Titan's Fenrir EVO is a big tower cooler whose looks live up to the macho name (a monstrous wolf from Norse mythology). The stack of fins are anodised a snazzy matt black with a copper-coloured section, and the top sports a wolf's-head logo.
The clue's in the title really. CoolerMaster likes to keep things cool, and the CoolerMaster HAF X (the HAF stands for high air flow) is the coolest of cooling cases. This is a case you could store fresh fish in on a hot day. Only, please don't.
Thermaltake is a well-respected name among the high-performance PC crowd. Its fans, PSUs and cooling equipment has earned it go-to-guy status for overclocking enthusiasts and if you're going to use a bunch of Thermaltake parts to build your system, it makes sense to start with the case.
If you're going to stress Intel or AMD's latest processors then you'll need a heavyweight cooler. Named after the monstrous wolf from Norse mythology, Titan's Fenrir sports a suitably heavy-metal wolf-head motif and certainly looks like it means business. The heavy-metal theme is not uncommon with coolers – witness Scythe's Yasya and Xigmatek's ridiculously-named Thor's Hammer. Fenrir is big beast too, standing 165mm proud of the motherboard. The width means you'll need to watch it fouling your RAM, especially if your sticks have heat spreaders on top.
The Hammer is a wonderful gothic-looking creation, with a very fetching gloss black nickel-plated finish complete with an usual design of interlacing fins. Thor's Hammer tops other big towers such as Titan's Fenrir by carrying a lot of pipe-work, with four main 8mm heat pipes with Direct Touch, where they're in direct contact with the top of the processor, and another three inner 6mm pipes. It's something of a monster, too, at over 160mm tall. It won't suit crowded boards, and if your RAM has heat spreaders on top you could be in for a disappointment.
The aggressive-looking Yasya features a set of cooling fins that could have been designed to draw blood. It sits well along side other gothic-style rivals, such as Titan's Fenrir and Xigmatek's Thor's Hammer. The Yasya has six 6mm heat pipes, rather than the more usual 8mm jobs in tower coolers this size, which is big. It only fits one way around, so can foul your RAM slots on crowed boards. If you've got heat spreaders on top of your sticks, it could all end in tears.
For an i7-compatible cooler, Thermaltake's Silent 1156 is a compact beast, with a svelte fin stack that's smaller that the 9cm fan housing. It's main rivals are the well established CoolerMaster Hyper 101 and Artic Cooling's Freezer 7 (see a theme with these names?). The Silent 1156 has just two 8mm heat pipes. As you might guess from the name, it fits Intel's LGA 1156 boards only, but it fitted onto our 1366 test board, so what the heck. If space is an issue, then this will do nicely.
This isn't exactly fair. CoolerMaster's Hyper 101 isn't really designed for the full fruitiness of an i7 920's LGA 1366, but it fitted our test system and was in the office, so we stuck it in. It's really meant for AMD K8, AM2/3 and LGA 755 and 1156 boards, hence the 'Universal' tag. It's a popular cooler and it's easy to see why given the price. The main rival is Arctic Cooling's Freezer 7, a similarly sized and similarly popular.
The Revision 2 nomenclature for Arctic Cooling's Freezer 7 indicates that LGA 1156 compatibility has been added, alongside pretty much every other standard. On paper, it should cope with our i7 920 test system, despite the cooler's relatively diminutive size. It has three 6mm heat pipes and we did wonder if it was really up to the task. The 9cm PWM fan fits neatly over one side and is mounted on rubber springs, a patented technology apparently. Its most obvious rival is the popular Hyper 101 from CoolerMaster.
One look at the Austrian-designed Noctua and you know it means business. For a start, it's something of a giant, featuring two fin stacks and two fans. The quality of engineering is superb, right through to the colour instructions. Even the thermal paste is 'award-winning' thermal paste. It looks the business, in a no-nonsense way. Only the hospital beige-coloured fans spoil the party here. Compared to the design excesses of Fenrir, Yasya and Thor's Hammer it looks positively clinical.