Test Method, Results And Analysis
We retain the hardware configuration from our previous (non-liquid) compact cooler reviews to maintain the consistency of the results.
Since this is the first compact liquid cooler that we’re testing with this testing rig, we don’t have any data from other compact liquid coolers to compare with the Captain 120EX. Instead, we will be putting it to the test against the previous three top performing compact air coolers.
CPU Cooler Comparison Products
For today’s tests the Captain 120EX will be going up against some stiff competition from our three best compact air coolers. We have little doubt that the Captain 120EX will able to outperform the competition, however considering that it comes to the fight with an $80 price tag, and considering the $45 average price tag of the other coolers, it’s going to be interesting to see if it can still pull off the value win.
As always, the ambient temperature of the room was maintained at 26°C (78.8°F) and noise levels were recorded 0.25m from the case's front corner on the side that opens, and were corrected to the 1m industry standard by subtracting 12 decibels.
As expected the Captain 120EX outperforms all of the other coolers in our comparison set by a decent margin at both high and low fan speeds. Besides the use of liquid as the cooling medium, we also attribute the Captain 120EX’s success partly to the fact that the it jettisons its hot air out of the case, unlike the other coolers that dump their hot air back into the case to be recirculated. This ought to give it a bit of an advantage, since it almost guarantees a steady flow of cool air for the cooler to work with.
As we mentioned earlier, the new dual-blade fan included with the Captain 120EX allows it to maintain almost the same amount of static pressure as the previous model, while using a lower fan speed. For those keeping score, the fan speed for the older model’s fan was approximately 2200 RPM. The two products output a static pressure of approximately 3.31 mmH2O (Captain 120EX) and 3.71 mmH2O (Captain 120). Finally, the second tach speed listed above for the Captain 120EX is for the pump’s impeller speed, which remains constant at about 2200 RPM.
While the Captain 120EX isn’t exactly any quieter than any of the other coolers in the review, it is does keep the CPU cooler for the same amount of noise, which will give it a distinct advantage in the efficiency scores. And again for those keeping score, although we haven’t measured the model it replaces, Deepcool does advertise that the slower spinning fan on the Captain 120EX is about 8 dBA quieter.
As expected the Captain 120EX commands a bit of an advantage in our efficiency ratings, thanks to its cool temperatures and low noise levels, but is it enough to put it on top in the value measurement?
Unfortunately for the Captain 120EX its $80 price tag is enough to put it at the bottom of our list when compared to the performance and rock bottom price tags of the other coolers listed in the review. Considering that the Captain 120EX is still cheaper than a good lot of the 120mm liquid coolers, and even some of the air coolers on the market, we feel the value numbers above may not tell the whole story. Nonetheless, the lack of comparison data on competing liquid coolers coupled with a loss in the value charts, keeps the Captain 120EX from winning our unqualified recommendation at this time. However, it does still gain our seal of approval for anyone looking for a solid, high performance, compact liquid cooler.
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