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Silverstone PF360 aRGB Review: Big Liquid and Lighting on a Budget

An aRGB budget performer, keep the change

Silverstone PF360 aRGB
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Making use of our six-core workhorse i7 5930k running at 4.20Ghz and 1.20v paired with our tried and true MSI X99S XPower AC motherboard and 16GB of Crucial Ballistix DDR4, we load up Prime95 and give the Silverstone PF360 some work to do.  We’ll evaluate the results of the PF360 against three other 360mm AIO solutions: the NZXT Kraken Z73, Cooler Master’s ML360P Silver Edition and the Cougar Helor 360.

Note that while our cooling platform is old at this point, the CPU’s 140W TDP, combined with a healthy overclock, still gives today’s coolers a tough workout. That said, we are planning to update our cooling testbed once we can actually find a Core i9-10900K in stock at a price reasonably adjacent to its MSRP.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Immediately, we see the Silverstone PF360 performing as well as many other 360mm AIOs in the field, with an incredibly narrow margin of difference. The use of a large, 360mm radiator makes thermal load dissipation far more efficient (and forgiving), leaving design differences of the copper-base cold plate, pump engineering and firmware to wick heat away from a working CPU.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Higher fan RPM can indicate a potential for high registered decibel levels. AIO pumps are nearly silent during operation and the value of reporting pump RPM has little bearing on overall cooling potential other than charting for observation, since pumps could have multiple manufacturing differences between OEMs and versions.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Strangely enough, the Silverstone PF360 utilizes the fastest spinning fans of our testing group while retaining the lowest decibel levels. While fan speed often does indicate a potential for an increase of noise levels, fan design and application can provide differences when coupled with a heatsink or liquid cooling radiator.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Silverstone PF360 takes advantage of solid thermal performance and quiet operation to provide baseline performance at 100% fan speed and very good performance at 50%. In fact, it is the only cooler which does not dip into negative integers for 100% acoustic efficiency, staying right at the average value of the test group.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Silverstone PF360 is priced nicely at $130, easily making it the lowest price of the 360mm options being compared here. While prices have dropped for the NZXT Kraken Z73 and Cooler Master ML360P Silver Edition, the Cougar Helor 360 has seen a slight increase in retail price since our initial coverage. It should also be noted that of the four solutions listed, only the NZXT Kraken Z73 offers software UI for management and control.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Thermal imaging from our FLIR ONE Pro shows a notable change in heat soak along the 360mm radiator and the coolant tubing at 50% fan speed. A slight bloom is also seen in the fan hubs at 100%, due to power draw and friction during full utilization.

The Silverstone PF360 offers solid thermal performance and aRGB lighting in a moderately priced 360mm AIO cooling solution. System builders can take advantage of the $130 price tag, letting them use those funds for additional SSD storage capacity or speccing up system memory, while still installing a large, capable liquid cooler for thermal performance and overclocking headroom

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Garrett Carver
CPU Cooling Reviewer

Garrett Carver is a contributor for Tom’s Hardware, primarily covering thermal compound comparisons and CPU cooling reviews; both air and liquid, including multiple variations of each.

  • niceguy1
    is it me or does the $20 Gammax 400 outperform this? From Thomas' own review:

    https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/deepcool-gammaxx-400-slim-tower-cpu-cooler,4460-2.html

    also seems to outperform coolers on the best list. am I nuts?
    Reply
  • HideOut
    https://www.newegg.com/p/pl?N=100008008%20600036012%20601300307&Order=PRICE

    there are several 360 AIO's for about $100. Id love to see a comparison. That $90 ID cooling system has the potential to be a world class bang for the buck. Im sure its not as efficient as the NZXT but its 95 including shipping.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    I would have liked to see the Corsair H150i in it as well. The last time it was reviewed was over two years ago, and at $150, it would have filled the gap nicely between the Silverstone and the Cougar.
    Reply
  • jeremyj_83
    Be interesting to see the 360mm Arctic Liquid Freezer II as well.
    Reply
  • vinay2070
    niceguy1 said:
    is it me or does the $20 Gammax 400 outperform this? From Thomas' own review:

    https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/deepcool-gammaxx-400-slim-tower-cpu-cooler,4460-2.html
    also seems to outperform coolers on the best list. am I nuts?
    Thats interesting. I wonder if thats true!
    Reply