Cooler Master Hyper N520 CPU Cooler Review

Posted on Sep 4 2009 - 2:18pm by daniel

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coolermaster

Introduction

With the tower format cooler generally accepted as the best current heatsink design architecture, the variations are often with the base, heatpipes and fan configurations. Previous Cooler Master designs such as the V8 and V10 are pretty extreme with additional heatsinks sprouting from all parts making them into monster coolers.

Although this cooler may resemble a basic heatpipe cooler, CM has gone down a different route in making it unique. The Hyper N520 not only has a dual fan configuration but the fans are also slightly offset supposedly to ensure the air is “accelerated” through heatsink. So where about does this cooler fit into Cooler Master’s ranges?

Well, the V8 and V10 coolers are very high end and with specific coolers such as the Hyper TX3 for the new Intel i5 processors, Cooler Master appear to have slotted the N520 into the all round category with it being compatible with an array of different processors. Enough said for the moment, let’s take a better look at the product in question before unleashing it on our test rig.

Specifications

CPU Socket Intel Socket (LGA1366 /LGA1156 / LGA775) *
AMD Socket (AM3 / AM2+ / AM2)
CPU Support Intel
Corei7 / Core 2 Extreme / Core 2 Quad / Core 2 Duo / Pentium 4 / Pentium D / Celeron / Celeron DAMD
Phenom X4 Quad Core / Phenom X3 Triple Core / Athlon 64 x2 Dual Core / Athlon 64 FX / Athlon 64 / Sempron
Dimensions 122.35 x 102.5 x 141 mm ( L x W x H )
Weight 688g
Heat Sink Dimensions 115 x 62.3 x 141 mm
Heatsink Material Cu base, AI fin, 5 heatpipes
Heat Pipes Dimensions ø6 mm
Fan Dimension 92 x 92 x 25 mm
Fan Speed 1800 R.P.M.
Fan Airflow 43.8 CFM (Total)
Fan Air Pressure 3.24 mmH2O (Total)
Bearing Type Sleeve
Fan Life Expectancy 70,000 hours
Fan Noise Level (dB-A) 19 dBA
Connector 3-pin

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Contents & Packaging

The cooler is packaged neatly into a purple and white box with a large image on the N520 printed proudly on the front. Along the bottom a series of different processors are named with each and every one compatible with this CPU cooler including the newer Core i7 CPUs – indeed it lives up to its name of “universal”.

The crisp and clear nature of the box gives a very clean cut finish and although it is fairly simplistic, it looks professional and not over-the-top.

As is usually the case, the back and sides are home to the facts and figures. The back sees a number of bullet-pointed features as well as some dimension drawings showing the size of the cooler and a few close ups showing off different aspects.

Lastly but not least, the sides display a full table of specifications and a load of translations directing the user to the Cooler Master website.

The accessory list is always a long one for CPU coolers and this is particularly so with the Hyper N520 due to its universal capabilities. A number of back plates, mounting brackets and screws make up most of the bundle with room for some thermal paste and an instruction manual.

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Let’s tackle compatibility first with a long list of processors able to be cooled:

  • Intel
    Corei7 / Core 2 Extreme / Core 2 Quad / Core 2 Duo / Pentium 4 / Pentium D / Celeron / Celeron D
  • AMD
    Phenom X4 Quad Core / Phenom X3 Triple Core / Athlon 64 x2 Dual Core / Athlon 64 FX / Athlon 64 / Sempron

Evidently, most current CPUs are there with the only notable exception perhaps the newer i5/LGA1166 sockets set to be released soon.

Looking more closely at the cooler itself, the main fin stack is actually enclosed allowing the dual 92mm fans to be screwed into part of the cover instead of relying on wire clips which are often fiddly and lead to vibrations occurring.

As I mentioned before, the cooler is almost identical on both sides making it asymmetrical; the only difference being the fans point in the same direction to create a push-pull effect as you can see below.

The Hyper N520 is a little smaller than many of its rivals using 92mm fans as opposed to the larger 120mm versions commonly used in heatsink and fan combinations. The size is countered by the dual configuration though offering an increased airflow to aid cooling and remove hot air.

The unique look which does look a little rugged is still pretty aesthetically pleasing with the bright copper breaking up the mixture of silver and greys.

