Testing & Results
The CPU coolers tested were installed in a computer case in its normal, upright orientation (a NZXT H630). A 200mm top/rear exhaust fan was added to the enclosure to aid in cooling VRMs and most of the front drive cages were removed to clear the path from the 200mm intake fan. The GPU remained installed during testing. All fans were set to 100% to remove that variable from the results (motherboard fan control was disabled). In the case of liquid coolers, they were mounted in the rear exhaust location if possible (otherwise, as in the case of the Swiftech H220 and the TD02*, mounted in the “floor” of the H630 as an intake). This is how I would assume most enthusiasts would set up a similar case while overclocking a similar platform.
All tests were performed using the AIDA64 Extreme Edition System Stability test, using 100% fan settings on an Asus M5A99FX PRO R2.0 (PWM/motherboard fan controls were disabled for testing). The test was allowed to run until temperatures plateaued, then I recorded the ambient temperature of the intake air and began logging temperatures over the next minute. After an initial warm-up run, I ran each test at least three times (more if I received inconsistent results), and recorded the ambient temperature again. Once I had “good data,” I dropped the best and worst results and subtracted the (average over the test) ambient temperature from the median result to arrive at the delta T temperature you see in the chart.
Each time a heatsink was swapped, the Tuniq TX-2 thermal interface material I used for each application was cleaned off of the contact surfaces with Arctic Silver’s ArctiClean two-step TIM remover, and an appropriate amount of TX-2 replaced for the next heatsink. Due to the nature of applying TIM and mating two surfaces, I would like to adopt a 3% margin of error – even though my thermometers and the built-in thermal diode measure temperatures down to one-tenth of a degree Celsius, it could be assumed that temperatures within a degree of each other are essentially the same result.
*The SilverStone TD02 was oriented and tested in the same location as the Swiftech H220, but the hoses were not long enough to actually mount the radiator to the chassis.
Motherboard: Asus M5A99FX-PRO R2.0 w/ 1708 BIOS/UEFI
System Memory: 8GB (2x4GB) GSkill Ares 1600MHz DDR3 CL8
Processor: AMD FX-8320 Piledriver, 4.6GHz/1.428V
Video: Sapphire Radeon 7950 3GB 1000MHz Core, 1300MHz mem
Disk Drive 1: OCZ Vector 240GB
Enclosure: NZXT H630
PSU: Rosewill Lightning 800W Modular 80+ Gold
Monitor: 1920×1080 120Hz
Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit w/SP1
As shown on the previous pages, the Nepton 280L was tested in a roof-mounted exhaust configuration. Note that the TD02 and H220 were tested in different orientations, so you can still expect to get a little more performance out of the Nepton if you desire. After struggling to clear some pockets of air out of the pump in the Swiftech H220 though, I now think twice about mounting radiators lower than the CPU…but that’s a story for another time (and you should have better luck with a completely sealed system).
A great showing as expected for the first 280mm radiator I’ve personally tested. It’s unfortunate I don’t have any natural competitors on hand, as I’d really want to see where the Nepton 280L differs from the other 280mm options. The performance is there, but this might be one of the products that I’d consider testing with some sort of a noise limit – those 140mm fans are powerful and move a lot of air (and a lot of noise as a result!). I don’t normally record any sort of sound pressure, as I believe the results are invalidated as soon as you place your cooler in a different case in a different room with different dimensions at a different distance from your ears. The noise was subdued quite a bit by the H630’s foam-lined panels, but this cooler really shines with a custom PWM profile – remember, I test all coolers without any fan controls (all fans at 100%), so the bar graph shows pure cooling performance with ambient temperature accounted for. It’s intended to show the maximum performance a cooler is capable of, it’s up to you to make sure your components allow the results you want with the noise level and installation you require.