Introduction and First Impressions
The Scythe Ninja 4 (SCNJ-4000) is the latest model in the Ninja series, and an imposing air cooler with dimensions similar to Noctua's massive NH-D14. But there's more to the story than size, as this is engineered for silence above all else. Read on to see just how quiet it is, and of course how well it's able to cope with CPU loads.
"The Ninja 4 is the latest model in the Ninja CPU Cooler Series, developed for uncompromising performance. It features the new T-M.A.P.S technology, an optimized alignment of heatpipes, and the back-plate based Hyper Precision Mounting System (H.P.M.S) for firm mounting and easy installation procedure. These improvements and a special, adjustable Glide Stream 120mm PWM fan result in an increased cooling performance while reducing the weight compared to his predecessor. Also the design of the heat-sink allows fan mounting on all four sides. This enables the optimal integration of the Ninja 4 in the air flow of the pc-case and reduces turbulence and the emergence of hotspots."
The Ninja 4 is built around a very large, square heatsink, which allows the single 120 mm fan to be mounted on any side, and this PWM fan offers three speed settings to further control noise. And noise is really what the Ninja is all about, with some really low minimum speeds possible on what is a very quiet Scythe fan to begin with.
Will a single low-speed fan design affect the ability to keep a CPU cool under stress? Will the Ninja 4's fan spin up and become less quiet under full load? These questions will soon be answered.
Subject: Cases and Cooling, Shows and Expos | January 8, 2016 - 05:38 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: CES, CES 2016, amd, cpu cooler, air cooler
AMD seems to be starting off 2016 right. This is the year that they intend to switch to the Zen microarchitecture, and hopefully reclaim a profitable CPU market-share. While that's later in the year, they showed off a new stock cooler that will be bundled with upcoming processors. We don't have a press release or announcement for it, but they did publish a video to their Red Team fan community and they discussed it with attendees of the show.
The new cooler, called the Wraith, is significantly larger than their previous stock heatsink. It is rated at 125W, up from the previous offering's 95W. This dissipation wattage might allow some overclocking room, depending on the chosen TDP at launch, while providing lower noise at stock voltage and frequency. The fan is now constant speed, so it shouldn't whine under load. It might have also allowed them to tune the fan for its RPM, too.
Speaking of lower noise, the aforementioned video shows a dramatic reduction in that area. We're force to trust their recording and frequency-distribution graph. If accurate, the noise appears to be much lower and the energy is spread out over many frequencies.
No clue when it will launch, though.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 8, 2015 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: water cooling, water cooler, thermaltake, cpu cooler
Thermaltake has announced the Water 3.0 Riing RGB, which is a water cooler with multi-color LEDs. Two SKUs will be available, which differ in radiator size. As the title of this post suggests, your choice will be between double-wide (240mm) and triple-wide (360mm) radiators. The lights surround the fan in a ring, and can be modified by a remote into a few different settings. Thermaltake notes that these settings persist after a reboot. I would think that's expected, but the wording sounds like a subtle reference to something. Over my head regardless.
I should note that there appears to be a typo in Thermaltake's specification sheet. On the Water 3.0 Riing RGB 360, it claims that its dimensions are 326x120x27mm. 326mm is the same length as its rubber tubing and, to say the least, it seems very unlikely that they intend to fit three, 120mm fans (360mm total) into a length that's 326mm long (plus fit the hosing off one side). The 240 model is listed as being 270mm long, which leaves 30mm for spacing and tubing, and that seems about right. I assume that they accidentally wrote the tube length as the radiator length. I have attempted to contact Thermaltake PR for clarification. I'll update the post if I get through and receive a response. This should be fine for most users looking to install a triple-wide radiator, but you should hold off if a few centimeters make or break your build.
No pricing or availability has been released yet.
Subject: Processors | December 4, 2015 - 11:35 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Skylake, Intel, heatsink, damage, cpu cooler, Core i7 6700K, Core i7 6600K, bend, 6th generation, 3rd party
Some Intel 6th-gen "Skylake" processors have been damaged by the heatsink mounts of 3rd-party CPU coolers according to a report that began with pcgameshardware.de and has since made its rounds throughout PC hardware media (including the sourced Ars Technica article).
The highly-referenced pcgameshardware.de image of a bent Skylake CPU
The problem is easy enough to explain, as Skylake has a notably thinner construction compared to earlier generations of Intel CPUs, and if enough pressure is exerted against these new processors the green substrate can bend, causing damage not only to the CPU but the pins in the LGA 1151 socket as well.
The only way to prevent the possibility of a bend is avoid overtightening the heatsink, but considering most compatible coolers on the market were designed for Haswell and earlier generations of Intel CPU this leaves users to guess what pressure might be adequate without potentially bending the CPU.
