ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 Premium

CPU Coolers, Reviews

ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 Review

Introduction

Although dual and quad core CPU’s are very good performers; they are not so good in the heat department. As a result, coolers are vastly being designed which aim to cool CPU’s to the lowest possible temps – making them ideal for overclockers and gamers alike.

With this in mind, Zerotherm have created the Nirvana – a performance CPU cooler which boasts an adjustable fan speed controller, 4 heat-pipes which deliver the effectiveness of 8, killer performance and a blue led fan.

About ZEROtherm

ZEROtherm is a heat-pipe technology based thermal solution provider which provides customized designing and engineering solutions and, ultimately, provides best-of breed thermal solutions.

Features

  • Excellent performance
  • Honeycomb structure
  • Four U-shaped heatpipes
  • 120mm blue LED fan
  • Supplied with fan controller
  • Easy installation

Specifications

Compatibility Intel Socket 478, 771, 603, 604
AMD Socket 754, Socket F or Socket A
Dimensions 128 X 95 X 150 mm (5.04 X 3.74 X 5.83 inch)
Weight 638g (Without Components)
Materials Base Pure Copper
Heat pipe Pure Copper
Fin Cr/Ni Plated Alunium
Heat Dissipation Area 6,748 cm² (1,046 inch²)
Cooling Capacity Over 150W
Fan Size 120 X 25 mm (4.72 X 0.98 inch) With 2 Blue LEDs
Fans Speed 1,000 ~ 2,300 rpm (± 10%)
Acoustic Noise 19 ~ 39 dBA (± 10%)
Bearing Type UFO Bearing
Operating Voltage 5.0 ~ 13.8 VDC
Airflow Rate Max. 84.7 CFM
Fan Controller Range 5.0 ~ 11.5V
Installation Place it anywhere using the 4pcs of mounting tape
Extension Cable 1,000mm (39.37 inch)

The Package

The Nirvana arrived in a large snazzy looking box with 8 pictures on the front showing off some of its features. The Nirvana supposedly boasts easy installation, killer performance, a fan speed control, an efficient heat pipe system an optimised design with 2 blue LEDs and compatibility for Intel and AMD.

ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 Review

The packaging is sturdy with a nice strong handle on top and a large window on the front so you can see the cooler.

The rear of the box shows the cooler and its specifications along with the same 8 pictures from the front of the package. The sides are a similar story except for one which shows the fan controller, its specs and another compatibility list.

ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 Review

Once out of the box it is possible to see the included accessories: a fan controller which features a highly ergonomic design, a huge syringe of thermal paste and the two mounting kits.

ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 Review

The Zerotherm Nirvana NV120

The cooler is made of copper and aluminium. The entire cooler has a very chrome finish to it due to the fact that it is Cr/Ni plated. This makes the cooler very reflective and it glares a lot.

ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 Review ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 Review

The fins feel quite strong yet they bend easily at the places where the fan is set back into the cooler.

ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 Review

The CPU contact is incredibly shiny and reflective which is a good indicator of flatness and quality. This usually means better thermal contact between CPU and Heat-sink base.

ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 Review

Interestingly the fan, which is not mounted with either screws or rubber fixings, is set back into the fins of the cooler. The fan is actually mounted on a stand, which connects to the base of the cooler. This is an interesting mounting method, as it makes no attempts to alleviate noise levels. The fan also has no chassis, which is another unusual feature as a nice stiff chassis can help reduce noise output levels.

ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 Review

The fan speed controller is very ergonomic in design but looks a bit out of place outside of the case so most people may wish to keep it within their case.

Another interesting point is that the AMD mounting lip is different to most other supplied with coolers as this one screws onto the cooler and doesn’t use the same kind of flip switch mechanism that is seen on most AMD coolers.

The design of the fins is like the specs say a honeycomb design featuring both a greater surface area than normal fins but also better airflow through the fins.

Installation

To install, I simply cleaned off the CPU paste and applied the supplied thermal paste.

The installation was one of the easiest I have ever experienced with any AM2 clip as the cooler seems to push the clips down onto the hooks easily and I was able to simply pull the clip across to lock it in place. When installed, the cooler put no strain on my motherboard and I was able to use the cooler to lift my motherboard up. This shows that the cooler is both firmly attached and not ridiculously heavy.

Testing

Test Setup

Motherboard MSI K9N6GM
Processor Athlon 64×2 4200+
Memory OCZ Spec OPS 2gb (2x1gb)
Hard Disk Drive 80gb Hitachi SATA
Graphics Card ATI HD 2400pro OC
Case Zalman GS1000

Methodology

To test we simply boot the PC up into Windows Vista and measure temperatures under idle and load states. The temperature is recorded from the CPU’s own diode.

For idle testing, leave the pc doing nothing for half an hour, take 3 temperature readings and then sue the average score from these as the result. When testing at load temperatures, we use a similar method but load both cores of the CPU right to 100%

All of the testing was carried out with the side panels on and with one top and one rear 120mm fan attached. Ambient temperatures were at 19 degrees C. The processor was loaded using ‘Systool’.

Results were taken while the CPU was at stock clocks. When at stock, the CPU was at 2.2ghz with a Vcore of 1.3v. SiSandra was used to take all temperatures.

The Nirvana was compared to the stock AMD cooler and the Nexus HOC-9000.

Cooler Idle Load
Zerotherm Nivana NV120 21 28
Nexus HOC-9000 29 42
Stock AMD Cooler 21 32

From these results we can see that for a performance cooler the Nirvana offers the same performance at idle states as the silence orientated HOC-9000 but when at load states, the performance gap shows and the Nirvana offers a 3c temperature difference.

Admittedly the Nirvana is marketed as a performance cooler but these results don’t show conclusive evidence that it boast any real performance increase over coolers marketed as silent such as the HOC-9000.

Noise Levels

With regards to noise I thought it best to talk about the fan speeds affect on noise output. When at full rpm the fan was incredibly loud and could be heard over my groaning DVD drive, however when at low rpm’s the fan was incredibly quiet and just as efficient at cooling.

Cost

The Nirvana can be found for as little as £34 at quietpc.com, this is quite a reasonable price for a cooler with a fan speed controller.

Conclusion

Overall I have found the Nirvana to offer easy installation and reasonable performance. The fan speed controller is incredibly effective at reducing noise output from the fan.

However, if the fan was replaced with a silent one and it was attached differently Zerotherm would be onto a winner with a silent performance cooler.

Pros

  • Easy installation
  • Price
  • Fan controller
  • Wide compatibility range

Cons

  • Noise from fan
  • Not really “killer” performance
  • Fan design
3 Star Award