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Written by David Ramsey   
Tuesday, 16 August 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU Cooler
Closer Look: NZXT HAVIK 140
HAVIK 140 Detailed Features
Heat Sink Test Methodology
Testing and Results
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

CPU Cooler Final Thoughts

High end cooler performance has been approaching an asymptote over the last year or so, with the best-performing coolers within a few degrees of each other in my tests. The latest trend is better performance from mid-priced coolers, some of which (like the Cooler Master Hyper 612 PWM) are turning in performances equal to the very best air coolers at a price that's 30% or more cheaper. This is good news: enthusiasts no longer have to pay upwards of $70 to get a really good air cooler.

nzxt_havik_140_side_fans.jpg

Since my test bed represents an extreme case, and most of the coolers I've tested recently have been high-end coolers, those coolers that don't perform at the top level tend to look worse than they would in the real world. The performance of the HAVIK 140 is actually quite good (actually, any cooler than can keep my overclocked and overvolted Core i7 950 from throttling under load is quite good). The HAVIK 140 outperforms all the entry level water coolers at a price that's less than all of them, and it's quieter than they are, too.

But it doesn't compare so well to the other high-end air coolers. With a price of $69.99 at Newegg, NZXT is pitting it squarely against the likes of the Prolimatech Magahalems, Thermaltake Frio OCK, and Thermalright Venomous X, all of which provide better cooling at a lower price. Its performance is very close to that of the Thermalright Macho HR-02, which costs almost $30 less. Also, coolers at this price level typically "show" better: the Megahalems is beautifully finished and polished; other coolers use decorative shrouds and/or LED lighting to dress things up. The HAVIK 140 has a very plain appearance, and while the way the rubber fan mounts bend in the top and bottom fins of the heat sink doesn't affect the cooling, it looks rather cheap.

What NZXT has done is produce a very nice mid-high end cooler with good performance and acoustics. It's easy to mount and comes with niceties like a sleeved Y-adapter cable for the fans. It's simply priced too high for the performance it returns.

NZXT HAVIK 140 Conclusion

Please remember that these test results reflect our experience with each cooler on a specific motherboard, with a specific processor, BIOS revision, BCLK and voltage settings, and test programs. The results of this test cannot be directly compared to other tests since many factors will have changed.

The NZXT HAVIK 140 uses the now-standard design of a relatively small heat sink core sandwiched by two fans in a push-pull arrangement. The top of the cooler is bare aluminum without any cover plates or logos. The cooler's appearance is very plain and frankly a little down from what I'd expect at this price level. The staggered heat pipes are visually interesting but can't be seen when the cooler is installed.

Overall, the construction quality is good. The fans are quiet and reasonably effective. Since the fans run at full speed all the time, you'll hear a low hum. PWM fans would make the cooler quieter under idle and moderate loads scenarios, and are again something I expect at this price level.

The accessories package was standard, and the cooler was very easy to mount: the friction-fit plastic spacers make it easy to keep the backplate from falling off the back of the computer while you're trying to secure it from the inside. Re-sealable plastic accessory bags cost virtually nothing, but make keeping track of all the bits a lot easier and I'm still amazed at how many competing products don't use them; thankfully, NZXT does.

The performance of this cooler was good: as I noted, any cooler that can keep my test CPU from throttling under load is by definition good. But it just wasn't up to the performance expected at its price, and the value part of the equation is where this cooler falls down. I think the fix is simple: NZXT simply needs to replace the included fans with fans that provide more airflow. The physically similar Thermaltake Frio OCK's fans are rated at 121CFM, and that extra 30+ CFM would make a world of difference. Make the fans PWM so you wouldn't have to listen to them at full speed, and you'd have a pretty nice cooler...although you'd still want to drop the price a little for its plain aesthetics.

NZXT's products typically excel at providing above average bang for the buck. Priced for $69.99 at Newegg, the HAVIK 140 disappoints in this regard, but given NZXT's track record, I'm sure we'll see this addressed soon.

