Cooler Master Hyper N520 Review

Overall Score

 

 

 

Cooler Master brings us a new "budget" class heatsink with the Hyper N520.  Keep an eye out for the big brother of the Hyper N520, the Hyper N620 featuring dual 120mm fans.

The Hyper N520 features dual 92mm sleeve bearing fans connected to a single 3 pin fan connector.  This cooler is very quiet even at maximum fan speed.  The fins on the heatsink are very dense and relatively thick.  Dense fin heatsinks usually require high CFM fans to extract optimal performance, but along with high CFM generally comes more noise.  One way to combat the requirement of a high CFM fan in a push or pull configuration is to combine a pair of lower CFM fans that are much quieter, in a push/pull configuration.  This is exactly what Cooler Master has done with the Hyper N520 and Hyper N620.

 [img]Features.JPG[/img]

[img]Specs.JPG[/img]

 Obligatory front shot of the smoked black Cooler Master branded fan.  You can see the aluminum cap covering the copper base and heat pipes.  You can also see why I say the fins are dense and thick, 48 heatsink fins across the length of a 92mm fan.  Both fans are connected to the same 3 pin fan connector and the wire is factory sleeved in black.

[timg]IMG_1406.JPG[/timg]

 

Here you can see that the fans are not quite identical in all aspects.  Though they are identical in fan speed and airflow, you will see that the fan pulling air through the heatsink (on our right) comes with a bit of a shroud around it, encouraging it to pull air from within the heatsink, rather than from the path or least resistance that is the air around the edges of the fan.  Imagine a low speed wind tunnel effect.

[timg]IMG_1399.JPG[/timg]

 

In this shot you can see the difference in the fans as well.  The cooler has the sides capped to encourage the above mentioned wind tunnel effect.  You can also see the five copper heatpipes.  Three of the five are complete U shaped pipes and travel up both sides of the cooler, while two of them are L shaped pipes and travel up only one side of the cooler.

[timg]IMG_1408.JPG[/timg]

 

Here you can see that the fans are actually offset slightly, offering more surface area for the fins and providing a bit of turbulence within the heatsink which should increase the cooling capacity.

[timg]IMG_1412.JPG[/timg]

 

The copper base is machined but not lapped or polished, very fine machining grooves are evident.  You can also see that the base is ever so slightly convex (verified with a machinist’s straight edge.)  While a slightly convex base is advantageous in high mounting pressure situations such as a custom mounted waterblock, I would liked to have seen a flat base from an air cooler.  I am glad, however, that the base is not concave, which is not advantageous in any heatsink application.  The fine machining grooves suggest optimal performance would be achieved with a larger particle size TIM (thermal interface material) such as Arctic Silver 5.  AS5 has an extended curing time and I did this testing as part of another review, so time was of the essence and I went with my standard Arctic Cooling Ceramique TIM which has no curing time.  An educated guess would suggest 2-5C difference advantage for AS5 over Ceramique (after several thermal cycles and curing time) on a base such as this.

[timg]IMG_1422.JPG[/timg]

 

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Test Setup:

  • Intel E5200
  • Gigabyte EP45-DS3L
  • 4GB OCZ ReaperX
  • 400W Silverstone PSU
  • Cooler Master Elite 335
  • Sapphire HD4870
  • Samsung F1 500GB

Methodology:

  • Closed case
  • 19.1C Ambient
  • Arctic Cooling Ceramique for both coolers
  • OCCT Custom 30 minute run, max temperature measured
  • Fan speed set to full for both coolers

 

Results:

At stock speeds both coolers perform well enough, but the Cooler Master Hyper N520 takes a 5C lead over the Intel stock cooler at full load.  Keep in mind that the Hyper N520 is nearly silent at max fan speed while the Intel stock cooler is far from silent.  I personally don’t put much stock in decibel ratings for a few reasons; first is the fact that a truly accurate reading is hard to come by, second is that "loudness" is subjective and differs from person to person, and third is the fact that decibel ratings are often misunderstood since the scale is not a linear measurement, resulting in misinformation.

[img]Stock Speeds Graph.JPG[/img]

 

Using the OCCT test with a built in 70C max CPU temperature limit, I found the maximum stable overclock achievable with each cooler while staying under that 70C load barrier.  One thing I’d like to mention is that this particular E5200 appears to be a bad chip in terms of overclocking, more vCore was required than most E5200’s and if not for the bad chip, I think the Hyper N520 would have allowed for an even higher stable overclock while keeping under the 70C limit.

[img]Max OC.JPG[/img]

 

Once overclocked to the maximum speed allowed by the stock cooler, the Hyper N520 takes a bit of a bigger lead as the Intel stock cooler (loudly) hits the thermal capacity it can dissipate.  Even the slightest bump in vCore put the stock cooling over the 70C mark very quickly, whereas the Hyper N520 scales nicely as the vCore and clockspeed moves upwards.

[img]OCed Graph.JPG[/img]

 

Finally, at 3.65Ghz, the maximum speed I could get out of this chip, the Hyper N520 is left with 9C of headroom before hitting the 70C wall.  At this point the CPU is the limiting factor, not the thermal barrier.  Stock cooling quickly hit 70C and was obviously unable to finish OCCT’s 30 Minute run.

[img]3.65 Graph.JPG[/img]

 

I took the liberty to bench the CPU at stock, Intel Stock cooler maximum overclock, and Hyper N520 maximum overclock to show how much performance you can gain with a budget aftermarket cooler.  Again, though I say loudness is subjective, the Cooler Master cooler is much, much quieter than the stock Intel cooler.  Certainly a performance "gain" in my book.

Cinebench R10 scales nicely with clockspeed and is a good example of your CPU’s multithreaded capability and pure rendering power.

[img]Cinebench Graph.JPG[/img]

 

PCMark 2005 also scales well with clockspeed and is a good measure of overall system performance.

[img]PCmark Graph.JPG[/img]

 

I use ConvertXtoDVD to burn DVD’s from my much smaller .AVI files.  This is a real world application and the time is measured in minutes, so obviously a smaller number is better.  This program is multithreaded as well, and scales smoothly.

[img]ConvertX Graph.JPG[/img]

 

 

 

Cooler Master has another great cooler in their lineup and I look forward to the performance of their Hyper N620 as well.  I don’t think the cooler lives up to its capability due to the very low CFM (albeit quiet) fans that are included with the cooler.  I’d like to see it packaged with higher speed fans coupled with some sort of fan speed adjustment, be it a 5v/7v/12v in-line resistor add-on or a simple Low/Medium/High switch. 

As it is right now, the Hyper N520 is a great budget cooler for an average user looking for something much quieter than their stock fan that is easy to install and performs a fair amount better.  I see this cooler going up against the old standby Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro and the variety of budget 92mm coolers from Xigmatek.  One advantage the Hyper N520 has over its competitors is the included LGA 1366 bracket, though this reviewer doubts the Hyper N520 would have much performance gain over Intel’s stock LGA 1366 cooler in anything other than the noise department.

 

Pros:

  • Sturdy mounting bracket that is easy to install
  • Extremely quiet
  • Small form factor
  • Inexpensive (official MSRP not available at this time, but the CM rep who sent it to me said it is their new budget cooler)

Cons:

  • Underpowered fans, holding back its own performance capability
  • Slightly convex base

 

Look forward to Cooler Master’s upcoming air cooling beast, the CM V10.  I examined one of these myself at CES and it truly is a monster, stay tuned for a full on review.

Discuss this review and ask any questions here.

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