Thermaltake NiC C4 Review

hornybluecow - 2014-01-21 20:47:56 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: hornybluecow   
Reviewed on: May 22, 2014
Price: $54.99

Thermaltake NiC C4 Introduction:

Today we look at the Thermaltake NiC C4, a CPU cooler that falls into the category of an affordable, yet effective means, which to harness the thermal load generated by your processor. Priced at $54.99 MSRP, the NiC C4 is not a bargain basement dweller if you are shopping purely on price. The NiC C4 has a new slim tower design that is capable of dissipating up to 220 watts within a compact space. The NiC in Thermaltakes NiC series stands for None-Inference Cooler. A design Thermaltake developed for all those times when you thought you found the perfect cooler, but it would not clear the latest and greatest memory modules you picked for the build. Thus leading to a compromise on that no compromise build. This is no longer the case as Themraltake aims to please in a compact form.

In a market flooded with CPU Coolers ranging from price oriented, to extreme performance, it takes a lot to be a top contender. The cooler has to have all the right stuff from the fans, the fin array package, all the way down to the way the heat pipes wick the thermals away from the CPU die, so without delay let’s jump right in and see if Thermaltake equipped the NiC C4 with the right parts to allow it to successfully cool the latest CPU technology.

Thermaltake Nic C4 Closer Look:

Looking at the packaging for the Thermaltake NiC C4 it has an assortment of information. The front of the box shows a 2/3rd profile of the red cooler and is followed by a quick rundown of what it offers. These include the thermal dissipation of 220 watts as well as the amount of heat pipes presented in the bottom left corner. This is great for anyone wanting the quickest idea of that they are buying, but usually a box alone doesn't sell me a product. It is, however, great for a quick rundown.

The right side of the box Thermaltake lists the major features of the cooler in different languages, while the back lists the same in English along with a few images to help felicitate the point. This includes a fan controller and universal socket to name a few. Finally, the left side list all the technical details that are pointed out on the front of the box and that's very important to have on any CPU Cooler!

 

 

 

After opening the box, you see a fold out manual and behind that is a neatly packed product with the parts box on top the form holding the CPU cooler in place. The cooler itself has the fans already attached, which will need to be removed for installation. The parts box includes all the hardware necessary to mount components for AMD and Intel sockets. Thermaltake was kind enough to include some decent thermal paste (covered later) that is in a syringe-style tube.

 

 

 

Once the instruction sheet is unfolded, you can see it has each step in multiple languages and easy-to-follow step by step instructions. There are two different manuals, one for Intel and the other for AMD. For this review I focused on the Intel side even though I did test out the AMD installation separately. The step by step guide was a little confusing and did require me to double check that I was doing it right. It's very easy to install the support brackets upside down as you can still install the CPU cooler!

 

Thermaltake NiC C4 Closer Look:

Once removed from the box you can see thermaltakes clam-shell design that holds the fans on the heatsink via two plastic clips on each side. Each fan operates in sync as the wires lead to the same connector. The Fans themselves are controlled via a fan controller with a knob for two speeds; High or Low. Low speed run the fans at 1100 RPM @ 22 dBA, while high bring that up to double at 2200 RPM @ 39 dBA. If you choose to not use the fan controllers, both fan run at full speed, which is nice and loud. Standing at 160mm after installation, the cooler falls under the larger ones, but manages to fit inside some tight space and budget cases because of its compact size. Thermaltake could shorten the height a bit by removing the tips of the heat pipes and plastic, but I wonder how that will work out.

 

 

 

The cooler itself is made from aluminum and is comprised of 53 fins with four heat-pipes passing all the way through from the base-plate and out the top fins. The cooler also has a "V" sharp on both sides allowing the center to be thinner than the sides. Thermaltake does not list the reason for this, but most likely has to with air dynamics.

 

 

 

To remove the clam-shell, simply use your fingers to lift the plastic clips on each side holding it to the cooler itself. After completing this for both sides, eight in total, you are ready to install the cooler. As explained above, the fans are controlled via a fan controller, which has a knob for two speeds, 1100 RPM or 2200 RPM. If you choose not to use the fan controller, the fan will run at full speed, no matter what you do.

 

Installation requires looking over the manual as to figure out the correct orientation for the support. Installing to the Intel 115X socket requires holding the included back-plate then put a screw in and thread the black piece of plastic to hold the screw in place. After completing that, the user must place a support bar across two screws and secure it with their own screws. Once everything is tightened, you are ready for the cooler installation. This is when it becomes a bit of work. After placing the cooler down on the CPU, a bar is placed over the base were both sides will be secured to the support. The cooler requires one side to be threaded and then the other side needs to be pressed down with high amount of pressure as it is threaded in. The amount of pressure takes a few attempts for anyone trying to be cautious. I had to stop and double check the manual to make sure that was the proper way to install it.

