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Cooler Master's Hyper D92 CPU cooler reviewed

A tower-style heatsink for the smaller PC

CPU coolers are a relatively slow-moving backwater in the relentless torrent of PC hardware. As Cyril noted in his last review of a CPU tower cooler, air cooling is pretty much a solved problem: bend some heat pipes, solder some fins on, add some fans, and you've got yourself a tower-style cooler.

That doesn't mean that the CPU air cooling market is entirely stagnant, though. Modern PCs are getting smaller, and smaller cases demand smaller heatsinks. While I tend to favor closed-loop liquid coolers in compact PCs, not everyone has the budget or desire to use one, and liquid coolers can have problems that air coolers are free from by design.

Enter Cooler Master's Hyper D92. This $45 tower is only 5.6" tall, which is perfect for smaller cases like Corsair's Graphite Series 380T. The D92 also has 1.8" of clearance between its base and the bottom of its fin stack, which leaves some room for RAM with tall heatsinks.

To keep air moving across its fins and heat pipes, the D92 uses a pair of 92-mm PWM fans in a push-pull configuration. Here, we can see the most notable feature of the D92's design: the offset fan setup, which is supposed to prevent stagnant air from gathering between the fan hubs. Beside each fan is a spur of fins that adds to the heatsink's surface area. Each fan is backed with four rubber pads to keep undesirable vibrations from being transmitted into the heatsink tower.

The fans are secured with a pair of tool-free plastic clips. These clips grab onto notches on either side of the fin stack. Since each fan can only clip onto the tower in one orientation, this system is pretty foolproof and easy to use. Kudos to Cooler Master here.

The D92's base consists of four U-shaped copper heat pipes that make direct contact with the CPU heat spreader, interspersed with rows of aluminum from the clamping plate above. The finish quality of the base is similar to that of Cooler Master's closed-loop liquid coolers, with a rough pattern of tooling marks visible to the naked eye.

The "Continuous Direct Contact" base design of the Hyper 212 Evo. Source: Cooler Master

I do wonder why Cooler Master didn't use its fancy "Continuous Direct Contact" base design on the D92, as it does on the Hyper 212 Evo. The company claims the CDC base is good for a 5% increase in cooling performance versus its non-CDC counterparts, which could be a helpful boost for the smaller D92. Perhaps it's just the vagaries of product segmentation at work.

Cooler Master includes two universal mounting plates with the D92: one for AMD CPUs and another for Intel chips. The AMD plate supports everything from Socket AM2 onward, while the Intel plate will mate with LGA775 and newer sockets. There are matching screws and brackets in the box, too, as well as a tube of thermal paste and a PWM splitter.

Aside from its offset fan design, the Hyper D92 sticks to the well-worn path that virtually every modern tower-style air cooler treads. The air-cooling market is quite mature at this point, so that's not terribly surprising. It's nice to see that Cooler Master is considering the needs of folks with more compact systems, though.

Now that we've looked at the Hyper D92, let's see how easy it is to mount.