Thermaltake NiC-F4 Reviewccokeman - October 20, 2013
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Thermaltake NiC-F4 Conclusion:
Thermalatake's NiC series CPU coolers address one of the big concerns that the community faces when using larger more efficient coolers. They almost always impact the amount of memory one can install and how many DIMM slots can be populated. Most require either low-profile DRAM modules or only populating the slots furthest from the processor socket. If you are only using 8 or 16GB of memory in a 2 x 4GB or 2 x 8GB configuration you can most likely get away with taller modules. Filling up all the DIMM slots is going to necessitate a compromise in either DRAM capacity or alternate fan mounting solutions at best. The NiC series and specifically the NiC-F4 will allow you to populate all of the DRAM slots and still use a large efficient cooling solution with both fans properly attached to maximize airflow through the curved 0.4mm aluminum heat sink fins. In my test system the fans still sat some 2 to 3mm from the large heat sinks on my Mushkin Redline modules fulfilling the design parameters of the NiC series. A pair of 120mm PWM fans are used to provide the airflow through the heat sink. Just looking at the dimensions of the fan mounting surface it looks like a pair of 140mm fans could be used to further enhance the cooling capacity of the NiC-F4. Even so the 120mm fans do a great job of providing the airflow needed at a low noise level. Rated for operation between 800 and 1600RPM the fans are whisper quiet from 2 feet away even under full load and fans speed. Something I was pleasantly surprised to not hear.
Cooling performance was about in the middle of the comparison field. That my sound bad but considering a lot of self-contained liquid cooling solutions are part of the field, the perspective changes when you see this $40 cooler outperforming coolers that cost more and deliver less. The red and black fans are going to match up nicely with the abundance of red and black themed boards on the market from all of the top manufacturers including ASUS, Gigabyte, and MSI. It's a good-looking cooler that performs well.
Installation of a high-end cooling solution can be simple or infinitely challenging depending on the manufacturer. Thermaltake's earlier mounting solutions were, needless to say, challenging to install for some people requiring patience to get it right. The installation hardware on the NiC-F4 is similar in design to that of other high-end solutions in that it is a captured four-post design with brackets attached to the four corners with a connection point for the heat sink hold down mechanism. I found this design with a new plastic backplate much easier to install and attach the heat sink to. This really is a step up in the configuration and installation of the cooler. The only gripe I have (and this one is covered by the cooling performance) is that the direct-contact heat pipe surface is less than flat, requiring additional thermal compound to fill in the spacing between the 6mm heat pipes and the aluminum base. Overall, I am pleasantly surprised with the performance fitment and ease of installation of this new cooler from Thermaltake. At $40 it stands its ground and delivers pretty good cooling peorformance by comparison, providing some real value to the end user looking for a high performance, lower cost cooling solution that will allow some decent overclocking without seriously overheating the CPU. Thermaltake got it right with this one!
- Comaptibility with 140mm fns
- Low Cost
- Ease of installation
- Low noise
- Narrow Footprint
- Rough contact surface