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  • Syzygies - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    It's odd that AnandTech cooler reviews control other conditions to "average" (using fans as shipped in an average case, not decked out with optional fans) even while determining the maximum overclock, given that the AnandTech articles on overclocking are hands down the deepest overclocking articles on the web.

    I'm unwilling to go to water or more extreme cooling methods, but I've tried to get everything right "on air", e.g. 6 Scythe SFF21F fans in an Antec P182 case, two of the fans in "push-pull" configuration on a Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme cpu cooler. (This required making harnesses from daisy-chained cable ties for the second fan, as the U120E only accepts one set of fan clips.) My Q6600 G0 Quad Core was stable at 3.6 Ghz but I didn't like the 67 C core temps at full load for 24/7 use, so I backed off to 3.2 Ghz, 60-62 C core temps at full load, which is cooler than my laptop. Lapping is in my near future, but not water.

    These results are typical, and I am typical of a reader who studies the overclocking articles. So why assume "average joe" for the cooler articles? That's not your audience. The interesting comparison is against an U120E with two fans, or a Scythe Ninja with four fans. The question is "What's possible on air these days?" under ideal conditions. If I can get $1000 performance out of a $250 cpu for 24/7 use, the cost of the cooler and fans is not a significant factor.
  • Number1 - Friday, February 22, 2008 - link

    I tried to purchase this unit but my local and favorite online store did not carry it. I ended up buying the Thermalright 120 extreme and I am happy with it. Good thing because there are significant problems the zerotherm unit. Another review site called it the hardware killer.

    Tom's Harware:">

    Zerotherm appalled us with its newest cooler product, the Nirvana NV120. We feel obligated to point out the dangers and risks that are associated with using this cooler. If you are not very careful when installing it, you can easily damage or even destroy your PC components.

    The backplate, which is mounted in the back of the motherboard, is covered with a transparent adhesive foil. When removing the protective sticker from the backplate, it is far too easy to accidentally pull off this adhesive film too. As a result, the bare metal will press against the reverse side of the CPU socket, creating a short circuit that can destroy your entire motherboard. In the worst case, this can even affect other components as well.

    Another reason we had to fail this cooler is that it, too, suffers from the already well-known problem with metal shavings. When you attach the cooler by fastening the screws, metal shavings can fall from the screws and springs and fall into the hardware of your PC - again causing a short circuit. This is not a new problem, but one that we've mentioned in previous reviews.

    When running at its highest fan speed, the Nirvana NV120 achieves good cooling performance, able to cool the quad-core CPU to 65°C. However, it is unbearably loud at this setting. At its lowest speed, the CPU temperature rises to 74°C and the cooler is completely inaudible. Its noise level increases when the fan speed is raised by more than 33%. Thus, only the lowest fan speed will allow you to work without the cooler's noise becoming an annoyance.

  • BSMonitor - Saturday, January 26, 2008 - link

    Thanks for the awesome review... Picked one up on newegg for $35. Smooth installation. Dropped Prime95 temps from 66-67 C with stock cooler down to 44 C with this puppy...

    ASUS P5W DH Deluxe Motherboard here. Fits nice and neat. Just clears the northbridge heatsink.
  • Rocket321 - Saturday, January 19, 2008 - link

    I'd like to know how it compares to the Tuniq tower, especially with current pricing they are very close.

    Also, anyone know if either of these coolers have a problem fitting in the Antec solo case?
  • BOLt - Friday, January 18, 2008 - link

    nice review but you said the same thing several times on the last and second-to-last pages. your quantitative analysis was superb, by the way. Reply
  • piasabird - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    How does the CPU cooler compare to something like this:

    COOLER MASTER ICT-D925R-GP 95mm Rifle CPU Cooler - Retail

    This particular model is rather small and compact, but only costs about $12.00.

    I just built a Quad with a Q6600 and I was not happy with the stock cooler assembly. It feels like you are going to break the motherboard attaching it. If I build another computer it will be with something like this. I dont feel like I can trust the Mickey Mouse mounting technique that Intel came up with. Having a back mounting plate seems like a more desirable option.
  • chick0n - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    Seriously, this is my first Aftermarket coolers, cuz I was thinking, stock cooler should be enough for me. Not like I overclock or anything right?

