job to do. The suggestion of maybe painting the one you have now isn't a bad idea as long as the paint doesn't "Insulate" the cooler, making it less efficient in heat transfer. One that's already made the color you want would probably be the best choice to go with as suggested earlier, that cooler looks like it would work.

What I'm getting at is whatever you buy or just do yourself make sure for your sake it's the right choice and will do the job.
Wise words. Indeed I assume any paint I use will reduce thermal transfer. I really would not be surprised if I lost 10C of headroom. And yeah, I'm just weighing my options, looking for not necessarily the best this or that, but rather the best balance for what I want. Everything comes with a compromise one way or another. I've never been one to buy the most unanimously agreed best just because it's great in a bunch of other people's rigs. That kind of thing holds weight, but there are fallacies in that which can lead to major disappointment. A lesson I've learned enough times at this point.


The way I see it now, the cooler I have is already approaching overkill. I can put it to work running a 4.25ghz all-core and it'll still run quiet for gaming and day-to-day stuff, but I'm not doing that because I know the power consumption and heat output are going to be significant for not a lot of difference in my overall experience/productivity, regardless of operating temps. The Dark Rock Pro 4 is probably overkill too... ...and it's awkwardly huge. I feel like that's gotta be a pain to install and it's not like the S340 Elite is a super spacious case. That's a lot of real estate for cooling performance I probably won't ever fully utilize. I understand the concept of overdoing it a little when you want silence, but still that looks like too much. I initially picked a single-tower Scythe because it's a little smaller than the R1 and NH-D15 while still getting close to matching them. And it really does kick some ass. I'll never knock a single tower again.

Save for one really bad review from HardOCP, which I suspect had something amiss, the single-tower Dark Rock 4 seems to hold up pretty well. Neither best nor worst. Quiet and capable enough to suit my needs, though. Not to mention it looks great. I actually managed to find a few 2600/x owners throwing out temps similar to what I see now with the Scythe Mugen MAX. It's roughly the same size with almost the exact same finstack and heatpipe layout, so I'd expect it to perform similarly, if only a little warmer because of the black finish (though apparently it's actually some kind of ceramic powder coat, so who knows?) Just looking at the features, it's seeming like best compromise of the bunch. I'll keep the Scythe on hand as an old reliable and give the DR4 a turn. Just seems like the most straightforward option that will absolutely work. *shrugs*

Semi-related, cooler benchmark comparisons have always driven me crazy. So many variations in methodology. And then you're taking stress test results from probably different CPU's from yours and trying to guess how things will be in your actual usage scenario by running all of these cross-comparisons in your head. You've kinda gotta know how a range of recent and slightly older CPU's generally perform thermally, and then be aware of how different types of heavy loads affect their thermals individually in order to really glean anything. And then some coolers will seem to pull ahead and punch above what should be physically possible under certain loads, only to completely fall apart in other tests.

I'm betting the DR4 is better than some of the benchmarks I saw would suggest. I'm trusting in the size and design of it more than anything. Again, I'm looking at the heatpipes/base/surface area and thinking there's no physical way it won't withstand a 2600 unless the mounting is really bad or the baseplate is fouled. I mean, looks can be deceiving with some coolers, but the physics are generally simple and fairly predictable. It has plenty of meat and (what I assume is) a good, big fan on it. Mfr has a reputation for quality. What could go wrong, right?

I really do appreciate all of the replies folks. There really were more options than I realized. Yes, I know I asked for advice only to buy what I wanted initially, but I really do take the suggestions into account, even if only to get a clearer picture.
 
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#20
The cooler I have is one Scythe actually made, it's not something I cobbled up. :D
https://www.guru3d.com/news-story/scythe-susanoo-cpu-cooler-has-four-100mm-fans.html
Alright then. Can't say I remember ever seeing that one around :wtf: But then there were a good few years where I was out of the loop. That they actually produced and sold something like that is madness. As if I needed another reason to be a fan of their coolers. Heh

That aside, got my DR4 in today. Immediately put down some Kryonaut and slapped the sucker on there. Dunno how this would fit if I needed to use RAM slot 1 - completely covers it. The fan is pressed right up against the DIMM in slot 2! Talk about a tense moment! A little offset would have been nice! So much space behind the cooler... I may try it nice and low in a pull orientation just to get some air moving over the board. But then I'd want to flip it upside down, because it actually has rubber dampening pads on the side where the fan mounts. Otherwise the mount is similar to the Scythe, but much better refined. Easier to secure and just much more snug. Easier to lock in the mounting bar and keep it in place while you get the screws started.

I'm actually kind of beside myself - this cooler is a perfect match for a modestly OC'd 2600. It is not even a slight compromise on anything.

