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Four More Closed-Loop Liquid Coolers Take On The NH-D14

Evaluating Performance Results

So far we’ve seen Thermaltake’s Water2.0 Extreme enjoy a big performance advantage from its huge radiator, while the NZXT Kraken X40 uses higher fan speed to beat an identically-configured Corsair H90. In return, Corsair recommends that users reverse the fan. Yet, doing so creates an imbalance in air pressure and circumvents our case’s dust filtration. While all of these solutions cool our overclocked Sandy Bridge-E-based processor sufficiently, how do they compare in terms of overall performance?

Performance comparisons always start out with a baseline of 1x, yet efficiency can never exceed 100%. We adjusted the efficiency chart accordingly, and found that the Water2.0 Extreme in “Auto” mode beats the average of all test configurations by 20% (originally, 1.2x the average). That makes it the only closed-loop liquid cooler in today’s test to have an overall performance advantage over the venerable NH-D14 air cooler.

The Water2.0 Extreme’s cooling-to-noise ratio drops below the big air cooler at full fan speed. Fortunately, though, most enthusiasts won't need to use it at its maximum setting. Since the default configuration already beats Noctua's NH-D14 in CPU temperature, the biggest reason we might be tempted to push the fan further would be reducing voltage regulator temperature. As it turns out, the Water2.0 Extreme is the only liquid cooler to provide sufficient airflow around the CPU voltage regulator on its own, but only when its fans are adjusted faster-than the default speed profile.

Starting at $85, the NZXT Kraken X40 is inexpensive enough to dominate our cooling-to-price chart. Keep in mind, though, that this chart is really only useful to folks who put performance above variables like noise.

The only closed-loop cooler that doesn’t require us to recommend an auxiliary voltage regulator fan is the Water2.0 Extreme, but again, only when operating above its baseline fan speed.

  • dudewitbow
    Would have liked more review sites to pick up testing swiftechs h220.
    Reply
  • amuffin
    So the Water 2.0, Kraken, and H90 can only beat the NH-D14 by a few degrees....let's look at those joyful noise comparisons!
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/water2.0-extreme-kraken-x40-hydro-h90-elc120,3434-13.html
    Doesn't really justify buying one of these over an NH-D14, really only to say that you have "water cooling."
    Reply
  • s3anister
    amuffinSo the Water 2.0, Kraken, and H90 can only beat the NH-D14 by a few degrees....let's look at those joyful noise comparisons!http://www.tomshardware.com/review 34-13.htmlDoesn't really justify buying one of these over an NH-D14, really only to say that you have "water cooling."The justification of buying a closed-loop water cooler (at least for me) was getting the weight of a massive air-cooler off my CPU and therefore removing the stress of that weight from the motherboard. Slightly better temps are just a bonus.
    Reply
  • acktionhank
    amuffinSo the Water 2.0, Kraken, and H90 can only beat the NH-D14 by a few degrees....let's look at those joyful noise comparisons!http://www.tomshardware.com/review 34-13.htmlDoesn't really justify buying one of these over an NH-D14, really only to say that you have "water cooling."
    I've had my Noctua D14 for almost two years now. It's one of the best investments I've made in my PC. If i needed better cooling, i would just buy a third fan for the D14, and it would drop a few degree's and give better cooling than all but the top to Closed-loop coolers tested here. Plus I'd have lower noise.

    If room is not a problem there is NO reason to get a closed-loop system. A D14 with a third fan is $100 and is out performed only in thermals by more expensive and louder CL coolers.
    Reply
  • acktionhank
    s3anisterThe justification of buying a closed-loop water cooler (at least for me) was getting the weight of a massive air-cooler off my CPU and therefore removing the stress of that weight from the motherboard. Slightly better temps are just a bonus.
    I understand the issue of weight. But saving 2-3 degree's on cpu (aside from the TT 2.0) isn't worth your mobo gaining 15-17 degree's which results in a much hotter system and more stress on all your other components.
    Reply
  • echondo
    Why did they include a dual fan CLC in the testing with other single fan CLC and an air cooler?

    Theoretically, the more cooling the space, the more efficient.

    You should have compared air coolers to other air coolers, then compared single fan 120mm and 140mm CLC with other single fan CLC and then do a dual fan CLC vs. other dual fan CLC.

    I mean, come on, I'm glad you reviewed this, but you should have at least took the best air cooler, single fan CLC, and dual fan CLC in the current market and then tested and compared results.
    Reply
  • s3anister
    acktionhankI understand the issue of weight. But saving 2-3 degree's on cpu (aside from the TT 2.0) isn't worth your mobo gaining 15-17 degree's which results in a much hotter system and more stress on all your other components.That depends entirely on how airflow is within your case and as such temps vary widely between cases and setup. Believe me when I say that VRM temps are not an issue in my Define XL R2.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    echondoWhy did they include a dual fan CLC in the testing with other single fan CLC and an air cooler?It's "run what you brung", these were the leftovers from the first test.
    Reply
  • hero1
    Nice review. DH 14 sure does brawl with the best. My H80i came with such loud fans that I had to replace them with 2x Scythe GT 1850RPM which are much quieter and also made a nice drop in my load temps. However, I will be selling my H80i with it's stock fans since I am moving to complete custome water cooling build in a week or so. For those who want bang for buck, Noctua NH-D14 is the way to go.
    Reply
  • Luay
    If the double-heatsink NH-D14's size is a problem, the NH-U12P is single heatsink, and is only one or two degrees hotter than its big brother.

    I'm surprised why Noctua hasn't included their newest fans in their coolers. I'm sure its holding many potential customers off.
    Reply