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  • cjs150 - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Personally I would also prefer water cooling for the simple reason that a good (thick) 240/280 Radiator can cool both CPU and GPU and there is no need to worry about whether the RAM heatspreaders are too tall for the air cooler.

    What the result show is just how good the closed loop water coolers have become.

    However, there is no denying air cooling is simpler, less prone to messy accidents (I know!) and perfect for those who like to keep the computer on all the time. Nice review and keep up the good work
    Reply
  • James086 - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    A minor caveat: be sure to point a fan at the ram and motherboard heatsinks. I didn't and because there was no airflow around my motherboard, it popped a VRM. Reply
  • StevoLincolnite - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    Ram cooling isn't important, they don't even need heatsinks, it's all for looks.

    However, motherboard cooling is important, spend a little extra and get a motherboard with decent heatsinks or even active cooling like the Sabertooth x79.
    Plus, case airflow is important too.
    Reply
  • maximumGPU - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Nice review! wish there was a thermalright silver arrow on there to get a more comprehensive look at the high end coolers. When i bought mine it was widely considered superior to closed loops, looking at the review's results i'm not so sure about that now. Reply
  • wiyosaya - Tuesday, April 02, 2013 - link

    I've been a fan, pun intended, of Thermalright paired with Scythe fans for a long time. I currently have a TRUE Spirit 120M paired with a very low noise 120mm Scythe fan cooling an i7-3820. The absence of noise was a prime factor for me, and I don't overclock because stability is also of prime concern for me. IMHO, this combination works very well.

    I, too, would have loved to have seen any of the Thermalright heat sinks in this review.
    Reply
  • iTzSnypah - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    I don't believe that the case has adequate airflow. Reply
  • iTzSnypah - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Also there is a fault in your testing methodology. When you tested the CLC's you effectively increased the number of case fans, which would increase airflow and decrease load temps.

    I suggest you retest, with the case always having 3 fans, 1 intake and 2 exhaust.
    Reply
  • FragKrag - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    I don't think the point here is to get a completely unbiased performance test, but rather test the coolers in a realistic environment Reply
  • dragosmp - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    The thing is there's not more realistic not to have case fans than to have them. One may argue that it's more likely to encounter systems that have one/two exhaust fans than to have only one intake.

    I'm suspicious of these results as most sites put aircoolers in a much better light and my own experience show it's a bad bad thing to remove rear fans.

    In this setup aircloolers spit warm air that is hardly being channeled out by anything; the positive pressure generated by the front intake can be dissipated in many ways that don't move the warm air around the CPU zone. I've worked recently with a 600T, if the up/rear fans were slowed to 400RPM (so still working) with a CM 212+ @1200RPM and a 2700K@4.2GHz the CPU got toasted in games 80°C+ - running the fans @800RPM decreased the temp by some 20°C.

    "I removed every case fan but the front intake, which I ran at 5V to prevent it from affecting acoustics while still providing adequate airflow." - how much airflow was there thru the fan-less rear exhausts?
    Reply
  • lever_age - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Right, look at how restrictive the back panel looks. Some people with intake-heavy setups (and that would be a whole lot more than a single fan at 5V in a large case that's very far away from the CPU cooler) cut out the spot and use a wire grille instead, and remove slot covers.

    If it weren't for some of the top venting, the air coolers would have been really suffocated. In that setup, there is a bias towards the CLCs because their fans are actually working close to the actual vents on the case, due to how everything is mounted and positioned.

    If you're only testing down to 30 dB, you can easily run a few more decent-quality fans at some ~800 rpm and get some more reasonable airflow without really increasing the noise level measured.
    Reply
  • Touche - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    I agree. The test setup is bad and not representative of most real life configurations. So bad that the whole review is pointless. Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    I disagree. The coolers are measured under similar conditions and their performance in degress over ambient are listed. While seeing them in a real-world scenario might give you measurements that are more in line with a fully populated case, the variances introduced by the additional, unnecessary hardware might make it more difficult to get consistent, comparable results. I'm more concerned about relative performance and how coolers stack against one another and Anandtech's testing methods appear to be the best way to obtain those results without unreasonable expectations about controlled environment facilities.

    -BC
    Reply
  • lever_age - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Consistency and simplicity are good, but a procedure with a significant inherent bias is not (especially if this detail is not discussed by the reviewer... when it is not, it frankly seems like shortsightedness or incompetence, if not something worse). I rarely complain about testing procedures on most reputable review sites, but something is obviously flawed here. The results, which are out of line with most others', seem to indicate problems as well.

    There is nothing much that similar about how the air coolers and CLCs are being tested. The air coolers are being tested inside a relatively restricted box. The side-blowing towers are blowing towards a metal wall with some puncture holes from where the fan should be (also note the offset between holes and cooler, exacerbated by using a miniITX motherboard with socket unusually low). The CLCs are being tested with radiators and fans actually up against the openings in the chassis.

    Actually, for that matter, it would be good to know exactly the orientation and placement of the radiators and fans for how the CLCs were tested.

    Anyway, if you want a simplified setup, something more fair would be to just use an open-air test bench or no chassis at all.
    Reply
  • Touche - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    I was about to reply to BrokenCrayons, but you summed it up pretty well. Reply
  • BrokenCrayons - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    An open air or open frame case might be a reasonable option. I hadn't really thought much about it and that's not a bad point. However, the net results -- the coolers in question all being tested in the same container -- would be the same. Honesty, Dustin could have stuffed all the hardware in a Tupperware container or a shoebox that used to have a pair of Nine & Co. Drama Print Peep-Toe Pumps in them and, as long as they were all under the same conditions, the result would be just as valid. Cooler effectiveness is a relative scale thing anyway since the conditions in which each person will use them are going to be unique to them. So many factors (room location, case exposure to sunlight, time of day, relative humidity, where you put your US Robotics ISA 28.8 data/fax modem, the number of Quantum BigFoot hard drives you have, etc.) impact a processor's operating tempratures that the testing methodology is trivial to the process of judging coolers as long as it remains consistent.

    Atop that, Intel ships perfectly usable coolers with their boxed processors. While I enjoy the reviews, if I want a faster CPU, I'll invest the extra $100 on a next-model-up CPU instead of a pointlessly chromed-out cooler or I'll wait until a faster CPU is brought to market or I'll just do something else with my computer. Obviously that's a personal preference and others might feel differently, but in the grand scheme of things, only a few people can be bothered to even care about the difference between a CLC, an aftermarket air cooler, and something that came out of the box or was included in it when the OEM put it together.
    Reply
  • lever_age - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    With regards to Intel's usable boxed cooler that's good enough for most people, I quite agree. However, they're not good enough for people who want to overclock significantly or want lower noise or temperatures or whatever; though the class of DIY builders who care about these things is small, they are relatively highly represented among AnandTech readers. Anyway, regardless of review subject material, if something's posted on AnandTech, it should be insightful and accurate, right?

    As for the other paragraph, I think you're misunderstanding an important point here, maybe because nobody really stated it explicitly.

    If you test different cooling designs in different test setups, the relative rankings will be different. That's why the test configuration is an important consideration. I'm not so concerned by the absolute numbers reported. Dustin used a test setup that very much does not represent what most people would be using, and this setup favors the CLCs over the air coolers. Someone not realizing this will read the results and think that CLCs have better performance relative to the air coolers than what you'd get in the real world in most case configurations. It's highly misleading.

    Or at least, that's what I believe based on reading others' test results and based on my intuition on the subject. If Dustin could prove me wrong and alleviate these concerns by retesting just a couple coolers on a different setup, I would be very appreciative and would promptly tuck the tail between the legs and run off.
    Reply
  • lever_age - Friday, March 15, 2013 - link

    (continuing... sorry, no edit feature exists I think)

    As an example of how test setup would affect results, consider two test setups:
    A -- ATX-style case with strong front-to-back airflow, closed-off side panel with no mesh
    B -- open-air test bench

    Down-blowing CPU coolers would put up a better fight against side-blowing tower coolers in B than in A. Hopefully it is intuitive why.
    Reply
  • inmytaxi@gmail.com - Saturday, March 16, 2013 - link

    Then why'd you read the review? Reply
  • Tetracycloide - Sunday, March 17, 2013 - link

    This:

    "the testing methodology is trivial to the process of judging coolers as long as it remains consistent."

    Is only true as long as the coolers being tested are fundamentally similar. What you're saying is akin to claiming it's ok to test a custom water loop against an air tower without hooking the water loop up to the CPU block because "the conditions are the same." How is it a fair comparison if you're denying one solution's access to the medium by which it cools?
    Reply
  • Azethoth - Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - link

    No, you are missing the issue. Yes, you can see relative performance, but because of the test flaw you can only compare the air coolers to each other (accurately) and the water coolers only to each other but you have to keep in mind that their fans bias even their results yielding advantage to the CLC with the most airflow added by its radiator fans.

    To make it fair, you can possibly move the radiator outside the case and maybe run it in a hotbox that matches the test case interior.

    Still, I think the only fair comparison is to add fans to the air coolers to match the radiator coolers as mentioned above. So you test CLC + radiator taking up vent space vs air cooler + extra fan taking up that same vent space.

    So in practice I would expect this test to show that CLC are amazing and top performers. We see this. In fact the results made me look at the test method to see if the CLC were even allowed to reach equilibrium or not they seemed so skewed.

    So good test for comparing only CLC to each other, or only AC to each other. Sucks for determining the true champions though because AC got shafted.
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Saturday, March 16, 2013 - link

    The test setup was fine to me, and all coolers are measured under the same conditions, which is what is really important. I have an 212 EVO cooling a Core i5 running at 4.3 Ghz. I can't stand any noise, so only have a single case fan, running very slow. I've been thinking about moving my single exhaust fan to be an intake to get positive pressure. Reply
  • Egg - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    What about a test bench? I can see where Dustin is coming from regarding not wanting the case fans to affect the test result. Reply
  • JeBarr - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    quote " the NH-L12 stands to impress as potentially the most powerful downward-flow cooler on the market."

    Correction: Noctua NH-C14 or Phanteks PH-TC14CS hold that title.

    Thanks again Dustin for another fine air cooler review. Keep 'em comin'!
    Reply
  • rhx123 - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    I have a NH-L9i and I pretty much got it as a stock cooler replacement, my temps were fine on a i5-3470 but the noise was not.

    I have a huge phobia of of a large chunk of metal damaging my machine when I move it, but for a multiplier-locked CPU getting a closed loop would be mad.

    The NH-L9i is very quiet on idle, and more importantly the fan doesn't have an obvious tonality like some fans do.
    Reply
  • jrs77 - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    The CM Hyper 212 Evo is still the best cooler, when you take it's price into account. Additionally you can make it even better with a $15-fan like the Akasa Apache PWM, which outperforms the stock-fan in both: noise and airflow. And even with an additional fan you're still paying less then for the other bigger coolers.

    The AIO-liquid coolers are not really that impressive imho. I've had a Corsair H50 and H60 and an intel AIO-liquid cooler and allthough they showed better temps, the pumps and fans were loud and made irritating high-pitched noises. Not to mention that I had to RMA both Corsair-coolers (the H50 even twice) because the pump made rattling noises.
    Also, for the money of them you can get a very good aircooler, performing just as well, especially if you're not overclocking. With regards to that, you should test a Prolimatech Genesis with two silent 140mm fans sometime.
    Reply
  • A5 - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    To be fair, the H50 and H60 are the two cheapest CLCs on the market. If one is going that route, this testing shows the larger CLCs to be the ones to look at. The "cheap" ones don't really perform appreciably better than the CM 212 EVO and cost 50+% more. Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Pumps fail. That's enough for me right there to stay air. Sure, fans fail, too, but with a CLC you have the fans AND the pump at risk of failure. With air cooling, it's just the fan.

    The difference between those coolers--air and water--is so small so as to be insignificant in day to day usage. The only reason someone should go for water cooling is if they want to break some speed records, but CLC should stay out of mainstream, every day systems.

    Imo.
    Reply
  • Rick83 - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Is there an error in the noise chart?
    How can the PWM L9i be louder than the 100% L9i?
    Especially, as in the text it doesn't say so.
    Would be great if you could fix that.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Thanks for finally reviewing a Coolermaster 212 series unit; because their ubiquity gives lots of people a known reference point to compare performance with.

    Could you add a YateLoon fan to your next fan roundup for the same purpose since they're one of the most popular budget 120mm fans?
    Reply
  • Beenthere - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Dustin - Again you display a strange and absurd POV on HSFs...

    "...and if for whatever reason a closed loop cooler isn't on your list..."

    Why would any technically astute consumer have a CLC on their "list" of desirable CPU coolers when CLCs are inferior in every typical CPU cooling metric used by consumers, including thermal efficiency, noise, cost and reliability. If you ignore all of the obvious reasons to not buy a CLC and just buy one because you want one or don't know any better, that is fine but no one with a technical clue would buy or recommend a CLC based on merit.
    Reply
  • extide - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    How do you measure thermal efficiency? Just by how cool it gets the cpu? If so then CLC's do well.
    Noise wise, has a lot to do with the fans and can be very similar to other coolers.
    Cost? They are a bit expensive but their ability to cool well and also exhaust heat directly out the case is typically enough justification. I mean we are only talking about maybe $20 max, far less than a tank of gas even.
    Reliability? I have had two in service for quite a while now and they have been fine but I can see how adding a pump into the mix is a recipe for lowering overall reliability potential.

    However the simple fact is water moves heat better than heat-pipes, period. So you can move heat to a larger radiator, and also put that radiator in a larger variety of places. That is why even the small closed loop coolers do well. I have built several full custom loops in the past, and the closed loop coolers are not nearly as good as a high end custom setup, but FAR easier to get going and little to not maintenance. They have their place IMHO. They are not perfect but they definitely have their place.

    Do you have any facts or reasons behind your statement or are you just saying stuff because it sounds cool? Maybe your idea of technically astute is incorrect, or you are simply not technically astute yourself.
    Reply
  • cjs150 - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Of course there is the downside to water coolers. They are spot not area coolers. Air will cool everything (to a certain extent) in the case as it flows over it, water will only cool those spots which have a waterblock.

    That is why you need to have decent airflow in a watercooled case - if not you fry the RAM (and yes I have done that)
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    A few years ago I saw a CPU waterblock by a low-tier vendor that had brackets for a down blowing fan on top to keep the ram/mosfets from baking; and have always wondered why none of the other vendors have ever offered anything similar. Reply
  • mevans336 - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    I would love it if there were a way for the noise to be recorded so we can listen. Sure dBA numbers are great, but the actual pitch of the sound emitted is very important. I also have a hard time translating dBA numbers into perceived sound increase. I have a Noctua NH-D14 and according to your charts, there is only a 2dBA increase from silent to 100%. I would have guessed it to be MUCH larger than that as the perceptible sound increase from silent to 100% in my rig is massive. The pitch/tone of the sound (if that's the right terminology) at 100% changes drastically too. Reply
  • kmi187 - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Here in Europe the DarkRock Pro is typically 1 to 2 euro's cheaper than the Noctua NH-D14, sometimes a bit cheaper even, if you can be bothered to look around. The new BeQuiet Shadow Rock also performs quite well imho, haven't used it myself but it's the cooler we put in budget systems at the shop whenever coolermaster EVO's aren't available. Reply
  • IanCutress - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    We used the original Dark Rock Pro for an ASUS S2011 contest early last year, and it was quickly overwhelmed by the heat generated from the CPU past 5 GHz. So much that we had to force extra pressure on the socket so the processor didn't downclock and bork the scores. Reply
  • lwatcdr - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Good review. The only thing I would suggest would be to also use a test bench for testing the coolers so you can take the case out of the equation. I would still test in a case as well but pick one you really like to build in because you will need to do it forever. Of course maybe you have.
    Now you just need to test every cooler in every case and with every CPU. Can you have it by next week?
    Reply
  • wongwarren - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    No sorry the Plus' fan is better than the Evo's fan. Reply
  • lichoblack - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    What about comparing low-profile coolers with some CLC's? Given the new trend towards smaller cases, and the height restriction of those microATX (Thermaltake LANBox for instance) or microITX cases (a LianLi one has 38mm height restriction, fitting for the noctua reviewed here) it would be interesting to compare a CLC to a compact cooler that has to be smaller than, say 100mm height. Reply
  • shaolin95 - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    Good stuff. I hope you add the Thermaltake Water 2.0 extreme to the mix.
    I moved from D14 to it and love it.
    Reply
  • 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!
    Reply
  • cbrownx88 - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

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

    You can use any 140mm fans you want Reply
  • 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.

    Ian.
    Reply
  • 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 :(
    Reply
  • seven2nine - Thursday, March 14, 2013 - link

    under
    Ease of installation
    first paragraph "surrounding all the coolers here but but...."
    Reply
  • 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?
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.

    Ian.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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. Reply
  • 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. Reply
  • 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).
    Reply
  • 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.

    Ian.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • Lycros - Saturday, March 16, 2013 - link

    Anyway you can use the same fan(s) across all of the heatsinks next time? Reply
  • 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? Reply
  • 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 :) Reply
  • andymcca - Monday, March 18, 2013 - link

    Glad to see the CM 212 EVO in the line up. I was guessing when I opened the article that it would be omitted in favor of more expensive models. Thanks for including it, as I think people overlook it purely based on price!

    I've been happily using a fanless 212 Plus for years in my low noise desktop and have been very pleased!
    Reply
  • boe - Monday, March 25, 2013 - link

    Nice report. I was bumming the Scythe ones were not included as that is what I use 90% of the time. Reply
  • bobbyto34 - Wednesday, March 27, 2013 - link

    For my Fractal Node 304 and intel DH77DF mini itx board, I was hoping that the Noctua L9i would be ok... it was not the case on the compatibility list of noctua.

    I finally found the thermalright AXP 100 that fitted the board. The only drawbacks :
    - you cannot install the backplate because of chips on the bottom of the motherboard. You only put the screws.
    - covers some ports (CPU PSU, hd audio, system fan). You have to install these cables before installing the cooler
    - really close to the pci express port
    Reply

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