Doing my usual 4.1ghz all-core at 1.23v, temperatures are better than with the Mugen MAX. Sort of significantly, actually. I was impressed because it actually is a good little bit smaller. Same height finstack, but about a 5/16" inch smaller in length and width. Also much denser finstack, which you'd think would lead to noise, but in my case it's actually quieter, simply because its cooling efficiency keeps fan speeds ridiculously low. Just running P95 and IBT to get a general impression, I see P95 blend plateauing at 53C. IBT is maxing at 58C. Color me impressed. Playing a little Fallout 4, SOTR, and Metro Exodus, I'm seeing really interesting results. I'll see the odd peak to 46-50C (pretty much only on FO4 loading screens, when vsync gets disabled, meaning my GPU starts tossing about 320fps...) but almost every time I checked it was running 41-42, occasionally even resting at 38C. The fan is barely running! You almost think it can't be right, but as far as I can tell it is. Pretty decent improvement from my generally flat 49C with the Scythe.

Bad mount on the Scythe can easily be ruled out, unless I'm secretly an idiot. :p In the entire time I've had the Scythe, I've remounted it 3 times and it's always performed the same.

Absolutely lives up to its name. I barely hear it running during stress tests. Rest of the time I don't hear it all, even with it being 2 1/2 feet from my head. Just for funsies I flipped it on full blast. I'll tell you THEN, it is not quiet lol. But still quieter than the Scythe under those conditions, which I think says something. I haven't reconfigured the fan curves yet, maybe I can get it even quieter. That's probably why it's not as even. For now, I'm back to 4ghz and seeing exceptional numbers for this build, so who knows when I'll mess with that. At some point I'll try for a max OC and see what it can really do. For now, it's already doing enough.

Judging by first impressions, I could easily go up to like 1.37v to run at 4.25ghz with minimal noise outside of stress testing and benchmarking... and still see very manageable temps. I mean, the Mugen MAX did that well enough and it didn't cool quite as well as this. Good to have that headroom for a likely CPU upgrade later this year.

Could not be happier with it. Just looking at it and holding it in your hand, you can tell it is well made. Really solid and heavy, with sturdy fins and a pretty glorious finish. I kinda like how it's a little smaller. A whole lot less distracting than the giant, shiny single tower monolith it replaced. Looks great, performs very respectably. I was expecting a little step-down to better aesthetics but instead got a legit little bump up. Worth every penny - just wish I had a camera worthy of capturing how good it looks doing what it does.

Just wanted to pop-in and bring some closure to this. Maybe leave a little something for people coming along who may be in a similar position to me, just wondering if it's worth the money to spend extra for the fancy black cooler. Has been for me! :D If anybody still wants to add to the thread, feel free. I can't be the only one who was looking for something like this.

Thanks again to everyone who helped me get a better idea of my options. Appreciate that some of you stepped up to actually look for something - I know most people probably don't have many black coolers that they know of to just rattle off. It would take at least a little footwork. And besides, if not for the suggestions, I might've gone a different way with it and not had as good of a fit for this build!:rockout:
 
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#22
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#23
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#24
Phanteks offers heat sinks in various colors with matching color fan blades. Unfortunately, the fan frames are all white which personally I like the contrast but not what you wanat

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA4RE5045388

Other colors are orange, blue, red and white .. and with the white, everything is the same color. Great performance, in between NH-D14 and NH-D15. Heat sink finish is beautiful. here's some pics of the original red one

https://www.vortez.net/articles_pages/phanteks_ph_tc14pe_cpu_cooler_review,5.html

And TPUs review
https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Phanteks/PH-TC14PE/

You might think "well I'll just change the fans .... but if you take the Noctua fans off a noctual cooler and put on those Phanteks fans, at same rpm, the phanteks fans produce CPU temps that are 6C lower.
 
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#25
Phanteks offers heat sinks in various colors with matching color fan blades. Unfortunately, the fan frames are all white which personally I like the contrast but not what you wanat

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA4RE5045388

Other colors are orange, blue, red and white .. and with the white, everything is the same color. Great performance, in between NH-D14 and NH-D15. Heat sink finish is beautiful. here's some pics of the original red one

https://www.vortez.net/articles_pages/phanteks_ph_tc14pe_cpu_cooler_review,5.html

And TPUs review
https://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Phanteks/PH-TC14PE/

You might think "well I'll just change the fans .... but if you take the Noctua fans off a noctual cooler and put on those Phanteks fans, at same rpm, the phanteks fans produce CPU temps that are 6C lower.
Thats what I have now and I believe it is hard to get AM4 kit for it. Phanteks doesn't even return emails when I asked them if I could buy replacement fan clips so good luck getting the AM4 kit they promise. Great heatsink though. For even more cooling performance over the Noctua or Phanteks, run the Thermalright TY143 fans.
 
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