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120mm rad for CPU

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February 5, 2012 1:21:07 AM

Does anyone know a good 120mm rad (I'm flexible as far as thickness goes) for cooling an i7 2600k CPU on its own? This is my first build, so I selected a Phantom 410 case, and am now finding that it really doesn't have enough internal space for watercooling a CPU and a crossfire/sli setup. I can't get rid of it either, since my wife bought it for me for Christmas. The only way I can make it work is to save the 240mm space up top for the GPUs (it can house a dual thickness radiator, supposedly) and then use a thick 120mm for the CPU on the base of the case next to the power supply.

I'm gonna want to overclock the i7 pretty significantly (not something crazy, but definitely the 4.5-5.0 Ghz range if possible), and I want to know if there is a good 120mm rad people suggest for this. I've looked into XSPC's RX120, and it seems like it would work well. Does that seem sufficient to you guys? There's gonna be two loops, so that would mean two pumps (prolly MCP655's) and XSPC's dual 5.25" split bay reservoir reservoir. Price is really no object here, so however I can make this set up work I'll make happen - just tell me what you think and what thoughts/suggestions/ideas you have.

More about : 120mm rad cpu

February 5, 2012 3:06:18 AM

I actually have an XSPC RX120 radiator. I'll sell it to you at low price if you wan't it. It's never been used. I was actually trying to put it in my case but it's so thick (with push & pull fans) it covered part of my top exhaust fan so I decided to purchased a slimmer rad.
Let me know if you're interested.
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February 5, 2012 4:01:46 AM

Yeah, I'm definitely interested Cheaptrick...I just need to hear a bit more about the rad and how it does with a CPU all by itself before I commit. I take it your research showed it was sufficient? Wish you had actually installed it so you could tell me how effective it was...
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February 5, 2012 4:45:59 AM

Well, it's a thicker rad than what I'm using right now (Hardware Labs Black Ice GT Stealth 120 Gen 2). Actually double the thickness than that of Black Ice so it should perform better than what I'm using. I got a small mid-ATX case so the size of rad I can put is very limited.

A 120 mm rad can definitely cool a CPU otherwised hybrid liquid coolers manufacturers won't use it for their cooling products. I been running my PC with a slim 120 mm rad cooling my CPU for sometime now & I can definitely say that it can do the job.

I normally don't listen to this so called experts of liquid cooling telling you to buy huge radiators & showing you graphs of liquid cooling temps. I often read non-bias opinions on a particular product preferably from reviews & also from people who used the product & stay away with forum thoughts of some people. Some people can be very subjective on their views on something they don't like to have... or something that they can't have... or something better than what they have... or different from what they have... It's psychology you know. :D 
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February 5, 2012 5:38:03 AM

Yeah I was definitely going to take any glowing review you gave me with a grain of salt, no offense - you're trying to sell it to me, after all! ;)  I think it definitely counts in the RX120's favor that it was given a glowing review by Skinnee, as I found out with some research. Give me a day or two to collect some opinions, and I'll definitely take it off your hands if everyone says it seems good.

But enough about Cheaptrick, for the moment...what do the rest of you think about a 120mm rad on a 4.5-5.0 Ghz i7 2600k?
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February 5, 2012 1:49:41 PM

zabuzaxsta said:
Yeah I was definitely going to take any glowing review you gave me with a grain of salt, no offense - you're trying to sell it to me, after all! ;)  I think it definitely counts in the RX120's favor that it was given a glowing review by Skinnee, as I found out with some research. Give me a day or two to collect some opinions, and I'll definitely take it off your hands if everyone says it seems good.

But enough about Cheaptrick, for the moment...what do the rest of you think about a 120mm rad on a 4.5-5.0 Ghz i7 2600k?


If I'm really trying hard to sell you my RX120 rad I bet you won't read me writing on something other than the RX 120 :D . It's not a Ferrari or Bentley you know. It's only $50. But its just sitting here in my drawer I might as well sell it.

