NZXT HAVIK 120 Review
By: Devin Chollak
April 6, 2012
When I read the name HAVIK, I find myself having a difficult time trusting it to keep my CPU cool. I mean, with a name like along those lines, you would think it is going to wreak havoc up your CPU. Fortunately, the NZXT HAVIK 140 proved to be a fairly respectable cooler, but the real question we are about to find out is if the younger brother, the HAVIK 120, is able to fill its brother's shoes -- even though it only has 120mm fans. Of course, it is always foolish to base a product's quality just because of the name, but at first glance, you can see it is not very different. Just an analogy in real life -- if you look at two brothers, you would probably be saying the same thing, haha. Now, I'm not trying to be sexist, so I guess you could call them sisters if you really want to go all feminist on me. However, for the sake of this review and simply because I am male, these are brothers in arms ready to help you wreak havoc upon your enemies in games. Now I don't know about you, but if you happen to be in my situation, that particular game would be League of Legend -- a game that seems to have been taking up more of my spare time than I would like to admit, but rest be assured, it helped with testing. Anyways, enough chatting about games, I think it is time to let us take a look at what kind of havoc we can wreak with the NZXT HAVIK 120.
On the journey from California, USA, the NZXT HAVIK 120 came down with a friend, the NZXT HALE82 750W reviewed by my colleague Jonathan last week. The cardboard box has certainly seen better days before it left from American Future Technology's headquarters via FedEx Ground. On the plus side, the insides of the shipping box were in perfect condition, so I have no right to complain about its condition on arrival -- except for maybe the box being a little bit dirty. Honestly though, a little bit of dirt never hurt anyone, haha.
Just like the NZXT HAVIK 140, the retail box for the HAVIK 120 comes in a simplistic design, which shows the product fully assembled on the front. Only using black and white as the main colors for the design, it offers high contrast for a sharp appearance. In addition, the color accent used on the front makes for a simple but stylistic approach to presenting this younger sibling. The array of icons on the front shows the consumer basic information about the product; asserting that it is very easy to install, utilizes four 8mm heatpipes, operates at 27 dBA, and has a dual fan configuration. Naturally, this is pretty skim on what the cooler is capable of, and I would suggest showing a bit more detail. On the contrary, I am not in marketing, so I guess we should leave it up to the pros. NZXT does provide more details about the cooler on the sides as well as a detailed perspective view of the assembled cooler. The company has the normal urge to keep the retail box design simple and using strong contrasting colors, and overall, I think they have done an excellent job here. Before we jump right into the insides of this CPU cooler, here are the features and specifications for the HAVIK 120, as listed on the manufacture's website:
- Revamped 120mm FZ Fans with 13 blades for intense silent cooling
- Nickel-plated copper base material
- Four 8mm pipes and aluminum fins for attaining maximum dissipation into fans
- Fan speeds up to 1500 +/- 10% RPM and 22 dBA silent cooling with airflow of 75.8 CFM
- Aero-dynamic fin design for improved airflow
- Universal bracket compatible with Intel and AMD CPUs
- Rubber mounting for noise absorption
MODEL: HAVIK 120
MATERIALS: Aluminum / Copper Nickel-Plated
DIMENSIONS: 125(W) x 160(H) x 112(D) mm; 125(W) x 160(H) x 58(D) mm (heatsink)
WEIGHT: 980g (with dual 120mm fans); 680g (heatsink)
MOUNTING PRESSURE: 55-60 lbs
FAN SIZE: Dual 120(W) x 140(H) x 25(D) mm
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: 3.6 W
LIFE: 30,000 Hours
- Intel Socket: 2011, 1366, 1155, 1156, 775 CPUs
- AMD Socket: AM3, AM2+, AM2 CPUs
CPU coolers from NZXT are typically not designed for silent enthusiasts or extreme overclockers. On the other hand, if the HAVIK 120 is similar to the HAVIK 140, it is going to provide above average performance at great value. Although I think I already have a good idea of what I will find when I open up this box, let us take a look and see if we have any surprises. The NZXT HAVIK 120's packaging has a unique Styrofoam configuration, which seems to eliminate a significant amount of material, and at the same time, retains the necessary padding for the contents. I am already impressed; it looks like someone spent some time looking at how to cut costs down on packing material. The two fans are stacked up with the heatsink sandwiched between two pieces of Styrofoam. The installation manual for the HAVIK 120 follows the same style as the 140, except it is larger, because of the LGA 2011 socket installation instructions. It still retains the simple LEGO or K'NEX like style for instructions, which I absolutely love, because it reminds me of my childhood. The backplate comes in its typical plastic bag separate from the other parts, which still left me confused as to why it is so special and needs to be isolated. Finally, you can see the parts box which contains all the necessary pieces for mounting and attaching the fans. Absolutely nothing surprising here, and everything you could want is provided, except for some resistors to cut down on noise by reducing the power to the fans. However, this CPU cooler wasn't designed with primarily silence in mind, so it would not be fair to consider this a flaw in my opinion. Plus, most motherboards are more than capable of adjusting your CPU fan speed anyway.
