Monday, 10 November 2014

SilverStone AR06 Review

In recent years computers in general have become more than just machines used for work or gaming, in order to be able to compete with other devices, particularly consoles, hardware manufacturers have been looking for more and more ways to transform these gaming/work machines into home entertainment centers.
Well, no one wants a big, ugly and noisy behemoth sitting in the middle of their living room, because of that, reducing the size of the cases, keeping them quiet and improving their looks in order for them to blend in are the first steps you should consider when building one of these machines.
With this idea in mind, today we will be reviewing an essential component for the "keeping them quiet" step, the AR06 low-profile CPU cooler from SilverStone.

Much like the fan itself, the package for the AR06 has a very distinct white and blue color scheme that really stands out. It's also nice to see all of the components inside well protected with soft foam, this ensures that your cooler will arrive in one piece, even if you ship it from the other side of the world.
Bundled with the AR06 you can expect to find a few important items such as thermal paste, the AMD and Intel brackets, an instruction manual and a few screws and nuts to hold everything in place.

Where looks are concerned, the AR06 is impressive, the different colors such as blue, white and silver work well together and give the AR06 its own unique visual style. I can see this cooler fitting extremely well in a build that shares the same color scheme.
In terms of construction quality, the AR06 is more or less in line with previous offers from SilverStone, well built with loads of attention to all the details, making this a solid and durable cooling solution.

Installation process
Simple and easy to understand and execute, thanks to the detailed instruction manual you shouldn't have any issues installing the AR06.
Simply select and install the correct mounting brackets, apply the thermal paste, secure everything in place with a few screws and nuts and you're good to go.
I would actually recommend the AR06 to beginners since it's a cooler with a very straightforward design that shouldn't really offer any doubts regarding where everything fits, it's basically hassle-free.

Performance and noise levels
For testing purposes, and even though SilverStone recommends using CPUs with a TDP lower than 95W, we decided to push the AR06 just a bit further with our AMD A8-5600K with a TDP of 100W. They actually mention that if the computer case is well ventilated you can demand a bit more of the AR06, that's our plan.
I personally think that the versatility of the A8-5600K is certainly something to bear in mind when building a small form factor computer, making it a realistic choice for this test.

Regarding the test itself, we stressed the CPU with the System Stability Test from AIDA64 for about 30 minutes for each cooler, after this period we recorded the minimum, maximum and average temperatures during that half an hour.
Keep in mind that besides the obvious comparison with AMD's stock cooler, we also added the gigantic Noctua NH-U14S to the test as a reference point to see how the AR06 compares with a cooler designed for high-end CPUs.

Noise levels were surprisingly low, especially when you take into consideration how compact the fan from the AR06 is (92x92x15mm). Even when playing games or using applications that demanded a bit more from the cooler, the AR06 was able to keep everything cool and still be relatively silent.

Final thoughts
Writing the conclusion for this review, I struggle to find any serious problems with the AR06. For what it was designed for, it performs extremely well and it is quite affordable. The construction quality is well above average, the performance is great and most surprisingly, the noise levels are extremely low.
At the end of the day, the AR06 is a great choice for any user looking for a compact cooler.

The Good
+Well constructed
+Looks good
+Low noise levels
+Nice performance
The Bad
-Visual style not for everyone

Thanks to SilverStone for providing the review sample