Intel has commented on the issue:
"The design specifications and guidelines for the 6th Gen Intel Core processor using the LGA 1151 socket are unchanged from previous generations and are available for partners and 3rd party manufacturers. Intel can’t comment on 3rdparty designs or their adherence to the recommended design specifications. For questions about a specific cooling product we must defer to the manufacturer."
It's worth noting that while Intel states that their "guidelines for the 6th Gen Intel Core processor using the LGA 1151 socket are unchanged from previous generations", it is specifically a change in substrate thickness that has caused the concerns. The problem is not limited to any specific brands, but certainly will be more of an issue for heatsink mounts that can exert a tremendous amount of pressure.
An LGA socket damaged from a bent Skylake CPU (credit: pcgameshardware)
From the Ars report:
"Noctua, EK Water Blocks, Scythe, Arctic, Thermaltake, and Thermalright, commenting to Games Hardware about the issue, suggested that damage from overly high mounting pressure is most likely to occur during shipping or relocation of a system. Some are recommending that the CPU cooler be removed altogether before a system is shipped."
Scythe has been the first vendor to offer a solution to the issue, releasing this statement on their support website:
"Japanese cooling expert Scythe announces a change of the mounting system for Skylake / Socket 1151 on several coolers of its portfolio. All coolers are compatible with Skylake sockets in general, but bear the possibility of damage to CPU and motherboard in some cases where the PC is exposed to strong shocks (e.g. during shipping or relocation).This problem particularly involves only coolers which will mounted with the H.P.M.S. mounting system. To prevent this, the mounting pressure has been reduced by an adjustment of the screw set. Of course, Scythe is going to ship a the new set of screws to every customer completely free of charge! To apply for the free screw set, please send your request via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact form on our website."
The thickness of Skylake (left) compared to Haswell (right) (credit: pcgameshardware)
As owner of an Intel Skylake i5-6600K, which I have been testing with an assortment of CPU coolers for upcoming reviews, I can report that my processor appears to be free of any obvious damage. I am particularly careful about pressure when attaching a heatsink, but there have been a couple (including the above mentioned Scythe HPMS mounting system) that could easily have been tightened far beyond what was needed for a proper connection.
We will continue to monitor this situation and update as more vendors offer their response to the issue.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | December 3, 2015 - 04:38 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: water cooler, SFF, mini-itx, liquid CPU cooler, H5SF, cpu cooler, Corsair H5 SF, corsair
Corsair has launched the ultra-compact liquid cooler from their Bulldog chassis as a standalone product, and it's a unique solution for mini-ITX CPU cooling.
Originally announced at this year's Computex as part of the Bulldog DIY system, this low-profile liquid cooler is designed to allow users of some of the smallest mini-ITX systems to not only keep their CPU's cool, but even allows some serious overclocking with up to 150 W of thermal dissipation. The design uses a blower-style fan that pushes air accross a compact radiator, and the entire unit is only 84 mm high for use in spaces that wouldn't ordinarily be able to support a powerful CPU cooler.
Corsair provides this chart comparing performance against SFF air coolers
"Further expanding Corsair’s best-selling Hydro series line of liquid CPU coolers, the H5 SF is Corsair’s first liquid cooler designed specifically to meet the thermal demands of small form factor PCs. Easy to install and just 84mm tall, the H5 SF is compact enough to fit inside the most confined PC case, yet still offers up to 150W of heat dissipation, enough to cool today’s demanding high-end CPUs with overclocking headroom to spare.
The all-new design fits directly on top of any Mini-ITX motherboard with no need to attach the H5 SF to any external fan mounts or brackets, maximizing compatibility across a wide range of Mini-ITX and small form factor cases. A high-performance copper cold plate efficiently draws heat away from the CPU, where it’s then transferred into the integrated 120mm x 40mm radiator and exhausted by the H5 SF’s low-noise tuned 120mm blower fan. What’s more, the H5 SF’s blower fan also draws air over other heat producing motherboard components such as VRMs and chipset heatsinks, helping to keep your whole system cool.
Fully compatible with Corsair’s Obsidian Series 250D, Carbide Series Air 240, and Graphite Series 380T cases, the H5 SF is also critical to Corsair’s upcoming Bulldog chassis, allowing the new case to deliver low-noise, 4K living room gaming without compromising CPU choice. Now enthusiasts can take advantage of Bulldog’s H5 SF cooling for themselves and fit even the most demanding of CPUs, into the smallest of cases."
The mounting system is unique, with a bracket that attaches inline with the screws securing the mini-ITX motherboard, requiring no additional contact with the enclosure. It's a clever idea that permits the installation of this liquid solution wherever an air cooler of up to 84 mm is possible.