    Oh, forgot to mention, I got ASUS's Megatasking board, Yep the L1N64. Dual Athlon Fx-70. I got only 1 Cooler cuz my case cant fit 2 (its gonna hit the harddrive)

    Stock cooler is about 50-52 celsius when idle, and 62-70 under full load.

    With this cooler(the 120mm fan one), idle drop down to about 30-32 !!!! and its about 40-ish under full load !!!

    I was like WOW ... thats a huge drop in temp. :) I turn it up to highest and its still not noisy, hell even my 8800 GTX's fan sound louder.

    This is a Great cooler, But only if your motherboard and case can fit.
  • mustardman - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    I've always had a problem with the noise level sections of these articles. They really give no useful information other than the item being reviewed is quieter than the test system or louder.

    I want to know if the item will add any noise to my system. What if I have a completely passively cooled system and therefore completely quiet. How much noise will this device add? What if my system is 25db? How much noise will this device add?

    Maybe I'm missing something. But, for me, to say it adds no noise to our 38db system means very little.
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    Our current system sound floor is 36.5 dBa at 24" from the test system and 37.8 dBa at 6". You can compare this to the above noise charts and see that our test environment is VERY quiet, considering the PS is running a fan.

    I hop this answers what 36.5 bDa sound level actually means, when combined with the noise level charts above.
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    From a University article on Sound levels:

    Some Examples of Typical Noise Levels in dBA
    Sound Level
    in dBA Example
    200 200 meters from Saturn V rocket at liftoff.
    160 Peak level at ear of a person firing a 30-30 rifle.
    140 25 meters from jet aircraft.
    120 Submarine engine room. On stage at a rock concert.
    100 Noisy factory. Jackhammer (unsilenced).
    90 7 meters from large diesel truck.
    85 Upper limit of comfort.
    80 1 meter from ringing alarm clock. Conversation is difficult. After a 1-hour exposure, thought is difficult and the stomach contracts.
    75 Railroad carriage. Normal conversation not possible. Consensus of experts is that sound levels below 75 dBA "are unlikely to cause permanent hearing damage."
    70 Small car at 30 mph; 3 meters from a vacuum cleaner.
    65 1 meter from normal conversation. Busy office. About half the people in a large sample will have difficulty sleeping.
    55 Recommended upper limit for large open offices, restaurants, gymnasiums, swimming pools.
    45 Recommended upper limit for homes, hotels, laboratories, libraries, private offices, court rooms.
    40 Quiet office. Recommended upper limit for classrooms, churches, motion picture theaters (without the film soundtrack).
    35 Quiet bedroom.
    25 Countryside on windless day, away from traffic.
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    It looks like we are going to have to do an article to educate readers on dBa sound levels. Noise does matter, but some of the fanatic quiet sites have completely distorted the meaning of noise levels so people no longer understand what they mean. 35 dBa is the noise level of a quiet suburban bedroom, away from traffic, at night. 45 dBa is considered a Quiet Room. Our sound floor in the new test environment is around this level. Our super quiet variable-fan-speed power supply is around this level at idle, but not while doing useful work. Unless you are running a fanless power supply measurements below this threshold are meaningless.
    Below is a chart from an acoustic engineering company. It is to help put in perspective what dBa sound levels actually mean.

