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Stock coolers have been known to be less than desirable when it comes to building your dedicated PC. However, in recent years, at least around three years ago, one single lineup managed to change that reputation and turn it around forever. We are, of course, talking about AMD’s Zen architecture and the emergence of Ryzen CPUs.

So short answer, yes, AMD stock coolers indeed perform good enough. But why are they good exactly? Why are they almost always often touted as the better option than Intel’s immortal stock cooler?

(WARNING: All overclocking recommendations mentioned in this article are given with the baseline requirement of having a decent motherboard for overclocking.)

Honorable Mention: The Ol’ Classic FHSA7015B

Unfortunately, the original AMD Wraith Cooler will not be featured here due to it being initially released as a stock cooler to only two specific CPUs, the FX-8370 (AM3+) and the A10-7890K (FM2+).

Instead, this spot goes to the (much) more common FHSA7015B. This workhorse of a cooler is perhaps the most commonly used AMD stock cooler during the pre-Ryzen era. It has almost the same legacy as Intel’s immortal stock cooler, serving CPUs across at least nine different platforms. The design is relatively simple; it’s just an aluminum square grid fin that seems to be hastily slapped with an 80mm case fan at the top (it’s actually 70mm).

On lower-end CPUs, the FHSA7015B does its trusty job of providing that baseline level of cooling. The downside is that it’s not so admirable on heavier loads maintained or kept for a significantly extended period. But despite that, the (relative) performance stability it provides, the packaging that it usually comes with, plus its wide platform flexibility means that you always will have an easy-to-access cooler for your pre-AM4-era AMD CPU based rig.

Wraith Stealth

Specifications

Cooler TypeDowndraft
Dimensions(H) 55mm (W) 90mm (D) 75mm
ConfigurationGrid fin only
Connector4-pin
Fan RPMmin. 1200 max. 2500
Airflow75-100 m3/h (cubic meter per hour)
Max Noise22 dB(A)

Overview

Now, on to our first stock cooler of the modern Ryzen AMD era. The Wraith Stealth comes in packaged with almost all entry-level to mid-range CPUs. Compared to 9th generation (Coffee Lake) Intel stock coolers, the Wraith Stealth does provide quite impressive numbers, providing at least 25 to 40 percent more airflow when both are operating at equal RPM (avg. 80 m3/h versus 60 m3/h).

Indeed, most users’ consensus is that for stock speeds, the Wraith Stealth cooler should prove to be the more economical option. This recommendation is even confirmed by several tests from reputable groups, such as when Hardware Unboxed tested the Wraith Stealth cooler on a non-overclocked Ryzen 5 2600. On average, the cooler maxed out its temperature at 72 degrees Celsius during a Blender rendering session.

In fact, on lower-end Zen 2 CPUs such as the Ryzen 3 3100, or sometimes even the more venerable Ryzen 3 3300X, the Wraith Stealth cooler can provide a tiny bit of overclocking overhead. This potentially eliminates the need to spend extra cash for aftermarket coolers if you plan to configure your Ryzen CPU for on-demand, very short burst overclocking.

Design Notes

It maintains the same easy-to-install procedure of its predecessors. You usually only need to remove default brackets, line up holes, point the AMD logo towards the recommended left side (where the I/O ports are), and then simply screwing the four corners into place.

Notable Ryzen CPUs bundled with Wraith Stealth

  • Ryzen 5 2600 (recommended, but not limited, to stock speeds only with Wraith Stealth)
  • Ryzen 3 3100 (OC to 1.25~1.30v 4.1 to 4.2Ghz for short bursts of time, or when gaming)
  • Ryzen 3 3300X (strictly for stock clock speeds only with the Wraith Stealth)

Wraith Spire

Specifications

Cooler TypeDowndraft
Dimensions(H) 85mm (W) 90mm (D) 90mm
ConfigurationGrid fin plus copper contact
Connector4-pin
Fan RPMmin. 1200 max. 2500
Airflow100-125 m3/h (cubic meter per hour)
Max Noise22 dB(A)

Overview

The Wraith Spire is a direct step up, designed with a larger aluminum grid fin heatsink, plus an additional copper contact plate. While it has the same 92mm fan as the previous Wraith Stealth, this “chonkier” configuration allows a larger air volume to sweep down and cool the entire unit. According to the same tests that we mentioned earlier for the Wraith Stealth, the Wraith Spire on average can reduce temperatures by around 5 to 7 degrees better (using the same stock Ryzen 5 2600 on Blender). This is all without significantly changing its occupied area on the motherboard. Though, of course, you still need to take note of its height (which is still significantly shorter than larger mainstream aftermarket coolers).

Indeed, due to having more or less the same design as the Wraith Stealth, some people consider using a Wraith Spire to upgrade the mid-range primary CPU cooler. This, however, is generally not recommended. Because Wraith Spire coolers often come with higher-end CPUs, many second-hand sellers often sell their unused coolers at considerably higher prices (often almost reaching low-end aftermarket cooler-level prices)

But yeah, if we simply answer the question of good overclocking when the Wraith Spire is used on the same CPUs (that Wraith Stealth cools), then it could. For reference, a Ryzen 5 2600 overclocked at 4.0Ghz all-core using a CPU-intensive application can be cooled with a Wraith Spire at somewhere around 70-75 degrees Celsius.

Design Notes

Visually, the only difference that is instantly noticeable would be the larger (taller) heatsink area. Think of it as a taller version of the Wraith Stealth cooler.

Notable Ryzen CPUs Bundled with the Wraith Spire

  • Ryzen 7 1700 (cannot effectively overclock past boost clock speeds with Wraith Spire)
  • Ryzen 7 2700 (its Wraith Spire has RGB on it)
  • Ryzen 5 3600X (its Wraith Spire doesn’t include copper contacts)

Wraith Max/Prism

Specifications

Cooler TypeDowndraft
Dimensions(H) 85mm (W) 108mm (D) 105mm
ConfigurationGrid fin, copper contact, dual-heat pipes
Connector4-pin
Fan RPMmin. 1500 max. 3600
Airflow130-180 m3/h (cubic meter per hour)
Max Noise22 dB(A)

Overview

Finally, the Wraith Max/Prism comes full circle, adopting a very familiar OG design on a premium platform. The result? A cooler that kicks out all lower-end aftermarket coolers, making them practically obsolete because it can either compete evenly or directly outmatch them on certain conditions. For the record, it performs at least 11 to 13 percent better than the Wraith Spire, which, as we mentioned, is by itself already capable of decent baseline all-core overclocks if we are talking about using them on CPUs at the next tier downward.

Do you know what’s even better? It’s a downdraft cooler, which means that it rakes bonus points for having both mid-tier CPU cooling efficiency and very nice VRM cooling functionality. The only real problem is that, much like the Wraith Spire, it gets bundled with even higher-end CPUs. This scales up the specifications because now the Wraith Max/Prism has to contend with higher stock clocks, thus making it more difficult to overclock.

This is particularly problematic for Zen 2 and beyond’s higher Ryzen 9 CPUs, which definitely cannot be overclocked decently beyond boost speeds simply due to their already high-end default specs.

At the very least, however, you can expect your Ryzen 7’s to be overclocked to minimum boost exceeding requirements with a Wraith Max/Prism. If you can get them for a bargain for, let’s say, as an upgrade to your Ryzen 5 3600, chances are you might not even have to get any of the more popular aftermarket coolers to crank up that overclock.

Design Notes

This cooler is clearly and definitely the modern version of the original Wraith cooler that AMD had initially released way back during its pre-Ryzen days. For those using Wraith Prism, the RGB option also adds a bit of bling value to what otherwise could have been a visually boring design. Oh and, the Wraith Max is technically smaller than the Wraith Prism, but only a tiny, tiny bit (approx. 2mm)

Notable Ryzen CPUs Bundled with the Wraith Prism

  • Ryzen 7 2700X (not worth the overclock, enjoy at stock speeds if you can afford)
  • Ryzen 7 3800X (might be worth overclocking, but the performance gain is again too little)
  • Ryzen 9 3900X (if you can buy this, then you might as well get a custom liquid AIO cooler)

Overall Summary

The story becomes pretty much repeated on every single stock AMD cooler that we have taken a cursory look. If you are using that particular Ryzen CPU at its stock speeds, or would just like a tiny overclock for some performance overhead, then all these stock coolers are perfectly fine to keep. The argument mostly comes from three things:

  • You will OC only in short bursts during the day (like during gaming)
  • You won’t actually need to OC at all (take an extra coffee break while rendering stuff)
  • Or…you got lucky in the silicon lottery, having decent OC with just your Wraith Stealth

Just one final advice; keep the airflow of your entire PC case consistent. AMD stock coolers might be good enough, but with insufficient airflow in and out of the case, not even the most robust liquid cooling AIO would help save your blazing electronic furnace out of the fire.

Categories: Technology