It should be fairly noticeable when looking at the fans that the power cables are rather short. Fortunately, NZXT instead provides the HAVIK 120 with two power cables with a Y-splitter at the end. This means if you can easily extend both fans from the CPU cooler and plug them into two separate 3-pin Molex power connections on the motherboard, or have them both running out of the same 3-pin connection. The motherboard I use with testing, the ASUS P8Z68-V, happens to have two connections adjacent to the CPU, which will allow me to run both of them directly from the motherboard without the need for extensions. However, just in case you have an odd motherboard that doesn't offer the same level of convenience, NZXT has decided to make your life not miserable and lets you use the splitters for extra length if required.
The backplate for the HAVIK 120 is the same one used for the HAVIK 140, which should not be a surprise, as they are very similar coolers. At first glance, you would also think the cooler is identical, but this is definitely not the case -- the design does have some minor differences. One of the parts that noticeably stand out are the two heatsink fans. Each one comes with thirteen blades; something I have never seen before with a computer fan. The reason for increasing the number of blade is because it allows the fan to generate higher static pressure against the heatsink. This is a very desirable property to ensure air is moving through the fins. All of the pieces used to mount the heatsink to the motherboard are the same, with the exception of an additional package for the LGA 2011 boards. This is expected as at the time I was reviewing the HAVIK 140, the socket wasn't even on market yet.
It should be pretty obvious from the image above that the heatpipes are the larger 8mm variant, and there are four on each side. An interesting design change for this heatsink is every sheet has its ends pinched in such a way that they pair up on either side. While the aerodynamic benefits of this eludes me, it does make the heatsink look sharp from the side. Additionally, each plate has two holes cut through them. To be fair, I have a feeling this is more for aesthetics than any real aerodynamic purpose. There is a total of 46 fins on the heatsink, and are pressed up against the 8mm heatpipes. The heatpipes and contact are copper with nickel-plating which offers great thermal conductivity without all the corrosion often found with pure-copper heatsinks. The copper base and aluminum fins are soldered together to ensure long lasting quality that will not decrease in performance over time. While the NZXT HAVIK 120 is smaller than the HAVIK 140, they weigh roughly the same at 980g with the fans mounted.
The heatpipes on the HAVIK 120 are not evenly distributed across the aluminum fins. The problem created by keeping the heatpipes close together is the fact heat will be dissipated in an uneven fashion. While some could argue this is a minor loss in cooling efficiency, the fact it was done for the HAVIK 140, but completely ignored on this cooler leaves me wondering if it was intentionally done to reduce costs. The heatsink is 160 x 125 x 58 mm in size, and with 46 fins, this comes out to approximately 0.67 square meters of surface area. This is only slightly smaller than the HAVIK 140, so it is very likely to have negligibly lower cooling performance compared to its older brother. Overall, this heatsink looks fairly standard to me, so I think it is time to see how the installation is.