The high aluminium fin count is definitely a bonus but with the fins pretty densely packed, this could affect the ability of the fans to push air through the heatsink and this is where the two fans should come into their own.

Being a little more specific on the fans, they are 92mm constructions with a nine blade impeller capable of producing airflow of 43.8 CFM at 19dBA.

Powered by a 3-pin connection, a cable adapter joins both cables together into a single connection so as to only take up one fan header on the motherboard allowing both fans to be controlled simultaneously.

Whereas many heatsinks have the heatpipes aligned linearly, Cooler Master has offset them in the N520 in order to maximise heat dissipation to all areas of the heatsink. Interestingly, the central three heatpipes are U-shaped with the outside two in the shape of an L with just one end rising up into the fin stack

At the bottom the heatpipes adjoin to a pure copper base featuring a near mirror finish. In terms of smoothest and flatness, it really is very well manufactured and a good contact with the integrated heat spreader should be achieved.

Finally, the tops of the pipes poke out through the metal cover forming a series of shiny caps which just completes the aesthetics.

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Installation

The Test Setup:

Processor Intel Core i7 C0 920 @ 2.67GHz
Motherboard Asus P6T
Graphics Card Zotac GTS 250 AMP!
Memory OCZ Gold Triple Channel Platinum-10666 6GB (3 x 2GB)
Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 500GB,
Power Supply NOX Apex 700W
Enclosure Cooler Master ATCS-840
OS Windows Vista 64-bit

The installation method is identical to that of Cooler Master’s V8 CPU Cooler that we reviewed a little while ago. It involves the uses of screws with two sets of threads.

After attaching the LGA1366 brackets to the base of the cooler, the screws go into the holes and a rubber washer sticks on over the top.

The cooler then sits on the CPU with the screws poking through the holes where they are secured by nuts over a back plate. In truth, the process is a little fiddly but once completed, the cooler is very secure and held firmly in place.

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Testing

Methodology

At Verdis Reviews, we test CPU coolers by booting the PC up into Windows Vista and then taking temperatures in both idle and load states.

The temperatures are taking using Core Temp and averaging the four core temperatures. For idle testing, we simply leave the PC for 30 minutes and then come back and take the temperature readings. For load, we run prime95 for 20 minutes before taking temperature readings once more.

Thermal results will be recorded with the i7 920 CPU @ 2.67GHz (stock) and overclocked to 3.6GHz with Vcore and QPI voltages of 1.35V.

Finally, noise is that final factor that is tested; however, at Verdis Reviews, we are not yet at the stage where we can use high tech sound equipment and therefore, noise testing is left to the human ear – not the most scientific but it gives a good impression of how noisy the cooler is.

Ambient temperature was 18 degrees and a number of coolers were used for comparison purposes.

Results

 

The results would appear to correlate with the N520 fitting into the “all-rounder” category with it placed about mid range. The real high end coolers are able to knock a few extra degrees but eh N520 is not too far behind.

Again, under overclocked settings the hyper N520 does fall away and is able to match the same temperature as the NH-U12P at full load which is impressive indeed.

Noise
Obviously with dual fans, the noise outputs are going to be greater than with a single fan. However, they are not very audible and although at close range they are quite noticeable, when combined amongst other case fans they do not stand out.

Cost
Retailing at a shade under the £30, the Hyper N520 proves to be an excellent cooler without breaking the bank.

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Conclusion

Cooler Master has impressed once again but this time it is not the high end coolers which have attracted attention. The Hyper N520, a cooler which doesn’t create the same impact as say the V8 with its numerous heatsinks and additional heatpipes.

In fact Cooler Master has taken a simpler heatsink and made it unique with the offset dual fan configuration. Looking simply at performance, the numbers do the talking with the smaller heatsink able to keep up with the likes of the Noctua NH-U12P.

Of course the down side to extras fans is extra noise and I must say that the sound is noticeable but it’s not overly loud. For silent enthusiasts it’s probably not going to rank too highly but if you’re not too concerned noise wise, it’s not bad.

To sum it up, the Hyper N520 continues Cooler Master’s impressive showing in the cooling department with its impressive performance and universal capability making it a great all-round cooler.

Pros

  • Decent performance
  • Competes well at overclocked settings
  • Compact
  • Affordable
  • High quality build

Cons

  • A little noisy

90

 

Thanks go to Cooler Master for providing the CPU Cooler for review

 

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