Four New Closed-Loop Liquid Coolers Versus Noctua's NH-D14

Cooling Results And Fan Speed

Since we used the same hardware configuration as last winter’s round-up, we thought a comparison of these four coolers to the previous eight would be informative. The two Enermax coolers are still unavailable unfortunately, leaving six former models to compete with today’s four. The new coolers sit atop all charts, while the perennial air cooler takes the bottom.

Motherboard voltage regulator temperatures are significantly down across the current generation of coolers, though there's no definitive explanation as to why. We’ll limit ourselves to CPU temperatures in our overall performance comparisons.

The one thing that does stand out when we narrow our focus of voltage regulator temperatures to the coolers being compared today is that the Tundra works better when we use our alternate installation rather than SilverStone’s recommended configuration. CPU core temperatures remain consistent across both Tundra TD02-based setups. A system with internally-vented graphics cards under full load would likely demonstrate higher CPU temperatures when using its fans as exhaust, but the cards themselves should run cooler due to the additional upward airflow.

Thanks to its larger fans and added width, Cooler Master’s Nepton 280L exhibits the lowest temperatures of today's coolers. It’s passed only by Thermaltake’s previous-gen Water2.0 Extreme in the above chart.

Two of the coolers from an earlier round-up didn’t provide tachometer readings for their water pumps. SilverStone’s Tundra TD02 has the greatest fan speed, which could at least partly account for lower temperatures around the CPU voltage regulator. Zalman’s high-speed Reserator3 Max fan has no frame, and air leaking from its sides could also help explain its relatively-low voltage regulator temperatures.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • squirrelboy
    length, width and thickness in inches, fan size in mm, weight in ounces. can we just have mm everywhere, and preferably kg as well?
  • razor512
    Seems they reduced their old BS claim of handling 400 watts of heat on the Reserator 3 MAX, it is now 350 watts, but even that seems unrealistic.

    Tomshardware should place some of these coolers on a resistive load of 300-400 watts and see if these coolers can actually handle the heat, or will the fluid boil and build up enough pressure to pop.
  • xiinc37
    Isn't the whole point of watercooling to move the cooler far away from the cpu, so that there is more room to utilize a significantly larger radiator? The thermalright and zalman options look smaller than the noctua...
  • rmpumper
    Grabbed a Dark Rock Pro 2 for my new setup. No regrets - looks a billion times better than D14, is less noisy, performs +-1C the same.
  • ingtar33
    got an old corsair h100 for $50, which was less then the old heatsink i had on my phII x4 965 used to go for (thermalright ultra 120), Gained a solid 8C improvement in temps, lost some of the noise advantages (the ultra had two noctua's on it)... setting it to medium gave me a 5C improvement in temps, and about the same noise levels. overall i'm pretty happy with it. it looks cleaner, that's for sure.
  • bigcyco1
    Thanks for the review.I always have said if someone is going to watercool they should go custom.IMO those all in one water cooling kits just are not worth it. They are no better than high-end air cooling like a Noctua D14, Thermalright Silver Arrow,Phanteks PH-TC14PE elect.If you want to go water cooling do a custom loop if not just go with top of the line air cooling.Better bang per buck!
  • itzsnypah
    I wish there was some way to measure the DeltaT of the Ethylene Glycol used in these CLC's because truthfully I wouldn't be surprised to see >25c when using a overclocked 3960X.
  • ChromeTusk
    I wonder how much the rear exhaust fan would have affected the Reserstor3’s results.
    In any case, I will wait for price drops or rebates.
  • djorgji
    Is it so difficult to sort the results from best to worst? Lowest to highest etc?

    Like this it is impossible to read.
  • nilfisktun
    Well, those stock fans all blows, in my optic. You might call it cheating, but try slamming in two noctua pwm fans in a H100i for instance. I run this at home, and those fans typically runs at 600-800 rpm, therefore being totally silent. My stock temps rest around 38C, with 22C ambient, and hit around 60C at full prime load. i7 2600K @ 4.2 ghz. 1.28v