SilverStone NT06-E CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Coelho on September 21, 2009
This time we reviewed NT06-E cooler from SilverStone, which features a copper base, five heatpipes and a horizonal heatsink, with room for a 120 mm fan, which does not come with the cooler. Check out the results from our tests!
NT06-E differs from all other coolers we tested so far because it does not come with a fan. According to the manufacturer, this allows more flexibility - which can be true to some buyers -, because many enthusiasts like to choose top shelf fans to upgrade their coolers. When comparing prices between coolers you must take into account the extra cost of a good fan when adding MT06-E into the comparison.
On this test we used FM123 fan that SilverStone sent us with the NT06-E sample. As we explained, the fan must be purchased separately and the performance from this cooler will depend on the fan you choose.NT06-E box is made of a thick brown cardboard, which is an "enviromentally correct" material.
Inside the box we found the cooler, installation hardware and a tube of gray thermal compound.
In Figure 3 you can have a general look of NT06-E. Its design resembles Noctua C12P we tested recently.
Viewing the cooler from the side we can see that the main heatsink has some distance from the base, which has a small aluminum heatsink to help with the cooling.
In Figure 5 we can see the tips from the five 6-mm heatpipes.
In Figure 6 we can notice that the heatpipes are well distributed on the heatsink and very close to each other at the base.
From the top we can see the frame where the fan must be screwed to. There is no kind of anti-vibration system between the heatsink and the fan.
The base is made of copper and it is very smooth, but with no mirror finishing, as you can check in Figure 8.
On our benchmarking we used an FM123 fan, also made by SilverStone, but you can use almost any 120 mm fan with this cooler.
This fan comes with an amazing controller, with a potentiometer installed on a bracket to be installed on any expansion slot from the case. Its maximum rotation is 2600 rpm, a very high number for a 120 mm fan. Its airflow is also high, reaching 106.3 cfm.
In Figure 11, you can see the hardware necessary to install NT06-E, including the backplates. The rectangular backplate on left is used with AMD CPUs while the two backplates on the right are used with Intel processors: the top one is for socket LGA775 CPUs only and the bottom one fits sockets 775, 1156 and 1366, being included on newer shipments of this cooler (early NT06-E models fit only socket LGA775 and AMD CPUs).
The first step to install this cooler is to screw the adequate clip to the base of the cooler. In Figure 12 we show the socket LGA775 clip attached to NT06-E.
After that you must install the blackplate on the back side of the motherboard using four screws and attach four nuts to the screws from the top side of the motherboard, using rubber washers between the nuts and the board.
Then the cooler goes over the CPU and you must secure it on the screws using four inner-thread thumbscrews. This thumbscrews are difficult to fasten, even with the motherboard out of the case. In Figure 14, you can see how the cooler looks like after installed on the motherboard.
InFigure 15 we can see the cooler installed into the case, with the fan in place.
We are adopting the following metodology on our CPU cooler reviews.
First, we chose the CPU with the highest TDP (Thermal Design Power) we had available, a Core 2 Extreme QX6850, which has a 130 W TDP. The choice for a CPU with a high TDP is obvious. To measure the efficiency of the tested cooler, we need a processor that gets very hot. This CPU works by default at 3.0 GHz, but we overclocked it to 3.33 GHz, in order to heat it as much as possible.
We took noise and temperature measurements with the CPU idle and under full load. In order to achieve 100% CPU load on the four processing cores we ran Prime95 with the "In-place Large FFTs" option, and three instances of the StressCPU program, all at the same time.
We also compared the reviewed cooler to the Intel stock cooler (with copper base), which comes with the processor we used, and also with some other coolers we have tested using the same methodology.
Temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer, with the sensor touching the base of the cooler, and also with the core temperature reading (given by the CPU thermal sensor) from the from the SpeedFan program, using an arithmetic average of the four core temperature readings.
The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed 4" (10 cm) from the fan. We turned off the video board cooler so it wouldn't interfere with the results, but this measurement is only for comparative 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.
We adopted a 2 °C error margin, i.e., temperature differences below 2 °C are considered irrelevant.
On the tables below you can see our results. We ran the same tests with the Intel stock cooler, Thermaltake BigTyp 14Pro, Akasa Nero, Cooler Master V10, Thermaltake TMG IA1, Zalman CNPS10X Extreme, Thermaltake ISGC-100, Noctua NH-U12P, Noctua NH-C12P, Thermaltake ISGC-200, Scythe Kabuto, Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro, Thermaltake ISGC-300 and SilverStone NT06-E. Each test ran with the CPU idle and the with the CPU fully loaded. On BigTyp 14Pro, TMG IA1, NH-U12P and ISGC-300 the tests were done with the fan at full speed and at minimum speed. The other coolers were connected directly to the motherboard and it controls the fan speed based on CPU load level and temperature on PWM models.
