Cooler Master

Cooler Master is a company with a tradition of cooling-related products and thus it is no wonder that they jumped into the AIO liquid coolers wagon almost instantly. They have a healthy selection of products and decided to ship us their two Nepton series coolers, their most popular series at this point in time, along with the Seidon 120V, a very low cost, entry level solution.

Cooler Master Seidon 120V

The Cooler Master Seidon 120V is the smallest, simplest and least expensive AIO cooler of this review. The packaging reflects that, being a relatively simple brown cardboard box, unlike any other in this particular roundup. Looks aside, the packaging is well designed, full of information on the cooler, and the cooler is very well protected inside the cardboard packaging.

Inside the box, the user will find a leaflet with installation instructions, the necessary mounting hardware, and a syringe with thermal compound. Also included is a single 120mm fan with a wide speed range of 600 to 2400 RPM; it is an all-black model with wavy blades.

Both technically and aesthetically, the Cooler Master Seidon 120V is a rather simple design. The 27mm thick, 120mm wide radiator is the smallest and least expensive design available today. Wavy aluminum fins are formed between the liquid pass-through channels, which are not dense but not sparse either. There are imperfections in the fins but these are to be expected with a low-cost radiator.

The square block-pump assembly is entirely made out of plastic, which is not bad in terms of durability but gives a feeling of cheapness. The company logo is etched on the top of the block and a bright blue LED turns on when the pump is powered on. Only the base of the block is made out of copper, which is expected given the price. This copper base has been attached to the rest of the assembly with the aid of ten triangular screws and has a smooth, well-machined surface, although it has not been machined down to a mirror finish. The tubing is corrugated and a little hard to bend but at least the fixing points on the CPU block assembly are rotatable sideways.

Cooler Master Nepton 140XL

Unlike the basic 120V, the Nepton 140XL is a significantly more sophisticated, detailed product. It does however cost twice as much as the 120V. It comes supplied in a carefully designed black-purple cardboard box, well protected inside cardboard packaging.

The bundle is not much different than above, limited to the necessary mounting hardware, a leaflet with installation instructions, and a syringe of thermal compound; a Y-splitter for the attachment of two fans onto one header is also included. Two powerful 140mm fans come with the cooler, with a speed range of 800 to 2000 RPM. These "Jetflo" fans are supposed to have high static pressure and the rubber pads absorb vibrations, reducing noise.

Visually, the Nepton 140XL is not much different from the Seidon 120V. Technically, the two coolers are nothing alike. The 140mm radiator of the Nepton 140XL is not only wider but is also 38mm deep, increasing the effective heat dissipation surface by well over 50%. Size aside, the design of the radiator is similar, with wavy aluminum fins between the heat exchanging channels and with a frame offering the ability to mount either 120mm or 140mm fans on it. However, it would seem that manufacturing imperfections are still present, with several of the fins significantly deformed. It appears as if the radiator was struck with something, deforming half a channel of fins, yet we received the packaging in excellent condition and this side of the radiator was facing inwards, towards the center of the packaging. Quality control issues in Cooler Master's manufacturing paradise are the only reasonable guess we can make -- that or the cooler was previously tested and repackaged for our review, though that seems unlikely.

The square block-pump assembly is once again entirely made out of plastic. Even though it looks much better and of higher quality than that of the 120V, plastic rarely is the way to go when you want a worthwhile aesthetic outcome. The company logo is etched on the top of the block and is surrounded by a frame with a white LED, which turns on when the pump is powered up. A plastic frame is sandwiched between the cap and the base of the assembly, with holes for the mounting of the installation brackets. The copper base of the assembly is smooth but not machined perfectly; although they cannot be felt by touch, the sandpaper grooves are clearly visible with a naked eye.

