NZXT Respire T20 CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Otto Coelho on January 16, 2013


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Silver Award

The NZXT Respire T20 is a CPU cooler with a tower heatsink, a 120 mm fan, and three heatpipes (one 8 mm and two 6 mm). Check it out!

The Respire T20 is a smaller (and cheaper) version of the Respire T40, which we reviewed recently. Its box is shown in Figure 1.

NZXT Respire T20
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Figure 1: Package

Figure 2 shows the contents of the box: the cooler, a power adapter, a small bag of thermal compound, manual, and installation hardware.

NZXT Respire T20
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Figure 2: Accessories

Figure 3 displays the Respire T20.

NZXT Respire T20
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Figure 3: The Respire T20

This cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.

The NZXT Respire T20

Figure 4 illustrates the front of the Respire T20, where the 120 mm fan goes.

NZXT Respire T20
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Figure 4: Front view

Figure 5 reveals the side of the cooler. Notice that the center heatpipe, which is 8 mm in diameter, is larger than the side ones, which are 6 mm in diameter.

NZXT Respire T20
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Figure 5: Side view

Figure 6 unveils the rear side of the cooler. You can see the “step” between the sides of the fins.

NZXT Respire T20
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Figure 6: Rear view

In Figure 7, you can see the top of the cooler, where the tips of the heatpipes are visible.

NZXT Respire T20
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Figure 7: Top view

The NZXT Respire T20 (Cont’d)

Figure 8 illustrates the base of the cooler. The heatpipes touch the CPU directly, and there is no gap between them. The surface is not polished enough for a mirror-like look.

NZXT Respire T20
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Figure 8: Base

Figure 9 reveals the heatsink with the fan removed.

NZXT Respire T20
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Figure 9: The heatsink

Figure 10 shows the 120 mm fan that comes with the cooler, mounted on its plastic holder. This fan has a three-pin connector, which means it is not compatible with PWM speed control.

NZXT Respire T20
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Figure 10: Fan

Installation

Figure 11 shows the backplate and the four screws that must be installed on the solder side of the motherboard prior to installing the Respire T20; it also displays the plastic spacers that go on the component side.

NZXT Respire T20
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Figure 11: Backplate

In Figure 12, you can see the two metal pieces wherein the cooler will be screwed.

NZXT Respire T20
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Figure 12: Metal holders

Put the heatsink in place, and attach it to the metal pieces using a third bar and two nuts.

NZXT Respire T20
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Figure 13: Heatsink installed

Finally, reinstall the fan.

NZXT Respire T20
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Figure 14: Installation finished

How We Tested

We tested the cooler with a Core i5-2500K CPU (quad-core, 3.3 GHz), which is a socket LGA1155 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 4.0 GHz (100 MHz base clock and x40 multiplier), with 1.3 V core voltage (Vcore). This CPU was able to reach 4.8 GHz with its default core voltage, but at this setting, the processor enters thermal throttling when using mainstream coolers, reducing the clock and thus the thermal dissipation. This could interfere with the temperature readings, so we chose to maintain a moderate overclocking.

We measured noise and temperature with the CPU under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in all cores, we ran Prime 95 25.11 with the “In-place Large FFTs” option. (In this version, the software uses all available threads.)

We compared the tested cooler to other coolers we already tested, and to the stock cooler that comes with the Core i5-2500K CPU. Note that the results cannot be compared to measures taken on a different hardware configuration, so we retested some “old” coolers with this new methodology. This means you can find different values in older reviews than the values you will read on the next page. Every cooler was tested with the thermal compound that comes with it.

Room temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer. The core temperature was read with the SpeedFan program (available from the CPU thermal sensors), using an arithmetic average of the core temperature readings.

During the tests, the panels of the computer case were closed. The front and rear case fans were spinning at minimum speed in order to simulate the “normal” cooler use on a well-ventilated case. We assume that is the common setup used by a cooling enthusiast or overclocker.

The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed near the top opening of the case. This measurement is only for comparison purposes, because a precise SPL measurement needs to be made inside an acoustically insulated room with no other noise sources, which is not the case here.

Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 2°C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2°C are considered irrelevant.

Our Tests

The table below presents the results of our measurements. We repeated the same test on all coolers listed below. Each measurement was taken with the CPU at full load. In the models with a fan supporting PWM, the motherboard controlled the fan speed according to core load and temperature. On coolers with an integrated fan controller, the fan was set at the full speed.

