Ease of Installation

After reviewing the Deepcool coolers, the ones I have on hand for this roundup feel like a night and day difference. Deepcool's products seem clearly designed to undercut more expensive propositions like most of the ones found here, but everything about the packages surrounding all the coolers here but but the bargain Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO scream quality.

Noctua's mounting system for the NH-D14 and NH-L12 is pretty similar to what Deepcool was doing, and in fact I've found most of the mounts I've tested so far have hewed to the same general designs. There's a backplate with four screws that goes through the holes in the motherboard, and then spacers and mounting brackets are secured on top of them. The mount for the Heligon HE01 is virtually identical. There are two studs on the brackets that another bracket (mounted between the cooler's heatpipes) affixes on to. It's a good system and allows the user to adjust orientation of the cooler pretty easily.

For the Noctua NH-L9i and be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 2, four screws essentially come up through the motherboard's mounting holes and directly into sockets affixed directly to the coolers themselves. The Dark Rock Pro 2 uses a backplate while the L9i does not due to essentially operating within Intel's own cooler spec.

Of all the coolers, the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO's mounting may be the most aggravating for newer users. I've used a couple of 212 Plus units on builds for myself and other people, and I've had to move the 212 EVO a few times, so the quirks of the mechanism Cooler Master employs are old hat at this point. There's a backplate that goes behind the motherboard, and from there you insert four mounting standoffs and secure them to the backplate with bolts. The problem is that it can often be difficult to jam the screw parts of the standoffs through the backplate in the first place. The size of the backplate also means that if there are any electronics on the back of the motherboard, the plate is going to be butting up against them.

From there you move a mounting bracket between the heatpipes and push the screws into the standoffs. The problem with the design here is that even with the bracket securely fastened, you can still rotate the cooler slightly. It's not really a huge deal; if you applied thermal paste properly, the paste prevents anything from scratching, and obviously it doesn't bother me enough to stop using the Hyper 212 EVO in the case testbed.

I will say that where the 212 EVO shines is in the mounts it uses for the fans. There are plastic brackets with rubber pads that screw into the fan, and then the brackets snap on to the heatsink. These brackets are far, far easier to use than the cheap wire brackets used the majority of the time. Noctua avoids the pitfall of the wire brackets by having them affixed to the fans themselves, but SilverStone's Heligon HE01 requires a bit of dexterity to mount the fan.

Introduction Testing Methodology
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  • stennan - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Hey Dustin, great review!

    Some friendly feedback: could you show some more pictures of the coolers tested earlier in review/roundup? It wasn't until the last page that the coolers were shown, also pictures of the cooler on the motherboard or in the case would be nice.

    Keep up the work!
  • cbrownx88 - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    I'd buy a Noctua cooler in a heartbeat if they didtn have those god awful colored fans.
  • cmdrdredd - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    You can use any 140mm fans you want
  • mapesdhs - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    Thoroughly agree! I bought a Noctua NF-A15 140mm to replace the stock rear fan in a
    Coolermaster HAF 932 case. The Noctua fan performs fantastically well, but the colour
    scheme is horrible. Having said that, Noctua's packaging and presentation is very good.
    Opening the fan pack feels like a special event, it all has a certain luxury sheen which at
    least makes one feel the high price is going to be worth it.

  • K1wi - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    I'd love the NH-L12 for a compact build as I'm a huge Noctua fan (best post-purchase support I've ever encountered), but it looks like it blocks the top PCI-e slot, so its a no-go for me. Its a pity because it looks like it only barely does... I wonder why they didn't choose to offset it to stay out of the PCI-e area and rather more over the top of the board where most ITX boards place their chipset stuff etc.

    That only leaves the NH-L9i, which is more about reducing noise than improving thermals :(
  • seven2nine - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Ease of installation
    first paragraph "surrounding all the coolers here but but...."
  • Lord 666 - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    After happily winning a z77 Sabertooth on Anandtech, was bummed my existing Zalman would not fit over the armor.

    Without a doubt, will the NH-D14 fit?
  • garadante - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Honestly, these closed loop liquid cooler results aren't necessarily valid, as fifteen minutes of load testing probably isn't enough to thermally saturate the coolant. As soon as the coolant is thermally saturated, shouldn't the performance be based purely on the heat transfer of the radiators between the cooling medium, intake air, and the heat transfer medium, the coolant? At this point, I imagine a high end air cooler would perform more consistently in the long run.

    Liquid cooling really shines with actual cooling loops, built yourself, with high end components, large radiator surface area, and more coolant to thermally saturate than is present in these closed loop coolers. There's only so much heat a 120mm closed loop cooler can dissipate, once the coolant reaches it's thermal saturation point.

    These closed loop coolers are better for bursts of activity, but I have my doubts with them in extended torture testing. Anyway, I'd rather use a 480mm radiatior, or even a 480 paired with a 240/360, so I can run the fans at nothing/almost nothing overnight, with the heat capacity of the coolant taking care of the cooling, the only sound coming from the pump.
  • ShieTar - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    Potentially good point, but lets throw some numbers in to test it:

    Heat Capacity of water is about 4 J/g/K, so if the closed-loop system come with 1/4l of water (I doubt it is more than that), they can take 1 kJ/K. The overclocked 2700K can possibly touch 100W when overclocked and stressed, so it puts out enough power to heat up the water by 1K every 10 seconds, or 90K over 15 minutes if you ignore the cooling effect of its radiator.

    With this amount of power I would guess that this small, closed-loop systems are already relatively saturated and stable. Of course if you have a big system with 4 liters of water and a few Kg of radiator metal, you are looking at a much higher heat capacity of more than 20kJ/K, and if you just use normal loads (~50W) instead of a torture test, you could indeed cool for an hour or two on heat capacity alone. If you add an overclocked 680 or 7970 to the loop though, even this big system should hit saturation within much less than one hour.
  • mapesdhs - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    I talked to a German company which specialises in water cooling. They told me that to achieve
    cooling performance "significantly better" than a high-end air cooler would require one to spend
    at least 200 UKP ($300+). Otherwise, unless there are other considerations, a water cooler is
    not going to beat a good air cooler.

    This is why I keep bagging used TRUEs, etc. off eBay when I can, typically get them with
    fans included for around 10 to 17 UKP. Also just bought a Venomous-X for only 25 UKP total.


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