Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
While it may have made more sense to bring forth this cooler prior to the Brocken ECO, we chose to base order of review on an economic scale. Up to this point, Alpenfoehn has really impressed us with the value of their coolers, but today we move into a different league in three aspects of this latest cooler. First, there is a whole new level of "bling" to this design. There is also the fact that we have moved from 92mm and 120mm fans into 140mm fans with even more air flow. The third aspect is that we are now past that magic $50 mark that separates easily affordable, into a vast array of options in the $50-$79.99 range of coolers. With so many coolers already doing well in this price range, Alpenfoehn has a hard road ahead of them competing with similar coolers we have already tested over the years.
This cooler has a great pedigree that goes back to the original Brocken made back in 2009. This cooler we are about to see released around two years after the original Brocken, so it is a shame it took so long for us to get together with Alpenfoehn. Back when this cooler was released, the competition on the market was much less fierce, with the big players of that time being the Thermalright Silver Arrow, or something like the Thermaltake Frio Extreme. While we cannot go back in time and access all of these coolers for a grudge match, we can put it up against all of the coolers we have on our charts today. In doing so, we can see if all of these $100 cooler options are really worth it, or, as saw with our D-14 revisit, if things may not have changed that much at all in the last couple of years.
Today we will be looking at the Brocken 2 from Alpenfoehn. We are hoping to see a few things from the Brocken 2. First, we are hoping this cooler is quieter than our previous samples from Alpenfoehn. We are also hoping this cooler looks much more appealing to a more sophisticated build. Finally, if this cooler is such a huge seller for Alpenfoehn, performance has to be part of the equation as well. With how well the much smaller Brocken ECO cooled with 120mm fans, we do have high hopes for the Brocken 2. Let's hope the association between cost per cooler and increase in performance continues as we see Alpenfoehn's bestselling cooler fully exposed.
While we do wish Alpenfoehn took a bit more time to list the specifications in a bit more detail, again they seem to cover the basics that most coolers are measured by in a customer's mind. First, we are given the in-house part number of the Brocken 2, and then we see the dimensions and weight. The dimensions of this cooler are 146mm of width, and 100mm of thickness, including the 25mm thick fan, and without adding in the curve of the fan frame, the Brocken 2 measures in at 163mm in height. We found the curve of the fan frame adds quite a bit of height to this cooler, in the magnitude of 20mm more height, due to the mounting hardware. Going a bit deeper than that, we found forty-six 0.30mm thick aluminum fins in two sections that are both capped with a 0.90mm thick nickel plated aluminum top plate. The remainder of the fins are left in their natural aluminum state. This cooler pulls the heat from the base via five 6mm diameter heat pipes that use the same Gapless H.D.C. layout as the ECO showed us, and has the fin stacks pressed onto the nickel plated heat pipes. Then, the fan (or fans) are employed to remove the heat from the cooler stacks.
Speaking of the fan(s), the Brocken 2 comes with a more generic looking Wing Boost 2 140mm fan. This is a much slower fan, which produces a maximum of 1100 RPM, and 109 cubic meters of air per hour. Converting that over to CFM, we find that this fan will push 62.4CFM of air flow, which is not too bad at all for cooling a fin stack of this size and density. We were also sent the retail version of this fan, which does differ slightly in appearance from the fan included with the Brocken 2, but shares all the same fan speed and performance specifications as the one in the box. The inclusion of this second fan will allow us to see the out of the box performance of this cooler, and also test it in a push/pull configuration. This should give us a good idea of what the Brocken 2 is fully capable of.
Of course, just like the previous two samples from Alpenfoehn, the Brocken 2 is not available on this side of the pond. Searching for it on the other side of the pond is very successful actually, and we found it listed and ready to ship there for the price of £38.99, which is not that bad of a price. For those of you without a currency calculator, that is roughly $65 U.S. dollars to obtain the Brocken 2. On paper, we hope to find ourselves very pleased with the level of performance we should get; however, sometimes things don't play out as well as you had hoped. This may be just one of those instances, so read on to find out.
While this image is typically of the front of the packaging, technically speaking we are looking at the top of the box. Here Alpenfoehn flanks the product name and the image of the cooler and fan with what appears to be some sort of rocky crevasse.
The longer sides of the packaging display information, while the shorter panels are left all black. In this instance, we can see the history of this cooler, and the changes made to advance the Brocken 2 from its original design. The addition of the Wing Boost 2 fans is also addressed in the second section.
The bottom of the packaging offers some information as well. Here we find a specifications list, along with the socket compatibility list, and a section dedicated to informing us that we are looking at a CPU cooler.
The last panel to offer anything worth looking at is the second, longer side panel. Here we get a look at the pair of nickel plated top plates on the towers, next to three renderings of the cooler with the dimensional specifications added to them.
