Water Cooling http://www.maximumpc.com/taxonomy/term/62/ en Antec Kuhler H20 950 Review http://www.maximumpc.com/antec_kuhler_h20_950_review <!--paging_filter--><h3>A sizeable quandary</h3> <p>Re-engineering computer hardware is an expensive and time-consuming process. That’s why the technology usually evolves gradually, rather than in fits and starts; great leaps are risky. When you do something novel, it needs to be for a good reason. When Antec recently introduced two new types of coolers, the Kuhler 1250 and the 950, it did something pretty different. In a closed-loop liquid-cooling (CLC) system, the pump is customarily integrated into the heatsink that sits on top of the CPU. But with this new series of Kuhler units, Antec has moved the pump on top of the fan, which it uses to power the pump. The 950 ups the ante even further by putting a fan on each side of the radiator, making it a truly bulky piece of equipment. Always happy to see an innovative design, we hoped that perhaps the 950 would excel where the 1250 (reviewed last issue) was just OK for the price.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/kuhler_950_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/kuhler_950_small.jpg" alt="Despite its mass, this cooler fit in our test bed, as long we installed it in the rear and not the top." title="Antec Kuhler H20 950" width="620" height="411" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Despite its mass, this cooler fit in our test bed, as long we installed it in the rear and not the top.</strong></p> <p>Looking through the documentation and the marketing materials, one does not find bold claims of breakthrough performance or whisper-quiet operation. Antec does not appear to assert any advantage over other CLCs. But one look at the pictures, and it’s pretty clear that this guy wants a bold amount of real estate inside your PC. Ironically, though, despite having one fan on either side of the rad (which itself is 50mm thick, twice the usual), we found the 950 was actually easier to install than its big brother. The whole assembly cleared the large heatsinks on our Asus Rampage IV Extreme motherboard, which is not known for modesty. Our tall and fancy-looking sticks of RAM also had plenty of room. The 950’s immobile pipes that go from the pump to the rad partially obstructed one of the screw holes on the CPU tray bracket, but we were able to angle it in after some fiddling. (Pro tip: Don’t fully insert your screws until all four corners of the bracket are attached.)</p> <p>So far, so good. Next is the cabling. Like the 1250, it’s all integrated into the heatsink—if you don’t mind using only the bundled “Grid” fan control software to report your temps and speeds. We needed our usual testing tools, so we had to grab a Y-splitter to connect the unit’s two fans to one motherboard fan header, in addition to testing with the official installation method. When we linked the fans to the motherboard, though, Grid could no longer “see” the fans. This either-or scenario is a bit vexing, but not a deal-breaker. Most people should be fine with Grid. You can install it from the CD in the retail box, or download it from the product page on Antec’s website.</p> <p>In terms of raw performance, the 950 did not fare as well as we hoped. It regularly outpaced the best air coolers, but it also ran consistently behind top-shelf CLCs (both the 120mm and 240mm variety). Since the design of the cooler is so unconventional, it’s difficult to define the source of these underwhelming results. On the plus side, the fans had pretty good noise levels; once the side panel was on, we could barely hear the 950’s fans, as long as we weren’t running them full-tilt. We don’t measure noise scientifically, though, so your mileage may vary.</p> <p>The difference between this and, say, an NZXT X60 is only a few degrees Celsius. In the real world, you may never take advantage of that additional edge. Every buyer, however, will need to deal with the 950’s somewhat-awkward installation and nonremovable fan. In the end, the 950 does some interesting things, but it doesn’t quite have the performance to make up for its quirks.</p> <p><strong>$100,</strong> <a href="http://store.antec.com/">www.antec.com</a></p> <p><span style="font-style: italic;">Note: This review was originally featured in the March 2014 issue of the&nbsp;</span><a style="font-style: italic;" title="maximum pc mag" href="https://w1.buysub.com/pubs/IM/MAX/MAX-subscribe.jsp?cds_page_id=63027&amp;cds_mag_code=MAX&amp;id=1366314265949&amp;lsid=31081444255021801&amp;vid=1&amp;cds_response_key=IHTH31ANN" target="_blank">magazine</a><span style="font-style: italic;">.</span></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/antec_kuhler_h20_950_review#comments All in one Antec Kuhler H20 950 clc closed loop Hardware Review water coolers Reviews Water Cooling Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:50:31 +0000 Tom McNamara 27954 at http://www.maximumpc.com Corsair H110 Review http://www.maximumpc.com/corsair_h110_review <!--paging_filter--><h3>Size isn’t everything</h3> <p>It seems like every month brings a new liquid cooler to review. Sometimes this rapid pace creates unexpected side effects. Exhibit A: The <strong><a title="corsair 110" href="http://www.corsair.com/us/hydro-series-h110-280mm-extreme-performance-liquid-cpu-cooler.html" target="_blank">Corsair H110</a></strong>, which is nearly identical to the <a title="nzxt kraken x60" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/nzxt_kraken_x60_review_2013" target="_blank">NZXT Kraken X60</a> reviewed on page 81 of this issue. They don’t use the same fans, they don’t recommend the same fan orientation, and the H110 skips software-based controls, but the rest of it appears to be the same bits manufactured by <a title="asetek" href="http://www.asetek.com/" target="_blank">Asetek</a>. <a title="corsair" href="maximumpc.com/tags/corsair" target="_blank">Corsair</a> also charges a slight price premium that we’re not sure is justified.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/corsair_h110_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/corsair_h110_small.jpg" alt="The Mirror Universe version of the NZXT Kraken X60?" title="Cosair H110" width="620" height="393" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Mirror Universe version of the NZXT Kraken X60?</strong></p> <p>The H110’s two 14cm fans use 4-pin PWM connectors that allows them to dynamically adjust their performance as temperatures change within the case—but only if they’re plugged into a 4-pin fan header. The pump uses a 3-pin connector. While this cabling is more straightforward, it does occupy three fan headers, whereas the X60 uses one. (The H110 does not come with an adapter to combine its two fan cables or a Molex adapter to plug the pump directly into your power supply.)</p> <p>If your motherboard or its fan software doesn’t provide separate controls for different headers, you’re in an awkward spot. You don’t want all your case fans spinning up and down in lockstep with the H110’s fans. And you don’t want the pump speed moving around a lot either; that part needs to be maxed out for full effectiveness. Since the H110’s fan cables are just 12 inches long, your choices for fan headers are pretty limited, as well. The X60 uses a single 3-pin header, but it also occupies a USB header and a SATA power cable connection. Ultimately, this trade-off greatly increases compatibility, especially if your system uses multiple radiators and lots of air-cooling.</p> <p>The H110’s cooling isn’t as problematic, since you have flexibility with radiator location and fan direction. You don’t have to go with Corsair’s recommendation, which is to push exterior air through the radiator and into the system. NZXT recommends that you pull air from the interior and exhaust it. We recorded temps several degrees higher than with the X60, until we flipped the H110’s fan orientation to match it. Then the temps were roughly interchangeable. The scores for the H110 in the chart below are the results according to Corsair’s recommended fan orientation.</p> <p>Since we’re using a <a title="900d" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/corsair_900d_review" target="_blank">Corsair 900D</a> case to test coolers, we have three 12cm intake fans in the front. Therefore, the slight vacuum created by a pull orientation is easily countered. Adding two additional intake fans, which blow through a 280mm radiator and into the case, can introduce a lot of air. A single 14cm rear exhaust fan seems to struggle to keep up. We also noticed that setting up the H110 fans to exhaust created less noise.</p> <p>The H110 is also up against Corsair’s own <a title="h100i" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/corsair_h100i_cpu_cooler_review" target="_blank">H100i</a>, a 240mm liquid cooler. Despite this other unit having less surface area than the H110’s 280mm, it performs a little better and has software controls, a metal backplate (making it resistant to damage from over-tightening), and the same cable connections as the X60, for the same price or less. It also has a five-year warranty, whereas the H110 (and the X60) get two years. The H100i’s smaller size and X60-like unified cabling also make it compatible with a wider variety of cases. If the H110 was priced lower, we could see it fitting into the overall ecosystem. But at $130 when this issue went to press, it’s a little out of its depth.</p> <p><strong>$130 (street),</strong> <a href="http://www.corsair.com/us/">www.corsair.com</a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/corsair_h110_review#comments 2013 280mm Corsair H110 double radiator dual Hardware Hardware maximum pc nzxt x60 Review September 2013 two fans water cooler Reviews Water Cooling Wed, 18 Dec 2013 20:42:49 +0000 Tom McNamara 26770 at http://www.maximumpc.com NZXT Kraken X60 Review http://www.maximumpc.com/nzxt_kraken_x60_review_2013 <!--paging_filter--><h3>X marks the spot</h3> <p>In the world of enthusiast system cooling, water is the new black. Even the fanciest, biggest air cooler can’t seem to keep up with a good closed-loop liquid cooler these days. <a title="NZXT" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/NZXT" target="_blank">NZXT</a> ups the ante by expanding from the standard 12cm form factor to 14cm. It may not seem like much, but the increased surface area gets impressive results, especially when the <strong>Kraken X60</strong> doubles it to 28cm.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/kraken_x60_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/kraken_x60_small.jpg" alt="In Norwegian mythology, a kraken is a giant sea monster similar to a squid." title="NZXT Kraken X60" width="620" height="477" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>In Norwegian mythology, a kraken is a giant sea monster similar to a squid.</strong></p> <p>This super-size beast won’t fit in most older cases, though. You can check NZXT’s website to see if yours is worthy, but it’s not a comprehensive chart. There are also two different standards for fan spacing right now: 15mm and 20mm. This is the size of the gap between the screw holes of adjacent fans; 15mm puts the fans right against each other, while 20mm leaves a little space. The X60 is a 15mm cooler. You can’t knock NZXT for creating a part that doesn’t fit everywhere—it’s just something to be aware of before you start flinging your money around.</p> <p>Installation is pretty breezy. You snap a bracket onto the pump, put some screws into the bracket, and then set this arrangement down on the CPU socket. The bracket captures the screws so they don’t fall out during installation. However, the capturing mechanism is difficult to undo if you accidentally insert the nearly identical-looking LGA2011 screws instead of the LGA1150/1155 versions (why vendors can’t color-code the screws we don’t know). LGA1155/1150 and AMD motherboards get a plastic backplate, which is not ideal; the metal bits you insert into the backplate (to secure the screws you’ve attached to the pump) could get twisted out of place and strip the hole, making it difficult to install the screws securely. It would be nice to see a metal backplate, like on the similar <a title="Corsair H100i" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/corsair_h100i_cpu_cooler_review" target="_blank">Corsair H100i</a>. However, it’s nice that the screws are designed to tighten abruptly, so you’re unlikely to crack the backplate from excessive torque.