Alpenföhn K2 CPU Cooler Review

👤by Sahil Mannick Comments 📅30-11-11

The Alpenföhn K2’s first prototype unveiling at Cebit in March of this year raised many an eyebrow amongst cooling aficionados and certainly caught my attention. In many ways, it was a breath of fresh air and it was exciting to see Alpenföhn trying to push the boundary. My expectations were immediately raised, knowing that their K2 dual tower cooler would be supported by Alpenföhn’s engineering and innovative concepts. Despite having what looked like a near finished product, the K2 was delayed until last month when it was finally unveiled officially. Having waited over half a year for the cooler to finally arrive at my door, my initials impressions lived up to my expectations. The K2 is a beautifully crafted masterpiece of a cooler, boasting two large radiators and two excellent fans. The matte Silver finish and the black and white theme that the fans bring demonstrate Alpenföhn’s keen desire to appeal to the mass market, where Noctua and Thermalright have failed with more risqué choice of colours. And at that, Alpenföhn have succeeded. I would easily say that the K2 is the best cooler on the market today and for that I commend Alpenföhn. Furthermore, Alpenföhn seem to have taken on board various criticisms I have made in the past concerning their mounting bracket, and replaced it with a universal and far more robust alternative. Again, I applaud Alpenföhn’s effort because it is refreshing to see manufacturers listening closely to users as well as reviewers when improving on their product line-up.

What about performance? This is where the K2 falters slightly. Let’s start by saying that the K2 is by no means a bad cooler and there was nothing to suggest that either from its design. In fact, in absolute terms, it is terrific! However, we have to consider how it fares against its toughest competition as the K2 was built to rival and even beat the likes of the Phanteks PH-TC14PE, the Noctua NH-D14 and the Thermalright Silver Arrow. We started with the CPU at its stock clock speed and the K2 proved very effective. It edged ahead of the Thermalright Silver Arrow and was only marginally slower than the Phanteks and Noctua NH-D14. Shifting our attention to its performance with the overclocked i7 920, the Alpenföhn K2 loses ground to the Thermalright Silver Arrow. More astonishingly, it failed to match the efficiency of the much smaller single tower Venomous X when both were teamed with the same fans. As such, it was inherently poorer than the other three dual tower radiators with a 2.25C margin separating it from the Silver Arrow and further 1.75C from the Phanteks. In that regard, I was disappointed that the K2 did not perform better.

There may be several design features that could be attributed to hindering performance of the K2. The first is that the closed off radiator sides prevent cooler air from being drawn into the cooler, especially by the middle 140mm fan which can only rely on the hot air from the front radiator to cool the second one. The other oversight is the trapezoid shape. Whilst being a great contribution to aesthetics, the shape reduces the overall surface area of the cooler. Alpenföhn claim this specially chosen design is to accommodate adjacent expansion cards and yet the widest cross-section would lead to the same issue anyway. The next possible flaw is the large base and 8 heat piped design. Although good on paper, we found that the two end heat pipes were not overlying the CPU meaning heat wouldn’t be distributed as effectively, and seeing as how we were using one of the largest CPUs around, seems a bit of a waste. Of course, the recently released Sandy Bridge-E CPUs’ larger profile may benefit more from the K2.

My only other complaint is the wire clips. They are fidgety to use, popping out of the fans when trying to place them onto the heatsink or vice versa if you clip the wires into the heatsink first and try to manoeuvre the ends into the fan. A better method would be to be able to safely secure the clips on one component first so you don’t have to handle several things at once when installing.

My conclusion may seem overly harsh but realistically the issues are very minor and I am confident that Alpenföhn will deal with them appropriately. The K2 is still a great cooler by most standards and the fans perform very well at low noise levels. The overall package is fantastic and I would highly recommend it to anyone searching for a combination of aesthetics and performance. Another positive is the sheer range of sockets the K2 will fit; including LGA2011 (you can request one for free). Price-wise, the K2 is on par with the Noctua NH-D14. What you lose in cooling potential, you gain in aesthetics.


It came to our attention from Alpenföhn that the sample we received for this review was a prototype rather than a production ready one. Since then, we have received a brand new retail sample and a revised article can be found here:

Alpenföhn K2 CPU Cooler Revisited - Introduction
Alpenföhn K2 CPU Cooler Revisited - Results (Old VS New)
Alpenföhn K2 CPU Cooler Revisited - Results (In-depth analysis)
Alpenföhn K2 CPU Cooler Revisited - Results Overclocked (In-depth analysis)
Alpenföhn K2 CPU Cooler Revisited - Conclusion

The above updated article show results representative of what users can expect but for the purpose of this review, we will keep the results and conclusion the same in this article.

+Very good performance
+Aesthetics and broad colour appeal
+Very well packaged
+Two quality PWM fans included
+Low noise
+Rich bundle
+Support for Intel and AMD sockets (including free upgrade to LGA2011 mounting kit)
+Ease of installation
+Excellent support
+Support for three fans

-Small clearance for tall memory modules
-Fan wire clips are tedious to install
-Performance not as good as similarly sized and similarly priced competitors

Regrettably, the Alpenföhn K2 only earns out Vortez Silver Award. Had it cooled a couple of degrees better, it would have easily earned our Gold Award. Perhaps it would tell a different story with the new hexa-core i7s…

Click here for an explanation of our awards at

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