Heatsink Final Thoughts
Well, it didn’t manage to de-throne the Cooler Master EVO…or did it? Even though it was a degree or two warmer, I can’t really say it was a poor performer. An overclocked FX-8320 is something to be reckoned with as far as thermal loads are concerned, and this type of cooler just isn’t designed for that. It almost seemed like the heat-pipes and fins became saturated with heat, and just couldn’t bleed it off fast enough. A little more mass might do it…but that’s what the AR03 is for. For what it’s worth, I added an additional fan in a push/pull arrangement, and that managed to bring down the temps another degree and a half or so (normally, I don’t include every fan arrangement in the results – most of the time adding a fan only results in a drop of one degree Celsius or less, which is usually not worth the cost and increase in noise). It seems a push/pull arrangement was a little more beneficial for the AR01 than most coolers, which leads me to believe it would perform well under less demanding loads as it just had trouble shedding the 200 watts of heat.
SilverStone SST-AR01 Conclusion
If anything, the AR01 serves to show how important it is to choose a cooler that is appropriate for your platform. You can’t expect miracles out of even the best products.
Thankfully, the AR01 still puts in a strong showing – the fact it kept an FX-8320 pumping out 200W of heat under its thermal limit shows that it will perform in a worst-case scenario. I would expect it to perform even better on an 1155 or 1150 socket. Besides, if you want more performance, there are other options in the Argon line. For the price, the AR01 performed as expected.
While some may not like the color scheme, the heat-sink itself is attractively finished and nicely polished. There isn’t much to 120mm tower coolers, but SilverStone manages to extract a premium look out of their base-level AR01.
Similarly, the AR01 is constructed at or above the level of other coolers in its price range. I was surprised to see the contact surface of the heat-pipes polished to a near-mirror finish, which is unusual it seems for coolers that cost twice as much.
At the end of the day, the AR01 performs its function adequately. It’ll keep an FX CPU cool, so it should keep almost every other CPU cool as well. The installation was comparable to other products, and the fan mounting system was the best I’ve had a chance to work with.
Remember, this heatsink retails online for $33.99 (Amazon | NewEgg). That’s a decent price for a CPU cooler that is easy to install, relatively quiet under operation, and keeps your CPU cooler than the stock fan and heat-sink. It won’t keep up with the high-end coolers, but it isn’t designed to.
I wouldn’t have a problem recommending this cooler to anyone that was looking for an inexpensive, well built and quiet cooler. We may have to chat about their expectations (you won’t hit 5 GHz with this, or any other $35 cooler) but it will keep most systems running cool and quiet. There are other popular options in this price range but I appreciated some of the changes SilverStone made to the 120mm tower cooler formula, enough to prefer working with the AR01.
+ Wonderful fan mounting system + Good quality throughout + Small changes add up + Easy to work with + Performs as expected for the price + The small touches to reduce noise seem to work
- Hopefully you like blue! – Heat-sink mount does not allow multiple orientations (at least on AMD platforms)
Final Score: 8.50 out of 10.
Recommended: Benchmark Reviews Seal of Approval.
COMMENT QUESTION: What is your favorite CPU cooler heatsink?