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  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    This is great, but where's at least a couple of air coolers in there for reference?
    I'd recommend the ever popular and classic Noctua NH-D14 since it's a widely reviewed, well known reference point.
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    If only I could edit my reply. I see that there is a category in Bench for CPU coolers. Never mind! Reply
  • ddriver - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    It would still be a good idea to include a few high performance air coolers to compare how they do against the low end h2o coolers. Reply
  • just4U - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Or even a Coolermaster 212 which is pretty much the go-to HSF for standard builds due to cost/cooling performance. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Agreed - one standard high performance air cooler for ~50€ would suffice, but not including any feels incomplete. Reply
  • jmke - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    so true, would have been a very good idea to throw in a €20 and €50 air cooler, using one of the 120mm fans to see how these water coolers compare. Reply
  • jmke - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    best performance/noise CPU coolers is the Noctua in their charts. One of the best AIO is the NZXT Kraken X60. Let's see how they stack up:

    Noctua NH-U14S (2 Fans 100%) 43.1°C / 33.3 dBA / €70
    NZXT Kraken X60 (Silent) 41.2°C / 30.5 dBA / €140

    is a few °C difference worth an extra €70? is a HSF worth €70?
    how important is CPU temperature?
    if you don't overclock, keeping CPU temp below max would suffice...
    Reply
  • mr_tawan - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Personally I use closed-loop water cooler(corsair H60) because the large air cooler I used (CM Hyper212) gets in the way of ram modules (people with intel chip does not suffer from this, AFAIK). With water cooler, I can put 4 DIMM on the mainboard without any problems.

    In my system, there is no significant differences between these two cooler. Water cooler is a little bit louder, btw.
    Reply
  • Idonno - Saturday, December 06, 2014 - link

    I agree 100%. Plus the sheer weight (on the MB and CPU) and size that an air cooler like the Noctua NH-U14S has to be to be even remotely competitive is absolutely ridiculous.

    It's not just the better temps that closed loop water coolers provide, it's convenience, accessibility, less strain on critical components and better temps.

    All-in-all the higher cost of closed loop water coolers is IMO worth every penny.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Unfortunately, the few air coolers that I still have in my house are outdated. Yet, there will be many air cooler reviews and roundups coming in the near future, with their results directly comparable to those of this review. :) Reply
  • lwatcdr - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    And maybe the CoolerMaster Evo 212 Reply
  • Streetwind - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Excuse me for pointing this out, but are the noise levels given here not a little bit bogus? On your "Testing Methology" page, you qualify 50-54 dB(A) as "Extremely loud (level equivalent to a ≈1500W vacuum cleaner)". Then on the next page in your 12V results, you state: "To give you a rough estimate, 56 dB(A) represents about the same level of sound as a typical box fan the same distance."

    Are you honestly trying to imply that a CPU fan is capable of producing a typical noise scenario that is twice as intense as a 1500W vacuum cleaner at full bore? I think that either the table under "Testing Methodology" is wrong, or you performed your tests in a way that generates results which have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the scale presented in the table. In both cases, said table is in dire need of a revision.

    The article is very nice and no doubt took a lot of work, but with the noise levels looking as arbitrary as they do, it's very difficult to glean much value from it other than a rough order of absolute cooling performance. There's no noise floor given either, and no qualifying comparison to an air cooling solution.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    That is my error. The original sentence was something along the lines of "To give you a rough estimate, 56 dB(A) represents about the same level of sound as a small vacuum cleaner over the same distance". I was then told that vacuum cleaners in the US are generally larger and much louder than their counterparts here and that the comment was edited, but I foolishly did not check the article. 56dB(A) is definitely loud, as much as two of the loudest 140 mm fans, although not as loud as a vacuum cleaner; at least not the kind of vacuum cleaners most readers here are used to. :) More like to the noise of a small hair dryer, I suppose. Reply
  • LancerVI - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Thanks for the explanation. When I heard "as loud as a vacuum cleaner" I was taken aback. Our vacuums are LOUD! My custom WC loop is loud, but it's no where near vacuum cleaner loud. Reply
  • Impulses - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Now I'm intrigued by these stealthy Euro vacuum cleaners... :p Reply
  • 3DoubleD - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Me too... please review! Reply
  • svandamme - Tuesday, December 02, 2014 - link

    take it from me , they suck Reply
  • npz - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    "This all changed in 2012, when Asetek came up with an inexpensive closed loop solution, a liquid cooling device that was leak-free and required no maintenance at all."

    That's the ideal, but the reality seems far off. I just got 2 AIOs but I'm feeling a little bit of regret. I'm now debating whether or not I should put them in my 24/7 systems after reading about reliability. I can tolerate clicking pumps and failed pumps. Overheating will be monitored and the system can shutdown.

    However leaks are problematic. Leaks which can occur in small trickles or explode in fantastic fashion and can destroy a system. Insiders seem to know of the inherent issues and that's why there have been several revisions to pumps and attachments and hoses.

    What I'd like to see are reliability tests. This would of course take time, years even, using them 24/7 under mostly constant load interspersed with periods of idle to stress the pump and joints/connectors. From what I've read all the water coolers start to develop issues after about two years, some earlier.
    Reply
  • piroroadkill - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    It's that worrying in the back of my mind that means I wouldn't build a water cooling rig. A big ol' air cooler like the NH-D14 will cool just as well with less noise (no pump noise) and if the "pump" fails (the fan) you have an easy task - snap on a new fan. When that pump fails, you're screwed.

    Water coolers used to be the preserve of those who persevered in making hardcore cooling setups. That's where they should stay. These all-in-one coolers are problems waiting to occur, in the form of leaks or pump failure.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    "What I'd like to see are reliability tests. This would of course take time, years even, using them 24/7 under mostly constant load interspersed with periods of idle to stress the pump and joints/connectors. From what I've read all the water coolers start to develop issues after about two years, some earlier." - Although I would really love to be capable to add some truly useful reliability tests, that is impossible. As you said, the system would need to run 24/7 for years. Since a valid reliability test requires the testing of many samples, I would need to leave many samples of each cooler running for several years. Such an endeavor would not be possible even if we were talking for days, let alone years. Sorry. Reply
  • Connoisseur - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    It would be great to see a quiet system builder's guide with different components and form factors. My holy grail has always been a mid-upper range miniITX gaming system that's virtually silent 90% of the time. Something with a core i5 or i7 CPU and R9 270x or GTX 760 stuffed into a small case with quiet operation. Probably doesn't exist yet but one can always hope :) Reply
  • w1z4rd - Monday, February 17, 2014 - link

    I'm running a 4770k on an Asus Maximus VI Impact with a Corsair h100i and an EVGA GTX770 in a Corsair 250D that's sitting on my desktop. Unless I'm gaming I can't hear the thing. I don't hear it when gaming either, actually, as I have a headset on. Reply
  • Navvie - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Ever think about asking Mike Chin at SPCR to do some noise testing for you? Reply
  • jmke - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    as with everything, the noise scale and extreme focus of SPCR does give a slightly twisted view.
    none of these AIO would qualify as silent, anything above 30dBA would be loud for him; his kitchen is <30dBA... ;-)
    Reply
  • EnzoFX - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    >30DB is loud lol. At least audible to anyone I would say, so can't we at least say it's not silent? Furthermore he'd provide at least a vast array of reference points, where Anandtech is severely lacking when it comes to cooling/cases/etc. Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Definitely not loud and not even audible to most. 30 dB(A) is the lowermost threshold that the vast majority of sound level meters can take a reading from. I have provided a thorough explanation about this down below in the comments. I personally consider any test that I have seen stating that they got a valid reading below 30 dB(A) with sub - $30k equipment to be rubbish. Reply
  • Jon-R - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    So you're saying that the tests over at SilentPCReview are rubbish? What sound measurement equipment did you use? I couldn't find a mention of it. Reply
  • JlHADJOE - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    30 dB is very quiet far as background noise goes.

    Whisper Quiet Library at 6' 30dB
    Sauce: http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/howtos/loudness.h...
    Reply
  • JlHADJOE - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    It's not so much that their tests are rubbish, just unrealistic.

    SilentPC tests in an anechoic chamber, so the noise floor when they test is near zero. Compared to that, an increase to 30dBA is very loud. But in a real-world environment, 30dBA is whisper quiet.

    I do agree though that use of the anechoic chamber keeps their tests consistent and repeatable. Just not necessarily representative of what a case will actually sound like in a real room.
    Reply
  • YazX_ - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Thx for this thorough review, i have corsair H100i, its awesome AIO cooler, but the fans are piece of shit and very noisy, i replaced them with Bitfenix LED ones, although they operate at 1800 RPM, but i never had to see them operate on that speed, my CPU is OCed to 4.5Ghz and max temp is 65, so they work 50% most of the time and pretty silent. Reply
  • AshyPistachios - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    This ended up comparing fans more than it did rads/pumps. I would like to see a test scenario where identical fans are used on each rad. The current testing methodology does test the complete package, but people seeking silent setups tend to swap all of the fans anyway Reply
  • MrSpadge - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Agreed - comparing performance doesn't mean much with such different fan noise levels. You could use some high pressure fans for all systems, for example.

    And I couldn't care less if a stock fan runs at 7 V or what ever. What I do care about is the noise. In practice I set my rigs up for the best cooling I can get at subjectively low noise level (they're running 24/7 under load). So pick any reasonably quiet noise level, set the fans to whatever speed is required to get there and then compare performance (note: this is even more meaningful if you use similar fans). With PWM you're not limited to 12V and 7V, it's not 2005 any more.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    7 Volts is about the same voltage level as most modern motherboard apply in their "quiet" mode. High enough to start nearly all fans ever made, low enough to keep things quiet. Unfortunately, I cannot perform testing the way you propose. As you mentioned yourself, it would have to be a "subjectively low" noise level. The very word "subjectively" puts me off. Even if I do set such a noise limit, which would be terribly wrong as it would just be based on my subjective opinion, not all coolers would be able to operate as such a noise level at all.

    It is even less meaningful to use the same fans; when you are buying a kit, you are buying the kit with its fans. Purchasing additional fans not only raises its cost but, depending on the characteristic behavior of the fan, the fan itself can affect performance and favor some kits over others. The actual performance of a fan is not based on its RPM or CFM ratings, it is a very complicated matter. That would render any comparisons between different kits virtually useless. Furthermore, the choice of fans would be based on my subjective opinion as well, nobody warranties that the end user will be purchasing the same fans out of the hundreds of possible choices. Someone would want me to use a quieter fan, others might want something more powerful, others something cheaper, others something fancier and so on. And of course, most would just want to buy a kit and be done with it. The only objective comparison is to compare the performance of a kit with its stock fans, as it comes supplied from the factory. Everything else is based on assumptions and subjective opinions that, including mine, have no place in an objective review.
    Reply
  • The PC Apologist - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    While I appreciate the amount of work and effort you have put in Fyll, I must disagree with you on several points. As many people have already pointed out, using the same fan for each different cooler will allow us to access the merits of each radiator, independent of the stock fan. A good radiator with a bad fan might perform similarly to a bad radiator with a good fan, yet clearly this is not the information we’re after. If we ignore every stock fan and use the best fans on the market (Noctua NF-F12, Corsair SP120, etc.), not only will it help guide purchasing decisions, it will also help satisfy our curiosity as Computer Enthusiasts.

    You raised the objection that purchasing additional fans will increase the total cost. This is as obvious as it is pointless. Coolers of this class are targeted towards quasi-enthusiasts, not cheapskates, in the first place. You should know that a lot of people out there still use stock coolers. If one really wants high value, the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO will suffice. And as mentioned, a high-end air cooler such as the Noctua NH-D14 will not only offer comparable performance, but also increased reliability as it does not have a pump that can potentially fail. All-in-One coolers like these appeal to people who want moderately high performance without the complexity of a true custom-loop water cooling system (quasi-enthusiasts). $40 additional cost should be factored into the cost-benefit analysis and buying-decision process, not immediately rejected. Your reluctance due to increased price is misplaced.

    Also, you said “And of course, most would just want to buy a kit and be done with it.” Can you please provide evidence for this blatantly dismissive and careless attitude? This may very well apply to the layman, but again, here at AnandTech we are enthusiasts, catering to enthusiasts. Would you really want to appeal to the common folk, who don’t know or care about CPU heat dissipation much less water cooling, with AIO coolers?

    Third, you said “The actual performance of a fan is not based on its RPM or CFM ratings, it is a very complicated matter. That would render any comparisons between different kits virtually useless.” You’re right, it’s not just rpm and cfm, Static Pressure must also be taken into account. Static Pressure is understood among computer enthusiasts as the capacity to move air through dense pathways (heatsinks and radiators) and the capacity to move water, underwater. Manufacturers usually have a static pressure rating for their fans, but because it’s largely not-understood by the public, that’s why we have reviewers and testers like you. You mentioned that there are a lot of fan choices out there, and I would agree. But because they’re so closely related, cooler reviewers tend to also cover and are knowledgeable about a wide variety of fans on the market.

    Understand that I have no quarrels with you as a person, just that many have come to understand that AnandTech is a producer of quality and responsible content and your latest post display certain fundamental flaws. I surely don’t want to come off as obnoxious or such, as I, myself, am going to apply for AnandTech’s Call for Writers in a few days. The reason I have taken so long is because I take the reputation of Anandtech’s professionalism very seriously and want to polish my writing samples. Again, I have no beef with you, but you do need to step your game up. I suspect that it is not a problem of your integrity as it is a problem of your critical thinking and reasoning skills. With just a little contemplation, you should begin to know what true enthusiasts would and ought to want.

    - The PC Apologist
    Reply
  • HanzNFranzen - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Except that this article was not about "the merits of different AOI radiators," it was a round up of available AOI's as they are sold.

    "Also, you said “And of course, most would just want to buy a kit and be done with it.” Can you please provide evidence for this blatantly dismissive and careless attitude? This may very well apply to the layman, but again, here at AnandTech we are enthusiasts, catering to enthusiasts."

    If you want to go that far, I'd say that a real water cooling enthusiast would say that these AOI's are a few steps up from junk that barely (or in most cases do not) outperform a cheaper air unit, and are exactly intended for laymans.... as a real water cooling enthusiast would be building a custom loop. The entire point of these prebuilt AOI's is for an easy entry into water cooling for the novice/semi enthusiast.

    Anandtech is one of the first sites I have come to seeking reviews of products for many years now. I can't think of any round up style article such as this where the writer started changing out parts as they saw fit before testing. I also would not expect a review of a retail product to be tested any other way than as it is shipped. If I wanted to know how my H100 would work with different fans, I would first look to forums and the mod community, not a retail round up article. If fact, just doing a search of past Anandtech roundups on coolers, I couldn't find one in which all the fans were changed to a standard before testing. Even the Anandtech Bench does not do this.

    "just that many have come to understand that AnandTech is a producer of quality and responsible content and your latest post display certain fundamental flaws."

    I completely disagree as I believe the professional and responsible way to create a roundup of this style is through objectivity and representing a product as it is sold to the customer.

    "I surely don’t want to come off as obnoxious or such, as I, myself, am going to apply for AnandTech’s Call for Writers in a few days."

    well, maybe in your second attempt you won't, although I'm already not looking forward to it.
    Reply
  • The PC Apologist - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Although I admire your resolve, your convictions are ultimately misplaced.

    First, I believe the problem with you is that you’re confusing the “is-ought” distinction. That is to say, just because something is a certain way, it doesn’t mean that it ought to be that way. Journalists give false information all the time, but that doesn’t mean they ought to give false information all the time. Teenagers taking drugs is commonplace, but that doesn’t mean they ought to be taking drugs. In both cases, there is a defect, an imperfection. Do not think that just because something is a certain way, that it should be that way; consider improvements, the ideal.

    Secondly, you said that you’ve read AnandTech for years and haven’t come across the idea of swapping fans or such. But see, you’re further mistaken because even if you just want to stick with conventions, the idea of swapping fans under theoretical scenarios is not new even to AnandTech (let alone other sites enthusiasts should already know about i.e. Linus and TTL). In the Anandtech article titled “Noctua NH-U12P: Top Performance and Silence,” one of my favorite pieces because it truly caters to the enthusiast taste, the writer remarks in this conclusions:

    “For those who don't care about overclocking, the Noctua NH-U12P is still a great choice. It cools as well as the best so far with one fan - at idle and under load at stock speeds. Add a second fan and the stock temperatures are all new records. We haven't tested a cooler that does a better job of cooling at stock speeds. However, the Noctua cooler with two fans at $90 is not cheap, and the Alpine coolers we recently tested do almost as well at about 1/6 the price. For most who won't overclock the Alpines are fine, but if you want the best stock air-cooling you can buy the Noctua NH-U12P with an extra NF-P12 fan is the ultimate. These test results for the Noctua are truly impressive, but they do not dethrone the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme - at least not yet. The superb component here is the Noctua NF-P12 fan, which is a brilliant piece of engineering. We doubt our Thermalright or any air-cooler will top the 3.94GHz that seems to be the limit of our test bed Core 2 Duo. However, we suspect the Thermalright combined with the NF-P12 could match or even exceed the results with the Noctua heatsink. Having said that the practical reality is it is not easy to mount two NF-P12 fans on a Thermalright, whereas the Noctua heatsink is designed for push-pull and even comes with the extra wires to make it easy.”

    Here the writer not only explains to the audience how the product is at stock, he also offers alternative scenarios, separating the heatsink and fan as separate variables, evaluates the pros and cons of each case, and presents the ultimate solution, adding parts (fans in this case) to the stock configuration. Such is the standard we enthusiasts crave and ought to strive for. Any less and you’re not really an enthusiast.

    Thirdly, your third paragraph ending with “novice/semi enthusiast.” Perhaps you’ve completely missed the point of my second paragraph concerning “quasi-enthusiasts?” You’re just repeating my stance unaware of the fact that it is in fact my stance. Read carefully next time.

    And finally, as for you not looking forward to any of my future content, know that first, I won’t be losing any sleep. And second, you should reevaluate your thought and decision-making process when boycotting me. What exactly are you rejecting? My calling a spade a spade? By rejecting my brutal honesty in favor of the fluffy norm, you are saying a lot about yourself.

    - The PC Apologist
    Reply
  • Rubix3 - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    PC Apologist - I would also add 'elitist' in with obnoxious. I actually find your comment rather offensive. If you truly believe that Anandtech exists to cater only to enthusiasts, then you are clueless. I am willing to bet any amount of money you choose that every employee at Anandtech as well as Anand himself would agree that the website is here for everyone of all backgrounds and knowledge levels. It is here to educate the "common folk" that need help and direction, while supplying tons of information and references to the most hardcore of enthusiast, and everything in between. I happen to fall into the lowly plebian category that you look down upon that does indeed want to buy one of these coolers and be done with it. If you are insisting to swap out fans, how do I know that the new fan does not perform worse than the stock fan on that particular radiator? In that case, I will spend extra money for less performance and not even know it. Is this what you would consider "professional and responsible"? For the sake of your writing aspirations I would certainly hope not.

    And as for those writing aspirations, perhaps the reason it is "taking so long" is because you have already submitted your subjective reviews and they were rejected as being worthless opinions? Or maybe, just maybe, because Anandtech is far more than "enthusiasts catering to enthusiasts" and you just simply do not fit. I for one am hoping that this sort of journalism never makes its way onto this website.

    BY THE WAY, Great write up E.Fyll! I appreciate your efforts! Your "game" is fine, no step up needed! My one and only request would also be to add in a high end air cooler simply as reference. Thanks!
    Reply
  • The PC Apologist - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Rubix3,

    Although you are antagonizing me, you do raise several important points/concerns and so I will address them.

    First, let’s address the elitist point. It is true that it is easy for Computer Enthusiasts who are only concerned with the high-end to have somewhat of a condescending or elitist attitude. The same holds true for audiophiles in high-end hi-fidelity audio and car enthusiasts dealing with sports cars. But it is merely easy; it is not inevitable. Where did you get the impression that I was somehow “looking down” upon you or any other newcomer? My parents are laymen when it comes to computers, do I look down at them? In fact my entire family is full of newbs when it comes to computers, must I immediately distance myself from them? I was merely pointing out the existence of a gap, a difference, between the layman and the enthusiast. And by painting the full spectrum (lowly plebian, everything in between, hardcore enthusiast), you’re essentially acknowledging my point. I never said that the laymen were somehow corrupt or morally depraved, just that they were not the target and appropriate consumer of these AIO coolers.

    Second, even if I was an elitist (which so far I haven’t announced), nowhere did I say that “AnandTech exists to cater only to enthusiasts.” You’re putting words in my mouth and turning my stance to an absolute. Consider the context and how I put it:

    “Also, you said “And of course, most would just want to buy a kit and be done with it.” Can you please provide evidence for this blatantly dismissive and careless attitude? This may very well apply to the layman, but again, here at AnandTech we are enthusiasts, catering to enthusiasts. Would you really want to appeal to the common folk, who don’t know or care about CPU heat dissipation much less water cooling, with AIO coolers?”

    Because it is easy to interpret “enthusiasts catering to enthusiasts” as “enthusiasts catering ONLY to other enthusiasts” by the unread, I will clarify. When one wants to communicate an idea effectively, one must first identity one’s own target audience. Once aware of this target audience, one must tailor one’s message and communication method in a way that would suit said target audience. Such is the maxim of relation/relevance and part of the art of rhetoric. When applied to AnandTech, the target audience is those who are interested in and want to know more about PCs, smartphones, enterprise computing, datacenter technologies, etc. It is largely technically stuff. And a choice has to be made: either cater to the beginner or cater to the veterans. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible to write an article such that it satisfies everybody; someone is bound to feel uncomfortable somewhere. But if one were to err on the enthusiast side, at least enthusiasts would feel at home and the rest could potentially learn and grow. I trust that you would agree that all else being equal, it is better to leave room for improvement than to dumb things down? That’s what I mean when I say AnandTech caters to enthusiasts; surely everyone, including newbies, is welcomed (I visited AT when I was a newbie too), but the tone is generally on the more pro side.

    Similarly, the AIO coolers also have a target audience. I maintain that they are for “quasi-enthusiasts,” people who want more than what air coolers can offer but don’t have the resources (time, money, but mostly expertise) to build a full custom loop, and not laymen. Laymen would not understand the benefits and risks of an AIO, much less be able to justify spending $100 when stock and budget coolers exist. By your own admission you are a layman and so subsequently these AIO are not for you. Of course you could make the decision to “buy one of these coolers and be done with it,” but it would be an ill-informed decision (because better options exists) and isn’t it our very job to inform?

    Third, concerning your “technical” concern, you said: “If you are insisting to swap out fans, how do I know that the new fan does not perform worse than the stock fan on that particular radiator? In that case, I will spend extra money for less performance and not even know it.” This concern is, at best, confused. How did you get the idea that I was somehow suggesting you swap stock fans for random fans for no other reason than to do it? Isn’t it obvious that the reason why one might want to replace stock fans with aftermarket fans is because said aftermarket fans perform better? It is the job of the reviewer to test and inform. My suggestion was to, in addition to the stock fans, include and test with the best fans on the market, namely the Noctua NF-F12 and Corsair SP120. If for a certain given radiator, the test results of the Noctua and Corsair are inferior to that of the stock fans’, the decision is obvious. Good grief…

    And finally, as for your speculations of my being rejected, I can assure you that I have not yet submitted anything to AnandTech and so I cannot possibly be rejected. But I get what you’re saying: you hate me. I hope at least by now you’ve come to realize that you’ve misunderstood me and that all that misdirected hatred is not only unproductive, but also embarrassing. As an aspiring writer in 2014, I’m well aware of the need for thick skin and a tough resolve. Having been an avid online gamer for several years now, I’ve encountered people of all walks of life, with varying degrees of education, debating/arguing skills, and indeed moral character. But whereas in-game I might hold a “Come at me bro!” attitude, I do have and will maintain a professional (albeit blunt) demeanor here at AnandTech. Although I must admit, it is sometimes difficult.

    - The PC Apologist
    Reply
  • LoccOtHaN - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    Respect Bro :-) And by the way in near future i will have Nepton 280L ;-) Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Of course you can disagree, it is your right.

    I don't have to agree with you though. :)

    About the fans however, you are wrong. Static pressure is just another figure. At 0 CFM, you get maximum static pressure. At 0 static pressure, you have maximum CFM. In between those two however, that's a whole different story. You cannot possibly assess the performance at any given P/Q level by any of a fan's specifications. So let me include that in my sentence. If you compare fans based on their static pressure, CFM, RPM or SPL ratings alone, you are making a massive mistake. If you do not have the whole P/Q curve and do not know at least an estimate of the pressure that will develop, you know nothing at all.
    Reply
  • The PC Apologist - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    But who is under the impression that we can judge fans by specifications and ratings alone? Why read reviews at all if we can judge by ratings alone?

    The whole point of reviewers is to do testing and verify for us what the numbers on the boxes cannot.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    If you under such impressions, it is your impressions that need to change. Start reading and try to comprehend what I wrote. I will not perform testing that is invalid simply because you wish to see something like it. As I said multiple times already, I will not test any such product with anything else than what comes supplied with it, unless no fan is supplied and none comes recommended. They are commercial products and I am testing their base, unmodified performance. Assuming that "enthusiasts", which also consist of the "majority of Anandtech's readers", will definitely go and buy another set of fans is just that; an assumption. I do not even care if it is a valid assumption or not; I simply do not like assumptions.

    But let me make an exception and assume your scenario. Let us even assume that I can use the same fan on all of the review's coolers, despite the fact that their sizes differ. Which fans should I use then? As each and every fan has a different performance curve, the performance results of each cooler will be different each time I change the fan. With Fan A cooler X might appear better, with Fan B cooler Y might appear better under the exact same conditions. Which is the better cooler? Why is it a better cooler? How many different fans should I test for a valid set of data?

    Such "tests", based on assumptions, are misleading. You can buy whichever fans you like, you may even put the radiator in your freezer if you want better performance - oh, wait, that will give you worse performance, the liquid will probably freeze. Scratch that. Anyway, I cannot possibly provide valid and comparable results based on what a user may or may not replace/modify/whatever. If you want a reviewer who would present you with a misleading set of data just because you assume that "most Anandtech's readers are enthusiasts and will definitely buy Noctua's or Corsair's top fans", then you are simply talking to the wrong person.

    And a friendly note: An enthusiast knows better than to buy a $100 AIO cooler and then spend another $40 on fans. I would rarely expect a true enthusiast who knows what he/she wants to make such a move. He/she will buy the product that can do the job out of the box. In the off chance that there is no commercial product capable of meeting the specific application demands, then he/she might consider modifying a commercial product over making a custom solution. Those that will buy something and then buy something else to adjust it to their needs remind me of people who order Château Margaux and then dilute it with Coke because they don't like its taste. It is not a bad wine at all; they just bought an expensive wine for all the wrong reasons.
    Reply
  • The PC Apologist - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    I sense a little unease in your tone.

    I have stated my point and defended it.

    Because it takes time to prepare a thoughtful response, I will reply some other time.

    For now, I'll leave it to the readers to sort through your logically incoherent reasoning.

    - The PC Apologist
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    That would be new to me; I am practically unmoved by anything, let alone someone who is trying to debate with me online.

    Unfortunately, you did state your point but you cannot possibly "defend it". Your point is based on your personal preferences and assumptions. I explained to you thoroughly why your assumptions are wrong and how they would lead to erroneous results. Anything based on assumptions has no basis, there is no argument that can defend it and is practically wrong. Still, you chose to cling upon your opinion. That is your choice; it does not mean that I have to endorse it.

    As for the "what differentiates an AnandTech reviewer and the typical Newegg/Amazon user reviewer" comment, I...rest my case. If that is all you can see in such an article, there is absolutely nothing that I would like to say to you.
    Reply
  • The PC Apologist - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Fyll: "I am practically unmoved by anything, let alone someone who is trying to debate with me online."

    PCA: Being unmoved is not necessarily a good thing, it merely means you're not open-minded enough to allow for room for improvement. Also, is debating online somehow a lower standard or an inferior forum for argument? This is 2014 for Christ's sake, what would you have preferred, debating over the phone or in person? Coming from an online writer no less...

    Fyll: "Unfortunately, you did state your point but you cannot possibly "defend it". Your point is based on your personal preferences and assumptions. I explained to you thoroughly why your assumptions are wrong and how they would lead to erroneous results. Anything based on assumptions has no basis, there is no argument that can defend it and is practically wrong."

    PCA: What, what, and what? So one cannot possibly defend a stance that is based on personal preferences and assumptions huh? Interesting. I wonder what Michael Sandel of Harvard would say to that. And trust me, throughout this dialogue I've been way more objective and scientific than you. All you're clinging onto is a failed and lobotomized version of Logical Positivism. As for assumptions, ever heard of thought experiments and hypothetical scenarios? Jesus Christ... And don't blame me for your lack of imagination and creativity. The answers to all of your previous questions, concerning what fans to use and how to discern a good cooler from a bad one, are obvious to any true computer enthusiasts with even a minimal scientific background. Needless to say, you are not one of them.

    And for the AnandTech vs. Newegg user reviewer point (in the correct context please), how can you rest your case when you've never presented it? What is your case? You can't just end it without having started it because then, we won't know where exactly you are wrong.

    Listen man, I've tried to be nice and courteous, but you are really pushing it. And I hate to throw the book at you, but it's obvious you haven't read it (or any other for that matter). The following is posted under "Review Philosophies" of the AnandTech About page:

    " We employ the scientific method in all of our endeavors. Ensuring reliability by repeating tests multiple times, checking results against control groups and implementing sound testing methodologies. We create the vast majority of our own test suites using both in-house and industry standard benchmarks. We also put a lot of effort into ensuring that the results published in our reviews track with the real world user experience of the products we review. In many cases the majority of the test results we generate never make their way onto the site, they're simply used by our reviewers to better understand the product being evaluated to provide you with better overall content.

    Our reviews incorporate a mixture of objective and subjective based analysis, the balance varying where appropriate. We are not a site that exclusively relies on data based comparisons but also deliver honest user experience evaluations as well. Some reviews lend themselves to data driven analysis more than others (e.g. CPU review vs. smartphone review), but we always attempt to provide both in our coverage. I fundamentally believe that you need both to accurately portray any product. Numbers are great for comparative analysis, but without context they can be meaningless. Similarly, personal opinions are great to help explain what owning a product may be like, but without data to back up some claims the review lacks authority (e.g. average vs. good battery life begs to be quantified).

    We are a very small team for a publication of our size. We are human. We make mistakes. We gladly welcome criticism from our readers and vendors alike. Seeking perfection doesn't mean being perfect from the start, it means being able and willing to improve when faced with evidence that you're not perfect. I feel strongly about this - negative feedback is tough to hear, but as far as I'm concerned it's free education. If there's validity in a complaint about something we've done, we will take it to heart and act upon it. We rarely ban commenters in our articles (99.9999% of banned commenters are spammers). While I would appreciate it if you are respectful to our writers when commenting, you won't be banned for expressing your feelings about something we've written - as nice or as harsh as you may be. Naturally, given the name of the site, I reserve the right to change this policy and totally ban you if you look at me funny in public."

    - The PC Apologist
    Reply
  • Sushisamurai - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Bingo. As a professional working away from home, with a limited, local selection of parts, I really have to thank Anandtech's thorough review of stock, out of box configurations. Really helped in terms of eliminating what I don't want - some people just don't have the time in their life browsing complicated reviews factoring modifications. I don't mind spending $150 for a AIO cooler that I can set up, and that it works better than some, as opposed to buying something for $100 and buying other fans etc to make it perform similarly to a $150 product out of box. That extra time and hassle isn't worth it to me (and some people).

    That being said, rock on for the review! I only wish there was a more clear answer for corsair vs NZXT for the bigger radiators (x60 vs 110/100i). I wonder how they would perform with max fans (4 fans push and pull from the manufacturer) for noise and thermal performance at certain loads; as their thermal resistance is different, I wonder if would more fans compensate for lower noise (over all lower RPM) at certain energy loads. But I suppose that's for a more detailed review another time :)
    Reply
  • The PC Apologist - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    All I hear is compromise after compromise.

    After having cut so many corners, what differentiates an AnandTech reviewer and the typical Newegg/Amazon user reviewer?
    Reply
  • P.Ashton - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    I do not usually post comments but boy, what a load of rubbish!

    The PC Apologist, if I may ask, what are your qualifications? I mean, aside from typing long, beautiful and full of useless information texts. Are you an engineer or products specialist in any given way? It lacks any sense to tell you how misconceived you are, others did before me and you discarded them basing your "reason" on childish arguments. But alongside "obnoxious" and "elitist", I would definitely add "arrogant" to the list. Someone who is overqualified for this kind of job is wasting his time trying to educate you and you compare him to a "Newegg reviewer"? Good lord.

    I myself am an enthusiast, I spend several thousands of pounds every year on hardware and I would never buy a cooler with the purpose of replacing the fan. If a cooler cannot do the job out of the box, that tells me a lot about whoever designed and markets it.

    Regarding your future application as a reviewer, please, save us the trouble. I would very much rather read a short and cold technical text than a long essay full of bollocks. I can decide for myself if I like a cooler or not after it has been presented to me and I am here to read proper reviews, not sales ads.

    Keep up the good job E.Fyll. I will be buying none of these and I look forward to your air cooler reviews. One short recommendation, if I may. You should add the C/W bar graphs after every temperature graph, not just the average C/W graph. I can calculate the C/W for the wattage that interests me but I do not believe that is true for many people.
    Reply
  • The PC Apologist - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    It matters not what my qualifications are. It wouldn't matter if I'm a 12 year old school boy or a Ph.D. with published papers and years of experience working in the field; if you are basing my truth claims solely on my qualifications, you are committing the genetic fallacy.

    As for the Newegg reviewer comment, recall the context: "All I hear is compromise after compromise. After having cut so many corners, what differentiates an AnandTech reviewer and the typical Newegg/Amazon user reviewer?" So first, learn to read. Second, learn to read between the lines. It is a rhetorical question, intended to incite a point. If you disagree, argue your stance, don't nerd rage.

    E.Fyll is "overqualified" for this job? All I see is a grunt, willing to put in work without proper thought. We all know that he's done a lot of testing and data compiling, but without an adequate understanding of the scientific process and an acceptable command of language, all his hard labor is just that, hard labor.

    Spending a lot of money on hardware isn't want makes one an computer enthusiast. Sigh...

    The rest of your comment is just you telling us about yourself. Nice to meet you Bob. Was it Bob?
    Reply
  • apoe - Monday, February 17, 2014 - link

    Just keep writing essays and ignore how everyone disagrees with you. LOL. Reply
  • landerf - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    This is great, except that many people replace the fans on these coolers and would be most interested in a test using the same 120/140mm fans on all the coolers. To know which one truly is the most effective. Unfortunately this very consumer relevant test is not one I've ever seen done with CLCs. If were to do this, I'd suggest using a common radiator replacement fan like a GT and whatever the community at large considers the 140mm equivalent. Reply
  • Duncan Macdonald - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Non-AIO water coolers can give far better noise performance.
    (I use a pair of Zalman Reserator 1 V2 for silent cooling of a 4770K and a R9 290X. Not cheap or portable but VERY QUIET.)
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    And better thermal performance, if I may add. Cost and complexity however are on a whole different level. :) Reply
  • faster - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    I want a closed loop system for my video card!

    My GTX780 is much louder than my CPU fan.

    Liquid cooling was supposed to be how one obtained high performance quiet computing. Air cooling solutions should not be able to compete with a liquid cooling solution in the same environment, but it seems they do. How is that?
    Reply
  • blanarahul - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    "I want a closed loop system for my video card!"

    This. All the stupid OEMs want to disgruntle consumers. We already have more than enough great CPU coolers, but very few great GPU coolers. All I want is a card that is NOT pre-overclocked (but can be overclocked at my whims ;) ) and comes with a all-in-one liquid cooling solution. Is that too much to ask??
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Oh, that is coming, soon. Stay tuned, should be online within a couple of weeks. :) Reply
  • Dribble - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    True, for cpu's you don't need that big a cooler - all these lower power Intel cpu's don't pull 200W even overclocked. A big air cooler is sufficient. It'll work as well as a single 120mm fan radiator water cooler but is cheaper and more reliable.

    However graphics cards are another matter altogether - they pump out huge amounts of heat.

    Hence either I WC my graphics card in which case I might as well get a system that can WC my cpu too, or I just stick to air cooling.
    Reply
  • BuddhaBum44 - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    You can always get the Kraken X40 and the bracket they make for 780s: https://www.nzxt.com/product/detail/138-kraken-g10... Reply
  • bj_murphy - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Solid review with some good information. I've been waiting for a "compendium" of sorts to link to people, explaining which closed loop coolers are the best. Thanks E. Fylladitakis, looking forward to more great articles! Reply
  • doggghouse - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    What is a realistic load for a CPU? My 4770K has a max TDP of 84W... and I see a 3960X has a max of 130W. Are there actual CPUs that have anything above that, like 200W - 340W? If not, does it make sense to include those loads in the average thermal resistance, since these AIO coolers are going to be applied to a CPU, not to a synthetic load...? Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    It depends on the CPU, of course. An overclocked CPU can easily surpass their max TDP rating. High thermal loads are useful for the extraction of proper thermal resistance ratings, plus they are easily reachable by modern GPUs (and GPUs are relevant, especially with AIO coolers; you'll see why soon enough). Of course, if you know the power requirements of your current CPU (if not overclocked, about 75% of its TDP), you can easily check the graph closest to it. Reply
  • dragosmp - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Hi,

    Great review, I like the methodology. It is nice to see all coolers tested with a constant load that is subject to much less randomness than a CPU power output.

    I have two questions:

    *is it possible to test all coolers at a certain noise level like 40dB +/-0.5dB; 7V testing is not that relevant for a cooler that is silent @10V, why would anyone silence it even further, save electricity?

    *could you provide an order of magnitude of what clock speed and voltage a CPU would need to be at to achieve 340W/150W...etc. It would be useful to get our bearings vs the real world. A chart would be nice a bit like this:
    .....................150W.................250W
    Haswell DC....4.6GHz/1.25V......
    Haswell QC....4.2GHz/1.27V......
    FX83xx OC....4.1GHz/1.35V......

    The reason for the last remark is that buying decisions are made also with cost in mind. One may think: I have max 30°C Tcase, 4.5GHz Haswell, what is the thermal conductivity I would need so the CPU never passes 70°C? Answer ==> review (maybe not the best cooler, maybe not the most expensive...). I have bought windows for my house like that.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    40 dB(A) is not really "silent". I would rate <35 dB(A) as silent and still I can notice that in a very quiet room. 40 dB(A) is a slight humming noise, fairly quiet and most people just ignore it, yet it is easily noticeable. It is an interesting idea but that is not really possible when not all products can do at least 40 dB(A) and not practical, as the motherboard does not read the sound level, it just adjusts the voltage. 7 Volts are just high enough to ensure that (almost) every fan will start and about the same voltage as most motherboard will apply in their "quiet" mode. About the CPUs, I cannot do that as that would require me buying and testing every single CPU, which is not possible. Besides, every CPU is unique and the energy consumption also depends on several settings when overclocked, so it could easily bring misleading results. A single different setting can cause a massive change on consumption at the same exact frequency. For instance, a i7-3820 at 4.4 GHz consumes nearly 20% more energy with its voltage upped by 0.1V. It truly is a very interesting idea but a great deal of data and testing is required to create a proper database. Reply
  • thewhat - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    "the Corsair H90 ... is entirely silent when its fan's voltage is reduced down to 7 Volts."

    I've tried some of the quietest fans in existence and at 920 rpm they weren't even quiet, let alone entirely silent.
    Anything over 600-700 rpm is usually audible, but quiet. And at around 800 rpm it stops being quiet.

    Maybe we just have different standards for quietness.
    But then liquid cooling was never a good option for silence freaks, anyway.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    There are great differences between fans, even at same RPM, depending on their engine and wing design. This is also being displayed in this review, as fans running at nearly the same RPM have vast performance differences. At one meter away, I could not possibly discern any noise coming from the H90, that is why I classified it as silent. If however you were to install it inside a metallic case with many openings, which would reflect and enhance the noise level, you might be able to notice a low-tone humming noise - that's a maybe, a mere assumption on my part. Reply
  • Aikouka - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    I don't know if anyone else considers it to be worthwhile, but I wouldn't mind seeing how well these coolers work when you remove one of the commonly-changed variables: the fans. I rarely ever use stock fans, and along those lines, it would be interesting to see what would happen if the same fans (per standard size -- 120mm and 140mm) were used on each cooler. Reply
  • jjj - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Pretty pointless without a comparison with the same fans and some air coolers. Reply
  • silenceisgolden - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    I'm a little disappointed that patent trolls kept the Swiftech offerings from this list, but that's how things are I guess. Reply
  • casteve - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Thanks for the review. What was the ambient noise level and the noise meter used for the test? Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    My apologies, I should have added this into the review. Will do so from now on. The meter is an Extech HD600 and the background noise level is 30.4 dB(A) (+/- about 0.5 dB(A), depending on the night I perform a test). Reply
  • casteve - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Thanks. As this meter has a lower limit of 30dB(A) and an accuracy of +/-1.4dB, your ambient is probably quieter and you are just seeing the low end of what the meter can do. Sort of expected unless (as you say) you have an expensive set up for the test equipment. Get Anand to shill out the $'s for a 10dBA microphone and an anechoic chamber for that spare bedroom. :)

    Some terms - if the meter is reading sound pressure level, then it's dB(A) SPL, which is referenced to 20 micro Pascals (0 dB). So, 0 dB(A) SPL is the threshold of hearing, 20-30dB(A) SPL is a calm room.
    Reply
  • pcfxer - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    All of these are way too loud. At 30+ dB, none of these coolers hit the envelope for someone who actually cares about "silence" and noise. Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    You are confusing dB and dB(A), I am afraid. The background noise of my room at 2:00AM is 30.4 dB(A). Sub-35 dB(A) levels are generally impossible to notice by a human ear. Sub-30 dB(A) levels are next to impossible to record with anything less than science lab-grade equipment. There is no handheld or desktop dB(A) meter that can perform such readings. If you have seen reviews stating sub-30 dB(A) levels, make sure to check their methodology (given that there is any). Either the meter cannot read lower than 30 dB(A) (and/or will display a bogus reading, as most cheap Chinese meters do) and the review is a fictional text or their methodology is based on dB readings, not dB(A) readings, which is useless to a consumer. Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Good lord.

    If I'd known my successor would produce results this thorough I'd've stepped aside a long time ago.

    Really well done piece of work.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Thank you for the praise Dustin, yet I still stand unworthy of it. :) Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    I'm enjoying your work tremendously. Now that I'm at Corsair I'm glad we have someone we can send case/cooling/PSU hardware to that meets and beats the AnandTech standard. Reply
  • creed3020 - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Yeah Dustin....I have seriously enjoyed your labors here at AT and do miss them. Your successor has changed the paradigm so much that it's hard to compare, but it's a awesome reboot to this area of reviews here at AT.

    I, however, have to agree with many other commenters that a secondary dataset produced with the same 120mm/140mm fans does have it's merit as it will provide an objective evaluation of the radiator and pumps. This is one area where I am really curious to see quality differences in the products. I am fully aware that each OEM is very careful in their selection of a fan which matches their product. This is not done by lottery, that much is clear to me. The OEM behind the Silverstone/Enermax product intrigues me, as I am a fan of Silverstone products and use their cases exclusively for all of my desktops, gaming PCs, and HTPCs. The Tundra's seems like they are ripe for a revision!
    Reply
  • BigLeagueJammer - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Under Noise Level Reference Values, your first one of <35dB(A) being "Virtually inaudible" doesn't match up with most sources I've seen. Most rate that as "very quiet" and say the limit of human hearing as 10 db(A). If other sources say things like a ticking watch is around 20 db(A) which in a quiet room is easy to hear, then 35 seems too high for your qualification of "virtually inaudible". Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    True, I am afraid that the lot of "copy/paste-ing" online has produced a lot of bad information going around. Some are works of fiction, some are misinterpretations of confused people, some...I don't even want to know.

    So, copying my answer from above:

    "Sub-35 dB(A) levels are generally impossible to notice by a human ear. Sub-30 dB(A) levels are next to impossible to record with anything less than science lab-grade equipment. There is no handheld or desktop dB(A) meter that can perform such readings. If you have seen reviews stating sub-30 dB(A) levels, make sure to check their methodology (given that there is any). Either the meter cannot read lower than 30 dB(A) (and/or will display a bogus reading, as most cheap Chinese meters do) and the review is a fictional text or their methodology is based on dB readings, not dB(A) readings, which is useless to a consumer."

    I think it will suffice for me to say that you cannot possibly hear what an instrument designed for this specific purpose cannot even record. In theory, the human hearing threshold is 1 dB(A); in practice however, that is true only for specific frequencies. The background noise of a typical room is almost always above 32-33dB(A).
    Reply
  • Jon-R - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    What is your opinion on the tests done over at SilentPCReview? They test using lab-grade equipment. A rundown can be found here: http://www.silentpcreview.com/article875-page2.htm...
    They use reference fans which measure around 13dBA at their slowest fan speeds, and they don't think highly of AIO water-cooling at all, as none of the tested ones have come close to the best air-coolers when it comes to quiet cooling.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    From what I can see, they are using a highly sensitive microphone and a computer's sound card to record the results, connected through an amplifier. Although the equipment is very good, this is not "lab grade equipment" but just a customized setup. A very good setup nonetheless, including an anechoic chamber. They have a microphone with a self-noise of 8 dB, which measures 11 dB(A) inside the aforementioned anechoic chamber.

    It will suffice to say that their results are just in no way comparable to mine. Actually, as noise level measurements are environment-specific, you should only compare the results of a same setup, never in-between different setups. Unless they are all science labs with multiple ISO certifications, of course. Given that my room floor noise level is over 30 dB(A) and they are using a sub-12 dB(A) anechoic chamber, I believe that I do not have to stress how different the results out of these two setups are.

    As far as equipment goes, for example, this is a cheap lab grade sound analyzer and still costs 5 times more than the whole setup that you showed me, microphones and secondary equipment aside:

    http://www.nti-audio.com/en/products/flexus-fx100....
    Reply
  • Jon-R - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    But you're not saying that their measurements are inaccurate, only that they've got a significantly lower noise-floor than what you're using? So it boils down to the difference between what is considered silent? Because 30dBA is louder than their reference fan it its loudest setting, and far beyond what they consider acceptable. Just as a reference, they measured 43 dBA for the Silverstonde TD03 at 12v, and 30 dBA at 7v. Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    "Inaccurate" is a harsh word when it comes to sound pressure level measurements. Although I would not hesitate to use this word for most other types of tests, there are far too many variables at stake here. I believe that their setup may be better than mine. I am just using a good handheld sound level meter, with the product positioned in the middle of a standard room.

    I would simply stick with "different".

    Sound levels are additive. If you have a noise source of 20 dB(A) and added another source of 20 dB(A), the room noise would not be 20 dB(A) but 23 dB(A). A third source would make it 24.8 dB(A) and so on. So, a fan that would measure 18 dB(A) inside an 12 dB(A) anechoic chamber, will still add to the 30.4 dB(A) floor noise of my room. The difference is the magnitude, as the scale is logarithmic. As you said, the TD03 added about 18 dB(A) and 30 dB(A) to their setup, when it adds 8.3 dB(A) and 17.7 dB(A) to mine, because of the higher background noise. These differences are in no way comparable to each other; that is only possible when the scale is linear. The further you move up the decibel scale, the largest the increase of SPL becomes per single decibel.
    Reply
  • Jon-R - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    How did you make sure that the noise-floor and not the bottom range of your sound level meter was 30.4dB(A)? Would it be fair to say that the range that SPCR considers quiet(around 13dBA) wouldn't be measurable with the meter and room you used? Reply
  • E.Fyll - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    The meter that I am using can read well below 30 dB(A). The accuracy however declines dramatically the further you step away from the bottom limit. I chose the specific setup exactly because it is ideal for basic sound level testing. I would not perform (and do not plan on performing) any tests that I myself consider them invalid in any way. That being said, if I needed a better meter or another setup in order to produce valid results, I would not perform noise testing at all until I could afford the equipment. This is why I do not test and review several other parts as well, such as fans. When I have proper equipment to do so, articles about them will start flowing as well.

    No, that is wrong. Aside from the fact that the equipment is vastly different and you should not compare their numbers with mine in any way, what SPCR considers quiet would still add to the floor noise level of my room, or of any other room. It is wrong to even consider that the fan is producing 13 dB(A); it just adds up and brings the floor-noise of their setup up to 13 dB(A). If a fan would really produce exactly 13 dB(A), it means that in a zero-dB(A) environment (ISO lab) the meter would read 13 dB(A). If you test the same fan in a 12 dB(A) environment, it will not add 13 dB(A) to it, it is at a different level of a logarithmic scale. Read and try to understand my explanation above.

    Only compare SPCR's numbers to their own and mine to mine. Never in between different setups. You cannot compare anything else than measurements taken in zero-dB(A) environments with vast anechoic chambers (far larger than a room) and such equipment is unavailable to common people.
    Reply
  • Jon-R - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Interesting. Extechs site lists the HD600s range as beeing from 30dB upwards. Still the fact remains that what you call silent(sub-30dBA) is vastly louder than what SPCR consider silent. Earlier in this thread, you said that you consider that level silent because your equipment can't measure it. Does this then not mean that you're not able to measure the truly quiet fans? Even SPCR can't get measurements from the quietest fans(sub-11dBA) at the slowest speeds, as their noise is below the noise-floor of their chamber. Reply
  • E.Fyll - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    I believe that you do not understand much of what I said.

    At 30.4 dB(A), the conditions are an empty room, in a rural area, at 2:00AM. It does not really get much more silent than that. You cannot possibly discern any sound under such conditions. The point where my ears begin discerning any sound is above 33-34 dB(A). So, comparing my readings to those of SPCR's is a massive mistake. It may be equipment, the conditions or anything else, but the scale is entirely different. And yes, as you said the Extech HD600, which is one of the better SPL meters, has a minimum specified range limit of 30 dB(A). Think to yourself, why one of the best devices specifically made for the measurement of sound levels cannot accurately display anything below 30 dB(A)? Because, in reality, your very room right now has a floor noise that is higher than that figure.

    If someone tells you that they cannot take a measurement because the sound level is "too low", then their methodology is flawed or the sound level of the said device indeed is too low to cause any registerable reading. As their equipment is very good, most likely the latter. Even an 1 dB(A) source will add to a 40 dB(A) environment, the magnitude however is so small that it would require equipment capable of displaying a 3rd or 4th decimal point. So let me try and explain it to you once more. If a "sub-11 dB(A)" fan is inserted inside an aechoic chamber and is tested with equipment that has a self-noise of 12 dB(A), the reader should register something higher than 12 dB(A), as the fan will simply add to the self-noise of the microphone. The same goes for an environment with a floor noise of 30.4 dB(A), the "sub-11 dB(A)" fan will simply add to that figure. To be entirely precise, an 11.8 dB(A) fan should make the meter register 30.6 dB(A), which is hardly any different than absolute silence on my setup. If it doesn't cause any change on the reading, it really is far too quiet and the difference is not enough to cause a change on the setup's reading.

    Bottom line: At 30.4 dB(A), my setup depicts absolute silence. At 12 dB(A) (I think), SPCR's setup depicts absolute silence. Do not try and compare the readings of the two setups, they are on a different level of the decibel scale and recorded using entirely different equipment. Apples and oranges.

    If you cannot understand this, I simply cannot explain it in any simpler way, sorry.
    Reply
  • Jon-R - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    I do understand what you're saying, I'm simply not agreeing with it.

    SPCR measured a noise floor of 18 dBA before they built their anechoic chamber. And that's in Vancouver. You say you measure 30.4 dB(A), but you're using a meter that only goes down to 30 dB(A), and has a accuracy of 1.4dB(A). It seems likely that what you're measuring is the lower limit of your meter. I don't understand what has made you so confident that the noise floor of your locale actually is 30.4 dBA, and not lower. Seems awfully coincidental. There's a reason why SPCR never considered a meter like the one you're using to be suitable for their tests, because it simply isn't sensitive enough to be used for the measurement of quiet equipment. Instead they went with a over 2000$ Type 1 mic setup. They did consider going the SML route, but getting similar sensitivity would've cost them northwards of 10 000$.

    There has been plenty of articles here at Anandtech where the reviewers have said that the noise measured is below the 30 dBA noise floor, and as such can't be measured. Reviews where ever piece under 30dBA is on the same line of 30dBA. If your locale has a noise floor of 30 dBA, a 12 dBA piece of equipment will not add enough noise to be measurable by your meter. The addition is too small for it to be measurable, because it would require an unrealistically accurate meter. SPCR does this when a fan is so quiet that the noise it produces is drowned out by the background noise of their 11 dBA anechoic chamber. That is what they mean when they say that it's below the noise floor. Once something produces enough noise to give a readable increase over the noise floor, they measure that.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Let me say this once again, because you still do not understand what I am trying to tell you. Unfortunately, this will be my last time, as I simply do not have more time to spend on such a matter.

    The HD600 can and will display readings below 30 dB(A). It just lacks any real accuracy within this range and for a good reason. It is far below the level that humans can really sense in normal environments and way too low for any sensor (yes, including microphones) to accurately sense. A really good setup needs constant calibration at sub-30 dB(A) ranges, because it can sense even the slightest vibrations of the air, something you cannot fathom to sense with your ears.

    As for the "If your locale has a noise floor of 30 dBA, a 12 dBA piece of equipment will not add enough noise to be measurable by your meter", yes, it will, and I can even calculate exactly how much it will add. I actually did that calculation above for you but you obviously did not even bother to read it thoroughly, as I suggested. Furthermore, the fan does not really produce 12 dB(A); the meter reads 12 db(A) as the result of the fan's noise plus the self-noise of the sensor. The equipment should always read the self-noise of the sensor and any other source would add to that. Unless of course if we are talking about an ISO certification lab with a 0 dB(A) acoustic chamber and specialized equipment. If such sensitive equipment has a self-noise of 8 dB(A) and the device adds nothing to it, it does not mean that the device is producing lower than 8 dB(A) but that it produced no noise at all. So, the readings you see at other sites, whichever site that might be, they are what the device adds to the environment, or to the self-noise of the instrument if the environmental noise is too low. So...there is no "12 dB(A) fan", unless you took that reading in a lab.

    Instead of believing whatever you read simply because you want to or whatever someone is trying to convince you online, go find a reliable source (not just any website) and check a few facts for yourself. For instance, instead of looking at noise graphs here and there, go have a look at the chart in the last page of my meter's manual. You will see that a whisper over a distance of 5" is registered at above 30 dB(A). A residential area at night is above 40 dB(A). A household is nearly 50 dB(A). You cannot easily create sub-30 dB(A) environments in the real world even if you try very hard. You mislead yourself by believing that a device that allegedly is producing 20 dB(A) inside an anechoic chamber is loud, when in reality 20 dB(A) are absolutely nothing on their own. If however that device is inserted to the 35 dB(A) environment of your quiet room, it will bring it up to 38 dB(A) (random number, I did no calculations here) and you will notice it.

    And no, they would not have gotten "similar sensitivity" for $10.000+. There is a very good reason why the price multiplies manyfold and I simply cannot even try and explain it to you. Do not take that as an insult, but someone who tells me that my meter "has an accuracy of 1.4 dB(A)" would never understand the complexity of such a text, as he obviously has no knowledge about measurement systems whatsoever. The accuracy that manufacturers list is the lowest possible and refers to the top of the meter's range (that goes for all kinds of meters, not just SPL meters). So, indeed, the accuracy of my meter is +/- 1.4 dB(A), when it is reading the maximum value of the set range. The lower the value, the more accurate the reading becomes. In the case of SPL meters (including microphones), they become rapidly inaccurate below 30 dB because the sound pressure level is far too low to generate a proper electric signal and can be affected even by the slightest vibration. These are the utmost basics when it comes to measurement systems and equipment.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    My apologies, I forgot.

    I simply cannot concern myself with what other reviewers/people think and I do not want to impose any of my thoughts towards other people as well. Whether they (SPCR or anyone else) like AIO coolers or not, I find no reason to comment upon it. I never said if I like them or not either. What I like and what I do not like are my personal, subjective preferences. I cannot impose my preferences upon other people. What I can do is test the products, log my data, present them to people, comment on their quality/bundle/value, take pictures and perhaps provide some recommendations. It is up to every reader to decide whether they like a product or not, be it aesthetically or otherwise. There are people that like AIO coolers just because they leave the RAM slots easily accessible, there are people that hate them just because they use liquid. Likewise, there are people who will find even the slightest humming noise annoying, while others would tolerate a Delta fan for that extra 50 MHz out of their CPU. Each person can decide on his/her own. Some like to call this "free will", I prefer the term "critical thinking".
    Reply
  • Subyman - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Thank you for the great write-up. It can be hard to find decent comparisons for AIO coolers. I don't personally use them, but my friends and clients seem to love them so I need to be informed. I loved your introduction! I remember brazing barb fittings on a heater core I picked up at the local car parts shop to cool my PC. I used hardware store tubing, an aquarium pump, and made a fan shroud out of fiberglass. That was a very fun summer! Reply
  • Sivar - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Silent = No sound whatsoever
    Quiet = Barely audible or inaudible
    No cooler with moving parts is entirely silent even when its fan's voltage is reduced down to 7 Volts.
    Reply
  • DLoweinc - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Nitpicking, but I had a Coolit systems ECO cooler in 2010, so I don't think 2012 was the year these 'appeared'.

    That cooler, by the way, leaked after 2 years and destroyed my mobo/processor. The coolant was mineral based and caused enough damage, who knows if a water based coolant would have left the system components undamaged? The leak was at the tubing where it went into the pump. This was in a 24/7 system that did not get touched until I noticed one day it was offline.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    It would not; even pure distilled water becomes conductive once it comes in contact with dust. None of these coolers are using pure distilled water anyway, all are using a mixture, which is conductive. It has lower conductivity than mineral water, yet it is conductive. The higher the portion of the additive over the distilled water, the more conductive the solution becomes. The actual level of conductivity also depends on the additive, some are more conductive than others. However, it should suffice to say that the least conductive additive at the lowest possible concentration would still be extremely dangerous to electronics.

    I will summarize: If it leaks, you are doomed.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    "If it leaks, you are doomed" is a little alarmist. It depends on where the product leaks and how large the leak is. The cooler itself certainly isn't usable anymore if it's leaking, but we get hardware in from time to time for leak damage that actually works perfectly fine (Corsair warrants your hardware against cooler leaks). Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Yes, I possibly over-exaggerated there. What I wanted to stress is that the liquid is definitely conductive, not that it will cause permanent damage 100% of the time. There is a high chance that the hardware will be damaged but that is definitely not always the case. I myself had a serious (nearly 1/4 liter) leak with a custom-made setup and the system was just fine once it was dry again. Reply
  • jrs77 - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Enermax and Silverstone use quiet possibly Swiftech as a supplier for their AIO-blocks.

    And btw, you should've really integrated the Swiftech H220 into your roundup.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    I know. I actually tried to acquire all AIO coolers in existence, including Intel's, Thermaltake's and others. Not everyone is happy to cooperate and/or willing/able to supply samples at a give time, for whatever reason. Reply
  • toyotabedzrock - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    We need a roundup of fans. I have bought many expensive fans that turned out to be less than advertised and failed quickly when used in certain orientations. Even had blades break. Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    That is going to happen, eventually. I need proper equipment to properly test fans. Until I can acquire it, I will not perform a half-assed job. Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    It's reprehensible that you guys are not reviewing the Swiftech option that allows you to use the closed AIO part or switch to a more open config if you like, too.

    If you say, "That's because it's not on the market now!" I'll say it's because of Asetek trying to basically own the market and are using litigation to destroy competition. Was it any wonder that when the Swiftech was on the market, we had Corsair and NZXT AIO's all dropping down to sub-$100 for even their highest of the high end? The value you got for that $130-140 was so outstanding, no one would touch a single one of these coolers.

    So to my eye, I don't see why you'd bother reviewing such subpar products that are at ludicrous pricing and reward Asetek and their twin from another mother for not bothering to compete.

    Not going to reward patent trolls.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Copy-paste from above:

    "I know. I actually tried to acquire all AIO coolers in existence, including Intel's, Thermaltake's and others. Not everyone is happy to cooperate and/or willing/able to supply samples at a give time, for whatever reason."

    I cannot test what I cannot have access to. I would love to test Swiftech's products but the company needs to be willing to ship me samples first.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    "Reprehensible" is an awfully strong word, isn't it? There's a lot of logistics that go into just trying to put together a roundup like this, and respectfully, you don't have the full picture of Asetek's patent or what's going on in the AIO market. Reply
  • Laststop311 - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    noctua d14 runs cooler and quieter. These all in 1 coolers all suffer from the same problem. The pumps used are cheap loud and not very powerful. You need to build you own water cooling loop using high quality waterblocks radiators pumps and tubing then and only then can u take the noctua d14 down, And I'd still use high static pressure noctua fans on the custom water cooling loop because noctua fans are awesome Reply
  • theNiZer - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    E. Fylladitakis : I like the theme of the article and the approach, BUT did you use the same fan-type for all coolers? If not, that explains the lov efficiency of Coirsair H105 - it has more low noise tuned fans.
    You should test the units with the same fan as well to really tell the effect of the individual watercoolers.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    No and I will never use any other fan than the ones supplied with the kit. I explained why thoroughly in the comments above. I cannot perform tests with a fan of my choice, as the characteristic performance of the said fan will favor some designs over others, creating misleading results. And I cannot possibly perform testing using dozens of fans either.

    It also increases the cost. Most people simply want to buy a cooler, not half the store. If someone wants to use different fans for whatever reason, I cannot possibly foretell how each kit will react. RPM, CFM, sound pressure levels are all next to irrelevant when a fan is going to be mounted on a heat exchanger, therefore any comparisons between fans that "look similar" are a massive mistake.

    I performed noise testing, you know. If you would look at it, it is one of the noisiest kits in the roundup. So that could not have been further from the truth.
    Reply
  • Hxx - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Why no thermaltake? I managed to snag a thermaltake performer 2.0 from Microcenter for $5 after a rebate lol last BF. It was too good to be true. They also had the extreme 2.0 for $35. Great cooler too (both of them although i kept the little one). Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Copy-paste from above:

    "I know. I actually tried to acquire all AIO coolers in existence, including Intel's, Thermaltake's and others. Not everyone is happy to cooperate and/or willing/able to supply samples at a give time, for whatever reason."

    I cannot test what I cannot have access to.
    Reply
  • Dizey - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    I normally don't comment, but I just have to say that I'm also really disappointed that the Swiftech H220 isn't in this review. In all fairness, one could argue that the H220 isn't a close loop cooler, but the lack of its presence in this article does give it a fowl stench. Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Copy-paste from above:

    "I know. I actually tried to acquire all AIO coolers in existence, including Intel's, Thermaltake's and others. Not everyone is happy to cooperate and/or willing/able to supply samples at a give time, for whatever reason."

    I cannot test what I cannot have access to.
    Reply
  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    The H220 isn't *available.* Asetek's litigation means you can't buy it stateside, rendering its performance somewhat irrelevant. Reply
  • twtech - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    I don't see a winner listed, but the results seem to say that, from a performance standard, if you have the room to fit it, the Corsair H110 is what you'd want to buy. It's basically a close 2nd in both performance and noise, which makes it a clear #1 overall. Reply
  • twtech - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    And by standard I meant standpoint. Reply
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    I do not like listing "winners", giving ratings and stuff like that. From a pure performance point of view, perhaps you are right. The H110 will not fit in a case however that can only take 280 mm long radiators. It may be too expensive for some. Too ugly for others. Too black. Even too mainstream (yes, there are people who think like that).

    I hate ratings because they are subjective and misleading. It reminds me exactly of that:

    http://i.imgur.com/B5TgS.jpg

    If I give a good rating on three products for entirely different reasons, that does not mean that they are anywhere near the same or meant for the same groups of users. Yet, most people would only check the rating and think that they are similar. Furthermore, just because I gave a product a good rating, that does not make it good for everyone; it could be entirely useless to certain people and target groups. As I said before, I am not fond of basing any part of a review on subjective elements and I despise the very idea of imposing my thoughts to others.

    How about I stick to testing and writing and you (the readers) give the ratings you think each product deserves? :)
    Reply
  • The PC Apologist - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    From the AnandTech About page, under Review Philosophies:

    "Our reviews incorporate a mixture of objective and subjective based analysis, the balance varying where appropriate. We are not a site that exclusively relies on data based comparisons but also deliver honest user experience evaluations as well. Some reviews lend themselves to data driven analysis more than others (e.g. CPU review vs. smartphone review), but we always attempt to provide both in our coverage. I fundamentally believe that you need both to accurately portray any product. Numbers are great for comparative analysis, but without context they can be meaningless. Similarly, personal opinions are great to help explain what owning a product may be like, but without data to back up some claims the review lacks authority (e.g. average vs. good battery life begs to be quantified)."
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    True. However, that text also describes the philosophy behind articles that belong in dozens of different categories.

    My objective analysis relies on testing and data. My professional opinion lies on the description of the product, its quality, flaws and uses. I can and do comment on the design and appearance. However, whether it is beautiful/useful for you or not, I believe that you can decide that for yourself, you do not need me to tell you that. :)

    That being said, subjective opinions are extremely useful in other articles, but in a cooler review they are nothing sort of useless to the end reader. My personal preferences and tastes are of no use to anyone but myself. So, you can possibly say that my subjective opinion about my articles is that you can make up your own mind. ;)
    Reply
  • Sushisamurai - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Agreed. I'd buy a NZXT case vs a better case (thermal and sound performance) at a higher price, for many "irrational" reasons: my wife thinks black matches the decor of the room, and aesthetically, it may look nicer. Is it the best in terms cost and time efficiency? Hardly, but the utility I get from a happy wife is more than enough to make up for it. Reply
  • Sushisamurai - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    And... Even though some AIO coolers may perform better, sometimes the wife just wants matching logos and parts. ...so thank you Anandtech and your wonderful reviews Reply
  • The PC Apologist - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    I think you may be onto something there, something big.

    The objective vs. subjective struggle is extremely related to what I plan to offer AnandTech.

    But such a challenge is no easy task, which is why I will only submit my work after much thought and deliberation.
    Reply
  • zlandar - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    Really well done and thorough roundup. Reply
  • killer14 - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    no swiftech sets.. to bad... Reply
  • killer14 - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    to bad no swiftech sets where tested, like the H220 Reply
  • coachingjoy - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Great topic, good job.
    Validates my usage of Corsair products.
    In the minds eye H90 would work better than thinner solutions.
    It does! Good for Corsair.
    Thanks
    Reply
  • zodiacfml - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Nice job. I like the various loads given to the coolers. Unfortunately, my interest in liquid coolers becomes less as Intel has been lowering the TDP of their CPUs. Reply
  • prateekprakash - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    I only wished they'd included Swiftech's H220 and H320 (Even though they aren't available in the US, but I've have been using H220 in my system here in India) Reply
  • buffhr - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Why wasnt the swiftech H220 included in this list? Would of been really nice to see it stack up against 340W and well it is an AIO and meets up with the same price range as well. Reply
  • Rob94hawk - Sunday, February 16, 2014 - link

    Because the H220 is a piece of crap due to mass pump failure. I'm on my 3rd one within warranty and I haven't even put it on yet. I have the stock cooler on my 4770k. That's how much confidence I have in the Swiftech H220. Reply
  • Suuave - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    A very interesting article but I have a suggestion of one thing would have definitely made it better - a chart. Give us a simple visual reference of "potential cooling performance" vs "noise level" vs "unit size" vs "price" that would give everyone a quick reference of the overall values for the features they are looking for in a sealed system. Reply
  • vgray35@hotmail.com - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    What we sorely need is a table of computer cases with a list of water coolers that fit into each case. A valuable reference that does not exist anywhere as far as I know. The reviewers are in the best position with their knowledge to provide such a table. Reply
  • Hrel - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Would have been great if you guys could have included 1-3 air coolers in this review. For comparison.

    If you don't overclock and primarily care about noise liquid coolers make no sense at all. My air cooler never exceeds 16db. Apparently 36db is the lowest any of these go. That's simply TERRIBLE.
    Reply
  • The PC Apologist - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Would have been great if you read through the comments section...
    Just saying.
    Reply
  • Daeros - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    This is really bothering me; this article strongly implies that sound pressure equates linearly to to loudness. The decibel scale is logarithmic, true, but while 3db is roughly a doubling in sound energy, it is the smallest difference reliably discernible as louder by people. It takes roughly a 10db increase in sound pressure to have a doubling in perceived loudness. In the example, the 30db difference would be perceived as (roughly) 8 times louder (3 doublings), not 1000 times louder (even though it may be 1000x as much energy). Reply
  • cactusdog - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    I don't understand why cooler reviews are done with different speed fans, it makes no sense for comparison. Reply
  • BlakKW - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Nice round-up E.Fyll...congrats on your new spot. Its a fine line between answering questions in the Comments section, and getting sucked into it...be cautious :) Reply
  • MushroomBomb - Friday, February 14, 2014 - link

    Disappointed not seeing any Thermaltake Water, especially with their 3.0 offering, pretty sure they would be able to compete here. Reply
  • Bap2703 - Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - link

    One should take care that the testing setup is in no way providing a "core" temperature despite being written on every graph :/ Reply
  • aggiechase37 - Friday, February 21, 2014 - link

    I've had the stock Intel fan on a 4770, and was getting temperatures in the 90's while rendering video. Thanks to this article, I've got the Corsair h90 on the way. Thanks guys! Reply
  • Valentini - Saturday, December 20, 2014 - link

    Finally a truly meaningful test (the best test I have ever seen). In particular, indication of the thermal resistance is really great. The whole thing would be a little bit more accurate, if the indication of differences in temperature would be written in Kelvin instead of Celsius. Reply

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