Coolermaster Nepton 120XL AIO cooler review - Small but cool

  • Published in Cooling reviews

To kick off my closed-loop AIO cooler madness, which will span out across several weeks – I decided to take a critical look at Coolermaster’s Nepton 120XL, and see how it fares against high-end air coolers.

Let’s talk cooling; liquid cooling to be more precise. In the past few years, we’ve seen wave after wave of sealed AIOs being released and custom loops getting the spotlight at gaming tradeshows, events and eSports competitions. If you want a cool looking gaming PC – then watercooling is kind of a must – both in terms of looks and for squeezing that extra bit of performance. Now, I understand looks, some of these all-in-ones are damn beautiful; I get the promised lower temps, but I’m not entirely sold on using a liquid cooler over a high-end air solution.

Sure, some may come with unique features – from direct controls via dedicated software to expandable designs; others flat-out use figures to prove their superiority. I don’t think there’s any sense in arguing that there's a certain tipping point where liquid trumps air in every aspect but price. For the enthusiast who doesn’t care about the cost – using premium custom loop / AIO cooling solutions is something to be expected. For the rest of us however – a very important question arises, should we upgrade, and what should we expect from going Water?

 Coolermaster 120XL - Product Image

For the upcoming weeks, I want to cover this topic extensively – see what liquid cooling is cracked up to be in 2015, and who would benefit most from using it. Before that however, I thought of a small diversion, an introductory chapter, namely – is there a difference between a high-end powerful air-cooler and a small all-in-one?

For the test, I intend to use Coolermaster’s Nepton 120XL – a relatively compact closed-loop AIO, sporting a 150mm radiator and 2x 120mm fans. For all intents and purposes, it’s actually smaller than beasts like Noctua’s NHD15 or Phanteks PH-TC14PE.

Of course, it would only be fair to include similar small sized AIOs, because if Nepton 120XL is a step above the aforementioned behemoths that doesn’t mean low-end liquid outperforms high-tier air, just that Coolermaster might have delivered a powerful design – which wouldn’t be all that surprising.

 Coolermaster Nepton 120XL

Socket compatibility

- Intel LGA 2011-3 / 2011 / 1366 / 1156 / 1155 / 1151 / 1150 / 775;
- AMD Socket FM2 / FM2+ / FM1 / AM3+ / AM3 / AM2+

Pump

1700-2700RPM (120L hour)

Radiator

150 x 119 x 38 mm

Materials

Radiator: Aluminium
Base: Copper

Fan(s)

2x Silencio FP120
800~2400 RPM (PWM) ± 10%
16.5 - 76 CFM (28 – 128 m3/h) ± 10%

Tubing

8mm thick (16mm external) corrugated FEP tubing
- 358 ± 5mm

 

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