|Cooler||Room Temp.||Noise||Fan Speed||Base Temp.||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock||14 °C||44 dBA||1000 rpm||31 °C||42 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (min. speed)||17 °C||47 dBA||880 rpm||29 °C||36 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (max. speed)||17 °C||59 dBA||1500 rpm||26 °C||34 °C|
|Akasa Nero||18 °C||41 dBA||500 rpm||26 °C||35 °|
|Cooler Master V10||14 °C||44 dBA||1200 rpm||21 °C||26 °C|
|TMG IA1 (max. speed)||16 °C||47 dBA||1500 rpm||22 °C||30 °C|
|TMG IA1 (min. speed)||16 °C||57 dBA||2250 rpm||21 °C||30 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Extreme||16 °C||44 dBA||1200 rpm||21 °C||29 °C|
|Thermaltake ISGC-100||18 °C||44 dBA||1450 rpm||35 °C||49 °C|
|Noctua NH-U12P (low speed)||15 °C||42 dBA||1000 rpm||20 °C||30 °C|
|Noctua NH-U12P||15 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||20 °C||28 °C|
|Noctua NH-C12P||17 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||23 °C||28 °C|
|Thermaltake ISGC-200||21 °C||43 dBA||1100 rpm||31 °C||35 °C|
|Schythe Kabuto||22 °C||42 dBA||800 rpm||29 °C||34 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro||20 °C||43 dBA||1500 rpm||32 °C||39 °C|
|ISGC-300 (min. speed)||18 °C||42 dBA||800 rpm||26 °C||30 °C|
|ISGC-300 (max. speed)||18 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||24 °C||26 °C|
|SilverStone NT06-E||21 °C||66 dBA||2600 rpm||30 °C||41 °C|
CPU Fully Loaded
|Fan Speed||Base Temp.||Core Temp.|
|Intel stock||14 °C||48 dBA||1740 rpm||42 °C||100 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (min. speed)||17 °C||47 dBA||880 rpm||43 °C||77 °C|
|BigTyp 14Pro (max. speed)||17 °C||59 dBA||1500 rpm||35 °C||70 °C|
|Akasa Nero||18 °C||48 dBA||1500 rpm||34 °C||68 °C|
|Cooler Master V10||14 °C||54 dBA||1900 rpm||24 °C||52 °C|
|TMG IA1 (max. speed)||16 °C||47 dBA||1500 rpm||27 °C||63 °C|
|TMG IA1 (min. speed)||16 °C||57 dBA||2250 rpm||25 °C||60 °C|
|Zalman CNPS10X Extreme||16 °C||51 dBA||1900 rpm||24 °C||50 °C|
|Thermaltake ISG-100||18 °C||50 dBA||1800 rpm||58 °C||93 °C|
|Noctua NH-U12P (low speed)||15 °C||42 dBA||1000 rpm||28 °C||59 °C|
|Noctua NH-U12P||15 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||25 °C||54 °C|
|Noctua NH-C12P||17 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||37 °C||76 °C|
|Thermaltake ISGC-200||21 °C||48 dBA||1900 rpm||42 °C||68 °C|
|Scythe Kabuto||22 °C||47 dBA||1200 rpm||38 °C||63 °C|
|Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro||20 °C||51 dBA||2300 rpm||49 °C||85 °C|
|ISGC-300 (min. speed)||18 °C||42 dBA||800 rpm||36 °C||64 °C|
|ISGC-300 (max. speed)||18 °C||46 dBA||1400 rpm||31 °C||56 °C|
|SilverStone NT06-E||21 °C||66 dBA||2600 rpm||39 °C||96 °C|
On the graph below you can see the temperature difference between the cooler base and the room temperature with the CPU idle and fully loaded. The values shown are in degrees Celsius. Remember that the lower the number the better is cooling performance.
The next graph will give you an idea on how many degrees Celsius the CPU core was hotter than room temperature during the tests.
We know the position we mount the cooler (with the heatpipes tips pointing the left side of the motherboard, i.e., pointing to the bottom of the case) is not the ideal, but we installed this way for two reasons: first, the photos on product manual show it mounted in this position, so it is the position the typical user would install. Second, this was the only position it fitted our system. In full tower cases, where the power supply is not too close the motherboard, you probably can install it rotated in 180 degrees, i.e., with the heatpipes tips facing the top of the case. If your memory modules are not tall, you can also install this cooler with this tips pointing to the front of the case.In order to see if the position of the cooler could affect performance, we simply put our case in the horizontal position. Under this scenario core temperature has reduced from 96 °C to 77 °C. Nevertheless we kept the first value on our tables and chrts since we think the test must reflect the typical usage.
SilverStone NT06-E main features are:
* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
** Relative to the FM123 fan used.
NT06-E cooler from SilverStone has an excellent construction quality. But unfortunately this quality did not translate into performance. Even with a high airflow fan, it performed as bad as the worst coolers we tested with this methodology.
We understand that maybe the position the cooler was installed has contributed to the bad results. However the position we installed the cooler is exactly the same as pictured in the manual. Besides that, it was the only possible way we could install on our testbed computer, so we have no reason to discard the data. So it is possible that if it is installed in a different position it will show better performance: in our attempt to change the position of the case it permormed a little better, but not enough to get even close the coolers we gave award seals to.
NT06-E is not an inexpensive cooler and you still must consider you have to purchase a separated fan. It is not easy to install too. So, there is only one possible conclusion: forget about buying this cooler.