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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  • garadante - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    I actually imagine that in the 240/280mm closed loop coolers, there's easily more than .25 liters of coolant. Perhaps even approaching a liter or more, depending on the size/density of radiator piping and the tubing.

    If your numbers are closer the accurate, than that's a fair enough way to say 15 minutes is likely enough, but still, I'd like to see 30-60 minute tests for the best performers, or even longer. Run those 280mm radiators for 1-2 hours and see how much/if at all that affects performance. Because on that slight change that it -does- affect it significantly, these numbers posted in the review are absolutely meaningless and misleading.
  • coffeejunkee - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    Well, interesting results to say the least. Tom's Hardware and X-bitlabs have reviews up as well comparing aio's to NH-D14 and Phanteks PH-TC14. Their results are quite different from this. For example in the X-bitsreview the H55 is easily beaten by PH-TC14 but here the H55 does better than the NH-D14. Something's not right, and it's probably called outtake fan.
  • Nfarce - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    Just remember that there are a lot of variables in different entities testing the same cooler, not the least of which is hardware including the case itself, and the success of how well the coolers are attached to the CPU with paste to minimize gaps. Then you have ambient temperature and altitude differences, etc. I wouldn't trust one review to be better or worse than another review of the same cooler. You are better off trying to find a pattern among all the coolers tested you are interested in and see which one mostly stays on top.
  • coffeejunkee - Saturday, March 16, 2013 - link

    Well, yes that's the reason I comment. I read many cooler reviews and I'm aware you can't compare them on an absolute basis, too many outside variables for that. But the results of this one have me scratching my head. This is simply the first time I see an aio like H55 do better than the NH-D14 and it just doesn't make much sense to me. I mean, look how thin the H55 radiator is and then look at the massive 1 kg of copper and aluminium which is the NH-D14. Ok, so H55 has higher rpm fan, but the dual fan setup on the NH-D14 counters that.

    Also, Hyper 212 is a nice heatsink if you can get it around $30 but just 1.6 degree difference vs NH-D14? Which weighs like twice as much and has 2 fans, one even a 140mm model? Maybe using the NH-L12 bracket isn't so ideal afterall (also might be nice to mention regular NH-D14 doesn't come with pwm fans).
  • mapesdhs - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    I wish you'd included the Phanteks PH-TC14PE. It's cheaper than the NH-D14, looks nicer
    and in many reviews performs better.

  • Nfarce - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    I've been loving my NH-D14 on a 4.8GHz 2500k for two years solid now. Even in summer indoor ambient temps of 80F (27C), it never gets above 55C at that high level o/c running 1.38v. Of course the modded Antec Nine Hundred it sits in has excellent airflow too.

    And two years ago I paid $85 for the thing, so the price has not come down at all, which speaks volumes about the continued demand for them. Best $$ I ever spent under $100 on a piece of hardware.
  • Havor - Saturday, March 16, 2013 - link

    I don't get all the bias of the reviewer against the NH-L9i, yeah for normal PC use its pretty much useless, but thats not ware its made for.

    Its a HTPC/small form factor cooler, and it fits in to places ware its big brothers don't fit, its real competition is the Scythe Shuriken series and some other low profile solutions.
  • Lycros - Saturday, March 16, 2013 - link

    Anyway you can use the same fan(s) across all of the heatsinks next time?
  • ellroy80 - Sunday, March 17, 2013 - link

    Dustin, your review of the NH-L9i is really not fair. It states on the Noctua website that "The NH-L9i is a highly-compact low-profile quiet cooler designed for use in small form factor cases and HTPC environments. While it provides first rate performance in its class, it is not suitable for overclocking and should be used with care on CPUs with more than 65W TDP." So your usage scenario is really not applicable to this cooler. Any chance you could re-test it with, say, an i3-3225?
  • lichoblack - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    I have to agree that the review paints the cooler in bad light, but instead of using another CPU, I'm more game with changing the restrictions: test small coolers and see how they fare. The NH-L9i/L9a have a very low height, and you can use them in very, very restrictive cases (thinking of an htpc/emu case using a Lian-Li PC-Q12, then you can only use a cooler up to 55mm, so you can use a stock intel fan, but not an AMD stock fan. see:http://www.lian-li.com/v2/en/product/product06.php... Not many coolers fit this bill, and big air just doesn't fit this. CLC could, depending on the case, but big air can't. So more small aftermarket coolers so we can better paint the small air picture :)

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