The top of the box opens up to expose the manual resting on top of the fan. Both the fan and the tower are resting in dense foam compartments to isolate them during transit. The hardware is all contained within the thin white box sitting in the end nearest in the picture. In addition to the dense foam used, the cooler is also wrapped inside of a plastic bag, and has desiccant packets in with it to absorb any moisture the cooler may encounter during transit. All told, the cooler arrived in great shape, with no bent fins or scrapes to speak of.
Alpenfoehn Brocken 2 CPU Cooler
The Brocken 2 is designed with a split in the middle of the tower, and each side had forty-six fins pressed over the nickel plated pipes. Each side is then capped with a thicker plate that has also been nickel plated. At the base of the cooler, the aluminium is milled to accept a large cross bar to hold the cooler in place.
One thing worth mentioning here is that the sides are completely open, and will allow a lot of the fan's air flow to escape. Another thing to mention is that the heat pipes are offset like the ones on the ECO were, which should allow for complete memory clearance.
Even when it comes down to the fins, we see the Brocken 2 and the ECO share a lot here too. The basic fin shape is the same; they both have angled sections, and both offer the saw tooth pattern on the leading and trailing edges.
A different perspective of the side of the cooler shows the large size of the groove used to snap in the fan clips. We can also see the staggered fins in groups of four; in each grout there are three longer fins, and the fourth fin is much shorter. This does little for performance, but it does look nice.
The top of the cooler mimics the outer shape of the rest of the fin stacks, but there are three changes here. Rather than being left natural, the top plates are nickel plated. The caps are also formed with the intent to allow room for the pipe tips underneath. Lastly, these are just pressed into holes in the fins, rather than pressed over the pipes like the rest of the stack is.
Alpenfoehn chooses to use a clear sticker to protect this base from oxidation more than damages. Since the cooler rests comfortably in the dense foam, damage is highly unlikely. Be sure to pull this off prior to mounting the cooler.
In the Gapless H.D.C. base design, we see five 6mm heat pipes that get milled as flat as possible without damaging the pipes, exposing the copper. Also, we have not done anything to this cooler, the TIM you see is from the factory, and helps to fill the gaps in most other direct contact base designs.
It is easy to see once the 140mm fan is strapped to the cooler body that the fan does indeed add quite a bit of height to this cooler. One might say "just drop the fan some, stupid." Well, that is a good idea, until you realize the large screw on the cross bar is under this fan once it is mounted, and limits the lowering of it.
We found this cooler came with some pretty interesting fan isolation bits. Each hole has to have this rubber plug installed to isolate it from the fins, but the center is hollow in the plugs, so it allows the clips to rest there too. The instructions do not cover this very well, so we made sure to address it.
With this kit, Alpenfoehn sends along enough fan clips and fan isolation plugs so that this cooler is ready to run with two fans out of the box; you just need to buy the matching Wing Boost 2 140mm fan. Also, keep in mind, the same thing that blocks the lowering of the front fan is also under the back fan when mounted.
Accessories and Documentation
The Brocken 2 shares the mounting hardware of the ECO. There are AMD and Intel top brackets on either side of the universal backplate, with the cross bar for mounting the cooler at the top. Below the plate, there are the four stickers that isolate the AMD side of the backplate.
Here we have the rest of the gear needed to mount the coolers. There is an LGA775 pre-load spacer, four plastic spacers that slide over the studs, and eight of the fan hole isolation plugs. To the right, we find eight tiny screws to mount the brackets together, four thumbscrews, TIM, LGA2011 socket screws, and the four studs used with all other mounting.
We also found four wire fan clips in the hardware box. So far, all three coolers we have used from Alpenfoehn do have some of the best clips on the market. These clips require the least effort and stress to get fans on and off their coolers.
Unlike the ECO that used a 120mm Wing Boost 2 fan, for the Brocken 2, we get a rounded 140mm fan with standard mounting locations for 140mm fans. This nine bladed, black on black fan also sports a sleeved cable, and a four-pin connection with a pigtail to add another fan.
With the Brocken 2, there is a large folded sheet that explains what should be in the kit, and how to get the cooler mounted with any Intel or AMD socket you are planning to use. The renderings are pretty good, but the text is concise and not very informative; however, there is enough to go on so that you may figure it out as you go along, like we did with the fan plugs.
We were also sent the retail version of the Wing Boost 2 140mm fan. Here we see the fan you get on the cooler is identical to the retail fan. Unlike the blue ring addition to the 120mm retail sample (which we saw with the ECO), this fan is identical to the accompanying fan in every way.
Installation and Finished Product
The backplate has pre-installed plastic spacers to isolate it from the motherboard for Intel sockets. You can align the plate in two ways, and once settled on orientations, simply send the studs through while aligning the flat spot on them with the flat side of the backplate holes.
On the top side, we slid on the black plastic spacers, and set the Intel top brackets on either side of the socket, making it all one solid piece by tightening the thumbscrews to each stud. Now we just need some paste, the cooler, and the cross bar, and we can have this mounted.