As always, the first step to installing a CPU cooler is to remove the old one, and cleaning off the CPU's integrated heatspreader. The HAVIK 120 follows the same brilliant screws and mounting bracket design as the HAVIK 140. While I do not like how it requires a significant amount of assembly, the parts are designed to fit together with a reasonable amount of friction to hold them together as you put in the pieces. Lining up the backplate on the rear side is relatively trivial, as the socket holes are marked directly on the plate to eliminate any confusion during installation. While I still think it is odd when you install it for an Intel socket you get the words "This side for AMD" facing towards you, all this boils down to the question -- is it upside down and you are right side up, or is it right side up and your upside down? Either way, NZXT is pretty consistent about this design, and this is beneficial for anyone who sticks with the company for CPU coolers. Each of the four screws are designed to have threads on the lower half with the upper half be smooth but slightly wider to give it a secure hold using friction. This means the backplate will hold it in place just by using the screws alone as the friction between the screws and the plate prevents them from sliding out while you are installing the cooler -- absolutely brilliant.
For each of the screws, you will find a black spacer to put on the front where the screws come out. These are also designed to hold it in place by friction with the screws. Essentially, this makes the installation as painless as you could make it without actually reducing the number of parts. On top of the spacers are the mounting brackets; these come with three holes for each of the different Intel socket openings, and fit onto the screws effortlessly. The biggest issue with these brackets is the design for the holes when it comes to LGA 775 and 1155/1156 sockets as they overlap and make the bracket attach loosely to the screws. While some manufacturers have managed to eliminate this problem, the HAVIK 120 still suffers from this minor issue. Basically, when screwing down the brackets, you will need to hold it in place. so when you are finally clamping down the heatsink the brackets are lined up properly. Otherwise, you can easily attach the brackets crooked. and it results in an uneven fitting. I have mentioned in the HAVIK 140 review the number of parts should be reduced to improve the installation process, but NZXT decided to stick with its super modular design.
Finally, with the brackets in place, it is time to apply the thermal paste to the CPU contact and attach the heatsink. Even with some experience with the HAVIK 140, I found this step more painful than necessary for the HAVIK 120, as you need to align the heatsink clamp perfectly and give it a little tug so you can screw it down. Obviously, this is something that should have been improved upon, and I am rather disappointed this has not been fixed, as I am certain it will irritate some customers. With the heatsink in place and screwed down tightly, the last stage is attaching the fans to the cooler and plugging them in. The HAVIK 120 follows its older brother's path with silicone straps to clip the fans onto the heatsink. I still find this painful compared to metal clips, as they have to be pulled around the heatsink after it has been mounted to the motherboard. While some chassis are more luxurious and offer lots of room, many mid-tower cases aren't as friendly and make this a fairly cramped task. I have found using a screwdriver to pull the silicone bands around the heatsink not as cumbersome; however, this installation step is still far from an ideal method. I do admit using silicon bands is a brilliant design concept, but it just does not make things any easier for the end user.
Our test setup as follows:
CPU: Intel Core i7-2600K (Stock settings; Hyper Threading enabled)
Motherboard: ASUS P8Z68-V
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 3000
Memory: G.Skill F3-12800CL9-4GBXL 16GB (4x4GB) @ DDR3-1600 (11-11-11-28)
Chassis: NZXT Source 220 Elite
Power: Antec High Current Gamer 400W
Optical Drive: Sony DVD-RW DRU-880S
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 x64
Just like the other heatsinks tested, the test machine was kept in the same location at a constant room temperature of approximately 20c. Each test was given sufficient time to allow for the thermal interface material to set properly. The NZXT HAVIK 120 is compared to the HAVIK 140, Intel's stock heatsink, Thermaltake Frio OCK, and Noctua NH-D14. The HAVIK 120 was tested with a dual fan configuration, as well as a single fan pushing the air through the heatsink. The fan speed for the HAVIK 120 was left running at stock settings throughout the tests, with each fan connected to its own 3-pin fan header. Just like the HAVIK 140, these fans do not provide a way to adjust their RPM on a hardware level.
