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Four Closed-Loop CPU Coolers Take On Noctua's NH-D14

Can Air Cooling Win A Round-Up Of Liquid Coolers?

Yielding CPU temperatures just a few degrees warmer than Corsair's top-performing H100i, generating less noise than the extra-quiet Enermax ELC240, and selling for less than any of the closer-loop liquid coolers in today's story, Noctua’s NH-D14 looks like the surprise winner in our analysis of value.

Unfortunately, if we accidentally knock our PC over, the NH-D14 might very well break our motherboard. Never mind trying to figure out the best way to ship it, installed, across the country. Even if we could guarantee that the folks at UPS and FedEx would handle our machine gently, the idea of having all of that weight rocking back and forth sounds like horrible torture for the delicate contacts of Intel’s LGA interface. From a portability perspective, big air is a bad idea.

Zalman's LQ320 takes second place in overall performance value. A look back at our performance data (before we factored in price) shows that Corsair's H100i is the best outright performer. We’re fairly certain that once we cross into $100+ territory, the $15 difference doesn't matter nearly as much.

Because many of the buyers shopping in this segment opt for closed-loop liquid cooling out of necessity and with less emphasis on price differences, we really have to consider awards for the top performing and best value liquid coolers, Corsair's H100i and Zalman's LQ320.

Our Tom's Hardware Approved recognition allows us to put the best performance and the best value on equal footing. If you're using the motherboard and the case in this story, specifically, the H100i becomes even more attractive. The LQ320 simply requires different hardware considerations to do its job well.

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