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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.

Closed-Loop CPU Cooler Features
Corsair Hydro H90Enermax ELC120NZXT Kraken X40Thermaltake Water2.0 Extreme
Length6.8"6.0"6.8"10.7"
Width5.5"4.8"5.4"4.8"
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.

  • 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