Zalman LQ315 CPU Cooler Review
By Rafael Coelho on January 21, 2013


Hardware Secrets Silver Award

The Zalman LQ315 is a mainstream liquid cooling system for processors. It has a 120 mm radiator with one 120 mm fan. Let’s test it.

Recently, we reviewed the Zalman LQ310, a less expensive version of this cooler. The main visible difference is the depth of the radiator, which is 1.1” (28 mm) thick on the LQ310 and 1.5” (38 mm) on the LQ315. The block is also taller at 1.26” tall (32 mm) versus 1.1” (28 mm) for the simpler model.

Figure 1 shows the box of the Zalman LQ315.

Zalman LQ315
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Figure 1: Package

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

Zalman LQ315
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Figure 2: Accessories

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

The Zalman LQ315

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

Zalman LQ315
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Figure 3: Sealed system

Figures 4 and 5 reveal the radiator of the Zalman LQ315.

Zalman LQ315
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Figure 4: Radiator

Zalman LQ315
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Figure 5: Radiator

The Zalman LQ315 (Cont’d)

Figure 6 shows the top of the block, where the pump that makes the liquid flow is integrated. The clear area around the Z is illuminated in blue, thanks to an internal LED.

Zalman LQ315
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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 LQ315
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Figure 7: Base

Figure 8 illustrates the 120 mm fan that comes with the Zalman LQ315. The fan has a four-pin connector, which means it is compatible with PWM speed control.

Zalman LQ315
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Figure 8: Fan


In Figures 9 and 10, you can see the backplate of the Zalman LQ315 for Intel CPUs with the nuts mounted in the position for sockets LGA1155 and LGA1156, and the frame mounted with screws in place. The cooler also comes with similar parts for installation on AMD systems.

Zalman LQ315
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Figure 9: Backplate

Zalman LQ315
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Figure 10: Frame with screws

Figure 11 shows the frame installed on the block.

Zalman LQ315
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Figure 11: Frame installed

In Figure 12, you can see the LQ315 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 didnt fit the rear panel of our case.

Zalman LQ315
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Figure 12: 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 thatcomes withit.

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, thepanels 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 2C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2C 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 81223C51 dBA2350 rpm66C43 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
Zalman LQ31520 C52 dBA1950 rpm57 C37 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 LQ315

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

Zalman LQ315

Main Specifications

The main specifications for the Zalman LQ315 CPU cooler include:

* Researched at on the day we published this review.


When wereviewed the Zalman LQ310, we wrote that it was an excellent liquid cooling system, with low price and excellent cost/benefit ratio. The Zalman LQ315 performed a little better than the simpler version, also with acceptable noise level, and easy installation. The blue LED embedded in the block is a plus for case modders.

The problem with the LQ315 is that it costs about 50% more than the LQ310, so it doesnt share the excellent cost/benefit ratio.

By being a very good sealed liquid cooling system, the Zalman LQ315 receives the Hardware Secrets Silver Award.

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