</p> <p>As for cabling, it’s pretty straightforward. All wires are integrated into the pump, and the fan connectors, USB cable (to communicate with the fan control software), and SATA cable (to power the pump) are long enough for a variety of case layouts. They’re even sleeved in classy black braiding. The liquid tubing is also long, flexible, and rubberized.</p> <p>We discovered right away that the extra size of this radiator and its fans gave us a combination of impressive cooling and impressive noise level. Even with our internal testing tool thrashing the CPU harder than Prime95, the X60 never rose above a moderate drone when set to Silent mode—while holding a 4.13GHz <a title="intel ark" href="http://ark.intel.com/products/63696" target="_blank">i7-3960X</a> overclock to the mid-60s Celsius. Its dual fans hovered around 975rpm during this test. We could force them up to 1,500rpm by engaging Extreme mode, but it was super loud and only lowered temps by 4 C. There’s also a Custom mode where you can chart several points where you want the fan speeds to be at certain temperatures.</p> <p>Compared to the H100i, it’s a tough call; the X60 gets a slight edge for not needing a firmware update (or needing to search Google for one) and having the control software bundled on a CD. Both items make setting up a new computer much easier. But at the $120 level, a metal backplate isn’t too much to ask for.</p> <p><strong>$120 (street),</strong> <a href="http://www.nzxt.com/">www.nzxt.com</a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/nzxt_kraken_x60_review_2013#comments 2013 cpu Hardware maximum pc NZXT Kraken X60 Review September 2013 water cooler Reviews Water Cooling Mon, 25 Nov 2013 23:35:28 +0000 Tom McNamara 26688 at http://www.maximumpc.com Corsair H100i CPU Cooler Review http://www.maximumpc.com/corsair_h100i_cpu_cooler_review <!--paging_filter--><h3>Quirky, but worth it</h3> <p>Although 280mm radiators and 140mm fans are becoming all the rage in closed-loop coolers, <a title="corsair" href="maximumpc.com/tags/corsair" target="_blank">Corsair</a> is showing that we shouldn’t count out 240mm rads just yet. The <strong>H100i</strong> cools admirably, installs relatively easily, and inspires confidence in its longevity. What more can a gearhead ask for?</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/corsair_h100i_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/corsair_h100i_small.jpg" alt="You can control the “i” variant of the H100i from within Windows, using Corsair’s free “Link” software." title="Corsair H100i CPU Cooler" width="620" height="491" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>You can control the “i” variant of the H100i from within Windows, using Corsair’s free “Link” software.</strong></p> <p>Well, it was not all wine and roses at first: The pump was pretty noisy. We had to Google around for a solution, then Google some more for a direct link to a firmware update, which we could not find on the H100i’s product page. However, the firmware updated quickly (didn’t even require a reboot), and the pump’s noise went down to a low murmur and stayed there. There was no CD for the “Corsair Link” fan-control software, though, so more Internet foraging was required.</p> <p>On the bright side, the H100i has one of the easiest installs we’ve encountered. There is a minimum of widgets to snap together, which lowers the frustration level (and saves you from having to scour your carpet when you drop something tiny). You put a bracket underneath the motherboard, hold it there with a few provided screws, and lower the heatsink onto the screws, which connect to another bracket that you slapped onto the heatsink. Then, secure the heatsink bracket to the motherboard bracket with another set of screws. And if you’re using an LGA2011 motherboard, you don’t even use the first bracket. Even a caveman could do it! The cooler is intelligent, with similar functionality to the Kick Ass award–winning <a title="h80i" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/corsair_h80i_review_2013" target="_blank">H80i</a> we reviewed earlier this year.</p> <p>We recently switched our CPU-cooling test-bed case from a Thermaltake Level 10 GT to a spacious Corsair 900D, by the way, so our performance here can’t be directly compared to previous results. How do you judge the H100i, then? Well, we also installed the ever-popular <a title="hyper 212" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/cooler_master_hyper_212_evo_review_0" target="_blank">Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo</a> air cooler for comparison. With our Core i7-3960X running overclocked to a little over 4.1GHz on all cores, the H100i performed better on Quiet mode than the 212 Evo did on Performance. That’s pretty excellent cooling prowess—and you could add two more fans to the radiator (provided they fit in your case).</p> <p>That helps excuse the fact that the H100i creates nearly intolerable noise when set to Performance mode, since it looks like you won’t need to run the fans that hard most of the time, as long as your case has good airflow. We should note, however, that the pump requires a SATA power connection. Not a deal-breaker, but neat-freaks might have trouble threading this cable that close to their CPU and still keeping everything tidy. You’ll probably want to use an extension cable or give the pump its own line since the distance between the CPU and most drive cages is usually too great to use a single cable for both locations.</p> <p>Despite its quirks, though, the H100i is a highly respectable piece of gear. The firmware and cabling issues are not difficult or tedious to resolve, and the build quality is worthy of a 5-year warranty (the longest of any brand of closed-loop liquid cooler).</p> <p><strong>$110 (street), </strong><a href="http://www.corsair.com/us/">www.corsair.com</a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/corsair_h100i_cpu_cooler_review#comments July 2013 2013 best closed loop Corsair H100i Hardware July 2013 maximum pc water cooler Reviews Water Cooling Fri, 04 Oct 2013 21:19:17 +0000 Tom McNamara 26326 at http://www.maximumpc.com Zalman LQ-320 CPU Cooler Review http://www.maximumpc.com/zalman_lq-320_cpu_cooler_review <!--paging_filter--><h3>Respectable performance, but not for the price</h3> <p><a title="zalman" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/Zalman" target="_blank">Zalman</a> has a well-earned reputation for high-quality air coolers. The “flower” design of its older all-copper heatsinks was eye-catching and distinctive, and its large (for the time) fans ran quietly even under load. Lately, though, liquid cooling has been all the rage. Closed-loop units from companies such as Corsair and NZXT are packaged with the cooling tubes and pump pre-attached to a radiator—referred to as an “all-in-one” (AiO) design. These units are much less expensive than cobbling together separate components, and there’s little maintenance required. The <a title="LQ-320" href="http://www.zalman.com/global/product/Product_Read.php?Idx=709" target="_blank">LQ-320</a> marks one of Zalman’s first forays into the AiO market, and it’s a respectable part, though arguably priced too high for its performance.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/lq320_small_2.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/lq320_small_0.jpg" alt="The LQ-320’s radiator gives it 7.7cm of total length, once the fan is installed." title="Zalman LQ-320 CPU Cooler" width="620" height="555" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The LQ-320’s radiator gives it 7.7cm of total length, once the fan is installed.</strong></p> <p>Its noise level isn’t a problem, though. Left to its own devices, the LQ-320 hovered around 1,700rpm under load, creating a noise level that was noticeable but not distracting. Even with the fan cranked to 2,000rpm, it wasn’t that distracting and our overclocked Core i7-3960X test machine never cracked 70 C under a pretty hefty load. We use an internal Intel tool to load up the CPU to its limit, more so than with Prime95.</p> <p>Under normal operating conditions, the LQ-320 noise level blends into the background—pretty much on par with a Phanteks or Noctua air cooler.</p> <p>The radiator is large and in charge. At about 2 inches thick (that’s thicker than two stacked case fans), to which you must bolt a 1-inch-thick fan. If you’re sporting an LGA2011 board with tall RAM, there’s a chance the DIMMs will bump into the cooler but it depends on your case and motherboard. Unlike a typical fan, the included unit has only four mounts on one side so it can only be mounted to the radiator where air is pushed through it.</p> <p>The fan uses a 4-pin PWM plug that goes directly into your motherboard as opposed to the USB-controlled (and similarly priced) Corsair H80i or NZXT Kraken X40 “intelligent” coolers. If your mobo has really granular and intelligent control over fan headers, such as Asus Fan Xpert 2, it’s probably OK. But if you’re using a budget board that’s “dumb,” don’t expect much control.</p> <p>The pump is powered by a separate 3-pin plug that goes directly into an available mobo fan header. On boards that give you very little or no control over the fan headers, we’d advise you to get a $3.50 Molex-to-3-pin adapter to give the pump as much power as possible. Even on boards with control, we’d recommend that you make sure the pump is getting the proper voltage to get the full performance out of this cooler.</p> <p>But although it lacks control software and unified cabling, it doesn’t really need software tweaking, and you don’t have to factor in software glitches. And plugging it directly into your power supply is not a major inconvenience. The biggest problem with the LQ-320 is actually its street price of about $90, which is virtually the same as the superior NZXT X40 and Corsair H80i. Granted, the X40 requires a 14cm fan mount, so it’s not directly comparable. But since you can buy it for under $100, it’s a factor, and the LQ-320 does not emerge victorious. If the LQ-320 settled into the $60-$70 range, it would probably fare better.</p> <p><strong>$110,</strong> <a href="http://www.zalman.com/">www.zalman.com</a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/zalman_lq-320_cpu_cooler_review#comments June 2013 2013 closed loop CPU Cooler Hardware June 2013 liquid cooler Review Zalman LQ-320 Reviews Water Cooling Wed, 25 Sep 2013 18:15:45 +0000 Tom McNamara 26083 at http://www.maximumpc.com Arctic Cooling Accelero Hybrid GTX 680 Review http://www.maximumpc.com/arctic_cooling_accelero_hybrid_gtx_680_review <!--paging_filter--><h3>A sweet DIY project for hardcore cooling freaks</h3> <p>Back in the olden days of, like, three years ago, GPUs were quite loud and didn’t cool very well, so aftermarket coolers were not necessarily required but were a good idea, and absolutely necessary if you wanted to heavily overclock the card.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/accelleroo_cooler7508_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/accelleroo_cooler7508_small.jpg" alt="We installed the Accelero Hybrid cooler on our GTX 680 card in just over an hour with minimal profanity." title="Arctic Cooling Accelero Hybrid GTX 680" width="620" height="413" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>We installed the Accelero Hybrid cooler on our <a title="gtx 680" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/gtx_680" target="_blank">GTX 680</a> card in just over an hour with minimal profanity.</strong></p> <p>Even if you didn’t want to overclock but were a hardcore builder, installing liquid coolers made for a fun weekend project. Those days have mostly ended, now that <a title="nvidia" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/Nvidia" target="_blank">Nvidia</a> has gotten its act together with regards to quiet, well-designed coolers (<a title="amd" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/AMD" target="_blank">AMD</a> is getting closer, but isn’t quite there yet for the high-end cards), and modern GPUs overclock quite nicely even with a stock cooler. But that hasn’t stopped Arctic Cooling from developing exotic aftermarket coolers for all of today’s high-end GPUs (Nvidia 600 and AMD 7000 series), so this month we strapped its Hybrid water-and-air cooler to a GTX 680 to see what the fuss was all about. Even though the cooler worked wonderfully, this is not a project for the faint-of-heart, as it would be tough to undo, but the gains it achieved in noise and heat dissipation were quite impressive.