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Cooler Master Nepton 280L Liquid CPU Cooler Review

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Liquid Cooling Final Thoughts

The Nepton 280L is a solid option for someone looking to easily add some performance to a case with 140mm fan mounts.  I think the overall design is subtle and attractive, and the included 140mm JetFlo fans are a force to be reckoned with.  It may take some tuning to find a balance of performance and noise that is acceptable to you, but I appreciate that I get to determine that for myself.  Overall, I think they’re a step up from most included stock fans.

CM_Nepton280_WaterBlockLED

Cooler Master Nepton 280 Conclusion

While it doesn’t stray too far from the generic aluminum radiator and plastic water block AIO cooler formula, the overall design is pretty attractive.  The white LED on the pump matches Cooler Master gear nicely, and the matte/gloss black themes allow the Nepton 280L to blend in with your setup instead of define it.  It can’t match the metal finishes and accents on the Tundra series of coolers, but it’s pretty par for the course for the 280mm all in one coolers that are available.

The construction doesn’t approach that of a custom loop obviously, but the paint quality on the radiator is durable and the fan mounting threads are clean (a personal pet peeve of mine!).  The mounting bracket and back plate are solid, and I don’t feel like the unit will spring a leak (a pretty important quality in a PC water cooler).  The included screws and accessories are high-quality and substantial.  I know some take issue with the FEP tubing, but as a non-porous material it’s not a bad choice for a completely closed system that isn’t supposed to be refilled.

It’s hard to rate the functionality of CPU coolers sometimes – they all cool the CPU, so they’re all pretty functional!  It’s nice that Cooler Master added 120mm fan mounts to the radiator, as most users will be able to configure a push/pull setup with extra fans they have sitting around if they want (or if their case already contains exhaust fans, the Nepton 280L can just be mounted directly to them, space permitting).  Otherwise, you’ll run into the same caveats as any other large radiator; just make sure you have the space to take advantage of the performance.

Value is the one area I cannot address at this time, because I’ve been unable to obtain any pricing details for the Nepton 280L.  It isn’t available in retail channels yet, but I would expect it to be priced exactly at the level of the competition, with a possible premium for the JetFlo fans and the fact that it’s a brand new product.  Wherever the price ends up, I’m willing to bet the Nepton 280L will offer the same value as other 280mm coolers.  EDIT:  While the Cooler Master Nepton 280L was originally intended to be priced at $119.99 MSRP, it appears to only be available for $139.99 (Newegg Amazonplacing it right alongside the Kraken X60 at $139.99 and Corsair’s H110 at $129.99.

Honestly, the Nepton 280L doesn’t really break a lot of new ground – and that’s not really what it needs to do.  Cooler Master didn’t have an answer to the competition’s 280mm water cooling units, and now they do – and the JetFlo fans are a step up from alternative stock options.  If you’re looking for a liquid cooler to fill your twin 140mm fan mounts, the Nepton 280L is as good of a choice as any.  I wouldn’t have a problem recommending this unit to my friends (especially for the easy installation!), but it really feels designed to offer an alternative solution so you don’t have to put a Corsair or NZXT cooler in your Cooler Master case.  I can understand that, and I’m always glad to have options to choose from.

Pros:

+ 280mm of performance
+ Subdued design that blends in with most setups
+ Easier installation than the competition
+ 140mm JetFlos are a step up for stock fans
+ Thumbscrews!
+ Drilled for both 120/140mm fan configurations

Cons:

- Fans get loud at 100% (as most fans admittedly do…)
– Pump emits a whine at some RPMs
– Thumbscrews can interfere with dust filters in some cases

Ratings:

  • Performance:  8.50
  • Appearance: 8.25
  • Construction: 7.50
  • Functionality: 8.50
  • Value: 8.00

Final Score: 8.15 out of 10.


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