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

Closed-Loop Cooling: Value Versus Versatility

Unlike our previous round-up, two of today’s closed-loop coolers are actually able to top the huge NH-D14 heat sink and fan in thermal performance. Those two coolers are the low-cost NZXT Kraken X40 and the extra-cold Thermaltake Water2.0 Extreme. Of these, the Kraken X40 is even able to beat the NH-D14 in cooling value (that is, when temperature and price are our only concerns; it doesn't fare as well acoustically).

Of course, anyone can bolster their cooling performance by using a noisy fan, which is effectively what NZXT does. Adding noise to the equation, we find that air cooling still provides the best value to stationary systems.

Even though big air delivers the best performance value, companies that ship complete system may find even utility in the lower support cost of compact liquid coolers. Our recent experiences show that heavy coolers damaging motherboards during shipping is now a rule, rather than the exception. We hate to think about what could happen if a system were to fall on its side while supporting two pounds of metal from its PCB.

Naturally, then, closed-loop coolers are the top option for damage reduction, and the NZXT Kraken X40’s combination of low price and high performance makes it the best value among these. It fits most systems that have a 140mm exhaust fan mount and a vacant top expansion slot, which means that it fits most of today's enthusiast-oriented hardware.

We still need to warn readers about the potential of voltage regulator overheating, and caution that an extra fan should be placed over the voltage regulator whenever its temperature reaches 100° Celsius. Thermaltake’s Water2.0 Extreme is the one closed-loop cooler that moves enough air past our voltage regulator to moderate its temperature. It's also the best cooler overall, and only falls behind in the value charts because of its relatively high price.

Knowing that you’re the best might be an award unto itself, but being the best-in-class makes a product eligible for our Tom's Hardware Elite award, which is affected less by pricing and more by performance. If you’re building a system with top-end hardware and don’t want the maintenance hassle of an open-loop cooler, the Water2.0 Extreme could very well be your best choice.

  • 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