</p> <p>The kit includes three separate pieces that must all be joined together: the water block and radiator, the cooling shroud with built-in fan, and the fan for the radiator. First, you must remove the stock cooler from your GPU, then whip out the Accelero Hybrid’s Ikea-like step-by-step instructions, and start assembling the cooler. To do so, you glue some heatsinks to your board’s VRMs, then attach the water block to the shroud, then attach the shroud to the card, then connect power for the fan and the pump. Finally, you connect the included fan to the radiator and then attach the radiator to your case’s exhaust port above the PCIe slots. Installation took us roughly one hour, though that doesn’t count leaving the card overnight for the thermal glue holding the heatsinks to dry. Overall, the instructions were easy to follow, and we had zero issues in testing, too, so we feel that means the instructions did their job, letting us install the cooler without breaking the card.</p> <p>Once we had it up and running, we were astonished by the card’s noise level, or better yet, the lack of noise. It’s so quiet that you could play Crysis 3 in a library, with your case door off. Even when putting your ear next to the card under 100 percent load, you still don’t hear much except for the occasional gurgle of water moving through the tubes, and we had the card overclocked to 1,100MHz from 1,006MHz. The temperatures were also superb, hitting only 60 C under full load overclocked, compared to 85 C with the stock cooler at stock clocks. We can definitely say this cooler works as advertised, runs silent and cool, and didn’t break our GPU, nor was it difficult to assemble.</p> <p>Now, should you buy it? Well, the performance gains we saw from overclocking the card were modest, as they always are. Also, this cooler cost $110 on Newegg as we went to press, which is a pretty penny to pay for an extra four frames per second in Crysis 3, for example. It is quiet, though, and it certainly runs cool, so if you’re having heat and/or noise issues, this is one cooling solution we can wholeheartedly recommend. It definitely kicks ass.</p> <p><strong>$110 (street),</strong> <a href="http://www.arctic.ac/en/">www.arctic.ac</a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/arctic_cooling_accelero_hybrid_gtx_680_review#comments June 2013 2013 Accelero Hybrid GTX 680 Air Cooling coolers graphics card cooler Hardware June 2013 Review Reviews Videocards Water Cooling Fri, 23 Aug 2013 20:38:01 +0000 Josh Norem 26076 at http://www.maximumpc.com NZXT Kraken X40 Review http://www.maximumpc.com/nzxt_kraken_x40_review <!--paging_filter--><h3>A crackin' cool-and-quiet cooler</h3> <p>The <strong>Kraken X40</strong> breaks the current trend of closed-loop water coolers rocking 12cm fans by upping its fan size to 14cm fan, which NZXT promises delivers more heat dissipation and better cooling without subjecting users to deafening fan noise. It’s a lofty promise, but having tested it, we can tell you that this Kraken's bite lives up to its bark.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/kraken_x40_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/kraken_x40_small.jpg" alt="The X40 offers unrivaled cooling performance on quiet mode." title="NZXT Kraken X40" width="620" height="620" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The X40 offers unrivaled cooling performance on quiet mode.</strong></p> <p>The X40 is based on Asetek's fourth-generation all-in-one closed-loop design, which features a copper cold plate that has been improved with denser micro-fins and a new center channel to increase coolant flow. A single NZXT FX-140 PWM fan is included, and the cooler supports an optional second fan for a push-pull config. It's compatible with all modern CPU sockets, with the exception of LGA775, but faces a larger compatibility obstacle in that it requires a case with a 14cm fan, such as NZXT's own Phantom 410. The X40 also sports extra-long 16-inch rubber tubing compared to most other closed-loop systems that use tubes measuring around 12 inches. Accompanying the larger fan is a wider radiator that offers 36 percent more surface area than smaller 12cm rads.</p> <p>Like Corsair's H80i that we reviewed last month, the X40 has an LED on top of the pump that you customize to either remain a solid color or to change color depending on temperature, which is slick. We also appreciate that the software to control it comes bundled on disc, whereas Corsair's software requires a download. The software is easy to use and allows you to adjust fan speeds, but not pump speeds like Corsair's equivalent. While it features only two presets, “silent” (1,000rpm) and "extreme" (1,700rpm), as opposed to the half-dozen with Corsair's software, you can still manually set the fans to run at fixed RPMs and save custom profiles.Installing the X40 was relatively easy. With our LGA2011 backplate preinstalled, we began by inserting four screws through the retention ring that allows the water block to be mounted to the CPU socket. The X40 features a similar retention ring to Thermaltake's Water2.0 Pro, which snaps onto the water block with a retention clip. This mounting process isn't as straightforward as the H80i’s simple magnetic mounting bracket, but the X40’s manual features excellent illustrations that simplify the installation process. Mounting the radiator and fan to the chassis just required tightening four screws through the back of the case. The last step was to connect the CPU fan and USB cables to the mobo headers, and unlike the H80i, all the cables come pre-attached to the water block, and the pump doesn't require additional power (Molex or SATA), making the installation less of a hassle.</p> <p>In testing, the Kraken X40 was impressive, and we were pleasantly surprised to find that the preset silent mode not only lived up to its name, but cooled extremely well, hitting just 67 C under load. This was enough to whoop our Hyper 212 zero-point air cooler in performance mode by 7 C, and it also bested the 12cm Seidon 120M water cooler running on full blast by 1 C. With the X40’s fan cranked to maximum, it gave Corsair’s H80i a run for its money even though we had it running in push-pull mode with two fans, which was quite impressive. While the X40’s fan can be mistaken for a small leaf blower at full speed, it fortunately doesn't need to operate at its highest speed to cool well.</p> <p>While the X40 isn't cheap at 100 bones, it’s no costlier than its peers and it outperforms them, making this cooler easy to recommend. If you have a case that supports a 14cm fan, you should definitely release the Kraken!</p> <p><strong>$100,</strong> <a href="http://www.nzxt.com/">www.nzxt.com</a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/nzxt_kraken_x40_review#comments April 2013 2013 best Hardware kick ass maximum pc NZXT Kraken X40 Review water cooler Reviews Water Cooling Mon, 10 Jun 2013 22:01:51 +0000 Jimmy Thang 25670 at http://www.maximumpc.com Cooler Master Seidon 120M Review http://www.maximumpc.com/cooler_master_seidon_120m_review <!--paging_filter--><h3>Won’t break the bank or any records</h3> <p>With the vast majority of closed-loop water-cooling kits based on either <a title="asetek" href="http://www.asetek.com/" target="_blank">Asetek</a> or <a title="CoolIt" href="http://www.coolitsystems.com/" target="_blank">CoolIt</a> designs, <a title="Cooler Master" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/Cooler_Master" target="_blank">Cooler Master</a>’s in-house-designed Seidon 120M easily stands out from the crowd. At just $70, it’s one of the more affordable kits we’ve seen, too, and though it’s not the answer to our cooling prayers, it proves you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a decent water cooler.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a class="thickbox" href="/files/u152332/seidon_120m_01_small_0.jpg"><img src="/files/u152332/seidon_120m_01_small.jpg" alt="Cooler Master says that the Teflon tubing on the 120M minimizes water evaporation." title="Cooler Master Seidon 120M" width="620" height="465" /></a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Cooler Master says that the Teflon tubing on the 120M minimizes water evaporation.</strong></p> <p>Like its competitors, the kit includes all the usual ingredients: a prefilled aluminum radiator with a 12cm fan, a copper contact plate, two tubes to shuttle coolant back and forth, and a pump built directly into the CPU water block. Though the Seidon 120M looks a lot like Asetek-designed coolers, its water block/pump apparatus is noticeably more low-profile than others we’ve tested.</p> <p>Installing the water cooler was, for the most part, a drama-free affair. The 120M features a universal backplate with pre-attached screws (for use with sockets other than <a title="LGA2011" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/LGA2011" target="_blank">LGA2011</a>). Even the retention clips include pre-attached and easily adjustable screws. We ran into a little trouble differentiating between the <a title="AMD maximum pc" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/AMD" target="_blank">AMD</a> and <a title="Intel maximum pc" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/intel_0" target="_blank">Intel</a> clips, and it would have been nice if they were labeled (either the clips themselves or the bags they came in), because the Intel and AMD parts look confusingly similar. Once we eyeballed the clips next to the sockets to figure out which was which, we had no trouble attaching the clips to the base of the water block and securing them to the backplate, and then mounting that on top of the CPU’s heat spreader. Attaching the radiator to the chassis was also a walk in the park, as we used the included screws to mount the fan to the radiator and the radiator to our <a title="Thermaltake level 10gt review" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/%5Bprimary-term%5D/thermaltake_level_10_gt_review">Level 10 GT</a> chassis. The last step was to simply plug the power cable from the pump into the CPU header, and to connect the 12cm fan’s PWM connector to a fan controller.</p> <p>Once installed, the fan was very quiet with Q-Fan enabled in the BIOS, but under a heavy thermal load at 4.2GHz on our Core i7-3960X, it didn’t perform much better than a <a title="hyper 212 evo review" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/%5Bprimary-term%5D/cooler_master_hyper_212_evo_review_0" target="_blank">Hyper 212 Evo</a> air cooler. When we ran the system at full speed, however, cooling performance improved dramatically, running six degrees cooler under load but still 1 C hotter than the dual-fan <a title="water 2.0 pro review" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/%5Bprimary-term%5D/thermaltake_water20_pro_review2013" target="_blank">Thermaltake Water2.0 Pro</a>. To its credit though, the Seidon was quieter at full tilt than the Water2.0, which sounded like a wind tunnel.</p> <p>Though the Seidon only comes with one 12cm fan, we added a second Thermaltake fan to test a push-pull configuration and saw a dramatic performance boost, putting it on par with the more-expensive Water2.0 Pro, but sadly its noise output was equally loud.</p> <p><strong>$70,</strong> <a href="http://www.coolermaster.com/">www.coolermaster.com</a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/seidon_benchmarks.jpg" alt="Seidon 120M benchmarks" title="Seidon 120M benchmarks" width="620" height="302" /></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/cooler_master_seidon_120m_review#comments February 2013 2013 Cooler Master cpu Hardware maximum pc Review Seidon 120M water cooler Reviews Water Cooling Tue, 16 Apr 2013 21:11:06 +0000 Jimmy Thang 25364 at http://www.maximumpc.com Thermaltake Water2.0 Pro Review http://www.maximumpc.com/thermaltake_water20_pro_review2013 <!