15 Jul

More upgrades is betterers

Category:Hacking, Hardware

Gots m’self a new CPU cooler. Not that my i5 is running hot with the stock cooler (between 45 and 55 degreece celsius idle), but it could be cooler. Also, I’m kind of gearing up for Assembly 2013 Summer. That is always an extra strain on the machine since there are like, 3000 other machines there, and sometimes things get hot. Like not in a sexual way, but in a temperature way!

I also have the idea that a proper, semi-expensive CPU cooler will be quieter. So I went with Noctua just to be sure.

Noctua makes the best fans, if you ask me. Great build quality, silent as all hell. The colors are.. well, they could be better. But I heard recently that they are doing other colors soon, or maybe even now. So this is the good old beige-brown color scheme.

I looked around for a while, weighing the different Noctua options. I even started looking at closed-loop water-cooling. While this might be a good option, it’s something I decided against, mainly because I have little to no experience in water-cooling (though these new sets, like say.. the Corsair H100, 100i, 110 etc. series is crazy easy to install), and because many of those are considerably large. I somehow like the open space in my case, which is probably bollocks from a cooling perspective, but what ever. There’s also the price difference.

In the end it was one of the following: The Noctua NH-D14, the NH-U12P Se2 or, the NH-U12S.

The D14 is the big daddy. It’s been out for a few years, and it consists of a honking huge block, and up to three fans. Easily one of the better aircooling rigs out there, and has been for a good while. It’s rather expensive though, at around 80€ (usually) plus shipping. Weighing in at a whopping 1240 grams with two fans, it’s a beast. So maybe you’re like me and you don’t want to drop quite 80 bucks on a cooler? Then there’s the U12S and the U12P. The S version is the newer one, and the P version is the predecessor. I can’t really explain why i got the older P-version instead of the S version. The price difference was 5 euros. There were a lot more reviews of the U12P SE2, which I ended up getting, and mostly they were positive, even praising. There’s a 14 cm version of this, called the U14S, priced at around 70 bucks.

The Noctua NH-U12P Se2 comes with two NF-P12 fans in the box. This is a brilliant fan on its own already, and I imagine it’ll perform really well with the cooler. The block (which has four heatpipes) weighs in at 940 grams with the two fans. It’s compatible with most CPU sockets. The box and product page lists LGA1156, but that’s essentially the exact same size as the LGA1155 which my i5 has, and is compatible with both. The SE2 box comes with a low noise adapter, and an ultra low noise adapter, which you can use to take the RPM down to 1300/900 rpm, respectively. I’ll post some kind of results with my specific rig later. As a reference, while I am typing this, I still have the Intel i5 stock cooler plugged in, Firefox with five tabs (one with youtube), and a few other apps, the temperature is 47-48 degrees celsius.  The ambient temperature in the apartment is an uncomfortable 27 degrees, so the 48 isn’t that bad actually. I’m running two 140mm Noctua fans in the case, one on the side pushing air out, and one in the bottom of the case, pulling air in. The case, a Fractal Design Define R4 has something at the front too, I think. The noise level, while idle, is noticeable, but very unobtrusive. A steady low-ish hum.

There are two installation guides: one for Intel sockets, one for AMD sockets. I’ve done steps 1 through 5, kind of. I haven’t mounted the backplate yet, obviously, since I’m still using the machine. There are four ‘anti-vibration strips’, that are mounted on each side of the cooling block, which are supposed to dampen vibration from the fans. Two are mounted on each side. Fans are then attached using steel clips. The install guide mentions that adding the second fan, sucking air behind the heatsink, will take the temps down an average of 1-3 degrees. They also note, obviously, that both fans should be blowing the same way.

I’m trying to figure out how to mount the fans. The picture in the guide isn’t the best possible. Once I’ve done that successfully, I’ll take em back off, because they can’t be mounted during installation (prevents you from screwing the heatsink onto the motherboard mounting brackets.

Oh, also the SE2 box contains some Noctua NT-H1 thermal compound. Whether it differs from the Arctic Silver 5 that I have, who knows. It’s supposedly good.

More after I’m done. Hopefully.

Done. Two fans installed, no low noise adapters. Temps are down to around 32-35 degrees idle. So about 10 degrees out of the box. Thermal compound usually takes a while to settle in, so these are probably not the final temps. Anywhoo. A 10 degree idle drop is satisfactory to say the least. I’ll run some Prime95 tomorrow to see how it performs under load.

The toughest part of the installation, easily, was getting the fans mounted on the heatsink. The clips are good, and the mounting is solid, after you figure out where they go and how you’re supposed to bend them so they click in place. The backplate mounting behind the motherboard was great. Everything fit like a glove. Screws were solid and easy to fit.

Also, I removed a metric fuckton of dust. A good summer-cleaning never hurts, and lowers temps in any setup.

Temperatures were measured using Real Temp 3.70.

Edit2: Some “load”-notes. Running Prime95 (for an hour or so) gave me a max of 63 degrees; significantly lower than with the retail intel fan.

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