For the idle the tests, I stuck to what I always do, and had the system turned on and idling for at least 30 minutes. For the load tests, Prime95's in-place large FFTs test with eight worker threads was run for at least 30 minutes. The results of the tests were taken from Core Temp using data provided by the CPU's thermal sensor. Once the highest core temperature had been sustained for more than five minutes, the value is recorded. The highest temperature among the cores is counted, and the results were cross-checked with Real Temp for verification of the readings for all results. This is the same method I always use to test the CPU coolers for any system.
The idle tests should not come as much of a surprise, as the Intel Core i7-2600K does not generate a significant amount of heat when idling. Performance was identical to the HAVIK 140 for these tests, and the amount of noise generated was also very comparable. While the Frio OCK and NH-D14 both performed better, they are significantly larger, and this is to be expected. However, the 120mm fans do not appear to make this cooler perform as horribly as the Intel stock cooler, but honestly, no aftermarket cooler should ever perform at that level.
Well as exciting as the idle tests can be, the load tests show a very interesting story. The NZXT HAVIK 120 performed almost identically as the HAVIK 140. In fact, the difference of a mere degree seems rather impressive. because of the more compact physical and smaller fans. This cooler did clearly run warmer than all the other coolers; although it is significantly smaller and cheaper. The results are not surprising, but it goes to show how size can actually make a minor difference when it comes to performance.
As many of us are aware a new CPU cooler does not just mean better heat dissipation, it can also drastically change the acoustics as well. When it came to the NZXT HAVIK 120, I was impressed by the lack of noise generated by the fans. While I was not expecting the 120mm fans to generate significantly more or less noise than the 140mm fans, it turns out the included thirteen blade fans are good at keeping the noise levels down. On the standardized APH noise perception scale, with 0.0 being silent and 10.0 being the loudest audible noise possible, I would rate it at 3.0 out of 10 for the dual fan configuration. It was actually reasonably softer to my ears than the HAVIK 140. However, when it came to the single fan configuration, it was identical to the HAVIK 140 with a rating of 2.5 out of 10. Now, loudness is subjective to the observer, and varies with each individual, but the HAVIK 120 definitely offers minimal noise when operating, and this is exactly what consumers are looking for. This is assuming you are not crazy and do not enjoy the sound of being in a wind tunnel, but for everyone else who is normal, this cooler will prove to be fairly quiet when doing its duty.
It all boils down to this: Does the NZXT HAVIK 120 stand up to its older brother in cooling performance? Well, it certainly seems to offer a very similar level of cooling as the HAVIK 140; with a side benefit of a slightly lower in cost and a smaller physical size. This really means this CPU cooler is great if you are looking to save some money. Retailing for $50 USD at press time, it turns out to be about $10 less than the HAVIK 140. (Note: At the time of my last review, the HAVIK 140 was $70 USD.) Also, unlike the HAVIK 140, the HAVIK 120 does not suffer from the issue of occupying my RAM slots like Germany occupying France in WWII. To be fair, this cooler is definitely worth its price tag. Sure, it might not be an overclocker's dream, but it is certainly a sensible choice for anyone looking at a decent cooler without paying an arm and leg. In comparison with the NZXT HAVIK 140, there has been virtually no changes when it comes to installation or parts. Obviously, this is an effective method for cutting development costs, but unfortunately, this means the consumer will need to deal with some of drawbacks of the last product. For example, while the silicone bands is an interesting choice for clipping the fans to the heatsink, I am still concerned these will go brittle over time, and eventually make it difficult to replace the fasteners. That said, based on my experience with the HAVIK 140, I have a feeling this won't happen until after the heatsink's useful service life is over. When it comes to the NZXT HAVIK 120, you get great cooling and minimal noises offered to you at a reasonable price, what more could you ask for?
NZXT provided this product to APH Networks for the purpose of evaluation.
APH Review Focus Summary:
8/10 means Definitely a very good product with drawbacks that aren't likely going to matter to the end user.
7/10 means Great product with many advantages and certain insignificant drawbacks; but should be considered before purchasing.
-- Final APH Numeric Rating is 7.5/10
Please note that the APH Numeric Rating system is based off our proprietary guidelines in the Review Focus, and should not be compared to other sites.
Want to keep your CPU cool, but want a cooler that's less bulky? The NZXT HAVIK 120 might be your new best friend.
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