--paging_filter--><h3>Thermaltake's Water2.0 Pro is the LL Cool J of water coolers: cool, but loud</h3> <p>Water cooling is the way to go if you're serious about keeping your CPU thermals in check, and the easiest way to dip your toe in the water-cooling pool is an all-in-one unit that bolts onto your case. You don’t have to mess with pumps, tubing, or fans, and the kits will work with any modern CPU and most chassis, so their appeal is maximum cooling with minimum effort. <strong><a title="thermaltake" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/thermaltake" target="_blank">Thermaltake</a></strong> is on board with this concept, and offers three tasty all-in-one entrées in its <strong>Water2.0</strong> series: a low-end “Performance” model, a double-rad “Extreme” model, and the mid-range “Pro” version we examined this month.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154082/thermaltake_water_2pro2.jpg" alt="water2.0pro" title="water2.0pro" width="620" height="565" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The Water2.0 Pro comes with two 12cm fans for a push-pull configuration.</strong></p> <p>The cooler is an <a title="asetek" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/asetek" target="_blank">Asetek</a> design that’s prefilled with coolant and features a fat 48mm radiator sandwiched between dual 12cm fans. Thick rubber tubes shuttle the coolant back and forth between the radiator and the cooling block, which features a copper contact plate to maximize heat transfer. It’s a universal design that bolts onto all modern CPUs and most cases.</p> <p>Putting it all together wasn’t too difficult, but the installation process included one semi-major annoyance which we’ll get to later. For our thermal test, we didn’t need to install a backplate on our <a title="LGA2011" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/LGA2011" target="_blank">LGA2011</a> test machine, and of course, owners of AMD or other Intel sockets will need to do so. With ours retention plate already in place, we only had to secure four screws to the cooler’s retention ring. The problem is the LGA2011 uses special screws that look nearly identical to the other screws in the kit (LGA1155, etc.), which was confusing—they should be more clearly labeled, both in real life and in the manual. Color coding, perhaps? With the retention ring in place, the next step was to drop the water block down onto our CPU and snap the two together with a retention clip. From there, finishing the install was as easy as tightening four screws. Installing the radiator was also easy, and involved using the four pairs of provided screws to sandwich the radiator between the fans and attach them to the case. Both fans connect to a Y-shaped PWM power cable, allowing them to run synchronously from a single 4-pin connector.</p> <p>In testing, the cooler performed surprisingly well when we let it run at full-speed (fan control disabled), outperforming our <a title="hyper 212 evo review" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/%5Bprimary-term%5D/cooler_master_hyper_212_evo_review_0" target="_blank">Hyper 212 Evo</a> zero-point air-cooler by an impressive 5 C, but it was about 3 C warmer than the similarly constructed <a title="Corsair H80" href="http://www.corsair.com/hydro-series-h80-high-performance-liquid-cpu-cooler.html" target="_blank">Corsair H80</a> kit. In quiet mode, using PWM fan control, its performance was also impressive, but again it was not as capable as Corsair’s offering.</p> <p>While the Water2.0’s performance is cool, its acoustics weren’t. In quiet mode it emitted a high-pitch humming noise, even at idle, and under load the hum became more pronounced. The sound went away when we ran the fans on full blast, but then the fan noise was so loud as to resemble a small wind tunnel inside our chassis.</p> <p>Overall, the <strong>Water2.0 Pro</strong> definitely runs cool, but at the cost of excessive noise in either of its modes. Considering the similarly-priced H80 runs a bit cooler, we'd give the nod to Corsair's solution between the two 12cm-based all-in-one water coolers.</p> <p><strong>$100</strong>, <a href="http://www.thermaltake.com/">www.thermaltake.com</a></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/thermaltake_water20_pro_review2013#comments January 2013 2013 cpu Hardware Hardware heat sink January issue maximum pc pro processor Review Thermaltake Water2.0 water cooler Reviews Water Cooling Wed, 06 Mar 2013 20:40:41 +0000 Jimmy Thang 25134 at http://www.maximumpc.com Corsair H80i Review http://www.maximumpc.com/corsair_h80i_review_2013 <!--paging_filter--><h3><span style="font-size: 1.17em;">Super cool in every respect</span></h3> <p>When <a title="corsair" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/Corsair" target="_blank">Corsair</a> released its closed-loop H80 water cooler in 2011, we found it to be one of the best-performing dual-fan kits available. It was also very loud at full blast and cumbersome to install, and the updated <strong>H80i</strong> model sets out to address these issues while also improving performance.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154280/corsair_h80i_shot.png" alt="Corsair H80i" title="Corsair H80i" width="600" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The H80i's water block features a logo that can change colors according to temperature.</strong></p> <p>At first glance the H80i doesn’t appear to differ much from its predecessor, but there are a number of key upgrades. First, at 1.4cm thick, the coolant tubes are nearly twice as fat to help increase coolant flow. Also, the two 12cm fans are now based on Corsair’s high static-pressure <a title="Corsair Air Series SP120 fans" href="http://www.corsair.com/en/cpu-cooling-kits/air-series-fans/air-series-sp120-high-performance-edition-high-static-pressure-120mm-fan.html" target="_blank">Air Series SP120</a> fans and run a bit quieter than the previous model's fans. Finally, Corsair now includes its <a title="Corsair Link" href="http://www.corsair.com/en/blog/new-corsair-link-software-ver-1_2_5-released" target="_blank">Corsair Link software</a> with the kit, rather than making it an expensive add-on, allowing you to control all the functions of the kit from within Windows. The software provides a range of controls for fan and pump speeds and overall performance, but the coolest feature is that the logo on the water block can be customized to change color according to CPU temperatures. For anything below 70 C, we had the light shine blue and anything above displayed red.&nbsp;</p> <p>Corsair has gone to great lengths to simplify the installation process, as it includes one of the best manuals we’ve seen, with clear instructions and excellent diagrams, and the parts are all easy to combine, as well. First you attach a backplate (the H80i supports all modern CPU sockets except for Intel's <a title="LGA775 maximum pc" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/tags/LGA775" target="_blank">LGA775</a>), then tighten four standoffs around the CPU socket. Where Corsair has really simplified things is with its magnetic mounting bracket, which just slides onto the top of the water block until it snaps into place. Mounting the water block onto the CPU also requires just four screws, and then eight screws are needed to sandwich the radiator between the two fans and the chassis. The last step is to plug the fans into the water block and connect the system’s three cables (SATA for power, fans, and USB cable for the software) into their respective plugs.&nbsp;</p> <p>Though that’s more cables than we’re used to seeing for a CPU cooler, the added functionality they offer is worth it. The Corsair Link software allows you to choose from more than a half-dozen preset fan speed profiles (Quiet, Performance, Balanced, and more) and also allows you to customize and save your own presets. You can set individual fans at specific RPMs or set specific temperature ceilings at which they spin up. The icing on the cake is that the highly tweakable software is easy to use.</p> <p>When we set the kit to quiet mode using Corsair Link, the cooler was near silent and outperformed our zero-point Hyper 212 Evo air cooler by almost 4 C under load. When we switched to performance mode, the fans revved up appropriately and sounded like a small wind tunnel, but its cooling performance was unmatched in its class, beating its very cool predecessor by roughly 3 C, and Thermaltake’s Water2.0 Pro dual-fan kit by 4 C. It also decimated our zero-point air-cooler by over 11 C.&nbsp;</p> <p>The H80i isn't without its issues, however. At $110 bucks it’s expensive, and it should have come with a software CD (you're supposed to download it), but those are our only complaints. We like that it has the flexibility to be either super cool under load or amazingly quiet at idle, and everything in between, thanks to its elegant software. When you factor in its simple installation process and nifty LED options, it’s clear Corsair has a winner on its hands with the H80i.</p> <p><strong>Price $110</strong>, <a title="Corsair website" href="http://www.corsair.com" target="_blank">www.corsair.com</a></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u154280/benchmarks_1.jpg" alt="Benchmarks" title="Benchmarks" width="620" /></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em>Note: This review was taken from the March 2013 issue of the magazine.</em></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/corsair_h80i_review_2013#comments cooling corsair cpu h80 h80i Hardware liquid overclock Review water cooler Reviews Water Cooling Thu, 14 Feb 2013 19:34:38 +0000 Jimmy Thang 25022 at http://www.maximumpc.com LGA2011 CPU Cooler Review Roundup http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/lga2011_cpu_cooler_review_roundup <!--paging_filter--><h3>Intel’s enthusiast platform puts out the heat—here are seven ways to take it off</h3> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u152332/cooler_opener_2492_small_2.jpg" width="620" height="167" /></p> <p>Intel’s Sandy Bridge-E enthusiast platform brings with it a new Intel socket, and that means new cooler mounting brackets! One nice thing about the X79 chipset: The boards ship with an integrated universal CPU mounting backplate, so no more fiddling around behind the motherboard.</p> <p>Now, the new chipset hasn't been out that long, so cooler manufacturers are still working on getting their products compatible with the universal backplate. We were able to wrangle up seven <strong>LGA2011-compatible CPU coolers</strong>, ranging in price from $30 to $120, to see how they cope with the new mounting system and whether they’re up to the task of cooling an overclocked Sandy Bridge-E CPU.</p> <p>We tested each cooler on a test bed with an <a title="Asus mobo" href="http://www.asus.com/Motherboard/P9X79_DELUXE/" target="_blank">Asus P9X79 Deluxe</a> motherboard, a <a title="Intel CPU" href="http://ark.intel.com/products/63696/Intel-Core-i7-3960X-Processor-Extreme-Edition-(15M-Cache-3_30-GHz)" target="_blank">i7-3960X</a> CPU, 16GB of DDR3, and a <a title="Level 10 GT" href="http://level10gt.thermaltake.com/" target="_blank">Thermaltake Level 10 GT</a> case with its stock fans running at “high.” The i7-3960X is the flagship Sandy Bridge-E CPU, and contains six cores and support for 40 PCIe lanes. Its Turbo mode hits 3.9GHz out of the box, but we’ve clocked the proc up to 4.2GHz. We tested each cooler after an hour of idling and an hour of full burn at 4.2GHz, using the Sandy Bridge-E version of Intel’s internal thermal testing utility, and measuring the core temperatures with <a title="HWmonitor" href="http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/hwmonitor.html" target="_blank">HWMonitor</a>. To further level the playing field, we’re using the same thermal interface material for each cooler, eschewing the included thermal pastes in favor of <a title="Thermal paste" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/geek_tested_17_thermal_pastes_face" target="_blank">Arctic Silver’s Lumiere</a>, which we’ve used for all our cooler tests for years. In a sidebar, we’ll also talk about the effect of thermal paste on CPU performance.</p> <p>Because very few of us run our CPUs at 100 percent across all cores for long stretches of time, the burn temperatures represent worst-case scenarios—this should be the hottest these CPUs ever get.