Cooler Master Nepton 280L

The Nepton 280L is Cooler Master's heavy artillery. We received it supplied inside a well-designed cardboard packaging with a black/purple color theme, visually very similar to that of the 140XL. The main attraction of the kit, the large 280mm radiator, dominates the theme of the box. Inside the box, with the exception of a slightly different installation instructions leaflet, we found the exact same bundle as that of the 140XL, including two of the same 140mm "Jetflo" fans.

The Cooler Master Nepton 280L might appear like an oversized version of the 140XL but it really is not. They do share many similarities but the main part of the kit, the radiator, is very different. The radiator of the 280L, as the name suggests, is 140mm wide and 280mm long, with room for up to four 140mm fans. The frame also offers support for 120mm fans, if the user would like to use 120mm fans instead for whatever reason. However, the radiator of the 280L is only 30mm thick, which is about 25% less than that of the 140XL. Therefore, although the heat dissipation surface is greater, it is not actually double that of the 140XL. Once again, minor deformations of the aluminum fins can be seen, although not nearly as many or as serious as those we encountered on the 140XL.

The square block-pump assembly is entirely identical to that used by the 140XL as well. It features the exact same size, mounting mechanism, pump, core and everything else. The same white LED lighting frame at the top of the block has also been installed. Unfortunately, the same mediocre copper base is also present, which could use a little bit better polishing for a product of this league and price range.

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  • The PC Apologist - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    But who is under the impression that we can judge fans by specifications and ratings alone? Why read reviews at all if we can judge by ratings alone?

    The whole point of reviewers is to do testing and verify for us what the numbers on the boxes cannot.
  • E.Fyll - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    If you under such impressions, it is your impressions that need to change. Start reading and try to comprehend what I wrote. I will not perform testing that is invalid simply because you wish to see something like it. As I said multiple times already, I will not test any such product with anything else than what comes supplied with it, unless no fan is supplied and none comes recommended. They are commercial products and I am testing their base, unmodified performance. Assuming that "enthusiasts", which also consist of the "majority of Anandtech's readers", will definitely go and buy another set of fans is just that; an assumption. I do not even care if it is a valid assumption or not; I simply do not like assumptions.

    But let me make an exception and assume your scenario. Let us even assume that I can use the same fan on all of the review's coolers, despite the fact that their sizes differ. Which fans should I use then? As each and every fan has a different performance curve, the performance results of each cooler will be different each time I change the fan. With Fan A cooler X might appear better, with Fan B cooler Y might appear better under the exact same conditions. Which is the better cooler? Why is it a better cooler? How many different fans should I test for a valid set of data?

    Such "tests", based on assumptions, are misleading. You can buy whichever fans you like, you may even put the radiator in your freezer if you want better performance - oh, wait, that will give you worse performance, the liquid will probably freeze. Scratch that. Anyway, I cannot possibly provide valid and comparable results based on what a user may or may not replace/modify/whatever. If you want a reviewer who would present you with a misleading set of data just because you assume that "most Anandtech's readers are enthusiasts and will definitely buy Noctua's or Corsair's top fans", then you are simply talking to the wrong person.

    And a friendly note: An enthusiast knows better than to buy a $100 AIO cooler and then spend another $40 on fans. I would rarely expect a true enthusiast who knows what he/she wants to make such a move. He/she will buy the product that can do the job out of the box. In the off chance that there is no commercial product capable of meeting the specific application demands, then he/she might consider modifying a commercial product over making a custom solution. Those that will buy something and then buy something else to adjust it to their needs remind me of people who order Château Margaux and then dilute it with Coke because they don't like its taste. It is not a bad wine at all; they just bought an expensive wine for all the wrong reasons.
  • The PC Apologist - Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - link

    I sense a little unease in your tone.

    I have stated my point and defended it.

    Because it takes time to prepare a thoughtful response, I will reply some other time.

    For now, I'll leave it to the readers to sort through your logically incoherent reasoning.

    - The PC Apologist
  • E.Fyll - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    That would be new to me; I am practically unmoved by anything, let alone someone who is trying to debate with me online.

