Introduction: Rethinking the Stock Cooler

We test AMD’s bigger, better stock CPU cooler

AMD's Wraith cooler was introduced at CES this January, and has been available with select processors from AMD for a few months. We've now had a chance to put one of these impressive-looking CPU coolers through its paces on the test bench to see how much it improves on the previous model, and see if aftermarket cooling is necessary with AMD's flagship parts anymore.

While a switch in the bundled stock cooler might not seem very compelling, the fact that AMD has put effort into improving this aspect of their retail CPU offering is notable. AMD processors already present a great value relative to Intel's offerings for gaming and desktop productivity, but the stock coolers have to this point warranted a replacement.

Intel went the other direction with the current generation of enthusiast processors, as CPUs such as my Core i5-6600k no longer ship with a cooler of any kind. If AMD has upgraded the stock CPU cooler to the point that it now cools efficiently without significant noise, this will save buyers a little more cash when planning an upgrade, which is always a good thing.

The previous AMD stock cooler (left) and the AMD Wraith cooler (right)

A quick search for "Wraith" on Amazon yields retail-box products like the A10-7890K APU, and the FX-8370 CPU; options which have generally required an aftermarket cooler for the highest performance. In this review we’ll take a close look at the results with the previous cooler and the Wraith, and throw in results from the most popular aftermarket cooler of them all; the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO.

First Impressions

Our Wraith sample came bundled with a new retail FX 8370 processor, and that's the CPU I'll be using for the benchmarks to follow.

The fan is the most important aspect of a quiet cooler, of course, and the biggest advantage the Wraith has over the previous thermal solution is an 80 mm fan, up from the previous 60 mm size. The larger fan surface area allows for lower speeds, and, consequently, lower noise.

The ability to effectively run the Wraith at low fan speeds is going to depend on the capabilities of the heatsink, and here the Wraith offers a pair of copper heat pipes on each side and a milled copper base.

There is plenty of fin density to help distribute heat away from the copper pipes.

The Wraith is built with a plastic shroud around the fan, which also offers LED illumination from the subtle AMD logo on the side (we'll see this on the next page).

Next, we'll see how effective the new design is with our thermal and noise testing.

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