Here are the specifications from Corsair:
- Socket Support: AMD: AM2, AM3, FM1, FM2, Intel LGA: 115X, 1366
- Cold Plate Material: Copper
- Radiator Material: Aluminum
- Radiator dimensions: 167mm x 40mm x 57mm
- Total cooler height: 84mm
- Fan dimensions: 120mm x 32mm
- Fan speed: 1000 - 1800 RPM
- Fan airflow: 12 - 24 CFM
- Fan pressure: 2.5 - 8.3 mmH2O
- Fan noise level: 36 - 42 dB(A)
- Tubing: Low-Permeability Tubing
- Warranty: Five years
The H5 SF carries an MSRP of $79.99, and this cost (which is in keeping with Corsair's existing 120 mm pricing) seems pretty reasonable considering the unique implementation and thermal capability. Available starting today, the H5 SF is already listed for sale on Newegg.com for the $79.99 MSRP.
Introduction and First Impressions
DEEPCOOL's Gabriel is part of their Gamer Storm series of products, and this low-profile design is rated up to 95 W to keep the latest processors cool under load. So how does it perform? We'll take a close look at the performance of this mini-ITX inspired air cooler in today's review.
(Image credit: DEEPCOOL)
There are so many inexpensive options for air cooling on the market that it's almost overwhelming. At the top of the list in popularity are low-cost tower coolers from Cooler Master, with the ubiquitous Hyper 212 Evo at around $30, and the slightly smaller Hyper T4 at $25. But with a height of 159 mm for the 212 Evo and 152.3 mm for the T4 these coolers are not going to fit in every situation - and certainly not in a slim enclosure. There are plenty of low-profile CPU coolers on the market, one of the lowest being the Noctua NH-L9i, a $40-ish cooler which stands just 37 mm tall (with the fan!), but the tan and reddish-brown color scheme isn't for everyone, and the ultra-low profile design (which is also limited to a 92 mm fan) won't be required for many builds.
So when I began looking for a low-profile air cooler for my own use recently one of the options that cought my eye was this Gabriel, part of DEEPCOOL's Gamer Storm line. The Gabriel had the advantage of being just $34.99 on Newegg when I picked it up, making it less expensive (and less tan and brown) than the Noctua. At 60 mm tall with its 120 mm fan installed, the Gabriel should fit in most low-profile enclosures, considering even half-height expansion cards are a bit taller at about 69 mm. The Gabriel also offers an understated look with a grey (well, mostly grey) fan. Of course appearances mean nothing unless it's well made and cools effectively, and for myself the question became, is this going to rival the experience of a Noctua (long my preferred brand) CPU cooler?
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of Noctua
Courtesy of Noctua
Noctua is a well respected manufacturer in the highly competitive CPU cooler space, offering products optimized for high efficiency and low-noise. The newest members of their S series coolers, the NH-D15S and NH-C14S, are based on known designs tweaked for maximum compatibility to ensure proper fit on your hot new Haswell, Haswell-E, or Skylake supported motherboard. Both coolers come standard with Noctua's SecuFirm2™ mounting mechanism, ensuring a secure mount between the cooler and CPU.
Courtesy of Noctua
The NH-D15S CPU cooler is a dual tower cooler with a single fan sandwiched between the two radiator towers. The unit can support a maximum of three fans, but may suffer compatibility issues with certain motherboards when used outside of its default single-fan configuration. Noctua designed the cooler with their typical hybrid approach, combining a copper base plate and heat pipes with aluminum finned cooling towers. The base plate and heat pipes are nickel-plated for looks and to prevent corrosion. At an MSRP of $89.99, the Noctua NH-D15S comes with a premium price to match is colossal size.
Courtesy of Noctua
The NH-C14S CPU cooler is single radiator cooler in a horizontal orientation with a single fan. The radiator's horizontal orientation gives the cooler a lower height in comparison to a cooler with the traditional veritical radiators while maintaining equivalent cooling performance. In typical Noctua fashion, the NH-C14S combines a copper base plate and heat pipes with aluminum finned cooling towers for an optimal hybrid cooling solution. The base plate and heat pipes are nickel-plated for looks and to prevent corrosion. The NH-C14S also retails at an MSRP of $89.99.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | November 4, 2015 - 03:24 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: water cooler, liquid cooler, CRYORIG A80, CRYORIG A40 Ultimate, CRYORIG A40, CRYORIG, cpu cooler, closed-loop, AIO
CRYORIG has a new take on the venerable closed-loop liquid CPU cooler, addressing concerns about the temps of surrounding components on the board by including a reversible fan which mounts to the CPU block.
“The CRYORIG’s A40/A40 Ultimate and A80 HLC units are built on the base of Asetek’s 5th Generation Pump and CPU Cold Block technology with a small but obvious twist. With an additional adjustable and detachable Airflow fan, the CRYORIG A Series HLC is capable of lowering the temperatures of the components surrounding the CPU by up to 20%.”
