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Call me VSG
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The single best performing 4x120mm radiator across a wide range of fan speeds

review by geggeg

1) Unboxing and Overview

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The "Nemesis" wording on the GTX (X for Xtreme) is in gold as opposed to silver with the GTS variant.

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Here we see what I was referring to above with the updated packaging- I am content with the packaging now but I can see where others would prefer at least a bubble wrap sleeve on top of this.

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The screws (same as with the 480GTS) are in the side compartment again.

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The Nemesis 480GTX has the same dark matter finish, just in a bigger frame. Unlike the Alphacool formula of having the same FPI but increasing the core thickness/number of rows, here the thicker GTX frame also means a differently optimized core and fin structure. The dimensions are 518mm x 133mm x 54mm.

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Again, extremely consistent fins that were flawless out of the box.

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No screw protector here, but the screws can only hit the fins as the tube channels are offset. I still only recommend using the provided screws of course!

The radiator has 25 micron thick fins at 13 FPI, and 12 tube channels at 1.22mm width each. It costs $142 in the US as of December 23, 2014 and comes with a limited lifetime warranty. Oh, and it was the cleanest radiator of all the ones tested in terms of the Mayhems Blitz Pro treatment.

One important thing to note is that the Nemesis radiators (only the GTX, not the GTS variant) follow the front to back flow scheme and not side to side. When the two ports are facing you, the port on the right has a lower travel distance to the core compared to the port on the left. So depending on the way you orient the fans, choose the inlet and outlet accordingly. If you have the inlet on the right then the side with the barbs is the hot side and the other side is the cold side.

2) Liquid flow restrictions

Testing methodology:- I used a Swiftech MCP50X pump with a FrozenQ 400mL cylindrical reservoir. The pump was powered by a direct SATA connection to an EVGA 1300G2 PSU, and was controlled by an Aquacomputer Aquaero 6 XT. There was an in-line flow meter previously calibrated, as well as a Dwyer 490 Series 1 wet-wet manometer to measure the pressure drop of the component under test- in this case each radiator. Every component was connected by 1/2" x 3/4" tubing, compression fittings and 2 T-firings with the manometer.

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The lower the pressure drop from the component, the better it is in terms of being liquid flowrate optimized. Most rads are not as restrictive as, say, a CPU waterblock so this won't affect most people unless you plan to have a lot of them (especially the Nemesis GTS radiators where the thin channels and the core optimized for performance has a clear effect). The Black Ice Nemesis GTX is towards the top end of the restriction scale here but nothing really concerning.

3) Air flow restrictions

Testing methodology: For the 480mm radiators, a Noiseblocker-eLoop B12-4 was mounted in "push" and an Extech 45158 thermo anemometer was placed 6" away from the rad/fan assembly and in the same spot each time to eliminate the effect of deadspots or variation in the X/Y axes. For the 560mm radiators, a Noiseblock Blacksilent Pro PK-3 was mounted in "push". Both fans were powered and controlled by the Aquaero 6 XT.

I realize linear aiflow isn't as useful a metric as volumetric airflow. But at this point, without a sealed box with a duct of controlled size/shape or even a closed adapter of sorts, I can't do much better. Knowing that these numbers also vary from fan to fan, I can only display these to used relatively to each other and not with any other reviewer/tester's results.

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While this is a bit of a jumble, the Nemesis 480GTX is one of the few that have the most linear airflow through them consistently.

4) Thermal tests

Testing methodology: Everything needed (monitor, peripherals, motherboard w/CPU and GPU, radiator, PSU and so forth) was placed in a sealed climate controlled box at 25 +/- 0.05 ?C. Each radiator was connected by Koolance QD3's for easier changing of fans and radiator. The flowrate was held at 1 GPM constant (because liquid restriction tests have already been done) and I believe people generally try to maintain the same flowrate and not hold a pump at a fixed power if controlling them is an options- that's how I do it personally anyway. The CPU, an Intel i7 4770k at 4.6 GHz and 1.3 Vcore, was held at a constant load using a custom XTU profile and the GPU, an EVGA GTX 780 Ti Classified KPE under load from Unigine Heaven 4.0 at 1080p/extreme HD settings, was overclocked and overvolted such that the total system power draw was 850w as measured by a Kill-A-Watt unit inside the hot box. Of course this doesn't mean the rads were attempting to dissipate 850w of heat, especially after PSU efficiency and power consumption from the other components (RAM, fans, pump, SSD) are taken into consideration. My point here was to maintain a near constant heat load into the liquid loop and this helped achieve stable liquid loop temperatures (As measured by 2 separate in-line temperature sensors hooked up to the AQ6) pretty quickly. The tubing and fittings were insulated by a heater sleeve with the heat function not being utilized (doesn't provide anywhere enough heat to get to the 700+ watts I wanted anyway). Every single measurement was done twice to be sure.

I would love to get a water heater with a variable controller instead to make things simpler. But the in-line variants seem to top off at ~300-400w which really don't test out quad rads enough, and the bulk heaters are simply not safe enough in my opinion to use in an isolated, sealed chamber. If there are safer options that don't break the bank, I would love to re-test so I can then accurately map out the watts dissipated at a given delta T (loop - ambient) value for example.

Finally, each fan speed is indicated in the bar graphs below as well as the fans used. I tried my best to not undervolt any fan as much as possible to remove that slightest bit of possible variation from run to run when undervolting and that's why you will see the use of several different fans- all in "push" at this point. To put things in perspective in terms of noise level, the B12-1 at 600 RPM registered 20 dBA and was barely audible even when run outside in the open, and the B12-4 at 2200 RPM registered 39 dBA and was sufficiently loud so that I could hear them through the hotbox (which isn't acoustically sealed, so acts as a typical case I would say).

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Again, I have to say these results should be taken relative to each other only at this point due to the different testing methodologies and fans used. I would love to be able to put out watts dissipated vs fan CFM and accompany it with a library of information to get CFM vs RPM values for as many fans as possible. But that's not something I can do realistically as a hobby/out of interest.

The Nemesis 480GTX is great at the lower fan speeds/air flow. The optimized fins and cores, the channels and rows all work together. It also scales the best with airflow of all the rads tested- goes to show that liquid and air flow restrictions don't tell everything and the entire package can affect things. The Nemesis series was optimized for scaling and it has showed to be the case in here.

Final thoughts

Performance should never be the sole metric to base a radiator choice on. In fact, never buy a radiator separately- get the radiator and appropriately chosen fans in terms of airflow, static pressure and noise levels you are comfortable with. Those bar graphs above also don't tell the entire story, especially when the difference is a couple of ?C in some cases. Look at the entire package- accessories, build quality, warranty, radiator ports and other features and definitely the price point. At launch the Nemesis 480GTX cost close to $180 in the USA and was a hard sell at that price. But thanks to some optimized production, the price has gone down to $142 as mentioned previously and at this price point I have no qualms about recommending it and about the purchase itself.

ProsCons
Excellent performance scaling with airflow, unique finish, limited lifetime warrantyFinish won't please everyone and neither is it universal, 2 ports only and wider than an average 480mm radiator

Ratings
Overall5
 

·
Call me VSG
Joined
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12,870 Posts
The single best performing 4x120mm radiator across a wide range of fan speeds

review by geggeg
Microcenter carries these? Really? I need to go take a look for myself just for the heck of it- there's one within 10 minutes of driving from my place.
 
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