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I have a desktop running an i3-2100 (LGA 1155 socket). The desktop is close to a decade old at this point and still running the stock Intel fan (this one), which is also incidentally the only one in my mid tower apart from the one on the PSU (a Corsair VS550), so I'm looking for an aftermarket replacement that is both quieter and more effective at cooling. I'm also on a low income, so I really need it to be cheap.

So far I've found this one, and will probably end up going with it unless someone here informs me that it will actually perform worse than stock or there's a much better option for very close to the same price point (talking a difference of around £5).

  • more effective at cooling - did you find the stock cooler unable to keep your cpu cool under your workload? I'm sure there are a few communities out where someone would give you a stock cooler for little more than the cost of shipping – JaredT May 3 '18 at 19:12
  • quieter this is another point that begs the question - what do you consider too loud or quiet enough? noise will vary more on workload than by the cooler itself. Larger hunks of metal will result in less fan noise for short burst workloads because of their thermal capacity – JaredT May 3 '18 at 19:14
  • Going with Jared's general point; Do you have examples for us as to how loud or how hot the machine is getting? If you're on a low budget, we'd hate to make a recommendation that spends money in the wrong direction. – CDove May 4 '18 at 13:05
  • It's not getting particularly hot, I suppose, just loud enough to hear audibly, usually a whining or drone. I had assumed that this was both down to the stock cooler's own loudness and its inability to cool properly. Experimenting with Speedfan, though, I notice that the noise/whine of the fan that I'm hearing only occurs at 100%, and the fan is a quieter at around 85%, although the drone is still unmistakeably there. – Prometheus May 5 '18 at 18:50
  • This basically means that the fan is virtually always running at 100% when on. In any case, I'd like to get rid of both the sound at 100% and the usual drone from the old fan... my usual temps are between 36-39, which doesn't seem that high to me considering there's two HDDs and an SSD in this mid tower. – Prometheus May 5 '18 at 18:50
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Arctic Cool Freezer Pro 7 r2

This is my go-to budget cooler. Much quieter and a better cooler than stock HSFs.

Also buy some decent-but-cheap thermal paste, such as Arctic Silver 5 and Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut.

Combined, these should set you back 25-30 GBP/USD/Euro.

Also perhaps look at some fan-control s/w such as Speedfan - even when you can't improve temps, you can change how your fan responds to them. Some rigs crank up to 100% fan speed too early.

EDIT: The Freezer Pro 11 LP is a low profile alternative. With LP coolers, compromises are made (i.e smaller and directed into case, rather than to rear), so it will be harder for it to keep the same CPU cool in comparison. However, this one is still cheap and still quiet.

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  • The fan looked promising but unfortunately seems too deep for my mid-tower, in which the MicroATX motherboard is mounted on the side with 16cm of clearance above it. I also would ideally want a heatsink/fan that's much less than the whole 16cm, I'm actually surprised at how large these fans are. The stock Intel one that I have, including the heatsink, comes up to around 4-5cm high. Ideally, I'm looking for something closer to that height, give or take another 5cm or so. – Prometheus May 5 '18 at 18:21
  • Unless I'm reading the format of dimensions wrong entirely, which would explain why all these fans are so deep. Is there some sort of standard for which order width, length and height/depth go in? – Prometheus May 5 '18 at 18:23
  • Also, with regards to your Speedfan comment - is there a way of/guide to knowing when exactly is too early for the fan to be at 100%? – Prometheus May 5 '18 at 18:23
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    Re: Speedfan - A sign that your fan is too aggressive is when it ramps up, it quickly cools the CPU such that the temp drops and thus the fan eases off quickly - which means your goes noisier > quieter > noisier > quieter etc. Having the fan ramp up in more gradual steps means it will get gradually noisier until it reaches an equilibrium... hopefully some time before fan speed = 100%. – CJM May 8 '18 at 10:48
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    Freezer pro 11 LP added as a low-profile alternative – CJM May 8 '18 at 10:54
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I do understand wanting quiet. I am dubious about your choice. It says 25 dB at its lowest setting. That means if you put any load on your CPU, it will speed up and be louder.

This one is $20 and its high noise level is 21 dB. Hope that is within your budget.

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  • Good point about the sound of the cooler I selected, I suppose I assumed that the stock Intel cooler would be louder than any third party one on account of being a stock product, though I couldn't find any actual dB rating for it. If I'm getting this dimensions malarkey the right way round, that cooler also seems to be pretty deep. See my comment on the other answer. – Prometheus May 5 '18 at 18:56

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