Deepcool’s Gamer Storm brings us a dual-120mm liquid cooler with enhanced style and reduced price, but can it still deliver the performance?
Gamer Storm should be synonymous with Deep Cool by now, as the company lists products from both its enthusiast and commercial builder business on the same web page. Growing out from oversized air to “AIO Cooling” where “all in one” refers to closed loops, Gamer Storm represents its latest generation in liquid cooling. The best news for enthusiasts might be that Deepcool is bucking the trend of $140 coolers, with its Captain 240 now selling for $110.
The big question is whether that 20 percent lower price will cost Captain 240 buyers anything in performance. It may simply be true that some of Deepcool’s competitors are over-charging. Or, Deepcool might have a more-efficient supply stream. Or, its competitors might be spending all that extra money on marketing. We’d certainly like to know, so we’re putting the Gamer Storm on an overclocked Haswell-E system to find out.
CPU Cooler Feature
Getting To Meet The Captain
The Captain 240 also adds AMD’s rectangular mounting pattern to its behind-the-motherboard support plate, where Swiftech’s pricier and more-configurable solution requires builders to use their motherboard’s original threaded support plate. While Swiftech’s solution is easier to use, Deepcool’s solution is preferable for those rare motherboards that have unthreaded support plates.
Like its most closely sized rival, the Captain 240 is equipped with a PWM fan hub. However, Deepcool’s hub supports only four fans, and lacking any auxiliary power input, it's limited to the output capacity of a single motherboard fan header.
The Captain 240 doesn’t include a tube of thermal compound, but instead ships with a sheet of the stuff pre-applied. Beneath it, the copper base is very flat and smooth, but not polished.
LGA-2011 (v3) users get a set of standoffs for mounting the Captain 240’s cooling head (the pump and water block combination), while everyone else gets a set of long screws to go with the board’s universal support plate. Both sets of hardware can be seen four photos above, and both sets use the same set of knurled nuts to complete the installation.
The entire pump cap lights up, shining through a clear tube of coolant. We expected to see a few bubbles flushed out upon first use, but those expected bubbles had already been evacuated to the radiator by the time we turned the system on.
We’re using our 2015 Reference PC minus its open test bed (and obviously the reference cooler) to test the H220-X in a closed system. The CPU frequency is up to 4.2GHz in today’s test.
Test System Components
Software And Drivers
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce 347.52|
|Chipset||Intel INF 220.127.116.117|
|Prime95||v27.9, AVX FFT length 8K, continuous for at least 2 hours|
|RealTemp 3.70||Maximum Temperature, All Cores Averaged|
|Galaxy CM-140 SPL Meter||Tested at 1/4 m, corrected to 1 m (-12 db), dB(A) weighting|
Since we’re not testing the capacity of a case, but instead testing the capacity of a CPU cooler inside a high-airflow case, the graphics card will be allowed to idle throughout today’s test.
Before we get to that, here’s how the Captain 240 compares to recently-tested competitors.
The gamer storm differs from Swiftech’s H220-X in a couple important ways, the first being that it’s a true sealed system rather than a factory-sealed collection of open-loop components. Those extra line fittings alone might be worth Swiftech’s price premium, but only if you’re actually in need of a system that can be opened-up to add more components (such as a GPU cooler).
Perhaps I was a little too harsh on Swiftech’s H220-X in our last review, noting its cooling capacity deficit compared to the 2x140mm Kraken X61. Then again, it also fell behind the NH-D15. Deepcool’s Gamer Storm Captain 240 (try saying that three-times, fast) falls somewhere between the similarly-sized H220-X and the enormous Kraken X61, and that gives us hope for the overall performance and value analysis.
“Tach 2” in the above chart is the motherboard reading for either the second fan of an air cooler or the pump of a liquid cooler. Many pumps produce multiple tachometer signals per revolution though, and we believe the 5252 number seen here is twice the pump’s actual RPM.
What the Captain 240 gained in lower temperatures it lost in the noise battle, being the second noisiest cooler tested.
Where once we saw tiny air coolers reach superb cooling numbers while using screaming fans, today’s larger coolers are somewhat optimized for the noise expectations of actual consumers. The true measure of a cooler’s performance is a comparison of its temperature reduction to its noise increase, and the oversized Kraken X61 topped that metric. Supposing you only have room for a dual-120mm cooler, the H220-X takes second place, followed by the Gamer Storm Captain 240.
Regardless of whether you call its brand Deepcool or Gamer Storm, the Captain 240 produces slightly lower temperatures than its most closely-sized competitor, at a far lower price, and with far greater noise. In fact, it produces more noise in low-speed mode than that competitor produces at full speed. There must be an advantage somewhere though, right?
An actual price reduction of nearly 24 percent allows the Captain 240 to gain a one percent performance-per-dollar advantage over its high-end counterpart. We need to look at NZXT’s larger radiator and fans if we want to find a liquid cooler with enough of a performance advantage to gain the upper hand in value. Unfortunately, many cases don’t support NZXT’s two-by-140mm configuration.
We could talk about the elephant in the room, Noctua’s NH-D15. Speaking of elephants though, that big air cooler hangs nearly three-pounds of metal off the CPU socket. Though I still use big air in my immobilized office machine, that’s just a little too much heft to be moving around in such an insecure manner. We’ve broken a few boards that way.
Weight is the biggest reason any of us would choose a mid-sized liquid cooler over big air. Sure, there’s also more space around the CPU socket to install and remove memory, but heft is the thing that weighs on our minds. The Gamer Storm Captain 240 by Deepcool is both light on the socket and light on the wallet.