Anyway, let's go straight to the topic. A 120 mm rad can cool a CPU. It can even cool a GTX 580 + CPU. You can read the review of PNY GTX 580 Liquid Cooled GPU and CPU by clicking the highlighted link. As to overclocking Core i7 2600K you can more than overclock it even with just a stock cooler (no need to purchase a liquid cooling sytem). Intel tested overclocking the 2600K at 5.0 GHz with just a stock cooler prior to the released of the 1st Sandy Bridge core processor. I been using my 2600K for quite sometime now (exactly about a year now) & I can fully say that it can depending on how restrictive your set up is made. A bigger case with lots of air flow is highly recommended.

You really don't need to go liquid cooling with just that particular reason. From what I can read in your statement, liquid cooling is something that you wanna try on doing but you have no plan at the moment to go on full liquid cooling. My advice is you can go buy a hybrid liquid cooling system. It can do the overclocking job real well with less headache & expense.

The main problem with heat in computer is controlling mainly the heat of the GPU, not the CPU. Video cards can get real hot especially if you're running a multi-GPU set up & gaming. If you don't game (or run something that needs that GPU workhorse working) then cooling the GPU is useless. You better off buying a hybrid than going a full liquid cooling system.
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February 5, 2012 7:52:41 PM

Quote:
A 120 mm rad can cool a CPU. It can even cool a GTX 580 + CPU


I largely disagree with this on many levels. So, what you're suggesting is that research and work done by many, many people is completely negated because you've bought into the review done by 1 guy- a guy that doesn't even give any kind of scientific methods to his testing. He just says 'it works and I'm impressed'.

Must be magic rainbow unicorn power.

It isn't possible to cool an overclocked i7 OR a GTX 580 on a single 120mm rad...let alone both of them on the same radiator. I'll argue the i7 can be, up to a point...but if 60's C at load is 'cool enough for you'...I'm not going to argue with someone with that mindset thinking watercooling is working like it should.

All those graphs and charts are developed for a reason- they show you exactly what is possible on a specific radiator at a given flow rate and fan speed setup. Your 'review' only makes sense and appeals to people that want the simplest answer and have no understanding of what is actually needed to cool those components. I understand your simplistic and rebellious thinking, but it's wrong.

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February 5, 2012 8:30:06 PM

rubix_1011 said:
Quote:
A 120 mm rad can cool a CPU. It can even cool a GTX 580 + CPU


It isn't possible to cool an overclocked i7 OR a GTX 580 on a single 120mm rad...let alone both of them on the same radiator.


I strongly disagree. I'm running a Core i7 2600K overclocked at 4.8 GHz using a single 120 mm rad without any problems at all. This is the reason why I think it's just pure BS on some talking about this.
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February 5, 2012 8:56:39 PM

At what temps?

And if you re-read, I mention that an i7 is more plausible, but not a GTX 580 and/or both.
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February 5, 2012 9:39:31 PM

It stays at 36 c when I'm not gaming & goes up to 44 c when gaming. Not bad result for a small rad (I got comparable result similar to what I used before - Antec Kuhler H2O 920 hybrid).
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February 5, 2012 10:41:09 PM

My argument here is on the CPU+GPU combo cooler using the 120mm. An OC i7 has been shown to fare decently with these coolers. However, the GTX 580 has more than double the TDP output at 100% (at stock, mind you). You are looking at a CPU and GPU combo output of around 300 watts or so- minimum of good 240 rad size territory- and with very good fans.
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February 5, 2012 11:41:16 PM

So yeah, I agree with you rubix - definitely NOT going to try and cool a CPU + GPU (or a CPU + anything). When I look at the amount of watts I need to dissipate with an i7 2600k @ 5.0 Ghz it looks like a lot, so I'm asking for people's opinions on good 120mm rads for cooling a CPU only. Ideally, it would be nice to hear from some people who have achieved significant overclocks on 120mm rads...regardless, at the end of the day I'm going to calculate a precise heat load and only buy a radiator that can dissipate that much heat effectively. I could just do that, but I wanted to hear what other people had to say first.

