Review of Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler

I bought a Cooler Master RR-B10-212P-G1 fan and heat sink to cool the processor in my desktop computer.  I needed it because my workspace tends to be on the warm side, and the stock cooler that came with my AMD FX-8120 Zambezi CPU was struggling in the heat.  I won’t say it was like an airplane taking off, but it was loud.

Although I’ve had the Cooler Master installed for only one day, I think it’s safe to say that it is an entirely different animal in that regard.  I would have spent the day listening to that old fan whine; and instead I heard nothing today.  The temperature in the room is 93 degrees now, and it was around that level for much of the day.  No problem.  Granted, I’ve had the ceiling fan whooshing around overhead, and I’ve had ambient noise coming in the window.  Still, it’s no comparison.  I would easily have heard the stock cooler roaring over these other sounds, and that has just not happened.

Now, some cautions.  First, pay attention to the size.  This is a large unit.  It may not fit in your computer case.  It may interfere with your ability to move RAM, hard drives, or other components.  Also, pay attention to the direction in which the fan on this cooler, and other fans in your system, are blowing.  My little discovery in this regard was that, actually, the moistened finger can be a poor indicator, as fans seem to throw off a slight breeze even on the intake side.  Much better was to dangle a bit of paper towel and see whether it is pulled toward a fan or pushed away.  Be careful, though, that the towel doesn’t get sucked in.

These are the kinds of concerns I would ordinarily expect to write in a review of a product.  In this case, unfortunately, these were overshadowed by something that I did not expect to be a big deal:  my installation experience.  There were two principal problems, and they were major.  They converted what should have been a 15-minute installation process into a two-hour ordeal, and they could easily have given me days of downtime.

The first installation problem was that, for practical purposes, Cooler Master did not provide installation instructions.  They did provide one large fold-out sheet in a dozen languages, but (not surprisingly, given the ambitions of that single sheet) the text descriptions were brief to nonexistent and the drawings were so small and unclear that I literally had to examine them with a magnifying glass, and in one or two instances I still could not figure out what they were trying to say.  Clear instructions would have saved me a considerable amount of time and the risk of damage to the cooler and/or to other components in my system, as I positioned and repositioned and corrected mistakes during the installation process.

The other installation problem was that, when I did figure out what the instructions were saying, I couldn’t believe it.  I assumed, wrongly, that Cooler Master was just selling me a CPU cooler.  The motherboard already had a standard thing that could be used to mount this cooler, and in the past I’ve just had to attach the new cooler to that.  Pretty simple.

What Cooler Master was actually selling me, as I found, was a system reconstruction project.  They had their own separate idea of how the cooler should be attached to the motherboard, and they were just going to do it their way.  This involved removing the plastic CPU mount that the motherboard manufacturer had installed.  Not a big problem — just remove four screws.  And reasonable, under the circumstances:  Cooler Master wanted their cooler to be solidly grounded on the motherboard.  So, OK, I had to unscrew the four screws, remove the stock plastic mount, replace it with their superstructure, and screw it back in place.  Took me a bit of time to realize that this was the concept, but I got it, and I went ahead with it.

But no.  This was actually not the concept.  What I thought they were requiring was that I would just screw their hardware into the baseplate that, again, my motherboard’s manufacturer had already provided.  The baseplate was under the motherboard; it had four screw holes in it; so all I really needed to do was to screw the Cooler Master assembly down into those already provided, ready-to-go threaded holes.

The problem here was that Cooler Master did not provide four screws that would connect their scheme to those four existing threaded screw holes.  I did try to rectify this oversight by digging through my own little collection, but I didn’t have four motherboard screws or stand-offs that would have done the job.  So to make the thing work — and this is where I finally came to understand the scope of the installation project — I actually had to take my motherboard completely out of my computer case.  As in many smallish cases, this meant an almost complete system disassembly:  I had to remove cables; I had to remove the hard drives; I basically had to gut the system, in order to bring the motherboard around to where I could install Cooler Master’s own unnecessary baseplate.

Of course, installing a custom baseplate would be no big deal if I were assembling a new system.  But this is where the people at Cooler Master needed to exercise some critical thought.  They needed to think about what would happen if I disassembled my system, removed not only the stock cooler but also the motherboard and baseplate, put it all back together, and then found that it didn’t work.  I might have done it wrong; I might have gotten a DOA product.  I get it all back together, I turn it on, and the fan doesn’t spin.  Now, if I want to use this computer during the week or two that it will take to get a replacement, I have to remove my motherboard again and reinstall the original baseplate, put the mobo back in the case, and return the hard drives and cables whence they came.

For a person who is trying to get work done on the computer, hardware surgery can require a bit of adjustment.  We aren’t all working in laboratories.  As I say, it’s 93 degrees here.  So I’m sweating down into the components, swinging metal parts around in close proximity to sensitive and delicate electronics, pushing and twisting and screwing and unscrewing, installing and uninstalling and reinstalling, and with each additional step I am increasing the odds that I will get the system back together and there will be some related or unrelated glitch to render the computer completely useless or to start me off on some new troubleshooting tangent, conceivably entailing the replacement of my motherboard.

This is a hell of a price to pay because Cooler Master did not want to spend those extra 18 cents to give me the four screws that would have enabled me to just attach their apparatus to my existing baseplate.  I tend to buy quality stuff precisely because I want to be dealing with an organization that has put its brains to work and has already anticipated what might go wrong.  I don’t want to be doing beta testing and writing installation advice that doesn’t occur to the nicely air-conditioned engineers and managers at a company like Cooler Master.

To summarize, I wasted two hours of my life on an unnecessarily complex and ill-conceived installation epic.  I would not have bought this product if I had known that this was what I would have to do.  I am glad that the product seems to be working so well.  I hope it continues to do so.  But obviously I am now much more receptive to negative remarks about Cooler Master and its products, and am certainly motivated to give low ratings to this product on various review sites.  It is unlikely that I will again buy a Cooler Master product if there is even a roughly competitive alternative.  I need to be able to trust that the company will not be sending me off on ill-advised adventures, and that sort of trust would not be warranted in this case.

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