NZXT Havik 120 Review

airman - 2011-12-20 08:48:04 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: airman   
Reviewed on: January 29, 2012
Price: $54.99


Several months ago, I had the opportunity to take a look at the introductory line of NZXT's new branch of computer products — CPU cooling. The NZXT Havik 140 performed quite well for a company's first step onto a new branch of products, and nipped closely at the heels of the other top competitors. Being a 140mm cooler, the biggest concern was whether or not it could fit in smaller cases. In a lot of situations it was either too tall and prevented the side panel from going into place or too wide where it may have caused clearance issues with a top exhaust fan. NZXT seems to have recognized this issue, which may be why we're seeing a newer, slightly smaller version of the original Havik 140.

From what I can tell, all of the same characteristics from the Havik 140 appear in the new Havik 120 with some general changes. Some features are different, such as the four 8mm heatpipes on the Havik 120 versus six 6mm heatpipes on the Havik 140. The heatpipes are also laid out a little differently, the shape and fin pattern are a little bit different, and the included fans are a newer design as well. Even though this cooler is slightly smaller than the original Havik, the best that I can hope for is that NZXT has improved upon its design and there won't be [much of] a performance hit for those who cannot use the 140mm version or simply choose otherwise. Even though NZXT did an excellent job on its first heatsink, I'm looking forward to seeing what all has changed in the newer, more compact version. In this review I will provide a complete evaluation of NZXT's Havik 120, starting with its unboxing as well as an in-depth, close-up look at the cooler followed by an intense testing session where its cooling ability will be compared to other high-end coolers on the market. That being said, let's get started!


Closer Look:

The package of the NZXT Havik 120 is fundamentally the same as the box in which the Havik 140 is packaged — although not surprisingly, it's slightly smaller. The front of the box features the "NZXT." logo and Havik 120 at the top. Beneath this text is a 3/4 picture of the cooler with both fans installed. To the right of this picture are four icons that say "Easy Installation", "4x8mm heatpipes", "22dBA quiet fans" and "Dual FZ-120" fans. The left side of the box has three figures that show critical dimensions from different views such as width both with and without fans, length, height, and motherboard clearance. Above these figures are a list the cooler's compatibility of sockets and CPUs that covers all recent AMD and Intel sockets including Intel's Socket 2011.

The right side of the box has an inspirational paragraph that offers a description of the cooler itself and compares it to the earlier Havik 140 from NZXT. In short, it states that the Havik 120 is a smaller and more versatile version of the Havik 140 and displays a side view of the cooler showing its profile. The rear of the box offers up-close information of the cooler and its features along with a detailed specifications table that contains information such as weight, materials, fan size, speed, flow, and noise levels. Right away, I see that the Havik 120 shares the similar fan mounting which uses rubber straps to quietly secure the fan. These straps are a different concept, but I still think I prefer a well-executed wire clip method — especially for in-case installs where hand clearance is limited.




After unpacking all of the accessories, I have tallied up and verified its "inventory". Included in the box is the cooler itself, two 120mm NZXT FZ-120 fans, both a straight-through and a resisting Y-adapter (for running the fans at a lower speed), thermal paste, five (5) rubber fan straps (a spare in case one breaks) and the universal AMD/Intel mounting. The mounting is a standard 2-point sprung mechanism and appears to be of good quality and design. This type of mounting is probably the most common in upper-end coolers due to its effectiveness. Once assembled, the cooler looks good and is ready to rock. The square fans on the Havik 120 are obviously different from the round fans from the Havik 140, but are still finished with the original black and white scheme.



With everything unpacked, I am so far satisfied with the cooler, its appearance, and its construction/feel. On the next page I will provide an up-close look at the cooler and offer my thoughts and opinions of its individual features.

Closer Look:

The NZXT Havik 120 seems to be symmetrical in all directions with the exception of the heatpipe heads and tails, which is unavoidable. The cooler is similar in shape and stature as the Havik 140, only on a smaller scale. The obvious difference is the 6x6mm heatpipes on the Havik 140 versus the 4x8mm heatpipes on the Havik 120. I like the 6x6mm heatpipe configuration better because it offers about 10% more cross-sectional area than 4x8mm heatpipes and more overall surface area. On each of the narrow sides of the heatsink are two slots that run vertically and will be used to secure the fan straps to the heatsink. The edges of the fins in these locations do something interesting — they are pinched together in pairs. I'm not sure if this design has a function, but it is the first time I've seen something along these lines!














Looking a little closer at the heatpipe tips, the solder that holds them together can be seen. You can also get a better look at the way the edges of the fins are touching in these spots. Something else that I have never seen before is the contour of the edges of the fins along the direction of the airflow. You can see the overall thickness of the fins is about 0.5mm on the short edges, but on the long edges where the fans will be located the thickness has been shaved down to about ~0.3mm. This "knife-edging" is said to improve airflow. I have nothing to which I can compare this new "addition" of knife-edging the fins, but I'm sure it slightly helps the effectiveness of the cooler. Looking underneath the cooler at the bottom fin, notice that there are two triangular cutouts in the center and you can barely make out pieces of the "NZXT." logo left behind. There are also oversized holes through which the inside heatpipes pass, mainly due to manufacturing tolerances and also the possibility that the heatpipes may not be straight up and down for a few more fins after they first start. I'm not sure what the triangular cutouts in the fins are for, but they continue up the entire height of the cooler and stop just before the last fin, which is solid.



Looking straight down on the top of the cooler you can see the heatpipe pattern. As with the Havik 140, I have some slight reservations about their placement as they are in line with one another along the direction of the airflow. With placement like this, the heatpipes in front can block some of the airflow that the other heatpipes could be receiving. I'm sure it's minimal, but it's still something that I've seen other manufacturers avoid with certain arrangements. The NZXT logo can be seen in the complete top fin along with the 2d pattern of the fins. Flipping around to the bottom side, we find the usual protective film over the base with a message telling the user to remove it before installing the cooler. There is also a serial bar code on the bottom fin.