</p> <h3>Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo</h3> <p><strong>Meet the new boss, same as the old boss</strong></p> <p>What, this old thing? Cooler Master’s Hyper 212 Evo is the new‑and‑improved version of our standby CPU cooler. It’s just $35 and offers performance far exceeding other coolers in its price range, so it’s the first thing we reach for when we build a new budget-conscious rig. Given that LGA2011 CPUs don’t come with heatsinks, the Evo is the closest thing we have to a stock cooler, and it will be the standard against which all other Sandy Bridge-E coolers are judged.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u152332/coolermastcooler_2502_small_1.jpg" width="620" height="250" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The plastic fan clips on the Evo are much easier to use than the wire clips that originally came with the first Hyper 212-Plus.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">When we reviewed the <a title="Hyper 212 Evo" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/%5Bprimary-term%5D/cooler_master_hyper_212_evo_review" target="_blank">Hyper 212 Evo</a> in the January 2012 issue of <a title="Maximum PC magazine" href="https://w1.buysub.com/pubs/IM/MAX/MAX-subscribe.jsp?cds_page_id=63027&amp;cds_mag_code=MAX&amp;id=1359062620110&amp;lsid=30241523400018451&amp;vid=1&amp;cds_response_key=IHTH29A0N" target="_blank">our magazine</a>, we had two major complaints about it: The backplate mounting procedure remained annoying, and the cooler didn’t have LGA2011 mounting support. Both of those problems have now been addressed.</p> <p>The Hyper 212 Evo is a skyscraper-style heatsink, with four direct-contact copper heat pipes rising into an array of aluminum heat-dissipation fins. From the base of the heat exchanger to the tips of the heat pipes, the cooler is 6.3 inches tall, 3.13 inches deep, and 4.7 inches wide with the included 12cm PWM fan attached.</p> <p>Thanks to the unified backplate on the LGA2011 socket (a crossover from Intel’s Xeon platforms), the Evo’s mounting process is greatly simplified. The LGA2011 X-shaped crossbar now screws directly into the mounting holes on the included backplate. No more accidentally unscrewing mounting bolts when removing the cooler.</p> <p>In our test bed, the Evo continues to impress, cooling our i7-3960X at 4.2GHz down to 74 C. It’s not the best cooler in this roundup, but it outperforms coolers three times its price. And although its height may be a concern in narrow cases, the heatsink and fan do not interfere with any RAM slots, unlike many other coolers in this roundup. The Evo remains an inexpensive, inexplicably kick-ass cooler.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><span class="module-name">Specifications</span><br /> <div class="module-content"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 683px; height: 269px;" border="0"> <thead> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Dimensions HxDxW (inches, with fans)</td> <td class="item-dark">6.3x3.13x4.7</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Weight</td> <td>1 lb, 4.6 oz</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Heat Pipes</td> <td class="item-dark">4 copper direct-contact</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Stock Fans</td> <td>1x 12cm PWM</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Add’l Fan Support</td> <td>1 (clips included)</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="lowdown"> <div class="module orange-module article-module verdict-block"><span style="font-size: 14px; border-bottom: 1px solid #000;">Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo</span></div> <div class="module orange-module article-module verdict-block"> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="product-verdict"> <div class="positive"><span class="header">Eve<br /> </span> <p>Powerful, inexpensive performance</p> </div> <div class="negative"><span class="header">Evil<br /> </span> <p>Not the freshest design; Mounting annoying on earlier brackets.</p> </div> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_9ka.jpg" alt="score:9ka" title="score:9ka" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$35, <a href="http://www.coolermasterusa.com" target="_blank">www.coolermasterusa.com</a></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <h3>Xigmatek Gaia</h3> <p><strong>A challenger appears!</strong></p> <p>Sometimes when we use the <a title="212 plus" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/reviews/cooler_master_hyper_212_plus" target="_blank">Hyper 212 Plus</a> in a build we get comments to the effect of, “Why don’t you use <a title="Xigmatek Gaia" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/%5Bprimary-term%5D/xigmatek_gaia_review" target="_blank">Xigmatek’s Gaia</a>? It’s just as good and just as cheap!” Just as cheap? Definitely. Just as good? We’ll see!</p> <p>Stop us if you’ve heard this before: The Gaia is a skyscraper-style stack of aluminum cooling fins on top of three direct-contact copper heat pipes. The Gaia is 6.5 inches high by 2.9 inches thick (with the fan) and 4.9 inches wide. At one pound, 4.7 ounces, it’s practically the same weight as the Hyper 212 Evo. Aside from the slightly narrower cooling fins and the fact that it has three heat pipes rather than four, and its 12cm PWM fan is held on by rubber pegs rather than a plastic clip, the Gaia looks a lot like the Evo.</p> <p>On LGA2011, the Gaia’s install process is pretty easy. Four double-sided thumbscrews screw into the universal backplate, a mounting plate screws onto either side of the heatsink and mounts onto those thumbscrews, and then four nuts secure the mounting bracket. There are no screws or any other way of putting pressure on the heat exchanger other than tightening the mounting nuts as far as possible. The rubber fan mounts pop into slots cut into the sides of the cooling fins, which is great for damping vibrations but not as easy to attach or remove as plastic or wire clips.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u152332/xigmatekcooler_2509_small_4.jpg" width="532" height="216" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>We just realized that the Xigmatek Gaia’s cooling fins resemble the letter X.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">The Xigmatek Gaia cooled our overclocked i7-3960X to 75.7 C in our burn test, within two degrees Celsius of the Hyper 212 Evo. We still prefer the Evo’s installation procedure, at least for LGA2011, and don’t mind the $5 price premium, but the Gaia is nearly as good as the Hyper 212 Evo, and even less expensive.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><span class="module-name">Specifications</span><br /> <div class="module-content"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 683px; height: 269px;" border="0"> <thead> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Dimensions HxDxW (inches, with fans)</td> <td class="item-dark">6.5x2.9x4.9</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Weight</td> <td>1 lb, 4.7 oz</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Heat Pipes</td> <td class="item-dark">3 copper direct-contact</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Stock Fans</td> <td>1x 12cm PWM</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Add’l Fan Support</td> <td>1 (rubber mounts included)</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><em><br /> </em></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="lowdown"> <div class="module orange-module article-module verdict-block"><span class="module-name-header" style="font-size: 14px; border-bottom: 1px solid #000;">NZXT Havik 120</span><br /> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="product-verdict"> <div class="positive"><span class="header">Gaia<br /> </span> <p>Almost as good as the Evo; even cheaper.</p> </div> <div class="negative"><span class="header">Galactus<br /> </span> <p>Annoying fan mounts; cooler mount doesn’t apply much pressure</p> </div> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_8.jpg" alt="score:8" title="score:8" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$30, <a href="http://www.xigmatek.com" target="_blank">www.xigmatek.com</a></strong></p> <h3>NZXT Havik 120</h3> <p><strong>NZXT’s second air cooler, and they still can’t spell ‘havoc’</strong></p> <p>NZXT didn't enter the CPU cooling game until quite recently. We reviewed its first cooler, the skyscraper <a title="Havik 140" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/reviews/nzxt_havik_140_review" target="_blank">Havik 140</a>, in December 2011. The Havik 140’s dual 14cm fans helped it power to the top of our air-cooling charts, though the slightly cheap-feeling mounting bracket kept it from Kick Ass Award status. NZXT’s second air cooler is the smaller, less expensive <a title="Havik 120" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/%5Bprimary-term%5D/nzxt_havik_120_review" target="_blank">Havik 120</a>.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u152332/nxtcooler_2500_small_2.jpg" width="577" height="232" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The NZXT Havik 120 isn’t even close to the largest cooler in our roundup.</strong></p> <p>The Havik 120 stands 6.4 inches tall, 4.5 inches deep, and 5 inches wide with both 12cm fans strapped on—just about a quarter of an inch shallower and narrower than the 140. The Havik weighs more than two pounds, and has four fat heat pipes to the 140’s six. The Havik 120’s mounting mechanism uses the bars-and-crossbeam model from the 140, and installation is easy. The cooler’s two 13-bladed, 12cm fans have 3-pin connectors, and connect to one of two Y-splitters (one with a speed-limiting resistor). The fans attach to the cooling fins with rubber straps, which is not the most convenient mounting mechanism, especially when the motherboard is already mounted in the case.</p> <p>The Havik 120 performed second-best of the five air coolers we tested, dropping the overclocked i7-3960X to 73.7 C at full burn. Using the included resistor splitter cable increased CPU temperatures by a few degrees but reduced noise to quite low levels.</p> <p>We like that the Havik 120’s fin stack is high enough so the fans don’t interfere with most RAM DIMMs, and that it performs well without being too loud. It’s neither as quiet nor as effective as the 140, but it’s smaller. At $55, it’s a good midpoint between the $30 coolers in our roundup and those in the $80-100 range.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><span class="module-name">Specifications</span><br /> <div class="module-content"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 683px; height: 269px;" border="0"> <thead> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Dimensions HxDxW (inches, with fans)</td> <td class="item-dark">6.4x4.5x5</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Weight</td> <td>2 lbs, 1.1 oz</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Heat Pipes</td> <td class="item-dark">4 direct-contact</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Stock Fans</td> <td>2x 12cm 3-pin (w/ splitter / resistor cables)</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Add’l Fan Support</td> <td>No</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><em><br /> </em></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="lowdown"> <div class="module orange-module article-module verdict-block"><span class="module-name-header" style="font-size: 14px; border-bottom: 1px solid #000;">Xigmatek Gaia</span><br /> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="product-verdict"> <div class="positive"><span class="header">Have<br /> </span> <p>Good performance; two stock fans; easy install.</p> </div> <div class="negative"><span class="header">Have not<br /> </span> <p>Rubber fan attachments can be tricky; fans can get loud at full blast.</p> </div> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_8.jpg" alt="score:8" title="score:8" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$55, <a href="http://www.nzxt.com" target="_blank">www.nzxt.com</a></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <h3>Noctua NH-D14 SE2011</h3> <p><strong>Cooling prowess as massive as its dual heatsinks.</strong></p> <p>When we reviewed the first-edition <a title="NH-d14" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/reviews/noctua_nhd14" target="_blank">Noctua NH-D14</a> back in 2010, we praised its quiet performance, but our then-current test bed didn’t put out enough heat to best showcase its cooling chops. Fortunately, our new one does. This coincides nicely with Noctua’s release of the <a title="SE2011" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/%5Bprimary-term%5D/noctua_nh-d14_se2011_review" target="_blank">NH-D14 SE2011</a>, which includes (gasp) LGA2011 support and updates the D14’s two fans to include PWM, or pulse-width modulation.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u152332/noctuacooler_2499_small_1.jpg" width="620" height="240" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>If you own an earlier Noctua cooler, the company will send you the LGA2011 mounts for free.</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">The new NH-D14 is just as massive as the old one. With both fans attached, the heatsink stands 6.5 inches high, 6.2 inches deep, and 5.5 inches wide and weighs more than two pounds, 12 ounces. The cooler’s six heat pipes rise into two sets of cooling fins, each the size of a lesser cooler’s entire allotment. A 12cm PWM fan clips to the front and a 14cm fan clips between the two sets of fins, both using Noctua’s wire clips, which are easy to install and remove. Installation is easy; just remove the center fan, mount four double-sided thumbscrews to the unified backplate, install two mounting bars over those, secure them with thumbscrews, and tighten the two spring-screws on the D14 onto the posts on the mounting bracket.</p> <p>Because it’s so massive, the NH-D14 blocks some RAM slots; we had to use low-profile RAM in order to fit the 12cm fan onto the cooler. But once that was accomplished, the NH-D14 achieved the lowest CPU burn temps of any air cooler in our roundup, at just over 72 C. When we added the resistor cables, the temperature increased to 76 C, but fan noise became almost imperceptible—certainly quieter than the case fans.</p> <p>Of the air coolers we’ve tested on LGA2011 thus far, the NH-D14 takes the crown. If it weren’t quite so massive, it’d be even easier to recommend, but it still garners our firm approval.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><span class="module-name">Specifications</span><br /> <div class="module-content"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 683px; height: 269px;" border="0"> <thead> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Dimensions HxDxW (inches, with fans)</td> <td class="item-dark">6.5x6.2x5.5</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Weight</td> <td>2 lbs, 12.8 oz</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Heat Pipes</td> <td class="item-dark">6</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Stock Fans</td> <td>1x 12cm, 1x 14cm, PWM</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Add’l Fan Support</td> <td>1</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><em><br /> </em></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="lowdown"> <div class="module orange-module article-module verdict-block"><span class="module-name-header" style="font-size: 14px; border-bottom: 1px solid #000;">Noctua NH-D14 SE2011</span><br /> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="product-verdict"> <div class="positive"><span class="header">Nocturne<br /> </span> <p>Massive performance; quiet; easy installation.</p> </div> <div class="negative"><span class="header">Knock-kneed<br /> </span> <p>Massive footprint; front fan can interfere with RAM heat spreaders.</p> </div> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_9.jpg" alt="score:9" title="score:9" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$85, <a href="http://www.noctua.at" target="_blank">www.noctua.at</a></strong></p> <h3>Zalman CNPS12X</h3> <p><strong>The latest Zalman heatsink looks cooler than it is</strong></p> <p>The CNPS12X might<strong>&nbsp;</strong>be <a title="Zalman" href="http://www.zalman.com/" target="_blank">Zalman’s</a> most eye-catching cooler, with two arrays of black-nickel-coated cooling fins and three 12cm fans to push air through them. And it is massive. It’s 6.1 inches tall, 5.25 deep, and more than 6 inches wide, and weighs two pounds, four ounces. It’s so big it overhangs the inner four RAM slots on our Asus P9X79 Deluxe test motherboard, requiring the use of RAM without tall heat spreaders. The six direct-contact heat pipes rise into two sets of cooling fins, with the front and rear fans nestled into their respective fins, and the middle fan in between the two sets. All three fans are controlled via a single 3-pin power connector.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u152332/gnps12xcooler_2497_small_1.jpg" width="620" height="201" /></p> <p>Installation of the CNPS12X is a pain. Zalman has adopted the common mounting system of two parallel mounting bars with a perpendicular crossbar that bolts to each mounting bar and keeps the cooler in place. Alas, Zalman’s system is flimsy and uses the same skinny hex bolts we complained about in our 9900MAX review, which require a special (included) hex wrench. The bolts are hard to access thanks to their position directly below the center fan, and don’t seem to be able to apply much pressure to the heatsink</p> <p>Whether because of this or simply the nickel finish on the entire heat exchanger, the CNPS12X performed poorly on our overclocked system, getting the CPU to just below 78 C. Lest we base the score on an isolated incident, we installed the cooler several times over several days and got the same performance.</p> <p>Without the included resistor cable, the CNPS12X is quiet. It’s very quiet with the resistor cable, and so if you’re not overclocking, the CNPS12X is an appealing and beautiful cooler. But given the flimsiness and frustration of the install process, we can’t recommend it for overclocked LGA2011 cooling.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><span class="module-name">Specifications</span><br /> <div class="module-content"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 683px; height: 269px;" border="0"> <thead> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Dimensions HxDxW (inches, with fans)</td> <td class="item-dark">6.1x5.25x6</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Weight</td> <td>2 lbs 3.8 oz</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Heat Pipes</td> <td class="item-dark">6 direct-contact</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Stock Fans</td> <td>3x 12cm, 1x 3-pin connector</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Add’l Fan Support</td> <td>No</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><em><br /> </em></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="lowdown"> <div class="module orange-module article-module verdict-block"><span class="module-name-header" style="font-size: 14px; border-bottom: 1px solid #000;">Zalman CNPS12X</span><br /> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="product-verdict"> <div class="positive"><span class="header">Ultraman<br /> </span> <p>Beautiful looks; quiet fans.</p> </div> <div class="negative"><span class="header">Man<br /> </span> <p>Frustrating install; lousy retention mechanism.</p> </div> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_7.jpg" alt="score:7" title="score:7" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$100, <a href="http://www.zalman.com" target="_blank">www.zalman.com</a></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <hr /> <h3>Intel RTS2011LC</h3> <p><strong>Underwhelming in the extreme</strong></p> <p>Intel isn’t shipping stock heatsinks with Sandy Bridge-E CPUs, perhaps assuming that consumers of $600 and $1,000 CPUs are going to want performance a little better than Intel’s stock coolers have typically provided. Instead, Intel is offering a branded liquid-cooling loop as an optional accessory. The Asetek-built cooling loop features a glowing blue Intel logo and a bright blue LED on its single 12cm fan, but otherwise looks nearly identical to the <a title="Kuhler 620" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/antec_k%C3%BChler_h2o_620_review" target="_blank">Antec Kuhler 620</a>, which was also built by Asetek (which also built AMD’s Bulldozer-branded liquid cooling loop).</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u152332/intelcooler_2510_copy_small_1.jpg" width="620" height="173" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Yet another single-fan all-in-one liquid CPU-cooling loop.</strong></p> <p>The <a title="RTS2011LC" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/%5Bprimary-term%5D/intel_rts2011lc_review" target="_blank">RTS2011LC</a> uses Asetek’s low-profile pump unit/heat exchanger and a 120mm radiator that’s less than an inch thick and mounts in place of a stock case fan (typically the rear exhaust fan). The heat exchanger mounts to the LGA2011 socket using Asetek’s standard barb-and-ledge mounting system, although with big solid posts instead of the flimsy screws and plastic clips Asetek used to use. The PWM fan plugs into the pump, which plugs into the CPU_FAN header.</p> <p>Alas, the cooler’s single fan and radiator were no match for any of the air coolers in our roundup save one. The RTS2011LC tied with the Zalman CNPS12X for last place, and its 12cm fan was irritatingly loud at full speed. For stock-clocked chips, the Intel cooler is fine. It’s quiet when not fully ramped up, and it doesn’t block any RAM slots, unlike the Noctua and Zalman coolers. But for an overclocked Sandy Bridge-E CPU, the Intel liquid cooler is louder and hotter than the Cooler Master, Noctua, Xigmatek, and NZXT coolers, and more expensive than all but the Noctua, which is just $5 more. If you want a great liquid-cooling solution for an overclocked LGA2011 chip, keep looking.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><span class="module-name">Specifications</span><br /> <div class="module-content"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 683px; height: 269px;" border="0"> <thead> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Dimensions HxDxW (inches, with fans)</td> <td class="item-dark">6x2.6x4.75</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Weight</td> <td>1.25x2.5x2.5 (circular)</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Heat pipes</td> <td class="item-dark">1lb, 12.5 oz (total)</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Stock Fans</td> <td>1x 12cm PWM</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Add’l Fan Support</td> <td>1x</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><em><br /> </em></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="lowdown"> <div class="module orange-module article-module verdict-block"><span class="module-name-header" style="font-size: 14px; border-bottom: 1px solid #000;">Intel RTS2011LC</span><br /> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="product-verdict"> <div class="positive"><span class="header">Humbucker<br /> </span> <p>Easy install; good build quality; quiet at low temperatures.</p> </div> <div class="negative"><span class="header">Humbug<br /> </span> <p>Loud at high temps; doesn’t cool as well as a $30 air cooler.</p> </div> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_7.jpg" alt="score:7" title="score:7" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$80, <a href="http://www.intel.com" target="_blank">www.intel.com</a></strong></p> <h3>Corsair H100</h3> <p><strong>Double your radiator space, double your fun</strong></p> <p>Another all-in-one&nbsp;liquid-cooling loop! Hooray! Corsair’s <a title="h100" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/%5Bprimary-term%5D/corsair_h100_review" target="_blank">H100</a> is its fifth liquid cooler; after two with <a title="asetek" href="http://www.asetek.com/" target="_blank">Asetek</a>, the company has put out three with <a title="CoolIT" href="http://www.coolitsystems.com/" target="_blank">CoolIT</a>. The <a title="h60" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/corsair_hydro_series_h60_review" target="_blank">H60</a> is your standard 120mm radiator-with-single-fan, the H80 is the double-thick double-fan version, and the H100, the first Corsair liquid-cooler to support LGA2011, is its first cooler with a 240mm radiator.</p> <p>The H100’s radiator is around an inch thick and 10.8 inches long and fits in any case that can accommodate a 240mm radiator, though some cases may not have the vertical clearance to mount the fans inside the case. The pump/heat exchange unit is square, and very slightly taller than Asetek’s. It contains four 4-pin PWM headers to control the radiator fans, as well as a connector for Corsair’s Link system control software/hardware combo (sold separately). There’s also a three-speed fan-control button on top of the pump. The pump unit itself has a 3-pin motherboard fan connector and a 2-pin Molex for power. The cooler unit mount is simple; four double-sided thumbscrews mount to the unified backplate, the brackets at the corners of the pump unit slide onto those, and more thumbscrews secure them in place.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u152332/corsaircooler_2513_small_1.jpg" width="620" height="160" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>&nbsp;</strong><strong>The H100’s 240mm radiator supports up to four 12cm fans, and the pump unit </strong></p> <p>We mounted the radiator to the top panel of our Thermaltake Level 10 GT test bed, with the fans on the inside pushing air through the radiator out of the case. In this configuration, with the H100’s fan speed set to medium, the Corsair cooler lowered our CPU’s burn temperature to 69.2 C—the best of any cooler in our roundup. Even with the fans at their lowest setting, the H100 was a match for the air coolers in the roundup.</p> <p>Its 240mm radiator won’t fit in every case, and it’s the most expensive in our roundup, but the H100 is a competent, quiet liquid cooler and the best LGA2011 cooler we’ve yet tested.</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><span class="module-name">Specifications</span><br /> <div class="module-content"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="width: 683px; height: 269px;" border="0"> <thead> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Dimensions HxDxW (inches, with fans)</td> <td class="item-dark">10.8x2x4.7</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Weight</td> <td>1.6x2.6x2.6 (square)</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Heat pipes</td> <td class="item-dark">2 lbs, 2.5 oz</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Stock Fans</td> <td>2x 12cm, 3-pin </td> </tr> <tr> <td>Add’l Fan Support</td> <td>2x</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><em><br /> </em></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="lowdown"> <div class="module orange-module article-module verdict-block"><span class="module-name-header" style="font-size: 14px; border-bottom: 1px solid #000;">Corsair H100</span><br /> <div class="module-content" style="margin-top: -20px;"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="product-verdict"> <div class="positive"><span class="header">Fine<br /> </span> <p>Quiet; excellent performance; easy install; supports up to four fans.</p> </div> <div class="negative"><span class="header">Coarse<br /> </span> <p>Won’t fit in every case; need to open case to adjust fan speed; expensive.</p> </div> <div class="verdict"><img src="/sites/maximumpc.com/themes/maximumpc/i/mxpc_9ka.jpg" alt="score:9ka" title="score:9ka" width="210" height="80" /></div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>$110, <a href="http://www.corsair.com" target="_blank">www.corsair.com</a></strong></p> <h2> <hr /></h2> <h3>Keep Your Cool</h3> <p>This is the biggest&nbsp;cooler roundup we’ve done in years, and it was definitely enlightening. First, we really appreciate Intel finally bringing a unified backplate to a consumer-level CPU socket, and hope the trend continues, as it makes cooler installation much less irritating. However, some mounting systems still manage to be frustrating. Zalman’s CNPS12X mounting bracket is likely responsible for its poor cooling performance.</p> <p>The most interesting thing about our test results is that price and performance aren’t strongly correlated. The cooler with the fourth-best performance, the Hyper 212 Evo, is just $35, and only 5 C hotter than the best cooler, which costs four times as much. Heck, it’s better than the Zalman, which is $70 more expensive, and the Intel liquid cooler, which is $45 more. Both the Cooler Master and Xigmatek budget coolers earn our recommendation for low-to-medium overclocks.</p> <p>We got the best performance in this roundup from Corsair’s 240mm-radiator H100, and if you have the room in your case, you’ll find it a quiet, effective solution that doesn’t block any RAM slots. Adding a couple more fans will only make it better.</p> <p>NZXT’s Havik 120 and Noctua’s DH-14 are both great coolers, as well; the Noctua is much larger and quieter (though you’ll need low-profile RAM), while the Havik is more compact and cheaper and shouldn’t conflict with your RAM. We bet it hits the sweet spot for a lot of users.</p> <p>We’d recommend either the Havik 120 or the DH-14 over the Intel liquid cooler, or any single-fan, single-radiator liquid cooler. They’re cooler and quieter and they fail better; an all-in-one with a broken pump isn’t a cooler, but a massive stack of cooling fins with a broken fan is still a massive stack of cooling fins. And in the end, isn’t that what matters?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module"> <div class="module orange-module article-module"><span class="module-name">Benchmarks</span><br /> <div class="module-content"> <div class="module-text full"> <div class="spec-table orange"> <table style="height: 246px; width: 620px;" border="0"> <thead> <tr style="text-align: left;"> <th class="head-empty" style="padding: 8px 12px !important;"></th> <th class="head-light" style="padding: 8px 12px !important;">CM Hyper 212 Evo</th> <th style="padding: 8px 12px !important;">Xigmatek Gaia</th> <th style="padding: 8px 12px !important;">NZXT Havik 120</th> <th style="padding: 8px 12px !important;">Noctua DH-14 </th> <th style="padding: 8px 12px !important;" align="left">Zalman CNPS12X</th> <th style="padding: 8px 12px !important;" align="left">Intel RTS2011LC</th> <th style="padding: 8px 12px !important;">Corsair H100</th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr align="left"> <td class="item" style="text-align: left;">Ambient Air</td> <td class="item-dark">23.8</td> <td>25.1</td> <td>25</td> <td>25.2</td> <td>24.2</td> <td>25</td> <td>25</td> </tr> <tr align="left"> <td>&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Idle Temperature</td> <td>36.2</td> <td>35.5</td> <td>34.8</td> <td>34.1&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </td> <td>35.2</td> <td>35.2</td> <td><strong>33.2</strong></td> </tr> <tr align="left"> <td class="item">Burn Temperature</td> <td class="item-dark">74</td> <td>75.7</td> <td>73.7</td> <td>72.3</td> <td>77.8</td> <td>77.8</td> <td><strong>69.2</strong></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><em>All temperatures in degrees Celsius. Best scores bolded. All tests performed using an Intel Core i7-3960 at 4.2GHz, on an Asus P9X79 Deluxe motherboard with 16GB DDR3/1600, in a Thermaltake Level 10 GT with stock fans set to High.</em></p> <h3>Does Thermal Paste Matter?</h3> <p style="font-style: normal;">Thermal paste is important. It’s what fills all the microscopic gaps between your CPU and cooler so that as much heat as possible can escape from your CPU. But does a particular thermal paste matter? While our Sandy Bridge-E test bed was occupied testing coolers, we put an X58 system to work on thermal pastes.</p> <p style="font-style: normal;">We took a Core i7-975 CPU and overclocked it to 3.9GHz on an Asus P6X58D Premium board in an open-air test bench. We tested 17 thermal pastes with a Thermaltake Frio OCK with its fans set to maximum, first at idle and then after several hours of full burn. This test bed wound up being far hotter than the more-efficient Core i7-3960X in our Sandy Bridge-E machine, and the heat really brought out the differences between the thermal pastes—to the tune of a 10 C delta between the best and worst pastes in our roundup.</p> <p style="font-style: normal;">The difference between the thermal pastes was less pronounced on our Sandy Bridge-E test bed. We took the Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 and tested it first with the Lumiere, as we did in the roundup, and next with the NT-H1 thermal paste that came with it, which performed very well in our thermal paste roundup. We saw an 8 C difference between the Lumiere and the NT-H1 with the Frio OCK on our X58 test bed, but on the X79 system with the Noctua cooler the difference was negligible—well within the 2 C margin of error. This could be due to the lower overall temperatures of our X79 system, the Noctua’s mounting system putting more pressure on the CPU heat exchanger, or airflow within the case itself.</p> <p style="font-style: normal;">So does thermal paste matter? It depends on how hot your CPU gets—the cooler the CPU, the lower the difference between pastes. It’s only at the high end that the differences get pronounced. In that case, you’d be better off with the 11 pastes that get our Geek Tested &amp; Approved stamp than with the pastes that don’t. For the full report on our thermal paste roundup, click&nbsp;<a title="thermal paste" href="http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/geek_tested_17_thermal_pastes_face" target="_blank">here</a>.&nbsp;</p> <div class="module orange-module article-module" style="font-style: normal;"><em><em><em><em><span class="module-name"><strong>Specifications</strong></span></em></em></em></em></div> <table style="width: 627px; height: 270px;" border="0"> <thead> <tr style="text-align: center;"> <th class="head-empty"></th> <th class="head-light">&nbsp;Geek Tested &amp; Approved</th> <th>Idle Temperatures</th> <th>Burn Temperatures</th> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td class="item">Tuniq TX-4</td> <td class="item-dark">Y</td> <td><strong>40</strong></td> <td><strong>79.5</strong></td> </tr> <tr> <td>Tuniq TX-2</td> <td>Y</td> <td>41</td> <td>80</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">ShinEtsu MicroSI X23-7783d</td> <td class="item-dark">Y</td> <td><strong>40</strong></td> <td>80.25</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Prolimatech PK-1</td> <td>Y</td> <td>41.25</td> <td>80.5</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Arctic Cooling MX-4</td> <td>Y</td> <td>41</td> <td>81</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Arctic MX-2</td> <td class="item-dark">Y</td> <td>40.75</td> <td>81</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Noctua NT-H1</td> <td class="item-dark">Y</td> <td>41</td> <td>81.25</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Xigmatek PTI-G4512</td> <td>Y</td> <td><strong>40</strong></td> <td>81.25</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">ZeroTherm ZT-100</td> <td class="item-dark">Y</td> <td>41</td> <td>81.5</td> </tr> <tr> <td>CM Thermalfusion 400</td> <td>Y</td> <td>41</td> <td>81.75</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Arctic Silver 5</td> <td>Y</td> <td>41.5</td> <td>82.5</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Xigmatek PTI-G3606</td> <td>N</td> <td>42.25&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</td> <td>84.5</td> </tr> <tr> <td class="item">Rosewill RCX-TC090 Pro</td> <td class="item-dark">N</td> <td>41.75</td> <td>85.5</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Arctic Silver Arctic Alumina</td> <td>N</td> <td>42.75</td> <td>85.5</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Arctic Silver Lumiere (zero-point)</td> <td>N</td> <td>43.75</td> <td>89</td> </tr> <tr> <td>BioStar Nano Diamond</td> <td>N</td> <td>43.25</td> <td>89</td> </tr> <tr> <td>Zalman ZMSTG1</td> <td>N</td> <td>43.25&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</td> <td>89.25</td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p><em><em><em><em><span style="font-style: italic;">Best scores bolded. All tests performed on an overclocked Core i7-975 @3.9GHz (burn) and 2.1GHz (idle) on an Asus P6X58D Premium motherboard with 6GB Corsair XMS3 DDR3, a Radeon HD 5850, and 850W Antec TruePower PSU. The CPU cooler used was a Thermaltake Frio OCK with its fans set to maximum speed. Temperatures recorded after one hour at idle and after three hours of full-burn testing using Intel’s internal Nehalem stress-testing utility. We use HWMonitor to determine core temperatures and TMonitor to keep an eye on clock speeds.