So yeah, now that it's clear I do not intend on using the rad to also cool my GPUs...any advice for the whole 120mm rad to cool a CPU thing?
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a c 324 K Overclocking
February 5, 2012 11:57:54 PM

You really can't expect to run a 2600k @ 5ghz for a substantial amount of time. The voltage required to get to that speed causes degradation of the CPU much faster than most overclocks within the 'green' zone. For 99% of people, there isn't a difference when you move from 4.5ghz to 5ghz...it's almost entirely about saying you did it.

As for the cooling loop- this is where understanding what you want to do needs to help you plan. Do you have to watercool a CPU? No. You also don't need to watercool GPUs, but it does make a substantial difference in load temps, sometimes as much as 50% cooler.

I will provide one tidbit of information: once you start out doing watercooling the right way, it's an addiction that always keeps you wanting more. I've been doing it for 9+ years so far...and I plan to continue for the foreseeable future.
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February 6, 2012 12:04:50 AM

ya the first paragraph in this thread starts off confusing everyone. cooling just the cpu? then you mention sli. anyways a 120mm not going to cut it. im water cooling a 955be and im going with a 240mm (copper). if you have a 120mm outside of the small case you could in theory place it in a disdiled water container that is cooled by a TEC. lol. you could be a man and buy a different case and go with 2x120mm. one on top and the other in the middle of the loop down near the psu. your wife returned half the gifts you bought so who cares.
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February 6, 2012 4:16:58 PM

dontcrosthestreams said:
ya the first paragraph in this thread starts off confusing everyone. cooling just the cpu? then you mention sli.


Heaven forbid I mention two things in the same paragraph. My first sentence was "Does anyone know a good 120mm rad (I'm flexible as far as thickness goes) for cooling an i7 2600k CPU on its own?" After this, I talked about not having enough space to put in a huge cooling system, so I need to figure out how to make it work with just a 240mm rad and a 120mm rad (and if this can be done). I finished with " The only way I can make it work is to save the 240mm space up top for the GPUs (it can house a dual thickness radiator, supposedly) and then use a thick 120mm for the CPU on the base of the case next to the power supply." You have some serious problems if that's unclear.

dontcrosthestreams said:
lol. you could be a man and buy a different case and go with 2x120mm. one on top and the other in the middle of the loop down near the psu. your wife returned half the gifts you bought so who cares.


This brings me to my next point. I don't really see the need to insult me by insinuating that I'm not being a man because I want to stick with this case. I'm not sure it even makes sense - it's a cool case and I want to try and make it work using case mods, creative loop placement, etc...you know, a challenge? Those are fun. But as you say, if it's unmanly to take on challenges, I must be pretty darn unmanly. What does a manly man like you do...really, really easy stuff?

dontcrosthestreams said:
anyways a 120mm not going to cut it. im water cooling a 955be and im going with a 240mm (copper).


So what's the evidence/reasoning behind this claim? Here's mine:

First, we need to figure out the heat load of my particular CPU @ 4.5 Ghz (tnx rubix for cautioning me away from anything above that). This can be done via the following formula -

((TDP*OCF)/SF)*(VC^2/VID^2) = Overclocked Heatload

When we put in my numbers, we get this:

((95*4500)/3400)*(1.4884/1.4884) = 125.7352941176471

If we take the dual thickness RX 120mm rad Cheaptrick and I were discussing earlier, it has a W/C rating of .033055 (thanks, Skinnee!). All that's left is to multiply these two numbers together to get my Delta T, which is the difference between ambient temperature and water temperature on the outgoing side of the radiator I can expect. Anything in the 0-5 range is amazing, anything in the 5-10 range is good, and just outside of 10 is acceptable but not that great. So, what do we get?

125.7352941176471 * .033055 = 4.1562

This is an AMAZINGLY good Delta T, and indicates that I should expect extreme performance from this 120mm radiator. It should be noted that this particular C/W rating was achieved with one Scythe Ultra Kaze 38mm fan @ 2800 rpm in pull, with no shroud, and a 1.5 gpm pump. Considering that I would be doing a push/pull config with a shroud as well as using a pump well above 3 gpm...well, hopefully you get the idea.