Looking closely at the base-heatpipe interface, we can see the solder used to secure the heatpipes inside the base as well as the construction of the base itself. There is a C-channel on the back side of the base with half-circle channels in place for the heatpipes into which the copper base is placed on the other half of the heatpipes. The base is indeed copper but it is all nickel-plated which gives it a medium, silvery finish. There is some spatter left over on some surfaces from the soldering/flux but none of this appears on the machined base. Again, the other ends of the heatpipes stick out slightly at the top and are soldered to each fin.



The quality of the base isn't anything impressive since the machining marks are rather evident. The reflectivity is quite low but at least it is flat. The only thing holding the base back from being of upper-end quality is its lack of polishing. Running the base through additional stages and a good polishing could have made it perfect. Nevertheless, that's why thermal paste is used. I've certainly seen better bases but I've also seen worse — so it's not the end of the world. The base on the NZXT Havik 140 was about the same, if not a tiny bit better in overall quality.



The fans are plain 120mm fans badged/branded as NZXT. They are constructed from a black plastic frame housing 13 white fan blades. Each uses a 3-pin connector and uses 12V, pulls 0.3A (3.6W), operates at 1500 RPM with a noise level of 22dBA, and has a flow of 76 CFM. With the low-speed Y adapter, the fans will run at 1200 RPM and push 62 CFM at 18dBA. Both 18dBA and 22dBA are both nearly silent, so I would only recommend using the resistor Y adapter if silence is more important over airflow. The front of the fan is the same as the rear with the exception of the slightly different perspective of the blades. On the front, there is a simple black sticker with the NZXT logo in the center of the fan.



Installing the cooler on an Intel LGA 1366 board is as simple as following the included instructions (duh). Starting with the through-screws in the correct position in the backplate, the backplate is secured in place by placing a plastic spacer bushing on each through-screw followed by placing a mounting strip on each side. Once together, a thumb nut secures each corner into place. Once the lower mounting is in place, the heatsink can be positioned over the CPU and the hold-down clamp can then be tightened onto the threaded stubs on the mounting strips. Finally, the sprung screws on the hold-down clamp are tightened until they bottom out, and the installation is complete. This method to secure a heatsink to a motherboard/CPU is simple, effective, and has been proven time and again. Being a 120mm heatsink, there is plenty of clearance around the cooler — even with the fans in place.




With the NZXT Havik 120 installed, it's almost time to get the testbed fired up and move along to the performance evaluation section of the review. First I have compiled the manufacturer-provided list of specifications and features for the NZXT Havik 120 on the next page. The following page will be the performance evaluation.


Aluminum / Copper nickel-plated
125(W) x 160(H) x 112(D) mm
125(W) x 160(H) x 58(D) mm (heatsink)
680g (excluding fans and mounting kit)
980g (with dual 120mm fans)
Fan Size
120(W) x 120(H) x 25(D) mm x 2pcs
Fan Bearing
Long Life (Oil-Leaking Prevention)
Fan Speed
1200 +/- 10% RPM (low)
1500 +/- 10% RPM (high)
Noise Level
18 – 22 dBA
Air Flow
61.5 – 75.8 CFM
Y-Split Cable
White connector for low speed
Black connector for high speed
Input Power
30,000 Hours




Information provided courtesy of NZXT @

Testing and Setup:

Testing of this heatsink will involve applying a load simulated by Prime95, using small FFTs in stock and overclocked scenarios, where both idle and load temperatures will be recorded. Load temperatures will be the maximum value displayed in RealTemp after running eight threads in Prime95 for one hour, and idle temperatures will be the minimum recorded value by RealTemp with no computer usage during a period of one hour. The temperature values for each of the four cores will be averaged and displayed in the graphs below. The ambient temperature is held at a constant 23°C throughout testing of the NZXT Havik 120 as well as the comparison units. All the data shown in the graphs below is in degrees Celsius. The included thermal paste from NZXT will be used during testing and thermal pastes on other heatsinks from their respective manufacturers will be used. The fans on each cooler will be run at full speed for these tests.

Testing Setup:


Comparison Heatsinks:




I cannot say I am unhappy with the results that came out of this cooler, especially considering it can be purchased for around $50 and is basically a miniature version of the NZXT Havik 140. The performance is spot-on, there are no features that I feel are lacking or wasted, and it's simply more of a space-saver compared to the NZXT Havik 140. The Havik 140 is definitely a tall cooler, and I have heard of several situations where the user could not install the side panel since the heatsink stuck out too far. With the Havik 120, you still get very similar performance as the Havik 140 but at a smaller cost to both your wallet and case real estate.

The Havik 120 is simple and to the point, yet it has the cool knife-edged fins, a feature I have never seen before. I've always been a sucker for form over function. Whenever I see something guilty of form over function (whether it be a heatsink, case, or anything else), it gets points from me. I still have my reservations about the rubber fan straps instead of metal clips, but in some cases they're a little easier. On the other hand, and in certain situations, I can see how they may be more cumbersome. Aside from serving as double-function clips by both securing the fans and helping reduce noise, I don't really like them.

When it comes down to the physical aspects of the NZXT Havik 120 and its mounting hardware, I like the cooler. The mounting is simple and effective and is not hard to install. The cooler itself has great "ground clearance" and is well-constructed — it's just right for what I expect from a cooler of this size and price point. At the mid-range level of price and performance, the NZXT Havik 120 is a great choice for someone who wants a 120mm cooler with near-140mm performance!