This image was taken with a higher perspective than usual to accentuate the fact that when the fans are installed and resting on the mounting hardware, this is as low as it will go. Measuring the cooler now, we are around 185 to 190mm in height, making this cooler too tall for most mid-towers, and even too tall for quite a few full-tower cases.
We lifted the fan a bit for this image; with it all the way down, it was hard to tell where the fan ended and the memory slots began. However, the point here is that the fan is completely out of the way for even the tallest memory on the market in all four slots.
We can see this cooler is a bit deep from left to right, and adding a second fan may pose a challenge to accessing the eight-pin when installing the motherboard with the cooler already on it. Although, with as easy as these fans are to get on and off, that is not really much of an issue at all.
Once we had the cooler on the motherboard, and all of it in the chassis, we could step back and have a look at the finished product. While the cooler looks nice, is solidly mounted, and posed no issues getting to the motherboard screws, the fan clips will definitely cause issues with the first PCI slot on most motherboards.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results
Test System Setup
To see our testing methodology, and to find out what goes into making our charts, please refer to our CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology article.
At the stock level of testing, we are quite surprised to see that the Brocken 2 is beat out by the Brocken ECO that has much less cost associated with it. While the 54.5 degree average result we found in our testing is still very respectable, we are still at a loss as to how to spin this in a pleasant manner.
When the OC is applied, the story changes slightly as we now find the Brocken 2 just ever so slightly outperforming the ECO. The 74.5 degree average here keeps well away from the throttling zone, and is within a degree or two of other nice single tower coolers that allow access to everything on the motherboard.
Noise Level Results
Here is where this cooler does stand out as a top performer though, and that is in the lack of noise dumped into the room while cooling the processor. With only 7.5 volts running through the fan, we saw speeds of 750RPM, and at a foot away, noise is almost non-existent as the 25dB result shows.
Even when we set the Wing Boost 2 140mm fans free with 12 volts of power to them, the sound levels stay consistently low. While the Brocken 2 noise levels are certainly not the best on the chart, getting into the top ten is good work in itself. With only 40 dB heard at full speed, AIDA64 reported 1200 RPM, rather than the 1100 that is specified. At this level, you can rest assured that the GPU fan will likely be much louder at load than this cooler is.
While the Brocken 2 from Alpenfoehn is very aesthetically pleasing to look at inside of the chassis, the hardware is super solid, and installing and maintaining this cooler is a breeze, but we did run into some physical issues, as well as the mental quandary of where this cooler fits into the fold.
First, the physical issue. For this review, we actually tested two coolers. We got into a talk with Alpenfoehn previous to this cooler review going live, and they insisted our original average temperature was wrong and there had to be a defect in the original Brocken 2 that we received for testing. So graciously, we agreed to retest another sample to verify that indeed there was an issue with our original sample. This was easily verifiable as the original cooler averaged 78.25 degrees for the OC run, and the second was 3.75 degrees cooler, easy enough to figure out that something was definitely not right in our first sample. It happens. We are just glad we caught the issue when we did.
Onto the mental quandary is where we are still at this moment a little stuck with what angle to approach this cooler, or just what we think about this design in general. That isn't to say that this is not a good cooler, it is. It is just that in our discussion with Alpenfoehn, we were told that the Brocken 2 should easily beat the ECO, pretty much we were left with the thought that the Brocken 2 should offer much better performance, but still leaving room for the performance of the Himalaya 2. While the Brocken 2 does fall between the Himalaya and the ECO, there is literally only a 0.25 degree difference between the much more affordable Brocken ECO, and leaves almost four degrees to the Himalaya 2. Even when comparing outside of the company, the Thermaltake Nic C5 is cheaper, and performs much better - hence the quandary of where to rate the Brocken 2.
So, at this point, we are left looking at a very aesthetically pleasing cooler design with top tier mounting hardware that should work with just about any system out there, as long as the motherboard manufacturer leaves ICs, resistors and the like off the back of the motherboard near the socket. It does perform very well considering the limited noise levels that come from the Wing Boost 2 fan, but when it all comes down to apples to apples comparisons, we feel that the Brocken 2 just doesn't have what it takes to warrant the jump from their own Brocken ECO's abilities, even if you do lose the shiny top fins.
As much as we like the looks of this cooler, it just does not excuse what we find in testing. Had we not seen all of the rest of the Alpenfohn products previous to this, but in the range of $70 air coolers, it even struggles to compete and contend with older, smaller Noctua designs.
|Quality including Design and Build||94%|
|Bundle and Packaging||95%|
|Value for Money||65%|
The Bottom Line: If we awarded on Bundles and Packaging or on initial impressions alone, the Brocken 2 would win as couple of awards. When looked at in a price versus performance aspect, we just find the Brocken 2 to fall behind a lot of its competition.
PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.
United States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com
United Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk
Australia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au
Canada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca
Deutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de