</span></em></em></em></em></p> <p><em><em><em><span style="font-style: italic;">NOTE: This was taken from the April issue of the magazine.</span></em></em></em></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/lga2011_cpu_cooler_review_roundup#comments Air Cooling Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo CPU Cooler Hardware Intel RTS2011LC LGA2011 Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 NZXT Havik 120 Xigmatek Gaia Zalman CNPS12X April Reviews Water Cooling Features Thu, 24 Jan 2013 23:20:05 +0000 Nathan Edwards 24145 at http://www.maximumpc.com Corsair H100 Review http://www.maximumpc.com/corsair_h100_review <!--paging_filter--><h3>Double your radiator space, double your fun</h3> <p><strong>ANOTHER ALL-IN-ONE</strong> liquid-cooling loop! Hooray! Corsair’s H100 is its fifth liquid cooler; after two with Asetek, the company has put out three with CoolIT. The H60 is your standard 120mm radiator-with-single-fan, the H80 is the double-thick double-fan version, and the H100, the first Corsair liquid-cooler to support LGA2011, is its first cooler with a 240mm radiator.</p> <p>The H100’s radiator is around an inch thick and 10.8 inches long and fits in any case that can accommodate a 240mm radiator, though some cases may not have the vertical clearance to mount the fans inside the case. The pump/heat exchange unit is square, and very slightly taller than Asetek’s. It contains four 4-pin PWM headers to control the radiator fans, as well as a connector for Corsair’s Link system control software/hardware combo (sold separately). There’s also a three-speed fan-control button on top of the pump. The pump unit itself has a 3-pin motherboard fan connector and a 2-pin Molex for power. The cooler unit mount is simple; four double-sided thumbscrews mount to the unified backplate, the brackets at the corners of the pump unit slide onto those, and more thumbscrews secure them in place.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u152332/corsaircooler_2513_small.jpg" width="620" height="160" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>The H100’s 240mm radiator supports up to four 12cm fans, and the pump unit </strong></p> <p>We mounted the radiator to the top panel of our Thermaltake Level 10 GT test bed, with the fans on the inside pushing air through the radiator out of the case. In this configuration, with the H100’s fan speed set to medium, the Corsair cooler lowered our CPU’s burn temperature to 69.2 C—the best of any cooler in our roundup. Even with the fans at their lowest setting, the H100 was a match for the air coolers in the roundup.</p> <p>Its 240mm radiator won’t fit in every case, and it’s the most expensive in our roundup, but the H100 is a competent, quiet liquid cooler and the best LGA2011 cooler we’ve yet tested.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/corsair_h100_review#comments Corsair H100 cpu fan Hardware maximum pc overclocking Review water cooling April Reviews Water Cooling Wed, 05 Sep 2012 11:16:10 +0000 Nathan Edwards 24113 at http://www.maximumpc.com Intel RTS2011LC Review http://www.maximumpc.com/intel_rts2011lc_review <!--paging_filter--><h3>Underwhelming in the extreme</h3> <p><strong>Intel isn’t shipping</strong> stock heatsinks with Sandy Bridge-E CPUs, perhaps assuming that consumers of $600 and $1,000 CPUs are going to want performance a little better than Intel’s stock coolers have typically provided. Instead, Intel is offering a branded liquid-cooling loop as an optional accessory. The Asetek-built cooling loop features a glowing blue Intel logo and a bright blue LED on its single 12cm fan, but otherwise looks nearly identical to the Antec Kuhler 620, which was also built by Asetek (which also built AMD’s Bulldozer-branded liquid cooling loop).</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u152332/intelcooler_2510_copy_small.jpg" width="620" height="173" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Yet another single-fan all-in-one liquid CPU-cooling loop.</strong></p> <p>The RTS2011LC uses Asetek’s low-profile pump unit/heat exchanger and a 120mm radiator that’s less than an inch thick and mounts in place of a stock case fan (typically the rear exhaust fan). The heat exchanger mounts to the LGA2011 socket using Asetek’s standard barb-and-ledge mounting system, although with big solid posts instead of the flimsy screws and plastic clips Asetek used to use. The PWM fan plugs into the pump, which plugs into the CPU_FAN header.</p> <p>Alas, the cooler’s single fan and radiator were no match for any of the air coolers in our roundup save one. The RTS2011LC tied with the Zalman CNPS12X for last place, and its 12cm fan was irritatingly loud at full speed. For stock-clocked chips, the Intel cooler is fine. It’s quiet when not fully ramped up, and it doesn’t block any RAM slots, unlike the Noctua and Zalman coolers. But for an overclocked Sandy Bridge-E CPU, the Intel liquid cooler is louder and hotter than the Cooler Master, Noctua, Xigmatek, and NZXT coolers, and more expensive than all but the Noctua, which is just $5 more. If you want a great liquid-cooling solution for an overclocked LGA2011 chip, keep looking.</p> http://www.maximumpc.com/intel_rts2011lc_review#comments cpu Hardware heat sink Intel RTS2011LC maximum pc overclocking Review water cooling April Reviews Water Cooling Wed, 05 Sep 2012 09:12:25 +0000 Nathan Edwards 24112 at http://www.maximumpc.com Corsair Hydro Series H60 Review http://www.maximumpc.com/article/corsair_hydro_series_h60_review <!--paging_filter--><p>Earthquakes. Volcanoes. The dead rising from the grave. Human sacrifice. CoolIT and Corsair working together. You get the point. If you had asked us last year whether the two would ever bury the hatchet, we’d have laughed. And we’d have been wrong. At CES this year, Corsair announced a partnership with CoolIT, and the Corsair H60 is the first fruit to come out of that collaboration. Whether Corsair’s embrace of CoolIT drove Asetek into the loving arms of Antec, or the other way around, is a matter for speculation.</p> <p>The business end of the Hydro H60 doesn’t look much like Corsair’s H50 or H70, but it doesn’t look like CoolIT’s Eco or Vantage A.L.C. coolers either. The pump and heat-exchanger unit is square, not round, and it’s only around an inch thick, unlike CoolIt’s previous efforts. It also lacks an LCD screen, though it does include a 2-pin connector that will allow the H60 to be controlled by Corsair’s upcoming Link system-control software (built from the bones of CoolIT’s Maestro). Both the fan and pump unit of the H60 plug into the motherboard—the fan into the CPU_FAN header and the pump into any other header. We swear previous coolers had it the other way around.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u127998/corsair-cooler.jpg" width="600" height="358" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>You might not realize that the H60 was designed by CoolIT, because it doesn’t have a superfluous LCD screen.</strong></p> <p>The barb-and-ledge mounting system used by the Corsair H50 and H70 (and Antec’s Kühler 620) is replaced in the H60 by a simpler mechanism for Intel CPUs—four double-ended thumbscrews screw through the mounting holes into a universal backplate, and the H60’s mounting holes fit over the top. Four more thumbscrews tighten the H60 against the CPU. </p> <p>In our cooling test, the H60 outperformed its predecessor, the H50, by a little more than 1 C at full burn, but was slightly hotter than the H50 when the CPU idled. On the other hand, the H60’s idle temperatures were slightly lower than those of Antec’s H2O 620. </p> <p>The H60’s performance puts it squarely between the H50 and Antec’s 620 at both burn and idle temperatures. The H60 really isn’t about performance, though—Corsair’s H70 is still the best liquid-cooling loop for that. Instead, the H60 represents a first step for Corsair and its partnership with CoolIT. It prepares the way for more CoolIT-built Corsair coolers (we’re guessing the H80 will have a double-thick radiator and two fans), as well as Corsair’s upcoming Link software. Whether the Corsair H60 is worth the $10 premium over the Antec H2O 620 will largely depend on whether you plan on buying into the Link platform when it becomes available.</p> <p><strong>$80, <a href="http://www.corsair.com/" target="_blank">www.corsair.com</a></strong></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/corsair_hydro_series_h60_review#comments Air Cooling cooling corsair Hardware 2011 May 2011 Reviews Water Cooling From the Magazine Mon, 25 Apr 2011 18:59:33 +0000 Nathan Edwards 17924 at http://www.maximumpc.com Antec Kühler H2O 620 Review http://www.maximumpc.com/article/antec_k%C3%BChler_h2o_620_review <!--paging_filter--><p>If it weren’t for the branding on the Kühler H20 620’s fan and water block, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for a Corsair product. Its mounting bracket is the exact same one used in Corsair’s Hydro H50 and H70 coolers, while its radiator looks like the H50’s and the pump unit looks like the H70’s. Is this a case of industrial espionage? </p> <p>The answer is less sordid, but still full of intrigue. The reason that the Antec Kühler H2O 620 looks like Corsair’s last two coolers is that, well, that’s basically what it is. Antec has tapped Asetek, the OEM behind the Corsair H50 and H70, for its Kühler series, which feature’s Asetek’s newest pump unit and radiator.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/files/u127998/antec_cooler.jpg" width="600" height="385" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong>Antec’s Kühler series looks just like Corsair’s earlier coolers, and there’s a reason for that.</strong></p> <p>While the new pump unit and radiator might look familiar, the Kühler 620 sports some features that are distinct from its Corsair-branded predecessors. First, its liquid-bearing tubes are smooth and rubbery rather than corrugated and plastic-feeling, and they feel more flexible. Second, the little plastic adapters that let you swap the mounting bracket between LGA 775, 1155/1156, and 1366 are green and blue instead of black. Finally, the radiator fan plugs into a lead on the pump unit, and the pump unit plugs into the CPU_FAN header. Previous coolers had both the fan and pump plug into the mother-board, which can lead to confusion. This system eliminates that confusion. </p> <p>Installation of the Kühler 620 is easy. The 12cm fan and radiator mount in place of your case’s rear exhaust fan, and the pump/heat-exchanger unit is held tight against the CPU by a familiar backplate/clamp combination. The clamp has a series of barbs around the edge that correspond to ledges around the pump unit; once the pump unit is against the CPU, you turn the cooler a few degrees to match the barbs and ledges, then tighten the mounting mechanism to the backplate. We only had one slight issue—it’s very easy to overtighten the mounting screws and strain the blue 1156/1366 screw adapters on the mounting bracket. </p> <p>Once installed, the Kühler H2O 620 performed well. At 100 percent CPU load on all cores using Intel’s custom Lynnfield thermal utility, the Kühler brought our overclocked CPU to 65.75 C—slightly cooler than Corsair’s H60, and 2 C cooler than the H50. At idle, though, the Kühler was the worst of the bunch, at 38 C with zero CPU activity. None of the liquid coolers outperformed our dual-fan Prolimatech Armageddon, our air-cooling champion.</p> <p>The Antec Kühler H2O 620 performs better than the Corsair H50, which is built on the same framework, and the Corsair H60, which isn’t. It’s also $5 cheaper than the former and $10 cheaper than the latter. This is a whole lot of cooling with not a lot of noise, for not a lot of dough.</p> <p><strong>$70, <a href="http://www.antec.com/" target="_blank">www.antec.com</a></strong></p> http://www.maximumpc.com/article/antec_k%C3%BChler_h2o_620_review#comments Air Cooling antec cooling Hardware 2011 May 2011 Reviews Water Cooling From the Magazine Mon, 18 Apr 2011 17:55:26 +0000 Nathan Edwards 17923 at http://www.maximumpc.com