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What is wrong with this review of the Nautilus?


valiant

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I've just purchased a Nautilus 500 and have been scouring the web to compare my performance results with others. I came across this review:

 

http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=3097&p=1

 

Ok, I know it's an old article but I can't see any previous discussion on it in these forums. I intuitively feel that there must be something wrong with their findings (that the Nautilus is outperformed by an air cooler). The best counter-argument offered by those that commented on the article was that the Nautilus is too cheap and a more expensive water cooler would outperform the air cooler.....hardly inspiring for current or potential Nautilus owners! Can anyone spot the flaw in their test setup? Or have I bought a dud? :mad:

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Only few things come to mind that could cause the N500 to perform equal or worse than the heat-pipe coolers. Of course these are just thoughts of what may have happened and in no way reflect the test without examination.

 

1. The plastic CPU block standoffs mating with that particular MOBO were not dimensionally sound to provide the correct clamping force for the proper thermal transfer. MOBO's have a certain flex and required force to mate the cooler to the board and CPU.

 

2. The thermal paste application was not ideally done. Was it the Corsair supplied thermal paste or AS-5 or Shi-Etsu Micro SI G-series or X23 series? Those are the top dog thermal pastes.

 

3. The coolant mixture ratio could be off. This is a big factor too.

 

4. The N500 used in testing may have had a flow restriction (bent tube) that caused poor performance. There have bee some field reports of this in the past. Opening up the N500 will reveal if the cool-sleeves slipped during shipment causing the tube to kink.

 

5. Not in all applications do heat-pipe coolers perform in peak performance. It could be highly possible that the combination of CPU, MOBO and thermal generated heat from this setup matched the heat-pipe thermal curve sweet spots. This can happen and I have seen this on bench build testing using CPU die simulator heaters.

 

On my daily use rig, I have a ThermalTake Big Typoon VX on the LGA775. It is nearly silent and performs slightly less than the N500. Another rig in the house uses a Corsair HC200EX (modded) for Folding@Home and some gaming. These do well against the heat-pipe combos I've tried in the past.

 

The HC200EX and N500 use similar components or the N500 uses upgraded components over the older models. So, in reality the N500 is a better H2O cooler if the HC200EX is stock.

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1. The plastic CPU block standoffs mating with that particular MOBO were not dimensionally sound to provide the correct clamping force for the proper thermal transfer. MOBO's have a certain flex and required force to mate the cooler to the board and CPU.

 

Yeah, that's a point. I'm using the LGA 775 fitting on the N500 and there's quite a lot of horizontal 'play' on the thing i.e. I can quite easily rock the cpu water block back and forth by about a centimetre. I'm used to air cooling blocks that are so tight that they threaten to crack the motherboard! Against that, even if I press down on the water block with all my force for a minute or so, there's no improvement in temperatures.

 

2. The thermal paste application was not ideally done. Was it the Corsair supplied thermal paste or AS-5 or Shi-Etsu Micro SI G-series or X23 series? Those are the top dog thermal pastes.

 

I've seen references to the possibility of using different (non Corsair) thermal paste with the N500 in other forums but, tellingly, I've not seen any convincing reports that doing so has any positive effect on performance. Intuitively, I go with the view that thermal-paste related performance differences are more to do with the application of same rather than the nature of same.

 

3. The coolant mixture ratio could be off. This is a big factor too.

 

What should the ratio be? The N500 instructions specifically say that you should empty the entire (supplied) bottle into the reservoir. In other forum articles, people have only used half of the bottle. I notice that the liquid in my system (as a result of following the Corsair instructions to the letter...and using the whole bottle) is noticeably viscous. Since the purpose of the 'coolant' relates to preventing corrosion and bacterial formation, I wonder if high concentrations of the thing has a negative effect on performance?

 

5. Not in all applications do heat-pipe coolers perform in peak performance. It could be highly possible that the combination of CPU, MOBO and thermal generated heat from this setup matched the heat-pipe thermal curve sweet spots. This can happen and I have seen this on bench build testing using CPU die simulator heaters.

 

I'm afraid you've lost me there. Sorry :o:

 

Having read the above review again, one glaring potential fault I can see with their test setup is that that they say they kept the ambient room temperature "in the 20 to 22C range for all testing". That's a full 3'C variability! Given the test results, relatively speaking, that's a huge potential source of error.

 

I'm new to 'geek cooling' (!) but I've noticed that at least 50% of the performance reports on coolers on internet forums and reviews are rendered useless by people's lack of sensitivity to ambient room temperature. You get reports of the kind: "My super-duper, mega-expensive cooler keeps my temps at 16'C" and you wonder if the guy is living under a bridge somewhere! I'm sitting here in March London weather and my ambient room temperature is 23'. I start from there.

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