    190 dBA Heavy weapons, 10 m behind the weapon (maximum level)
    180 dBA Toy pistol fired close to ear (maximum level)
    170 dBA Slap on the ear, fire cracker explodes on shoulder, small arms
    at a distance of 50 cm (maximum level)
    160 dBA Hammer stroke on brass tubing or steel plate at 1 m distance,
    airbag deployment very close at a distance of 30 cm (maximum level)
    150 dBA Hammer stroke in a smithy at 5 m distance (maximum level)
    130 dBA Loud hand clapping at 1 m distance (maximum level)
    120 dBA Whistle at 1 m distance, test run of a jet at 15 m distance
    Threshold of pain, above this fast-acting hearing damage in short action is possible
    115 dBA Take-off sound of planes at 10 m distance
    110 dBA Siren at 10 m distance, frequent sound level in discotheques and close
    to loudspeakers at rock concerts, violin close to the ear of an orchestra
    musicians (maximum level)
    105 dBA Chain saw at 1 m distance, banging car door at 1 m distance (maximum level),
    racing car at 40 m distance, possible level with music head phones
    100 dBA Frequent level with music via head phones, jack hammer at 10 m distance
    95 dBA Loud crying, hand circular saw at 1 m distance
    90 dBA Angle grinder outside at 1 m distance
    Over a duration of 40 hours a week hearing damage is possible
    85 dBA 2-stroke chain-saw at 10 m distance, loud WC flush at 1 m distance
    80 dBA Very loud traffic noise of passing lorries at 7.5 m distance,
    high traffic on an expressway at 25 m distance
    75 dBA Passing car at 7.5 m distance, un-silenced wood shredder at 10 m distance
    70 dBA Level close to a main road by day, quiet hair dryer at 1 m distance to ear
    65 dBA Bad risk of heart circulation disease at constant impact
    60 dBA Noisy lawn mower at 10 m distance
    55 dBA Low volume of radio or TV at 1 m distance, noisy vacuum cleaner at
    10 m distance
    50 dBA Refrigerator at 1 m distance, bird twitter outside at 15 m distance
    45 dBA Noise of normal living; talking, or radio in the background
    40 dBA Distraction when learning or concentration possible
    35 dBA Very quiet room fan at low speed at 1 m distance
    25 dBA Sound of breathing at 1 m distance
    0 dBA Auditory threshold

  • mustardman - Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - link

    Doesn't the chart list 35dBa as a "Very quiet room fan at 1m"? That's quite different than a quiet suburban bedroom. Everyone's threshold of annoying noise is different. I know I can not sleep with a fan, even low speed, in my room. So, a computer louder than that is unacceptable. Same reason I had to unplug my TiVo before sleeping. I eventually moved it out of the room.

    I'll check the other sites in addition to Anand, which I've been an avid reader for 8+ years.
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    I'd guess checking over at Silent PC Review would be more useful for you then, that is the type of testing they do. Anandtech has typically tried to show how it will impact a more typical system, which has fans.

    The room noise level for the tests was listed as 35dB, so a 25dB system would be probably be considered silent.
  • mustardman - Tuesday, January 22, 2008 - link

    Good point. I didn't see the room noise level. I guess they would be unable to test lower in that case. Reply
  • Cardio - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    Have this cooler and improved its performance by 1-3c with a little work. Bottom of heatsink is chrome plated like the rest of the cooler. Chrome is a poor heat transfer material. I removed the chrome by sanding with 200 grit wet/dry @ 100RPM on a varible speed rotating bench sander. Finishing with jewelers rouge on a sheeps wool buffer. Bottom plate is also much smoother as it was quite shiny before but showed some machine marks. Very pleased with cooler as it now achieves great results at even lower fan speed. Reply
  • can - Monday, January 21, 2008 - link

    It's nickel, not chrome. Reply
  • DukeN - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    Why not included in any comparisons guys - this one is incredibly popular (and seems like a great bargain at ~ $25 or less)?

  • aussiestilgar - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    I've been waiting for AnandTech to review this cooler. I like that the test setup is very consistent which makes it easy to compare different coolers. I own this cooler and I must say its fantastic. It cools like the best of them and is extremely good value! Reply
  • sotx - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    um... just wondering here...

    the result for the ultra extreme 120 are obtained with or without the fan(s)?
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    The Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme was tested with the Scythe SFlex SFF21F 120mm fan. You can refer to the full review for test results by clicking on the cooling tab at the top of this page and searching for the 120 eXtreme review.

    Those results were run with our earlier test bed and the nVidia utility and they are not directly comparable to current test results. As we said in the review we retested the top coolers on our new test bed with CoreTemp and those are the reported results in this review.
  • Spanki - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    Nice review.

    Was the Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme's top overclock (3.94GHz) achieved with one SFlex SFF21F fan? Or two? On a retail cooler? Or a lapped and/or mount-modded one? It would help if you listed the fan(s) used in all tests/charts. Is it safe to assume one fan, unless you specifically state otherwise?

    Aside from that, I agree with an earlier poster - a rise-over-meaured-ambient at the time of test would be a much better indicater when we're talking about 1-3C differences in coolers these days.
  • Amuro - Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - link

    Are you sure those are Core Temp readings? They look like Tcase temps to me. I mean the stock Intel cooler idle @ 31C? That's incredible.

