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Choosing between the NH-D14, H70 and Megahalems...

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi there. Every time I've googled an overclocking query, this site never fails to show up. You guys seem to be consistently good at offering overclocking advice, so I thought I'd register and contribute back.

This post is for those types that like to think too much about what to buy

Basically, I spent hours (literally hours upon hours) researching what CPU cooler I should get for my i7 930, which I intend to bring to 4GHz stable (at least). Unfortunately, I'm one of those types that has to do a full evaluation of everything, and not just be content with some advice I've read after five minutes of looking. So, I'm going to post my results and hope other lookers benefit from my research. I also looked at lots of other coolers, but these seemed to be the three main contenders for me.


Corsair H70

In my opinion, looks the best by a mile. It may not be "true" water cooling but it still shares many of the visual benefits. Can also be modded to greatly improve performance. Without fail, the advice most have given on the H70 was that you should just spend a few more bucks and get an XSPC RASA kit or something. Unfortunately, in the US, I saw them priced at $130, whereas I can't get one over here cheaper than £150. That's nearly double the price of the H70 over here!

Official review sites almost consistently say that the H70 is bested by the Noctua NH-D14. This can be reduced to an even battle by placing new fans on the H70, but that only makes the thing even more expensive. Same with using shrouds and so forth, and I'm not stupid enough to begin my first voyage into water cooling by modding, and ruining the warranty of this £76 object, nor am I confident that it wouldn't explode inside my case.

I intended to buy custom fans with it. While this would have improved performance, the fact that I'd be paying almost 40% more for comparable performance to a NH-D14 wasn't worth it. It's reported noisiness also put me off. Noise isn't too much of an issue to me with surround sound headphones, but my case has the capacity to be almost silent while retaining good airflow and if I can achieve something close to that, I'd rather go for that.

While the H70 is very unliklely to leak, an air cooler won't leak coolant over my machine if something goes wrong


Prolimatech Megahalems Rev.B

Still seems to be the darling of many air coolers here. The "megatron" does look cool, and I was one click away from buying one with a pair of Cooler Master Excaliburs. Unfortunately, this worked out to be more expensive than a NH-D14, and the general consensus I can gather from the tons of benchmarks and comparisons I've read is that the D14 is almost consistently better (even when in one benchmark where the Megahalems was worse, despite having Ultra Kaze 3000s with CFMs over 100).

It looks awesome. The fact that it doesn't come with fans is probably why its benchmarks are so inconsistent (people using different fans). But yes, still worked out as paying more for less when delivery to Northern Ireland was factored in. Which is a shame, because I also really like the look of it.


Noctua NH-D14

So the reviews seem to say that this heatsink is the best you can get without at least doubling your money on a custom loop (and I will do that some other time, maybe). It's the cheapest one I could get and seems to be consistently the best performer, and also the most silent (for those of us who intend to overlclock like mad). So what's the problem?

Well, it's huge, and it's hideous. It's so ugly it makes me suicidal just looking at it. I mean honestly, what were they trying to replicate with those fans? Goatse? Unfortunately I have a case with a window, so it's fugliness would haunt me.

While I'm not convinced that it will warp my motherboard due to its weight, it's still twice the size of the Megahalems. Fortunately not an issue technically, but still aesthetically. It's skin and chocolate-covered fans won't exactly go well with the "blue" theme of my Antec 902. Regardless, with Prolimatech fan clips, you can add custom fans, but as far as I can tell you wouldn't get too much cooling benefit, as the monsters it comes with are actually very good.


Water cooling?

Not that it's specifically out of my budget, it's just I can't justify the cost/risk as of yet. Read a lot into it as well, but between my lack of experience, and the fact I don't want to push my 930 past what air cooling can do anyway, I couldn't justify it. Besides, if I'm spending that kind of money, I'd rather go all the way and get a water chiller!


So what did I go for?
The Noctua NH-D14, just simply because I wanted pure performance and was willing to sacrifice good looks for it. I can also replace the hideous fans if I need to. I intend to mount it vertically (which seems to increase cooling, apparently due to the fact that heat rises anyway, despite "drawing hot air off the graphics card" concerns), especially considering the 200mm fan I have at the top of the case. It will still look humongous, but it can't be helped. If I find myself willing to jump to my doom, I'll order the custom fans. The Megahalems ends up, for me, as a bit less for a bit more, and the H70 as a bit less for a lot more, and while they look good, lower CPU temps look better . So it's ordered, and FedEx will hopefully deliver it to me tomorrow.

Anyway, hoped this little post helped those in my position also wanting to make an informed decision. If you guys are interested I'll also post my overclocking results. Thanks.
Edited by RokkaMan - 12/28/10 at 7:46am
post #2 of 11
Nice review. I try to impart the same advice whenever I see this question come up. I upgrade from a Zalman 9900 (I think) to an H70 because I was bored and with the Zalman I was never going higher than 3.6. I like my H70 with Scythe Gt-14's because it is virtually silent, however I am aware that is $100 for something that is at best 1-6c worse than the best.

I am planning to move to real WC soon however for those that want a no hassle option with a bit more space (although the H70 is big in it's own right, just not right over the CPU) and want to get some new fans it is a viable option, just not the best temp-wise.

Nice review though, thanks!
post #3 of 11
Had the exact same decision to make a while ago. My conclusion: Noctua NH-D14.
I replaced the 2 fans with 3 CM R4 Sickle Fans and performance on my 1090T is amazing. (Noctua will send you an additional set of fan clips to run 3 on it if you contact their support team). Definitely go for it
post #4 of 11
i love the NH-D14. i've used it in my last two builds and it performs like a champ.

and i have to disagree with you. i think it looks amazing
Current rig
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WD black 1T noctua nh-d14 Win 7 64 Ultimate Samsung 27", LG 23" 
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Current rig
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post #5 of 11
dude u have a HAF 922.. think of all the people who dont have HAF 922... like me.. i have NZXT gamma.. it would literally pack it shut....
AMD oc'd
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post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrcool63 View Post
dude u have a HAF 922.. think of all the people who dont have HAF 922... like me.. i have NZXT gamma.. it would literally pack it shut....
yeah the spacing's kinda tight, i only have 1/4" clearance from the cooler to the door fan. on the other build i used it w/ there was less than 1/4" from the cooler to the panel on the case (antec 1200). but these things and more you should be thinking about when you're planning a build. i knew i was going to be using the noctua because i wanted a heavy overclock and don't have the money for a liquid setup right now so i researched big ass cool cases and the HAF series were the best imo.
Current rig
(14 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
AMD PII B55 3.2 oc-4.2ghz Gigabyte 990 UD7 XFX x2, MSI x2 unlocked 6950 950/1325 16GB G.Skill ddr3 1600 
Hard DriveCoolingOSMonitor
WD black 1T noctua nh-d14 Win 7 64 Ultimate Samsung 27", LG 23" 
PowerCase
CM SP 1200w, CM 750 Coolermaster Haf 932 
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Current rig
(14 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
AMD PII B55 3.2 oc-4.2ghz Gigabyte 990 UD7 XFX x2, MSI x2 unlocked 6950 950/1325 16GB G.Skill ddr3 1600 
Hard DriveCoolingOSMonitor
WD black 1T noctua nh-d14 Win 7 64 Ultimate Samsung 27", LG 23" 
PowerCase
CM SP 1200w, CM 750 Coolermaster Haf 932 
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post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrcool63 View Post
dude u have a HAF 922.. think of all the people who dont have HAF 922... like me.. i have NZXT gamma.. it would literally pack it shut....
Nah it should be fine, it is only 5mm taller than the 212+. You will still have -1-2mm of space.
Fearless~
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Fearless~
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OCZ Vertex 3 120GB WD Caviar Black (1002FAEX)1TB Synology DS210J (4tb) Lite-on DVD Rewriter 16x IDE External 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Noctua NH-D14 Windows 7 Home Premium x64 Samsung Syncmaster E2320 Metadot Das Professional S Silent 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Corsair TX 850 V1 [Original PSH] NZXT Gamma Classic Series Mid-Tower Logitech VX Revolution Razer Sphex 
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Asus Xonar DX Klipsch Promedia 2.1 Bose Triport/Klipsch S3 Blue Snowball 
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Intel X-25V 40GB Synology DS210j (4tb) Seagate Barracuda 120gb LG CH12LS28 Blu Ray  
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Thermalright X-Silent 120 Mac OS X 10.8.2 Windows 7 Ultimate x64 Toshiba 46VX700VU 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop 700 XFX 450w Core Edition Silverstone ML03B Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop 700 
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post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Here's a follow up post that took too long to arrive!

Had severe drama with the PC. One of the mounting screws snapped and it took three weeks for the supplier to finally ship me out a replacement (this happened during Uni exams so I guess it was more of a blessing than a curse). Then, somehow, pins bent on the motherboard - not the cpu itself (cue one extremely fluky operation, maglight in mouth and knife in hand - an operation that would have made the average surgeon proud).

Very long story short, with the Noctua NH-D14 I have it running at 4.2 Ghz cool, and stable! HT off for now as I only game, saved some severe voltage and heat turning it off.



post #9 of 11
The NH-D14 would be the best choice.
Koneko
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post #10 of 11
The good thing about the H70 is that you can isolate the environment of the radiator. By that I mean dunk it into a cooler of ice water(no fans), or have it hang outside of the window in -30 canadian winter(with fans). 5ghz anyone?

The fluid wont freeze inside the h70. Ethylene glycol is antifreeze. I have been meaning to contact Corsair about the percentage of antifreeze in the loop however...

I wonder how cold it has to be to start freezing :3
    
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