 

 

 

After a few days use, I removed the cooler and from the image below you can see how much pressure the bar really provides. You can clearly see where the CPU die is in the middle. I don't know what to think about this as it's effective at making sure the cooler has solid contact, but I would think that it's putting some stress on the CPU IHS.

 

Installation of the cooler has its up and downs. The hardest thing is getting the clam-shell back on, which can take a while if it's your first time. I suggest installing the cooler before placing the motherboard in the chassis, but it can be done afterwards. Keeping tabs on the fan controller piece was a challenge itself, as it is long and tended to get in between the motherboard and tray. I would rather seen it shortened or removed completely.

Thermaltake Nic C4 Specifications:

Compatibility
Intel LGA
2011/1366/1155/1156/1150/1150/775
AMD
FM2/FM1/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2
Dimension
160H * 140W * 50L mm
Heatsink Material
Aluminum Fins
cu base
Copper Heatpipes
Heatpipe
Φ6mm x 4 pcs
Fan Dimension
120 x 120 x 25 mm(L xW x H)
Fan quantity
2 pcs
Fan Speed
1000-2000RPM
Air Flow
99.1 CFM
Noise
20 ~39.9 dBA
Life time/Fan Life time
40000 hr
Fan control
VR
Cooling Power
220W
Weight
794 g

 

Thermaltake NiC C4 Features:



 

All information courtesy of Thermaltake @ https://www.thermaltakeusa.com/products-model.aspx?id=C_00002028

Thermaltake NiC C4 Testing:

Testing is conducted by installing the cooler into the test system case, rather than a test bench. Most systems are built and mounted into a (relatively) sealed chassis, so this method will be used to generate the idle and load results to give a real world view as to the cooling performance one can expect, based on the test system listed below. Of course, your results may vary by several degrees due to case design, case fan placement and ambient air temperature. The CPU load is generated by Prime 95 version 27.9 using "Small FFTs" for a period of one hour, with a cool down period of one hour after the computer has returned to an idle state. HW Monitor 1.18 is used to log the temperatures with the highest and lowest averages across the four cores of the Core i7 4770K test CPU. Ambient temperatures are kept at 24 °C during the testing to minimize the effect of temperature variations. 

Setup:

Comparison Coolers:

 

 

In the above charts you can see how well the NiC C4 cooler does compared to the competition. In each chart it's keeping up with its big brother, the NiC C5. To top it off, the competitors include the Noctua NH-D14, which is arguably the best air cooler on the market, along with Corsiar AIO (All in one) Liquid Cooler(s), which are behind everything else every so slightly. Keep in mind, the Corsair AIO Coolers are set to Balance mode to simulate the most desired operation between high noise, high performance or low noise and low performance. At this point, it's hard to recommend the NiC C5 over the C4 as it provides little to no improvements even under a higher overclock. Not that the NiC C5 was ever on trial during this review, but the extra 10 watts dissipation clearly has no advantage.

Thermaltake NiC C4: Conclusion

Thermaltake has done a great job of designing a CPU Cooler that works on some core issues all coolers have to deal with. Being slender allowed the Cooler (with fans attached) to accommodate tall memory heat sinks. It's often the case you have to sacrifice a fan on one side or orient the cooler in the different way for installation to proceed. I have in the past and will continue in the future to be disappointed in CPU coolers that are designed without a second thought of its surrounding counterparts.

The Cooler itself doesn't get away without some flaws of its own. I truly dislike the design choice to have a fan controller built in. Either have one speed on 1100 RPM or allow us to use the motherboard to control the fans. I have been struggling with this for a while between really not liking this feature on the NiC C4 , to deciding it's okay. The installation process is not the easiest and requires a lot of effort to get the support bar threaded in. Ultimately, once everything is installed, it becomes easy to overlook the issues at this price and I recommend you do the same. After all, it's only going on once!

Affordability is usually not the main focus for a cooling connoisseur, yet Thermaltake NIC C4 is the perfect CPU cooler for your buck. For the price of $54.99, the NiC C4 guarantees a thermal dissipation of 220 watts. In comparison to the NiC C4’s older brother the Thermaltake NIC C5 priced at $59.99, which only dissipates 10 additional watts. The NiC C4 is more cost-effective for the budget conscious consumer. Besides the NiC C4 and C5, other coolers such as the Noctua NH D-14, Corsair H100i, and Corsair H80i are equivalent to the NiC C4, but they come with a higher price tag for that similar performance profile. If you need a reasonably priced cooler that can step up to the plate without striking out, then the C4 is one of the most valuable (and economical) players in today's CPU cooling market.

 

Pro:

 

Cons: