ZEROtherm Nirvana: Designed for Top Performanceby Wesley Fink on January 16, 2008 5:00 PM EST
- Posted in
Our industry seems to be one filled with superlatives. Each new product name sounds as if it came through a marketing group looking for another name that signifies the top, the best, the super-duper whatever. After a while, you become numb to what names really mean since the performance reality is often quite different from the incredible performance promised by most product names.
Even in that environment, using the name Nirvana takes guts. Fortunately for ZEROtherm, the performance of the Nirvana NV120 is deserving of its name. For silence purists, however, the Nirvana is not as successful. Its best performance is achieved at the expense of noise that will be too high for many, although silence can be achieved by turning down the fan speed with the included fan controller. The problem of course is silent operation still pays a performance price, and there are several other coolers tested that strike a better balance between silence and performance.
That does not change in any way the fact that the ZEROtherm Nirvana belongs on the short list of top performing coolers. It is in the same league as the top Thermalright offerings, the Tuniq Tower, and the Scythe Infinity with push-pull fans. In fact, at a street price of around $45 the Nirvana is also one of the best values in the top-performing air cooler category.
The ZEROtherm Nirvana shines as an incredibly efficient cooler for users who will not overclock to extreme levels. In this environment, users can dial down the fan to low speed and the cooler can still provide some of the best cooling ever measured in our cooler tests.
At the top of the cooler pyramid the Nirvana still competes very well in both performance and silence by running the fan at around 2000RPM. However, performance here is a compromise. The Nirvana at 2000RPM falls slightly behind several top coolers that are as quiet as or quieter than the 2000RPM Nirvana. At the lowest fan speed the Nirvana is effectively silent, but overclocking tops out at around 3.78 GHz, which is quite a compromise from the top performance at high fan speeds.
What all of this is saying is that the ZEROtherm is an incredibly flexible cooler. With the fan cranked up it can compete with the best in cooling performance, and with the fan cranked down it can compete with the quietest solutions you can buy. Unfortunately it can't do both exceptionally well at the same time. With a non-upgradeable fan what we measured is what you get and that is certainly very good performance. However, to really top our performance charts ZEROtherm needs to improve the noise levels of the integrated fan. Output is great and competitive, but noise levels need some improvement.
The ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 belongs in the list of top air coolers. It can compete with anything available and it is a great value. However, it can't do both performance and low noise at the same time as well as some of its competitors. Having said that, the Nirvana is still one of the best air coolers you can buy and it is selling at a very fair price.