Zalman LQ310 CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Coelho on January 3, 2013


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Golden Award

The Zalman LQ310 is an entry-level liquid cooling system for processors. It has a 120 mm radiator with an 120 mm fan installed. Let’s test it.

As with any sealed liquid cooling system, the LQ310 comes with the coolant liquid prefilled inside the loop (block, radiator, pump, and hoses).

The LQ310 greatly resembles the Thermaltake WATER2.0 Performer, which we tested some time ago. They both are manufactured by Asetek, but they are not the same product (at least the fans are not the same).

Figure 1 shows the box of the Zalman LQ310.

Zalman LQ310
click to enlarge
Figure 1: Package

Figure 2 shows the contents of the box: the radiator-block set, fan, manual, and installation hardware.

Zalman LQ310
click to enlarge
Figure 2: Accessories

This water cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.

The Zalman LQ310

The sealed radiator-block system is shown in Figure 3. At the left is the radiator; at the right you can see the block. There is a cable on the block with a three-pin connector, which brings power to the integrated pump and also allows you to monitor the speed of the pump.

Zalman LQ310
click to enlarge
Figure 3: Sealed system

Figures 4 and 5 reveal the radiator of the Zalman LQ310.

Zalman LQ310
click to enlarge
Figure 4: Radiator

Zalman LQ310
click to enlarge
Figure 5: Radiator

The Zalman LQ310 (Cont’d)

Figure 6 shows the top of the block, where the pump that makes the liquid flow is integrated. The block is very simple, with no buttons or LEDs.

Zalman LQ310
click to enlarge
Figure 6: Block

The base of the block, which is made of copper, is revealed in Figure 7. The thermal compound comes pre-applied.

Zalman LQ310
click to enlarge
Figure 7: Base

Figure 8 illustrates the 120 mm fan that comes with the Zalman LQ310. The fan has a four-pin connector, which means it is compatible with PWM speed control.

Zalman LQ310
click to enlarge
Figure 8: Fan

Installation

In Figure 9, you can see the mounting hardware of the Zalman LQ310 for Intel CPUs, mounted in the position for sockets LGA1155 and LGA1156. The cooler also comes with the parts for installation on AMD systems.

Zalman LQ310
click to enlarge
Figure 9: Mounting hardware

Figure 10 shows the frame installed on the block.

Zalman LQ310
click to enlarge
Figure 10: Frame installed

In Figure 11, you can see the LQ310 installed in our case. The product manual instructs the user to install the fan blowing air into the radiator, so we had to install it at the top panel of our case because the radiator didn’t fit the rear panel of our case.

Zalman LQ310
click to enlarge
Figure 11: 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

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.

Zalman LQ310

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

Zalman LQ310

Main Specifications

The main specifications for the Zalman LQ310 CPU cooler include:

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

Conclusions

The Zalman LQ310 is an excellent entry-level/mainstream liquid cooling system. It has a lower price tag and higher cooling performance than most of its competitors. It is also very simple to install and relatively quiet.

A good thing about the LQ310 is that it, unlike most of the sealed liquid cooling systems, has a better cost/benefit ratio than most high-end air coolers.

If you are looking for a simple, easy-to-install, high-performance and good value water cooler, the Zalman LQ310 is a good choice. It deserves our Golden Award.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Zalman-LQ310-CPU-Cooler-Review/1697


© 2004-14, Hardware Secrets, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Total or partial reproduction of the contents of this site, as well as that of the texts available for downloading, be this in the electronic media, in print, or any other form of distribution, is expressly forbidden. Those who do not comply with these copyright laws will be indicted and punished according to the International Copyrights Law.

We do not take responsibility for material damage of any kind caused by the use of information contained in Hardware Secrets.