We've seen a good few number of Cooler Master's products over the course of time here at OC3D, and they've never failed to deliver in any category that we've seen yet. And neither of these coolers can be accused of breaking this streak. They are both well built, solid products which suffer from no major flaws. In fact their biggest flaw is that they are a little mundane. Every company that has dabbled in the heatsink market has bought out a similar product to the 212 Plus and TX3, and due to this there is little to set them apart from the other coolers on the market today.
Firstly, the TX3. This suffers more so of the aforementioned flaw than the 212 Plus due to the lesser performance all round. It's a smaller cooler, and that's all it really has going for it. The performance on the CPU tests was reasonable, but it was edged out too easily by it's bigger brother. The load tests then didn't bode well at all, with the only HSF the TX3 managing to beat there being the Intel stock cooler. Finally, the TX3's 92mm fan was audible nearly all the time. The thermal throttling performed by the motherboard helped a little, but under full load and when being powered exclusively by the 12v line during the simulated testing I, at least, found it bothersome.
Moving on too the 212 Plus, it really is a large step up. The larger cooler performed better across both the tests. The CPU testing was the lesser of it's victory's, cutting up to 10° off of the TX3. But the Simulation is where the 212 really brought out the big guns. Here it was the best performing traditional heat sink and fan combination we've applied to the simulator so far, which is no mean feat. It's only superior being the Coolit Domino, which holds a slight advantage being water based. The noise emitted form the 212 was also quite tolerable. Under the PWM control of the motherboard, it was quite quiet. Not silent, but good enough not to annoy you in a silent room. At full load the fan revved up a fair bit and generated more noise. This was bordering the line of annoyance levels but didn't quite cross it.
As for price, the TX3 can be found for around £12-15, and the 212+ for a ballpark figure of around £20. These prices are quite normal for a reasonable heat sink, neither too costly or particularly cheap.
Overall then if your looking to acquire a new air heatsink and either of these two sinks have made the short list, the Hyper 212 Plus is the one to go for. The only scenario I could recommend purchasing the TX3 is if you we're very limited on space, and then even the volume of the Intel stock cooler would make it preferable over the TX3, sacrificing those few degrees would be worth the ear ache.