In case you don't, that means I should be expecting an even lower Delta T, which would be phenomenal.

dontcrosthestreams said:
if you have a 120mm outside of the small case you could in theory place it in a disdiled water container that is cooled by a TEC.


The funny thing is that you are clearly not being serious...you seem to be implying that the idea of using a 120mm rad is soooo ridiculous that I'd have to make some ridiculous setup to get it to work. This is clearly untrue, as Skinnee Labs' tests shows that a simply high rpm fan in a pull config and a decent pump would be sufficient for a Delta T of 4 degrees.

You really should not spread the misinformation and bad advice you are; it keeps people from making nice setups and tricks them into buying things they don't need. Also, telling people to "be a man" because their wife returned half the presents they gave them makes no sense in this discussion. Please try and come up with constructive things to contribute instead of insulting people's manliness.
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February 6, 2012 4:28:05 PM

I agree with zab's statements- they are well based in factual evidence and you have done your homework. Yes, we often estimate radiators is overages, but typically not excessively. You have to take into account your entire loop and calculate heat output, even if you aren't sure you will run 100% load on every component. If you don't mind having a high delta, that's your call. Most people also don't consider that a pump also introduces heat into a loop, but it's typically minor- 15-30 watts at most unless you are running a much higher end pump.

Yes, a single 120 can cool a CPU, even when overclocked, but this is due to the ability to handle more watts than the OC CPU is producing. There comes a point where you are simply introducing more heat into the loop than can be dissipated by the radiator in question. This is why I don't understand people trying to run a lot of hot components on a tiny rad and don't understand why their load temps are high. Yes, they might be better than air, but they are worse than the potential of a correctly built water loop.

Let's keep it clean, boys.
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February 6, 2012 5:28:28 PM

rubix_1011 said:
Yes, a single 120 can cool a CPU, even when overclocked, but this is due to the ability to handle more watts than the OC CPU is producing.


Finally, you changed your opinion on this matter.

There's lots of BS about this subject of small rads not able to cool CPUs. Not just here at Toms but some other sites. This so called experts find it hard to swallow the fact that it's possible cuz it's not what is the norm for them. It would really look stupid for this expert having to have this huge rads & then here's this guy with his cool PC, very small & look he's only using a very small rad to cool his CPU yet he's able to pull it through.

It's not just the size rad that makes lots of things cooler. The case in particular, good air flow, proper placement of cooling components & on & on & on.
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February 6, 2012 5:54:28 PM

The fact that you can cool a CPU on a single 120 depends on a few factors, but the limiting factor is the amount of heat the radiator can dissipate. This has been my stance all along- and depending on how much heat you are putting out. A single 120 can usually dissipate 150-200 watts of heat, with 200 being a pretty high ceiling on a thick 120 like an RX. When you consider that high-end GPUs put out 200+ watts, you can easily see how a single 120 can be overwhelmed by a setup for a card like that.

Over-radding is generally the norm in watercooling- it's why we usually recommend a 240 rad for a CPU only loop- it allows for extra headroom and some variance of fans chosen. Not everyone wants 2000+ rpm fans to provide the airflow needed to run a small rad on a hot component. Also, when considering a 120 or a 240, a 240 is marginally the economical choice as it allows for easier expansion and a bit more headroom if you are to expand your loop to more components. This is the same reason you see guys that ran dual loops for years are now running fewer rads in a single loop, or in a hybrid-full loop config. Fewer rads, smaller footprint, better cooling potential. I understand your argument of pushing a rad's cooling potential to the upper limits on the basis of minimizing the cooling footprint, but you also limit yourself with expansion and possibly a situation of adding more later than you would have needed.

I guess where most of us consider overkill the happy median, just barely enough is a different approach, although your delta suffers from it.
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February 6, 2012 7:13:39 PM

I'm generally a fan of healthy overestimation, too, Rubix. When I calculated what PSU I wanted, I made sure it could handle all of my components on a simultaneous heavy load - something that would never, never happen in normal use. I like benchmarking and whatnot to some extent, though, so I wanted to make sure that even if every component was overclocked and maxed out my PSU would not get fried.

