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Best SILENT CPU cooler for an mITX with dedicated graphics card?

Last response: in Components
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March 26, 2014 9:57:10 AM

I am mostly settled on my first ever self-built PC. Now that I have my components chosen, I'm starting to look at the best cooling options.

Perhaps most important to me are noise level and price, as I do a lot of recording and need a silent system, but I also don't want to pay an arm and a leg for liquid cooling (not to mention liquid in my system scares me). My build will be inside of a BitFenix Phenom mITX, so I have a decent amount of headroom for a cooler, but I also plan on using a dedicated graphics card, so I do need the cooler to be horizontally slim enough to not cover the slot. My ram is very low profile (I was sortof shocked at how tiny it was when it arrived, actually...) so there is some wiggle room in that department. I DO plan to OC the CPU, but don't necessarily need to do so to it's total maximum. I'm hoping to hit around 4.4-4.6ghz if at all possible with an air cooler. Finally, I'd like to be able to have control over the fan if possible, since my motherboard has nice features for this - do I need it to be a 4pin fan, or will 3pin be okay?

Any suggestions for a cpu cooler that is silent, not too pricey, and will fit with my setup? I know that's a lot of criteria, but I'm hoping to find the perfect fit. Thanks, all!

Specs:

CASE: BitFenix Phenom mITX
CPU: i7 4770K
GPU: EVGA NVidia 750Ti 2GB (this card is short and draws power from the MOBO)
MEMORY: 2x8GB Crucial Ballistix Sport VLP
MOBO: Asus z87i-Deluxe
OS: Windows 8.1 64bit
PSU: 550w Rosewill Fortress Platinum
STORAGE 1: Samsung 840 EVO 120GB SSD
STORAGE 2: Western Digital Black 2TB HDD


a b U Graphics card
March 26, 2014 10:02:03 AM

My suggestion is to get a 770 if you have the budget and are gaming also h80i would probably be needed due to possible size restraints.
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March 26, 2014 10:04:41 AM

dustinhunt78 said:
Here is a link to a low-profile, quiet CPU cooler by Noctua. They make what most would agree as the best air-cooled CPU coolers that money can buy. If you have any questions about it, please ask. :) 

http://www.amazon.com/Noctua-Low-Profile-Cooler-Retail-...


I saw this one, but figured that since the case actually has decent headroom I might go with something that has a taller heatsink. However, if this one is still great, I'm open to it, so long as it allows me to achieve a decent OC....any experience with this? The price is great!

Also, that cooler is only rated for 65w CPUs - mine is 84w. Is that a problem?
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March 26, 2014 10:06:00 AM

combine1237 said:
My suggestion is to get a 770 if you have the budget and are gaming also h80i would probably be needed due to possible size restraints.


I will use it for a bit of gaming, but don't need to achieve max settings or anything. I mostly prefer using a console. For now the 750ti is enough for my needs - I can always expand later down the road if I want.
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a b U Graphics card
March 26, 2014 10:09:26 AM

Mmm... well, I second Noctua on this one. Yep, they definitely have a reputation as making the best air coolers, and rightfully so.

I don' like closed loop watercoolers for two reasons. First is on principal of having a small sealed fountain running inside your computer; second is that they end up being just as loud as the typical air cooler since it's just as hard to push air through a radiator as a heatsink, and that the price/performance ratio seems to be completely out of whack in comparison to a traditional air cooler. The H80i is an $85 CPU cooler - you could put the money saved into a better GPU or something with an actual performance return.

If I were you, I'd pick up a low-profile Noctua heasink and call it a day - no maintenance, no problems, and you end up with a solid, quiet cooler with no maintenance or worry whatsoever. That's just my opinion... take it for what it's worth.
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March 26, 2014 10:12:19 AM

someguynamedmatt said:
Mmm... well, I second Noctua on this one. Yep, they definitely have a reputation as making the best air coolers, and rightfully so.

I don' like closed loop watercoolers for two reasons. First is on principal of having a small sealed fountain running inside your computer; second is that they end up being just as loud as the typical air cooler since it's just as hard to push air through a radiator as a heatsink, and that the price/performance ratio seems to be completely out of whack in comparison to a traditional air cooler. The H80i is an $85 CPU cooler - you could put the money saved into a better GPU or something with an actual performance return.

If I were you, I'd pick up a low-profile Noctua heasink and call it a day - no maintenance, no problems, and you end up with a solid, quiet cooler with no maintenance or worry whatsoever. That's just my opinion... take it for what it's worth.


Yeah, air definitely makes the most sense to me too.

Keep in mind this case has a good amount of headroom though. Since the low profile noctua is only rated for 65w cpus and mine is 84w, would it be better to go with a taller one? My understanding is the Phenom will fit taller coolers. I just want the option to push this CPU a bit...else there's no point in buying a MoBo and CPU that can OC...
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a b U Graphics card
March 26, 2014 10:13:13 AM

Ah, the Phenom. Sorry - I didn't even see your case. Let me take a look - I believe I have something in mind, and will update this once I find it. Yep, a vertical tower cooler will definitely perform better than an LP top-down one.
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March 26, 2014 10:15:33 AM

Thanks! This forum never ceases to be awesome....I appreciate you looking for me.
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Best solution

a b U Graphics card
March 26, 2014 10:35:01 AM

That's what we're here for. :)  And I'm glad someone agrees on wateroolers... I'm a huge corsair fan, too - I absolutely love their cases, and their power supplies are some of the very best - but I can't help but feel like the sealed-WC trend is more about showing off your water-cooled PC than it is actually getting performance for your money. I guess marketing is doings its job pretty well.

What I was thinking of was the NH-U9 - it's a 92mm tower with two fans, though I just noticed both fans use 3-pin connectors, so this option might be out. You'd have to be careful with memory placement, too, as I believe one of the fans hangs fairly low. I have to admit that it won't perform at the same level as a larger 120mm cooler - the U9 is designed to make the best use of small spaces, so if you can fit something larger, by all means do so and you'll be happier.

I was looking for dimensions of the Phenom, but I'm not turning up how much clearance you have above the motherboard tray... if you've found something I haven't and know that you can fit a 120mm cooler in there, my next recommendation would be a tried-and-true CoolerMaster Hyper 212 EVO; excellent cooling for the money, and if it ends up being too loud, go ahead and drop a Noctua 120mm fan in there instead of CoolerMaster's one and it will be dead silent.

NH-U9B:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Hyper 212 EVO:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

And regardless of what you go with, pick up a tube of this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
...it's worth the ten dollars. Excellent thermal compound - performs better then the de-facto Arctic Silver everyone will recommend, is easy to apply, has zero burn-in time, and you get a decent sized tube of the stuff. It's actually included with a Noctua HS, so no need to buy it twice if you go that route.

I'll keep flipping through the internet and see if I can't find confirmation that a 212 will fit in the Phenom. I don't want to recommend something that won't physically fit.
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March 26, 2014 10:41:58 AM

someguynamedmatt said:
Ah, I might as well post a new reply. What I was thinking of was either the NH-U9 - it's a 92mm tower with two fans, though I just noticed both fans use 3-pin connectors. You'd have to be careful with memory placement, too, as I believe one of the fans hangs fairly low.
I was looking for dimensions of the Phenom, but I'm not turning up how much clearance you have above the motherboard tray... if you've found something I haven't and know that you can fit a 120mm cooler in there, my next recommendation would be a tried-and-true CoolerMaster Hyper 212 EVO; excellent cooling for the money, and if it ends up being too loud, go ahead and drop a Noctua 120mm fan in there instead of CoolerMaster's one and it will be dead silent.

NH-U9B:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Hyper 212 EVO:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

And regardless of what you go with, pick up a tube of this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
...it's worth the ten dollars. Excellent thermal compound - performs better then the de-facto Arctic Silver everyone will recommend, is easy to apply, has zero burn-in time, and you get a decent sized tube of the stuff. It's actually included with a Noctua HS, so no need to buy it twice if you go that route.

I'll keep flipping through the internet and see if I can't find confirmation that a 212 will fit in the Phenom. I don't want to recommend something that won't physically fit.


Thanks! My memory is teeny-tiny. I haven't bought the MoBo yet, but I hear that this RAM barely even reaches above the socket, so it's probably okay if the cooler sticks above the RAM. As long as it doesn't run into the graphics card, it should be okay...I have no idea if a 120mm fan would work or not, but from what I've heard a 92mm fan is probably fine. I was looking at the NH-U9, but was hesitating because of the 3-pin. I honestly don't fully understand how this works. In my MoBo description, it says:

"Get the best balance of cooling performance and low noise with hardware-level ASUS Fan Xpert 2. It sports Fan Auto Tuning, providing a tailored fan speed setting for each 4-pin/3-pin CPU and chassis fan with exclusive automatic fan speed detection. It even provides an RPM Fixed Mode for users who wish to reduce noise levels to near 0dB using a specific fan speed setting."

Does this mean I'd maybe be okay with the 3pin? If so, I might just go with the NH-U9. Seems like a fantastic cooler....
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March 26, 2014 10:50:45 AM

Noctua it is! Thanks for your help, guys!
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