Detailed Features: Nepton 280L
Let’s get to installing the Nepton 280L on the test platform.
The universal back plate is pretty standard, and it has an important installation component that I’ve come to really appreciate. See those black plastic covers on the end of the four AMD mount points? Those are slipped over the posts that extend through the motherboard (and which become the mounting points for the water block) and hold the posts in place.
Even better, the opposite side also uses plastic washers to secure the back plate in place before mounting the water block – making the entire installation process significantly easier. I especially appreciate seeing these, as some water cooling units can be difficult to line up while holding the posts, back plate and the water block simultaneously… Cooler Master’s design keeps half of the installation hands-free so you can concentrate on attaching the water block in as level of an orientation as possible.
The copper cold plate of the Nepton 280L’s water block is ground to a finish that’s about average for coolers; at least it’s flat and smooth enough to keep the application of thermal paste to a normal amount. On top-tier products such as this I would like to see a little extra polish, even though the extra machining required to do so probably isn’t worth the extra degree or two of CPU temperature difference.
The above photo displays the AMD brackets mounted to the water block/pump assembly – simply select which set of brackets you need and attach them to the sides with four screws.
The included 140mm JetFlo fans are a new series of premium fans that use Cooler Master’s POM (PolyOxyMethylene) bearings for extended life and reduced noise characteristics. POM (sold under various brands like Delrin) is a thermoplastic that has high stiffness and some self lubricating properties, so it makes a good material for a fan bearing. We probably don’t have time to test the longevity claims, but the reduced noise profile is instantly appreciated. There isn’t a hint of grinding or whine with these fans while at idle or high speeds, and the rubber pads on the corners help isolate vibrations and dampen any further noise. Don’t be mistaken though: these are powerful fans, and get LOUD when at full RPM (which they shouldn’t hit under normal operation).
The installation of the Nepton 280L went pretty smoothly until it came time to mount the radiator and fans to the chassis. The large diameter FEP tubing is a decent length, but it isn’t long enough to mount the radiator in any other location in a full tower other than the top exhaust. This isn’t necessarily a problem as this is probably one of the most common and preferred configurations of a 280mm cooler, but in the NXZT H630 I use for testing the 140mm fan mounts up top are centered. This means a mounted radiator (and fans) will get pretty close to some motherboard components, and that 8-pin AUX CPU cable is a usual culprit. It’s close, but it does fit – just make sure to plug in that power cable first! The standard depth of the radiator prevents any other mishaps though, and allows the Nepton 280L to fit in most cases that can accommodate twin 140mm fans.
Overall, this was an easy cooling unit to install. I especially appreciate the mounting system as it is one of the least frustrating installs I’ve done for a cooler of this type. Cooler Master continues this theme of usability with the fans, as they attach easily to the radiator through the use of thumbscrews – I’m surprised it has taken this long for someone to start using thumbscrews for this purpose, as they are used for almost every other component at this point. The tradeoff of using thumbscrews is slightly reduced clearance; in locations that have a slide-in or removable dust filter you may need to forgo the use of the thumbscrews to put the filter back in place (the screws will stick up too much otherwise). Cooler Master includes enough thumbscrews for a push/pull configuration if you’d like to add additional fans – just make sure you have the room!