This is why your posts concern me. The way I see it, you and Cheaptrick's debate runs something like this:

Cheaptrick: Thick 120mm rad is enough for cooling most (e.g. Sandy-Bridge) CPU's with a good setup, such as a single component loop, good pump, waterblock, etc.

Rubix_1011: For cutting-edge processors, high-end 120mm rads simply cannot dissipate enough heat to keep up with the CPU.

I don't really see the disagreement. As long as everyone's aware of what their CPU is and what kind of heat load they can expect at their overclocking frequency, 120mm rads SHOULD be sufficient for most systems. Now, of course, the non-Sandy Bridge i7 CPUs are a different beast altogether - they can definitely approach and/or exceed the 200w dissipation threshold you talk about. In that case, it would be a bad idea to use a 120mm rad.

When I look at your last sentence, I feel like I'm missing something. "Most of us consider overkill the happy median, [but] just barely enough is a different approach, although your delta suffers from it." I mean, I can expect 125W at load, the rad can dissipate 200W (which means my rad will be running at 62.5% capacity at the absolute worst), and my Delta T will be sub-4 degrees (with the additions I mentioned). That seems like sufficient overkill for me.

As a general habit, given the heat loads of current/future processors, should 120mm be viewed as sufficient? No, I think not, and you are right to point that out. That shouldn't be the orthodox view, moving forward. For the scenario I mentioned? Yeah, a 120mm seems like PLENTY enough cooling power. Am I missing something, or do you agree with me only insofar as I'm doing "barely enough?"
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February 6, 2012 7:23:32 PM

Personally, I wouldn't ever use a single 120 on a CPU. I think you are reading the information being debated here correctly, there is just a different mentality on what the acceptable minimum is for a CPU. Yes, it is 'possible' but you would have more cooling potential with a 240 instead. You might not load that 120 radiator to 100% of capacity, but you never know. My Q6600 @ 3.6ghz has an estimated TDP at load of over 210 watts. An average 360 rad dissipates an average of 525-600 watts, which would mean a 120mm based on a similar 360 would be 1/3 the cooling capacity, and in the very best case, that is 200 watts or so with very good fans. You can see where my math is going, here.

I'm not saying it's not possible, but I'm also saying it's not the best rule of thumb when watercooling, either.
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February 6, 2012 7:41:23 PM

I see. So basically, you just like to exceed the heat load by a multiple of 2 or 3, whereas I'm fine with being in the slightly sub-2 range. I'm fine with running my rad at 62.5% of capacity on the extremely irregular occasion of extended full load...it does seem fun to try and do better by going bigger, but I just don't think this case has the room. That is, after all, my principle concern: can I safely make this case watercool everything on separate loops? I think the answer is yes, given my components.

That being said, do you have any advice on which is more important: a shroud or a push/pull config? When I look at shrouds, it seems as though you're supposed to put them between the fan and the rad, so I doubt I have room for a push/pull and a shroud...that would be two fans, two shrouds, and a double thick rad - a tower that would crash into my graphics cards. Given that that's the case, which would you suggest I place on the radiator, a shroud + one fan or a push/pull config?
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a c 324 K Overclocking
February 6, 2012 7:57:09 PM

62.5% of the rad capacity is fine, I'm not going to tell you it isn't when it's a viable option. And I wouldn't even go as far as 2x-3x...maybe 1.5x? The biggest heat producer will be GPU(s), so a total of 3x120 rad space is a great place to start for a CPU+GPU loop, even 2 GPUs depending on which ones and fans used. (I had to go back through the thread to recall the original questions).

You'd rather run a single loop for all components. This way, all radiators are fully used for cooling all components. I've never used shrouds and there is some conflicting data as Martin has found in some tests ( I linked his findings to a thread in the forum http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/page-270566_29_100.html#t1954789)

Push/pull would benefit over using shrouds at all. I know some people swear by them, others don't see the benefit. Personally, if your fans are slower than 1400 rpms, running them in pull might benefit a little better than push. Faster than 1500-1800+, push is beneficial.
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February 6, 2012 8:21:38 PM

Best answer selected by zabuzaxsta.
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