CoolerRoom Temp.NoiseSpeedCore Temp.Temp. Diff.
Cooler Master Hyper TX318 °C50 dBA2850 rpm69 °C51 °C
Corsair A7023 °C51 dBA2000 rpm66 °C43 °C
Corsair H10026 °C62 dBA2000 rpm64 °C38 °C
EVGA Superclock26 °C57 dBA2550 rpm67 °C41 °C
NZXT HAVIK 14020 °C46 dBA 1250 rpm65 °C45 °C
Thermalright True Spirit 12026 °C42 dBA1500 rpm82 °C56 °C
Zalman CNPS12X26 °C43 dBA1200 rpm71 °C45 °C
Zalman CNPS9900 Max20 °C51 dBA1700 rpm62 °C42 °C
Titan Fenrir Siberia Edition22 °C50 dBA2400 rpm65 °C43 °C
SilenX EFZ-120HA518 °C44 dBA1500 rpm70 °C52 °C
Noctua NH-L1220 °C44 dBA1450 rpm70 °C50 °C
Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme21 °C53 dBA2550 rpm71 °C50 °C
Gamer Storm Assassin15 °C48 dBA1450 rpm58 °C43 °C
Deepcool Gammaxx 40015 °C44 dBA1500 rpm60 °C45 °C
Cooler Master TPC 81223 °C51 dBA2350 rpm66 °C43 °C
Deepcool Gammaxx 30018 °C43 dBA1650 rpm74 °C56 °C
Intel stock cooler18 °C41 dBA2000 rpm97 °C79 °C
Xigmatek Praeton19 °C52 dBA2900 rpm83 °C64 °C
Noctua NH-U12P SE218 °C42 dBA1300 rpm69 °C51 °C
Deepcool Frostwin24 °C46 dBA1650 rpm78 °C54 °C
Thermaltake Frio Advanced13 °C56 dBA2000 rpm62 °C49 °C
Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition9 °C48 dBA2100 rpm53 °C44 °C
Thermaltake Frio Extreme21 °C53 dBA1750 rpm59 °C38 °C
Noctua NH-U9B SE212 °C44 dBA1700 rpm64 °C52 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Pro15 °C54 dBA2000 rpm52 °C37 °C
Deepcool Fiend Shark18 °C45 dBA1500 rpm74 °C56 °C
Arctic Freezer i3013 °C42 dBA1350 rpm63 °C50 °C
Spire TME III8 °C46 dBA1700 rpm70 °C62 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Performer11 °C54 dBA2000 rpm49 °C38 °C
Arctic Alpine 11 PLUS11 °C45 dBA2000 rpm82 °C71 °C
be quiet! Dark Rock 210 °C41 dBA1300 rpm58 °C48 °C
Phanteks PH-TC14CS16 °C47 dBA1300 rpm58 °C42 °C
Phanteks PH-TC14PE16 °C48 dBA1300 rpm57 °C41 °C
SilverStone HE01 (Q)19 °C44 dBA1150 rpm63 °C44 °C
SilverStone HE01 (P)20 °C57 dBA2050 rpm62 °C42 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme (S)17 °C44 dBA1250 rpm52 °C35 °C
Thermaltake WATER2.0 Extreme (E)17 °C53 dBA1900 rpm50 °C33 °C
Deepcool Neptwin11 °C46 dBA1500 rpm56 °C45 °C
SilverStone HE0219 °C49 dBA2000 rpm64 °C45 °C
Zalman CNPS9900DF23 °C45 dBA1400 rpm68 °C45 °C
Deepcool ICE BLADE PRO V2.022 °C43 dBA1500 rpm67 °C45 °C
Phanteks PH-TC90LS24 °C47 dBA2600 rpm95 °C71 °C
Rosewill AIOLOS20 °C40 dBA1600 rpm94 °C74 °C
Corsair H6020 °C49 dBA2000 rpm64 °C44 °C
Zalman LQ31027 °C51 dBA2050 rpm65 °C38 °C
Noctua NH-L9i24 °C44 dBA2500 rpm95 °C71 °C
NZXT Respire T4020 °C45 dBA1850 rpm76 °C56 °C
NZXT Respire T2021 °C45 dBA1900 rpm77 °C56 °C

In the graph below, you can see how many degrees Celsius hotter the CPU core is than the air outside the case. The lower this difference, the better is the performance of the cooler.

NZXT Respire T20

In the graph below, you can see how many decibels of noise each cooler makes.

NZXT Respire T20

Main Specifications

The main specifications for the NZXT Respire T20 CPU cooler include:

* Researched at Amazon.com on the day we published this review.

Conclusions

The unusual combination of one 8 mm center heatpipe and two 6 mm side ones, with no gap between them and directly touching the CPU, seems to work well. The NZXT Respire T20 reached the same performance level as its “bigger brother,” the Respire T40.

The NZXT Respire T20 is an excellent cooler, considering that it is inexpensive, quiet, and relatively small. It receives our Silver Award.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/NZXT-Respire-T20-CPU-Cooler-Review/1701


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