    Unfortunately, you did state your point but you cannot possibly "defend it". Your point is based on your personal preferences and assumptions. I explained to you thoroughly why your assumptions are wrong and how they would lead to erroneous results. Anything based on assumptions has no basis, there is no argument that can defend it and is practically wrong. Still, you chose to cling upon your opinion. That is your choice; it does not mean that I have to endorse it.

    As for the "what differentiates an AnandTech reviewer and the typical Newegg/Amazon user reviewer" comment, my case. If that is all you can see in such an article, there is absolutely nothing that I would like to say to you.
  • The PC Apologist - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Fyll: "I am practically unmoved by anything, let alone someone who is trying to debate with me online."

    PCA: Being unmoved is not necessarily a good thing, it merely means you're not open-minded enough to allow for room for improvement. Also, is debating online somehow a lower standard or an inferior forum for argument? This is 2014 for Christ's sake, what would you have preferred, debating over the phone or in person? Coming from an online writer no less...

    Fyll: "Unfortunately, you did state your point but you cannot possibly "defend it". Your point is based on your personal preferences and assumptions. I explained to you thoroughly why your assumptions are wrong and how they would lead to erroneous results. Anything based on assumptions has no basis, there is no argument that can defend it and is practically wrong."

    PCA: What, what, and what? So one cannot possibly defend a stance that is based on personal preferences and assumptions huh? Interesting. I wonder what Michael Sandel of Harvard would say to that. And trust me, throughout this dialogue I've been way more objective and scientific than you. All you're clinging onto is a failed and lobotomized version of Logical Positivism. As for assumptions, ever heard of thought experiments and hypothetical scenarios? Jesus Christ... And don't blame me for your lack of imagination and creativity. The answers to all of your previous questions, concerning what fans to use and how to discern a good cooler from a bad one, are obvious to any true computer enthusiasts with even a minimal scientific background. Needless to say, you are not one of them.

    And for the AnandTech vs. Newegg user reviewer point (in the correct context please), how can you rest your case when you've never presented it? What is your case? You can't just end it without having started it because then, we won't know where exactly you are wrong.

    Listen man, I've tried to be nice and courteous, but you are really pushing it. And I hate to throw the book at you, but it's obvious you haven't read it (or any other for that matter). The following is posted under "Review Philosophies" of the AnandTech About page:

    " We employ the scientific method in all of our endeavors. Ensuring reliability by repeating tests multiple times, checking results against control groups and implementing sound testing methodologies. We create the vast majority of our own test suites using both in-house and industry standard benchmarks. We also put a lot of effort into ensuring that the results published in our reviews track with the real world user experience of the products we review. In many cases the majority of the test results we generate never make their way onto the site, they're simply used by our reviewers to better understand the product being evaluated to provide you with better overall content.

    Our reviews incorporate a mixture of objective and subjective based analysis, the balance varying where appropriate. We are not a site that exclusively relies on data based comparisons but also deliver honest user experience evaluations as well. Some reviews lend themselves to data driven analysis more than others (e.g. CPU review vs. smartphone review), but we always attempt to provide both in our coverage. I fundamentally believe that you need both to accurately portray any product. Numbers are great for comparative analysis, but without context they can be meaningless. Similarly, personal opinions are great to help explain what owning a product may be like, but without data to back up some claims the review lacks authority (e.g. average vs. good battery life begs to be quantified).

    We are a very small team for a publication of our size. We are human. We make mistakes. We gladly welcome criticism from our readers and vendors alike. Seeking perfection doesn't mean being perfect from the start, it means being able and willing to improve when faced with evidence that you're not perfect. I feel strongly about this - negative feedback is tough to hear, but as far as I'm concerned it's free education. If there's validity in a complaint about something we've done, we will take it to heart and act upon it. We rarely ban commenters in our articles (99.9999% of banned commenters are spammers). While I would appreciate it if you are respectful to our writers when commenting, you won't be banned for expressing your feelings about something we've written - as nice or as harsh as you may be. Naturally, given the name of the site, I reserve the right to change this policy and totally ban you if you look at me funny in public."