    I compared them to these articles of yours from a year ago, where you used Nvidia Monitor to messure the Tcase temps:">">
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    Those are the CoreTemp readings, which provide a temp reading for each core of the X6800. The results are very consistnet and repeatable across our tests, but they can NOT be compared to earlier nVidia utility readings. The CoreTemp readings are much lower than the nVidia readings, but they are consistent acrss test platforms. Reply
  • Amuro - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    That is weird. Core temps (Tjunction) are supposed to be higher than BIOS temps (Tcase). The difference between Tcase and Tjunction should be 15C or +- 3 degress for a C2D dual core, or 10C for a quad core. Reply
  • Amuro - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    That is weird. Core temps (Tjunction) temps are supposed to be higher than BIOS temps (Tcase). The difference between Tcase and Tjunction should be 15C or +- 3 degress with C2D dual cores, or 10C for a quad core. Reply
  • Amuro - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    That is weird. Core temps (Tjunction) temps are supposed to be higher than BIOS temps (Tcase). The difference between Tcase and Tjunction should be 15C or +- 3 degress with C2D dual cores, or 10C for a quad core. Reply
  • Amuro - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    That is weird. Core temps (Tjunction) temps are supposed to be higher than BIOS temps (Tcase). The difference between Tcase and Tjunction should be 15C or +- 3 degress with C2D dual cores, or 10C for a quad core. Reply
  • coolingwine - Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - link

    Wesley - always like your analysis.

    But, what would be really useful is a performance (temp) to noise ratio chart. And make this standard in future analyses.

    As you know, there is typically trade-off between temp and noise, much like price/performance. I may be willing to give a little on the OC potential (which is a factor of temp, all things except the HSF being equal) if the noise is less.

    Just a thought....
  • soydeedo - Sunday, January 20, 2008 - link

    I second this idea. I find myself swapping between the noise/temp pages constantly to get a better overall picture of cooling performance. Reply
  • PolymerTim - Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - link

    Thanks for the great review. I really like how these reviews examine a large variety of coolers from different perspectives (idle/load, with/without OC, noise, etc). I was thinking a bit about the data and had a couple of thoughts/suggestions.

    I see in your test configuration that ambient temperature is maintained between 20-22 C. It seems to me that a 2 degree range can be important in some of the tests such as idle tests. At stock idle, half of the coolers fall into a 2 C range. I wonder if it is possible to record the actual ambient temperature during testing and then plot increase from ambient for each cooler. I think this could give a little more accuracy to the comparisons.

    A minor detail along the same lines; I think it is unnecessary to start the scaling graphs at 0 C. I think a lot of blank space could be saved by starting at 20 C. What do you guys think? Also, maybe this is data overkill, but I would be curious to know the temperature of each cooler at the max stable OC.

  • Iketh - Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - link

    umm that last graph clearly shows u the temp at max stable Reply
  • PolymerTim - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    Ahh, yeah, that would be it. So just disregard my last sentence. :) Reply
  • GhandiInstinct - Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - link

    These cooler reviews provided a list of motherboards this thing can fit on. My # 1 problem is finding out if my motherboard or a new motherboard can support a cooler I want to mount.

    The manufacturer is very weak in providing this information.
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    Most of the top motherboard makers are very aware these days of the size and fit of the major coolers. There usually is no real problem with those top boards. Where we usually see fit issues is with the cheaper or lower line boards where board real estate is often a premium.

    Our problem is that it's not really possible to report a cooler fit on every board out there. We have tried in the past to comment on the major board fit but that is becoming a moot point since there are very few cooler fit issues at the top any more.

    Our motherboard reviewers do a pretty good job of pointing out potential cooler fit problems in their reviews. The best source of the information you want might be to go back to the motherboard review for the board in question. We will also try to do a better job of pointing out any fit issues we ran into in our cooler reviews.
  • ussfletcher - Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - link

    My friend bought one of these and when he installed it there were 2 metal edges poking out quite far from the bottom and caused his processor to overheat in seconds, I'm quite sure that it was installed correctly.. i was there. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, January 17, 2008 - link

    I've looked at the Nirvana closely and I can't figure out where the two metal protrusions might have been on your friend's cooler. The one I tested was very nicely finished, but defective ones can always slip through.. Can you please describe the manufacturing defect in more detail as I just can't get a mental picture of what was wrong. Reply
  • shabby - Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - link

    What were the idle/load temps using the low fan setting? Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - link

    I will add the Low speed results to the graph. Idle was 2C warmer than High and load was 3C warmer. Reply

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