Universally compatible designs for CPU coolers have been around for some time in the enthusiast market. These are coolers that are suited for a variety of processors, ensuring that they are less likely to be obsolete, though obviously not immune, since these coolers are still tied to the platforms which they are built for. Cooler Master's latest CPU cooler, the Hyper 212 is one such 'universal' design, catering to both AMD's K8 series and Intel's LGA775 processors.
So how does one go about designing a universally compatible CPU cooler? It's all a matter of aligning the location of screws to match the different sockets. For the Hyper 212 (and most such coolers we have seen), this is done by having different retention plates for the various sockets. These plates have the appropriate screw holes and the Hyper 212 comes with two such plates, one for LGA775 processors and the other for K8 processors.
The Hyper 212 also requires an installation of a back plate below the motherboard to secure it. Here is where its universal design requires more work on the users part than a standard clip on cooler. For those who have already installed their motherboards, they would need to remove them to install this backplate. It's a price that most enthusiasts probably won't mind paying for the added versatility of their coolers and it is also the case here for the Hyper 212.
With its shiny mirror-like copper heatsink and four copper heat-pipes extending from each side, the design of the Hyper 212 is a spin off from Cooler Master's Hyper TX line.
The heat-pipes intersects the aluminum fins and diverts the heat from the CPU to them, which are then cooled by the large 120mm fan attached.
The Hyper 212 has the option of adding a second 120mm fan on the opposite side, though this is not included in the package. The second fan can be mounted using the optional fan bracket that does come in the package, but not attached by default. If you do go for another fan, take note of the direction of the airflow as it is important that both fans are oriented similarly.
We recommend that you decide first if you want to add another fan before starting on any installation. Since adding the fan involves removing the cooler completely from the motherboard in order to install the fan bracket, it can be quite the hassle. Or knowing that now, you can choose to install the bracket first and leave it empty for when you decide to add a fan at a later date. Since the Hyper 212 was designed for dual fans, Cooler Master could have very well integrated the fan brackets into the design by default, which would have made more sense in our opinion.
In terms of performance, the single 120mm fan given is rated at a very quiet 19 decibels, spinning at 2000 RPM. At least Cooler Master has done a good job securing the fan so it's unlikely to cause unnecessary vibrations.
Cooler Master's new Hyper 212 CPU cooler is a well constructed performance upgrade to the existing Hyper TX series with more heat-pipes and the option of a secondary fan. There are some minor annoyances when it came to installing the second fan but they are easily remedied. Overall, it looks to be a decent, competent universal cooler for those desiring an improvement over the default.