    - The PC Apologist
  • Sushisamurai - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    Bingo. As a professional working away from home, with a limited, local selection of parts, I really have to thank Anandtech's thorough review of stock, out of box configurations. Really helped in terms of eliminating what I don't want - some people just don't have the time in their life browsing complicated reviews factoring modifications. I don't mind spending $150 for a AIO cooler that I can set up, and that it works better than some, as opposed to buying something for $100 and buying other fans etc to make it perform similarly to a $150 product out of box. That extra time and hassle isn't worth it to me (and some people).

    That being said, rock on for the review! I only wish there was a more clear answer for corsair vs NZXT for the bigger radiators (x60 vs 110/100i). I wonder how they would perform with max fans (4 fans push and pull from the manufacturer) for noise and thermal performance at certain loads; as their thermal resistance is different, I wonder if would more fans compensate for lower noise (over all lower RPM) at certain energy loads. But I suppose that's for a more detailed review another time :)
  • The PC Apologist - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    All I hear is compromise after compromise.

    After having cut so many corners, what differentiates an AnandTech reviewer and the typical Newegg/Amazon user reviewer?
  • P.Ashton - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    I do not usually post comments but boy, what a load of rubbish!

    The PC Apologist, if I may ask, what are your qualifications? I mean, aside from typing long, beautiful and full of useless information texts. Are you an engineer or products specialist in any given way? It lacks any sense to tell you how misconceived you are, others did before me and you discarded them basing your "reason" on childish arguments. But alongside "obnoxious" and "elitist", I would definitely add "arrogant" to the list. Someone who is overqualified for this kind of job is wasting his time trying to educate you and you compare him to a "Newegg reviewer"? Good lord.

    I myself am an enthusiast, I spend several thousands of pounds every year on hardware and I would never buy a cooler with the purpose of replacing the fan. If a cooler cannot do the job out of the box, that tells me a lot about whoever designed and markets it.

    Regarding your future application as a reviewer, please, save us the trouble. I would very much rather read a short and cold technical text than a long essay full of bollocks. I can decide for myself if I like a cooler or not after it has been presented to me and I am here to read proper reviews, not sales ads.

    Keep up the good job E.Fyll. I will be buying none of these and I look forward to your air cooler reviews. One short recommendation, if I may. You should add the C/W bar graphs after every temperature graph, not just the average C/W graph. I can calculate the C/W for the wattage that interests me but I do not believe that is true for many people.
  • The PC Apologist - Thursday, February 13, 2014 - link

    It matters not what my qualifications are. It wouldn't matter if I'm a 12 year old school boy or a Ph.D. with published papers and years of experience working in the field; if you are basing my truth claims solely on my qualifications, you are committing the genetic fallacy.

    As for the Newegg reviewer comment, recall the context: "All I hear is compromise after compromise. After having cut so many corners, what differentiates an AnandTech reviewer and the typical Newegg/Amazon user reviewer?" So first, learn to read. Second, learn to read between the lines. It is a rhetorical question, intended to incite a point. If you disagree, argue your stance, don't nerd rage.

    E.Fyll is "overqualified" for this job? All I see is a grunt, willing to put in work without proper thought. We all know that he's done a lot of testing and data compiling, but without an adequate understanding of the scientific process and an acceptable command of language, all his hard labor is just that, hard labor.

    Spending a lot of money on hardware isn't want makes one an computer enthusiast. Sigh...

    The rest of your comment is just you telling us about yourself. Nice to meet you Bob. Was it Bob?
  • apoe - Monday, February 17, 2014 - link

    Just keep writing essays and ignore how everyone disagrees with you. LOL. Reply

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