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

The Search For A Better Sink

Whether we’re talking Porsche engines or performance PCs, surface area has always been liquid cooling’s greatest advantage. You get additional benefits from moving your radiator to a cooler part of your case, though few PC enclosures are designed for this (here’s one). And while it's possible to build an air-only solution similar in size to our favorite liquid-based products, we don't like the thought of a multi-pound copper heat sink hanging from our motherboards. After all, we've seen big coolers devastate processors and sockets when they're strapped in and shipped.

As a result of those logistic nightmares, most boutique builders use liquid cooling of some sort in their overclocked PCs. Of course, those high-end shops have enough experience to know not to ship a filled water-cooled box with an air vent. And they certainly can't expect most of their customers to know how to top-off their own systems, or follow a regular flush and fill routine. Closed-loop coolers are consequently popular because they prevent both leakage and maintenance hassles.

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Closed-Loop CPU Cooler Features
Row 0 - Cell 0 Corsair Hydro H90Enermax ELC120NZXT Kraken X40Thermaltake Water2.0 Extreme
Rad. Thickness1.1"1.3"1.1"1.5"
Cooling Fans1 x 140 x 25 mm2 x 120 x 25 mm1 x 140 x 25 mm2 x 120 x 25 mm
Total Thickness2.1"3.3"2.1"2.5"
Control TypeMotherboard Fan HeadersMotherboard Fan HeadersSoftware ProgrammableSoftware Programmable
Weight28 Ounces28 Ounces32 Ounces41 Ounces
AMD SocketsAM2 to AM3+AM2 to AM3+AM2 to AM3+AM2 to AM3+
Intel Interfaces1156/1155, 1366, 2011775, 1156/1155, 1366, 20111156/1155, 1366, 20111156/1155, 1366, 2011
Web Price$100$90$85$145

The Noctua NH-D14

If you don't plan to move your PC, you might not be as stressed about the weight of a big air cooler. For you, liquid cooling is all about temperature control. Therefore, the preeminent big air cooler serves as today’s performance baseline in a follow-up to December's Four Closed-Loop CPU Coolers Take On Noctua's NH-D14.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.