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NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler Review

Date: August 8, 2011
Author(s): Ryan Perry

With NZXT having expanded its product portfolio on multiple occasions throughout the years, the introduction of its first-ever CPU cooler, HAVIK 140, almost didn’t even come as a surprise. But, how good is it? Well, it’s big, has dual fans, aims for silence, and looks aesthetically-pleasing, so it holds a good chance of impressing.



Introduction

Let me start off by saying that I love getting in on the ground floor when a company branches off into an area of the computer hardware market other than what it has built its name on. It allows me to look at three key points; did the development team do its homework, is there a quality manufacturing process or OEM in place, and is the company listening to those who ultimately end up paying the bills – us?

All three of these questions will hopefully be answered after we take a look at the first and only CPU cooler in NZXT’s portfolio, the HAVIK 140.

NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler

Off the top, it’s evident that this is not a small cooler, although standing 160mm high and weighing 1,035g with both fans installed, it still lags behind some of the monster coolers available today. Both the leading and trailing edges of the 46 aluminum fins have been ground down to a thinner profile to help increase airflow while reducing noise. This is something that I am not used to seeing but makes sense given basic aerodynamics.

NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler

The fins are soldered onto six 6mm nickel-plated copper heatpipes bent into U-shapes and staggered in six rows of two. The two heatpipes in each row are spaced far enough apart from one another to ensure each receives the proper amount of air to condense the fluid inside and cool efficiently.

NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler

There is no cover or stamped design with the manufacturer or model across the top. In a stark contrast to some coolers on the market the fin is plain with only the ends of the heatpipes and two small cutouts showing.

NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler

With the cooler flipped over, the copper base, also plated in nickel, can be checked once the plastic film is removed. NZXT has chosen to go with a more traditional configuration where the heatpipes run through the base instead of making direct contact with the CPU. On top of the base is an aluminum block to sandwich the heatpipes in place. When checked with a straight edge, the base was perfectly flat on both axis but there are a few heavier machine marks in the finish that is somewhat reflective but not polished.

NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler

Included with the HAVIK 140 are, you guessed it, 140mm fans. Yeah, plural. Immediately the shape of the fan blades should catch the eye. These have been seen before on fans from various manufacturers and are said to increase airflow while at the same time reduce noise. The 3-pin fans run at 1,200 RPM and push a combined 90.3 CFM while making only 24 dBA.

NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler

There is a full slate of bits and pieces included, most of which are shared between AMD and Intel mounting methods. The only exceptions are a few parts for an AMD system and include four insulating pads, the AMD clips and eight small screws. There is also a small syringe of thermal interface material included but there is no mention of the specifications on it or in the fold out installation instructions.

NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler

Installation may look a bit intimidating due to the number of pieces, but I’ll prove it isn’t and rather than simply rattling off the names of each part, I’ll show what each one does by slapping the HAVIK 140 into our test rig and seeing what it’s capable of.

Installation & Testing

AMD users will have a few extra steps once the stock mounts have been removed from the motherboard. The back plate is flipped so that the “AMD side” is facing up before pressing a plastic spacer that goes into the center hole. A thin, white insulator pad is placed in each corner with the hole placed directly over the hole in the back plate where the long bolts thread through (but were not used during the mock up since our test system is Intel-based). The bolts are then threaded through the now open holes in the motherboard and a plastic spacer is slid over each one.

NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler

Next, the Intel and AMD clips need to be assembled to form a frame by using two small screws in each corner. The assembled clips then thread over the bolts and are secured in place by metal nuts. Each nut should be tightened the same amount of turns to ensure all corners are at the same height for proper contact between the cooler and CPU.

NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler

Before the cooler is moved into position, some thermal interface material (TIM) is applied to the CPU. With the cooler placed on top of the CPU the last piece of the puzzle is to slip the crossbar between the heatpipes and secure it to the AMD clips by tightening the spring-loaded screws.

NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler

Intel users start with the back plate flipped over so that the “Intel side” is facing up. The same long bolts thread up through one of three holes in each corner depending on the socket of the motherboard being used. The bolts then thread through the holes in said motherboard where the plastic spacers are thread over them.

NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler

This time around there is no frame needed, so the Intel clips simply thread over the bolts in one of three positions that again depends on the socket. This all held in place by the metal nuts that thread over the bolts, much like in the AMD installation.

NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler

Once the thermal interface material is applied to the CPU, the crossbar is secured to to the Intel clip. I wasn’t sure exactly how much to tighten the spring-loaded screws but ended up going as far as they would allow without any issues. All in all, installation was a breeze and not as scary as the many pieces would lead our readers to believe.

NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler

Fan installation on the HAVIK 140 will likely be different than what most are used to and this is both good and bad. The process starts off with inserting the mounting pegs of the rubber fasteners through the corners of each fan to form a loop. The fan is put into place and the fastener is stretched so it becomes thin enough to slip between the top and bottom two fins to the point where it can be tucked into the groove that runs from top to bottom on the side. This is where I started to fumble the heatsink a little so I found the installation method a bit clunky the first few times due to the constant resistance from the fasteners.

NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler

With the fans attached and the cooler installed, the last thing to do is to connect the fans to the sleeved Y-cable that allows both to be powered by a single header directly from the motherboard. Two 3-pin to 4-pin Molex adapters could also be used if a spare header on the motherboard is not available.

NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler

Regardless of the platform, users can expect to see something that looks like this. This cooler takes up a lot of real estate and blocks off the first DIMM slot on our test motherboard. If I recall correctly, AMD AM3+ users will have their DIMM slots even closer to the socket so this may cause additional issues. Even standard height memory modules with no heatsink will run into clearance issues if installed into the slot closest to the cooler so be sure to do some homework on the optimal memory configuration for the motherboard being used.

NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler

NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler

Another problem was that the cooler is so wide that it nearly made the top PCI Express slot inaccessible. Luckily our test system has a ton of spare slots but for those who only have one and it is the top most slot, this may not work for you. The GPU could be installed but there was more pressure being put on the card and the slot than I would have liked. In fact, I was so wary of the strain that as soon as the photos were taken, the card was moved down to another slot.

Testing

Stock CPU settings were obtained by setting the AI Tweaker option within the BIOS to Auto. and the maximum stable overclock frequency of 3.85GHz was obtained after setting the base clock to 107 and the multiplier to 36. Our locked CPU was able to do this on stock voltage so the vcore was raised to 1.25V to generate additional heat.

All of our testing is performed in a near steady 20°C ambient environment with readings taken before and after with a standard room thermometer. AIDA64 Extreme Engineer is used for monitoring and recording all system temperatures throughout the testing process. All fans are run at 100% during testing and all coolers have any pre-applied thermal interface material replaced with Zalman’s ZM-STG1 Super Thermal Grease due its ease of application that virtually eliminates the possibility of skewed temperatures due to poor surface contact.

Windows is allowed to sit idle for 10 minutes after startup to ensure all services are loaded before recording the idle CPU temperature. CPU load temperatures are generated by performing a 20 minute run of OCCT LINPACK using 90% of the available memory.

OCCT 3 AIDA64

The components used for testing are:

Component
Techgage Test System
Processor
Intel Core i5-2400 – Quad-Core (3.10Ghz)
Motherboard
Asus P8P67 WS Revolution – P67-based
Memory
Corsair Dominator 1x2GB DDR3-1600 7-8-7-20-2T
Graphics
AMD Radeon 5450
Audio
On-Board Audio
Storage
Kingston/Intel SSDNow M Series 80GB SATA II SSD
Power Supply
Corsair HX650 650W
Chassis
Thermaltake Armor A90 Mid-Tower
CPU Cooling
Corsair H50
Corsair H60
Corsair H70
NZXT Havik 140
Zalman CNPS7X
Et cetera
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler

NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler

If I didn’t know as much as I do about NZXT’s line up of products I would think that the company has been releasing coolers for years. These results are exceptional for a first attempt and not far off of the current king of the cooler hill in our database, the Corsair H70. Coming up only a couple of degrees short of a liquid cooler with an overclocked CPU shows that there is still plenty of life left in the air cooler market, although it seems as if the footprint needs to become bigger and bigger in order to keep up.

From a sound perspective the HAVIK 140 is very quiet. Thanks to the use of 140mm fans there is a significant amount of air moved while keeping the revolutions per minute low along with the extra sound added to the system. I cannot vouch for the fan blade design increasing the amount of air that is moved but this is easily one of the quietest coolers I have used. It’s not on par with the CNPS7X but then again that’s aimed at a different market segment.

It all boils down to great cooling performance and low noise but the draw backs need to be taken into account when deciding to buy one or leave it on the shelf.

Final Thoughts

I absolutely love this cooler and I think NZXT should be extremely happy with what is has produced. Even though it looks fairly simplistic without any flashy branding or LED fans, I still think it looks great. One of these inside of a white Phantom with a Hale90 would be straight money!

It can keep up with the big boys and has a great mounting method that provides between 50 and 60 pounds of pressure according to the official specifications.

Even the fans are amazing. Big, quiet, fairly easy to install after a few tries and a breeze to remove with only two light tugs on each fastener loop. Speaking of the fasteners, just on the other side of the mounting pegs is a wider-than-normal area that sits between the frame of the fan and the fins of the cooler to absorb any vibration. Small little details like that will be appreciated.

This cooler really is the complete package, however there is a bit of planning that needs to be done before anyone rushes home to bask in the afterglow of new hardware only to find out it won’t fit or causes problems.

NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler

If all of the DIMM slots will be used or if the motherboard requires the closest slot to be filled, this is not the cooler for you. No matter what memory is used, with the possible exception of some low profile kits, the fan will block off a slot if using a motherboard with a typical layout.

Also beware if the top PCI slot is the only slot where a GPU can be installed or is a must-have for another type of card. Many boards use the top slot as the only PCIe x1 slot and as such, this could be a deal-breaker. Expect to have some serious force placed on the PCB and slot itself if a card is installed in this location.

Should everything fall into place in the clearance department, price will come into play as well. At $70 this is a great cooler for the money. Yes, this is getting up there a bit for some but keep in mind that it comes close to a liquid cooler, but costs about $30 less. If it were to drop another $10, I would be surprised if they didn’t sell out.

There is much to like about the HAVIK 140, but the clearance issues are too much to overlook. Not slapping on an Editor’s Choice award bothers me, but I feel it’s warranted. Those who happen to run a system where clearance is not an issue would be very happy and can consider the three points on the first page answered with a resounding “yes”.

For those who have a system that just cannot be configured to make it fit, keep on pushing that cart.

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