Pros:

+ Quiet fans
+ Sleeved fan cables
+ Included Y-adapter allows both fans to share a motherboard header

Cons:

- Visually very plain
- Performance lower than expected in this price range

Ratings:

  • Performance: 8.5
  • Appearance: 7.5
  • Construction: 8.5
  • Functionality: 8.5
  • Value: 7.25

Final Score: 8.05 out of 10.

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Comments 

 
# RE: NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU CoolerRobert17 2011-08-16 18:01
Nice review David. It parallels other reviews I've read; I'm shopping.

Since you follow the cooling market well, is there anything on the horizon from the cooler manufacturers you're aware of that I may want to hold out for? I've got some fairly ambitious plans for the next 6-9 months involving a new build/upgrade, however it best works out. The future of coolers isn't as well reported as the future of CPUs and MBs.
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# RE: RE: NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU CoolerOlin Coles 2011-08-16 18:33
Since David gets his projects from me, I'll chime in: nothing new to has been offered to us. So that you know, most projects get a 2-3 week lead before they're published. About the only time we here of new projects that we're not reviewing is through press release or trade show.
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# Heat Sinked!Derek 2011-08-25 00:23
Hi Guys,

What setting did you use to overclock and overvolted your Core i7-950 I used in your heat sink test machine? As I have the same!!

Derek
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# RE: Heat Sinked!David Ramsey 2011-08-25 08:58
Derek, the settings I used for the overclocks in my tests are in each heat sink review, on the page titled "Heat Sink Test Methodology". In this case I set the BCLK to 175mHz and the voltage to 1.35V. YMMV.
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# RE: NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU CoolerDoug Dallam 2011-08-25 00:55
David, nice clear review. Thanks for your efforts.

I almost didn't read this, one, becasue I'm not on the market for a cooler, and two, I know about how these fans in this area will fall out. I wasn't surprised here, except that how poorly the NZXT fan really performed compared to its cost and its fugliness.

As far as temperature goes, it performed great, since all of the temps you recorded were very low, and so all of the coolers you tested are doing a good job of heat dissipation. So where does this leave a buyer? Looking at cost and design. This thing looks like something out of a Steam Punk photo contest at Deviant Art.

On the subject a little, I'm wondering why my 3.8Ghz clocked 920 only uses 1.264 volts under load? My last mother board was the Gigabyte UD5 Extreme rev 1 and I had to run the core voltage w here you have yours, maybe even 1.38 if, I remember correctly. With the new Extreme UD 5 rev2, I'm only using 1.264v and just as stable. That equates to about a 10C drop in heat for me too. Why do you think that is?
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# RE: RE: NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU CoolerDavid Ramsey 2011-08-25 09:01
Good question re your different voltage settings. The Gigabyte board might have better voltage regulation, so that there's less VDROOP under load. But bear in mind that my heat sink test machine settings are designed to produce about as much heat as possible; I might be able to run the 950 at that speed at a lower voltage than I'm using.
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# RE: RE: RE: NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU CoolerDoug Dallam 2011-08-25 14:48
That would be interesting to see what voltage you could run stable at. Instead of messing with the voltage manually, when I switched boards, I just left it on auto (I think). And, it worked. I was pretty amazed.
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# mrsSNOWHITE 2011-09-20 11:22
I returned this unit after less than a wek as it had a concave base.
Checked this using a steel straight edge and seen light through it in both directions.
Need i say that my temperatures increased using this.
The rubber band fan mounts were terrible to fit in my very large case.
Glad to get rid of if and would Not recommend
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# RE: NZXT HAVIK 140 CPU CoolerSteve 2012-04-22 22:03
The thing I find most troubling about reading reviews is that several seemingly unbiased sites get such radically different results from their testing. Several other testers got much better results out of this cooler than you did.
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