Four Closed-Loop CPU Coolers Take On Noctua's NH-D14

Installing The LQ320

The LQ320’s mounting bracket installs from the bottom. It slides past corresponding tabs on the pump body and is then rotated so that its hooks are aligned with those tabs. A large plastic locking ring prevents it from rotating again, and out of place.

Our case supports both 120 mm and 140 mm rear fans, and is shipped with a 140 mm fan installed. We had to remove it to make Zalman’s 120 mm radiator fit.

Sealed liquid coolers contain a small amount of trapped air, likely to allow room for coolant expansion, but perhaps a byproduct of the manufacturing process. Mounting the radiator with its hoses on the bottom would have allowed it to purge that bit of air from the pump body more quickly. That wasn’t possible with our case, though, because the end cap with coolant lines is also a little larger than the one at the radiator’s opposite end. As a result, we needed to mount it upside-down.

We placed the leftover fan that came with our case on its top panel, far away from the LQ320 to reduce the likelihood of interfering with its own fan. 

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  • austing
    I'm suprized to see a single 120mm rad can keep up with the h100i, bravo Zalman.
  • EzioAs
    Love the title!

    Nice review as well. Too bad you didn't test NZXT kraken cpu coolers.

    If you ask me, I'd rather stick with the D14
  • mayankleoboy1
    Keeping up and beating with all the Water coolers should earn the NH-D14 a "best of the best" award of its own. And its a ~2-3 year old product!
  • mayankleoboy1
    Small nit : i would have liked to see similar test done with a 3770K and a high OC.
  • sluggercz
    A possibly overlooked benefit of closed loop AIO systems are their ability to fit in SFF cases. While this certainly applies more to the single 120mm radiator designs, some cases (such as the Fractal Design Node 304) can accommodate 240mm radiators)

    (Source: Using a Corsair H60 w/ 2 Noctua NF-F12's in push-pull config in my Lian-Li PC-Q08; such large air-coolers as the Noctua could not fit due to the limited vertical clearance above the CPU)
  • hero1
    Awesome review. Keep it up. I remember commenting about how much better the closed loop CPU coolers have gotten and I got down voted but this just proved my point. I have very sensitive hearing and I can never hear my CoolIt R120(?) spin apart from the initial startup. And this is inside a CM Haf XM. I play games with CPU+GPU OCd to 4.5GHzby 1.2GHz and you can barely hear any noise. First I thought something was wrong then I got my friends and wife to listen whil I played with muted sound and they were impressed. Up next is water cooling my GPU when I add another one in a month in SLI mode. Gaming PCs FTW!
  • tanjo
    No NZXT Kraken and Thermaltake Water 2.0 (which is 3rd gen Asetek iirc)?
  • hero1
    BTW DH-14 still deserves an award alongside the H100i and Zalman. Not many, if any air coolers out there can keep up with top notch closed loop CPU coolers.
  • hero1
    tanjoNo NZXT Kraken and Thermaltake Water 2.0 (which is 3rd gen Asetek iirc)?


    Bit-tech.net has a review of Thermaltake water coolers and their top end 240mm took the crown. Better than H100i and the rest shown here.
  • nukemaster
    With MB control the NH D14 can be very quiet :)

    It is HUGE, but I got it for 50$ and to me that was a great value. It was also on for 50$ again at NCIX's boxing day sale.

    Sure fills up an SSF system.
    Not embedding the image because it may mess up the page.
    http://imageshack.us/a/img39/1358/dsc0458s.jpg
  • kensingtron
    I have the has even lower temps, quieter running, for a similar price and is 240g lighter!
  • kensingtron
    I have read the NH "C"14 has even lower temps, quieter running, for a similar price and is 240g lighter!
  • Crashman
    austingI'm suprized to see a single 120mm rad can keep up with the h100i, bravo Zalman.
    Others are twice as wide, Zalman is twice as thick, if you're making that choice it should be determined by your case.
    mayankleoboy1Keeping up and beating with all the Water coolers should earn the NH-D14 a "best of the best" award of its own. And its a ~2-3 year old product!
    The NH-D14 already got a "best of the best" award.
    tanjoNo NZXT Kraken and Thermaltake Water 2.0 (which is 3rd gen Asetek iirc)?
    Kraken samples got delayed until Christmas Eve, far too late for this article. All five of the companies who sent samples (the four tested plus NZXT) had previously requested this review.
  • cmcghee358
    I would've liked to see a timed trial. From my experience with an H50, H70 and NH-D14, the closed loop coolers will eventually increase in temperature overtime as they are unable to fully drop the fluid to ambient before it gets pushed back to the CPU and reheated. Heating it, and the CPU just a little bit more.

    I recommend at least a 60 minute Prime95 test of each cooler to get an accurate delta over ambient
  • rantoc
    H100i seems to end up poorly in about all tests, The H80i performs about as well. The only time the H100i perform as it should is with a push / pull config using a total of 4 fans. Could be just a firmware issue (Yes the H100i can be flashed)
  • EzioAs
    297677 said:
    I would've liked to see a timed trial. From my experience with an H50, H70 and NH-D14, the closed loop coolers will eventually increase in temperature overtime as they are unable to fully drop the fluid to ambient before it gets pushed back to the CPU and reheated. Heating it, and the CPU just a little bit more. I recommend at least a 60 minute Prime95 test of each cooler to get an accurate delta over ambient


    60mins? Somewhere around 20mins isn't enough for these CLCs to reach equilibrium?
  • rantoc
    EzioAs60mins? Somewhere around 20mins isn't enough for these CLCs to reach equilibrium?


    For an lcs without any reservoir - 60 mins sounds excessive to have them maxed out, 20 min sound more than sufficient. Some home reviewers have claimed that it takes about 60 mins for a lcs without reservoir to max out but its been busted when its been shown the ambient room temperature have been the major change for the last 45 mins...
  • Yes, if you knock your PC over you'll probably break your motherboard, but with such a big cooler it's going to take a bit more force.
  • Crashman
    cmcghee358I would've liked to see a timed trial. From my experience with an H50, H70 and NH-D14, the closed loop coolers will eventually increase in temperature overtime as they are unable to fully drop the fluid to ambient before it gets pushed back to the CPU and reheated. Heating it, and the CPU just a little bit more.I recommend at least a 60 minute Prime95 test of each cooler to get an accurate delta over ambient
    That could have been a useful suggestion if not for the fact that it was already the approximate method used.
  • Novuake
    Is it just me or do Asetek coolers always eem to have little nitty gritty issues? Anyway. nice review. Loved it BUT I much prefer Silver Arrow SB-E extreme above the Noctua. But yes, its sad that not even the H100i outpaces the Noctua...
  • amuffin
    Well, look at how much louder the CLC's have to be in order to either slightly outperform the NH-D14 or perform on par with it...
  • jay_nar2012
    BigMack70Meh... I just don't see the point of closed loop coolers and this article doesn't do anything to convince me they're worthwhile. Either do water cooling right and build yourself a nice custom loop, or don't do it at all and stick to a nice dual tower air cooler like the NH-D14.


    Closed water coolers are easy options for water cooling, it even says why they are useful, "Closed-loop liquid coolers rarely leak, they have no fill ports from which to spill, there is no separate pump or reservoir to break loose, and the small water blocks place little stress on the motherboard. Although they aren't as configurable as conventional water-cooling kits, sealed coolers boast superior portability, transportability, and maintainability".

    They are made for people who don't know how to do a custom water loop properly or for people who can't be bothered with custom coolers or can't afford the parts of custom coolers.
  • de5_Roy
    i've been wondering about a few things.
    if i want to cool an overclocked i5(4.2-4.4~ ghz) cpu with coolers like cm hyper 212 +/evo or thermaltake frio will it be better to get a corsair h80/100 instead?
    i am worried about the weight of the tower coolers because the case will be moved around a bit. in clcs' case, their longevity and effective operation (e.g. gradual heat build up issue mentioned above).
    how long these closed loop coolers last (the system may run at max load for 5-10 hrs every day)?
    edit: i am asking this because after reading this nice article and re-reading the previous h80/100 review i've been wondering if i should invest in lcs and how useful it will be in the long term. :)
  • these closed loop coolers work perfectly on graphics cards too!

    i have one on each of my gtx480's, with a 25% oc the temps never go above 60c

    perfect!