ZEROtherm Nirvana NV 120 Cpu Cooler Review

Admin - 2007-10-30 14:41:53 in CPU Cooling
Category: CPU Cooling
Reviewed by: Admin   
Reviewed on: October 31, 2007
Price: $44.99


I have never liked the cold and can remember wearing so many layers during the winter, that simply trying to bend down was a task in itself. Unlike myself though, there are many things that like it cold, and a CPU is definitely one of them; and it seems the colder the better. Give a CPU some liquid Nitrogen and it will love you forever. Basically, if you have an unlimited cash flow, cooling options are limitless and include phase change, liquid or air cooling. Most of us don’t have the room or the money to spend on the more expensive options, so air cooling remains the most popular. Nevertheless, even with air cooling, there are many different options and heatsinks are a dime a dozen. So even when choosing the option of a heatsink and fan, it is important to educate yourself on the many different types and styles in order to correctly cool that CPU and protect your investment.

The ZEROtherm Nirvana NV 120 CPU Cooler is an air cooling alternative. Its fins are constructed of aluminum, its base is copper, it has six copper heat pipes, and it's actively cooled with a 120 mm blue LED fan. Unlike many other aftermarket heatsinks, the ZEROtherm Nirvana NV 120 CPU Cooler comes embossed with a smooth gunmetal finish that adds to a great overall look.


Closer Look:

The ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 comes packaged in a shiny sivler box with a clear plastic panel so you can see exactly what you are getting. At times I can be partial to silver, but this box with the embossed heatsink inside would catch anyone's eye. The back and sides of the package give detailed specifications and features.



Closer Look:

Upon opening the package you will find that the Nirvana is encapsulated by a clear plastic shell. When taken out of the plastic shell you will notice that the heatsink is embossed with a nice gunmetal shell, unlike the usual unfinished aluminum or copper we are used to seeing with other heatsinks. 










Pictures do this no justice, and with the product being finished it will be hard to cut your hands on the fins.



The base and heatpipes of the heatsink are made of copper, covered with the embossed finish.


The ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 also comes with a fan controller so if you are not folding 24/7 and keeping your CPU at full load, you will be able to throttle your fan speeds if maximum cooling is not required.


The Nirvana can be used with multiple Intel and AMD platforms, and brackets for both types of CPUs are supplied.



There is no need to be a rocket scientist when installing the Nirvana; the supplied instruction manual gives in-depth instruction.


The system you choose to mount the Zerotherm Nirvana NV 120 on will dictate which bracket you will need. I'll be testing the Nirvana on the Intel Core 2 Q6600. After choosing the appropriate bracket, you will need to screw it to the heatsink. Once that is attached, take the supplied X-Bracket and place it on the back of your motherboard in correspondence with the proper openings.











Next you will need to apply the provided heatsink paste (or third-party paste) to your CPU, and then attach the Nirvana to the motherboard by using the screws attached to the bracket on the heatsink. The ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 comes equipped with stops attached to the screws so there is no need to worry if the unit will be too loose or tight.



Once attached, replace your motherboard back in its case, screw it on and you are ready to go. If you choose to use the fan controller the jumper wire on the controller is quite long, so there should be no problem mounting it conveniently on your case.



The motherboard chosen to test the heatsink on is the DFI 680I LT. This motherboard comes equipped with a Northbridge heatsink that is fairly large. Thus, mounting the Nirvana with the fan facing downward is impossible without modifying either, so the heatsink will be facing up along with the comparison heatsink, which will be the Tuniq Tower.





128x95x150 mm (LxWxH)
5.04x3.74x5.91 inch
Fin: Aluminum
Base: Copper
Heat Pipe: Copper
Heat Dissipation Area
6,748 cm2 (1,046 in2)
Cooling Capacity
Over 150W
Fan Size
120x25 mm (4.72x0.98 in) with 2-Blue LED
Fan Speed
700-2600 rpm +/- 10%
Acoustical Noise
Under 39 dBA
3 pin
Operating Voltage
5.0-13.8 V DC
Operating Power
Max 5.0W
Air Flow Rate
84.7 CFM (2.4m3/min)
628 g (w/o components)


Fan Controller:


34x80x24 mm (LxWxH)
1.34x3.15x0.95 inch
Extension Cable Length
1,000 mm (39.37 in)
Controllable Range
Minimum Output Voltage: 5V DC
Maximum Output Voltage: 12V DC
Pin Type
3 pin
Install Position
Anywhere you want
Install Method
Refer to Manual




Pentium D
Core 2 Duo
Core 2 Quad
Core 2 Extreme
Athlon 64
Athlon 64 X2
Athlon 64 FX


To test the ZEROtherm Nirvana, as well as the Tunic Tower, the benchmarks used will be at stock speeds of 2.4 GHz and overclocked speeds of 3.150 GHz. The stock heatsink tested will be benchmarked at 2.4 GHz and 2.7 GHz, just to show the large temperature drops when using an aftermarket heatsink. Temperatures tested will be at both Idle and 100% Load. Folding at home will be used to achieve load temperatures. All room temperatures will be climate controlled at 78° Fahrenheit or 25.5° Celsius. Hey, I live in Florida; do you know what it costs to cool a house during the summer?! LOL. All temperatures will be measured in Celsius.


Testing Setup:










In order to achieve the overclocked speeds of 3.150 GHz, the VCore voltage was raised from 1.22 to 1.35, the system RAM was run unlinked, and the NB voltage was set to 1.375. For the stock heatsink, the overclock of 2.7 GHz was achieved at stock voltages all around. The stock heatsink was used just for comparison and as you can see, even without any increased volts, its temperatures are significantly higher. Since there was no voltage added to the core while overclocked, idle temperatures remained the same.


I wasn’t quite sure how well a heatsink would perform facing up. Since heat rises, pulling air from the top of an enclosure can be a nightmare and actually cause an increase in temperature. I will most likely purchase an aftermarket NB passive heatsink to get rid of that problem. Even though the heatsink was facing up and pulling warmer air than if it were facing down, there was an 11° difference at idle and a 21° difference at load at stock speeds.

I’m not a big fan of fan controllers, but since the ZEROtherm Nirvana comes with one, I felt obliged to test it. With the fan speed set to low there was only a 2° Celsius change at idle and a 5° change at load. These temperatures decreased as the fan speeds were increased.

So what more can you ask for? The ZEROtherm Nirvana NV 120 CPU Cooler, which retails for an average of $45, stood neck-and-neck with one of the most popular heatsinks on the market today. Did the Nirvana perform as I expected? No; it performed better. Like many others, I am not very familiar with ZEROtherm coolers and would have probably even overlooked it in a store because of the unfamiliarity with the brand name. We all have tendencies to purchase products that are familiar to us and lean towards "big names". Just because a brand is more well-known, does that necessarily mean it will perform better? Does it mean that it is made better? Most of the time it does require a higher price, but why pay the higher price for the same or better performance?

The ZEROtherm Nirvana NV 120 CPU Cooler is a solid performer. It stood up to what many refer to as the top dog in the industry and performed just as well or better. Do the math; when it comes to price, performance, and value, the Nirvana can cover it all. So why spend your money on a name; spend it on a product that performs.