When it comes right down to it, you have to make some firm decisions where your cooling is concerned. Several years ago it wasn't even necessary to cool a processor and a system could pretty much be fan free. With the advent of more powerful systems, active cooling simply had to be utilized to make a stable platform. Enthusiast rigs, being driven to the utter limits of the performance spectrum, require even more thought where cooling is concerned.
So do you want something that is quiet or do you want something that looks good? There are several choices for either outlook and many of them are becoming very pleasing to the eye. So where do YOU want to be in terms of cooling and noise?
If you're leaning toward a moderate overclocking for your system, then the Vantec is the clear winner in that particular category. It offers decent performance and will easily handle the rigors of modern systems without creating a noise level that scares household pets. In this same category, the Scythe offers good looks but marginal performance. With a test system clocked at 2.2GHz (the same speed as a modern 3200+ processor), it just wasn't able to provide a steady diet of heat dissipation that is vital to your rig.
If you're more of the "I want the best" mentality, then you'll do well to look at the Thermaltake beast. For best performance you'll probably want to invest in some good earplugs, but it manages to do a fine job with all cooling chores no matter the level of stress. It does allow for lower fan speeds, but you will see a certain degradation of performance once you get to a low fan speed. This is because the slow fan speeds just can't get the heat away from all that copper. So be prepared for some noise, but also some exceptional cooling.
Once you have made the decision regarding what type of system you want, you can go about picking the right cooler. It really just depends on your own personal tastes and desires.
Scythe Arctic Cooling 2L Rating - 7 out of 10
Vantec AeroFlow 2 Rating - 8.5 out of 10
Thermaltake POLO 735 Rating - 9.5 out of 10 and TweakTown's "MUST HAVE" Performance Award
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