There are three models in the series, with a standard 240 mm width A40, the A40 Ultimate which features a thicker 1.5-inch radiator (38.5 mm vs. 27.5 mm), and the 280 mm A80.
The company has released this slick video to demonstrate the difference this additional fan makes:
It’s an interesting concept and certainly any airflow over motherboard components it better than none, though I am slightly worried about increased noise from the 70 mm pump-mounted fan providing the hybrid cooling.
The new coolers are being released in Japan on November 5, with “mid-to-late November” promised for worldwide availability.
New Components, New Approach
After 20 or so enclosure reviews over the past year and a half and some pretty inconsistent test hardware along the way, I decided to adopt a standardized test bench for all reviews going forward. Makes sense, right? Turns out choosing the best components for a cases and cooling test system was a lot more difficult than I expected going in, as special consideration had to be made for everything from form-factor to noise and heat levels.
Along with the new components I will also be changing the approach to future reviews by expanding the scope of CPU cooler testing. After some debate as to the type of CPU cooler to employ I decided that a better test of an enclosure would be to use both closed-loop liquid and air cooling for every review, and provide thermal and noise results for each. For CPU cooler reviews themselves I'll be adding a "real-world" load result to the charts to offer a more realistic scenario, running a standard desktop application (in this case a video encoder) in addition to the torture-test result using Prime95.
But what about this new build? It isn't completely done but here's a quick look at the components I ended up with so far along with the rationale for each selection.
CPU – Intel Core i5-6600K ($249, Amazon.com)
The introduction of Intel’s 6th generation Skylake processors provided the
excuse opportunity for an upgrade after using an AMD FX-6300 system for the last couple of enclosure reviews, and after toying with the idea of the new i7-6700K, and immediately realizing this was likely overkill and (more importantly) completely unavailable for purchase at the time, I went with the more "reasonable" option with the i5. There has long been a debate as to the need for hyper-threading for gaming (though this may be changing with the introduction of DX12) but in any case this is still a very powerful processor and when stressed should produce a challenging enough thermal load to adequately test both CPU coolers and enclosures going forward.
GPU – XFX Double Dissipation Radeon R9 290X ($347, Amazon.com)
This was by far the most difficult selection. I don’t think of my own use when choosing a card for a test system like this, as it must meet a set of criteria to be a good fit for enclosure benchmarks. If I choose a card that runs very cool and with minimal noise, GPU benchmarks will be far less significant as the card won’t adequately challenge the design and thermal characteristics of the enclosure. There are certainly options that run at greater temperatures and higher noise (a reference R9 290X for example), but I didn’t want a blower-style cooler with the GPU. Why? More and more GPUs are released with some sort of large multi-fan design rather than a blower, and for enclosure testing I want to know how the case handles the extra warm air.
Noise was an important consideration, as levels from an enclosure of course vary based on the installed components. With noise measurements a GPU cooler that has very low output at idle (or zero, as some recent cooler designs permit) will allow system idle levels to fall more on case fans and airflow than a GPU that might drown them out. (This would also allow a better benchmark of CPU cooler noise - particularly with self-contained liquid coolers and audible pump noise.) And while I wanted very quiet performance at idle, at load there must be sufficient noise to measure the performance of the enclosure in this regard, though of course nothing will truly tax a design quite like a loud blower. I hope I've found a good balance here.
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Water cooling has become very popular over the last few years with the rise in use of the all-in-one (AIO) coolers. Those type of coolers combine a single or dual-fan radiator with a combination CPU block / pump unit, pre-filled from the factory and maintenance free. They are a good cooling alternative to an air-based CPU cooler, but are limited in their expandability potential. That is where the DIY water cooling components come into place. DIY water cooling components allow you to build a customized cooling loop for cooling everything from the CPU to the chipset and GPUs (and more). However, DIY loops are much more maintenance intensive than the AIO coolers because of the need to flush and refill the loops periodically to maintain performance and component health.
With the increased popularity in liquid cooling type CPU coolers and the renewed interest and availability of enthusiast-friendly parts with the introduction of the Intel Z97, X99, and Z170 parts, it was past time to measure how well different CPU water blocks performed on an Intel X99 board paired up with an Intel LGA2011-v3 5960X processor. The five water blocks compared include the following:
- Koolance CPU-360 water block
- Koolance CPU-380I water block
- Swiftech Apogee HD water block
- Swiftech Apogee XL water block
- XSPC Raystorm water block
Technical Specifications (taken from the manufacturer websites)
|Water Block Specifications|
|CPU-360||CPU-380I||Apogee HD||Apogee XL||Raystorm|
|Block Top Material||Nickel-plated Brass||POM Acetal|
|Base Plate Material||Nickel-plated Copper||Copper|
|Water Inlet||Jet Impingement Plate||Straight Pass-Thru||Jet Impingement Plate|