SilverStone AR12-TUF Review (Page 2 of 4)

Page 2 - Physical Look - Hardware; Installation

The SilverStone AR12-TUF is a pretty standard looking cooler. It utilizes a single tower design comprised of many aluminum fins. The SilverStone logo can be found in the middle of the top fin, while the pipes protrude out the top on each side. Otherwise, due to the natural colors used here, we have standard silver aluminum fins and copper heatpipes here. The attached fan has a black frame with some orange accents, which makes the whole thing sort of basic in terms of design. There is no aspect that really makes it stand out, other than maybe the orange accents on the fan frame.

As this is a single-stack 120mm tower, the SilverStone AR12-TUF has a similar height as other 120mm based coolers, making it compatible with most mid-tower ATX cases. The fins are hidden from this perspective, but you can see slight cutouts on both edges as well as a cutout on the sides of each fin. There are a total of 43 fins on the stack, including 32 larger fins and 11 cut down fins at the bottom to ensure better clearance from components mounted on the motherboard. The spacing between each fin is approximately 3.0mm and they are all generally evenly spaced out between each fin. From my calculations, the total surface area of the cooling fins is approximately 0.51 square meters, which is about expected for a single stack of fins. For example, the recently reviewed Noctua NH-U12S redux has a surface area of 0.54 square meters. Otherwise, at a total mass of 670g with the fan attached, the SilverStone AR12-TUF is pretty light. For perspective, a typical AMD Wraith Prism stock cooler weighs about 100g less at 582g. Most of the weight is attributed to the material choices of the heatsink itself, as you will find out later.

As for its dimensions, the SilverStone AR12-TUF is pretty typical with a height of around 154mm, width of 128mm, and depth of 75mm, with the fan attached. You probably will not run into any issues with installing this cooler in most mid-tower ATX cases. The SilverStone AR12-TUF is symmetrical and with its fan attached, it does not even hover over any memory slot. There is still quite a bit of clearance underneath with approximately 3.5cm of space between the bottom of the base and the bottom fin, in its default position. I doubt you will run into any clearance issues due to the placement of the fan or the heatsink.

From the base where the metal makes contact with the processor, four continuous U-shaped heatpipes lead away from the CPU contact and splits into the two stacks of fins. This effectively makes eight heatpipes in total. The 6mm diameter metal tubes are supposed to efficiently lead the heat away from its source due to the low heat of vaporization, or phase change energy, of alcohol. The heatpipes are aligned in manner to spread out the heat in the array of radiating fins. The 0.51 square meters of surface area, combined with the single 120mm SilverStone fan are the two factors that will affect this cooler’s heat dissipation abilities, and we will see what this translates into on the next page.

The fan mounted on the fin stack of the SilverStone AR12-TUF is mounted with a set of metal wires that clip to the side of the stacks. This means you can swap out these fans if you so desire for any other 25mm thick 120mm fan. These clips work decently well to keep the fan in place, but unfortunately, they do not attach to the fan in any way. This makes installation of the fan to the heatsink a bit tricky, as it requires some tension to just hold the clips to the fans, let alone to the heatsink. You will need to remove the fan during installation, but we will explore this later on.

As for the fans in question, we have an unnamed SilverStone fan. Internally, we have hydraulic bearings for a longer lifespan and generally quiet operation. This 120mm fan has a specified rotational speed of 300 to 2200 RPM with a maximum airflow rating 69.26 CFM and maximum air pressure of 2.36 mm H2O. The rated fan noise maxes out at 34.4 dbA. These rated numbers are pretty typical for a radiator or heatsink mounted fan, as it needs to produce a sufficient amount of static pressure and airflow to get air through the fins. The rated lifespan of these fans is around 40,000 hours, which translates into around 4.6 years if operated every day, every hour. Otherwise, the fan has a black frame and a translucent impeller. This is where the addressable RGB LEDs live and illuminate to add some more color to your build. The corners have an orange rubber pad to reduce vibrations between the fan and the heatsink it is mounted to. This is meant to align with the TUF branding in its black and yellow-orange looks.

The photo above shows the bottom of the SilverStone AR12-TUF and how the heatpipes lead out of the base and into the fin array. This is made more apparent as you can see the copper color contrasted from the aluminum base. SilverStone calls this their Heat-pipe Direct Contact, or HDC, technology, although we have seen this from other budget-minded CPU coolers like the Reeven E12 RGB RC-1208RGB. Thankfully, the base is flatter than the E12 with no notable gaps in between the aluminum base and the copper pipes. There do not seem to be any abnormalities or milling marks here. The heatsink as a whole is composed of different materials, as part of the base and the fins are made of aluminum, while the heatpipes are made of copper. Copper is used because it has one of the best heat transfer abilities with a thermal conductivity of 401W/mK. Meanwhile, the fins and rest of the base are made out of aluminum as it is quite a bit lighter in comparison to copper. This reduction in weight will reduce stress on the motherboard, although aluminum has a lower conductivity of 237W/mK, which is not as optimal for heat transfer, but the trade-off is understandable. I do wish, however, that they used a fully copper base here for better heat transfer.

At the base, all of the joints are soldered to the base, but the fins are pressed to the heatpipes. Pressed fins are pretty typical, but this may lead to degradation over time as contact between metals decreases due to thermal expansion and contraption. Overall, everything does seem to be well put together on the SilverStone AR12-TUF, although there does seem to be a more economical focus with the choice of materials here.

Installation of the SilverStone AR12-TUF is generally clear, but there are some areas I think could be improved upon. Starting from the top, you can install the backplate to the back of the motherboard. With AMD systems, you will be using the stock motherboard backplate, but if you are using an Intel system, you will need the included metal backplate. SilverStone has included a separate backplate for the latest LGA1700 socket, which is great to see. Users can then install two arms onto the heatsink itself with included screws. Next, you should apply a small amount of thermal paste to your processor heatspreader.

From here, users will need to adjust the attached screws to the respective holes on the backplate and mount it to the backplate. This is the tricky part, as users will need to hold the backplate in place while also screwing in the attached screws on the arms into the backplate. If I had four hands, I think this would be easy, but alas I do not. Instead, I slightly attached one corner at a time until the backplate stayed in place. I then tightened the screws in a cross pattern to ensure there was no imbalance of force. Afterwards, I reattached the SilverStone fan with wire clips. Once again, it would have been nice if the clips would stay attached to the fan, because the clips would sometimes fall off while I was trying to install the fan onto the heatsink. Otherwise, you can see the heatsink does not get close to coming in contact with any of my components attached to the motherboard.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware; Installation
3. Test Results
4. Conclusion