Remembering back to when I did the A+ Cupid 3 review, during the build I ran into a slight issue. The issue was that when I installed the retail Intel cooler that accompanied my E8600, it was binding with the PSU that was mounted directly above it. Correcting the issue of alignment was pretty easy to overcome, but that left the fans, both on the PSU and the retail cooler, millimeters away, starving each other for what air that managed to get into the case. This hurt both CPU cooling performance as well as allowing the PSU to run a little warmer than expected.
This issue had been on my mind for some time now, as I wanted to use this downstairs as a web browser and movie player. With both fans starving each other I wasn't comfortable setting it in my entertainment center, where air flow is already at a minimum. Then, not too long ago, SilverStone via e-mail asked if I'd like to take a look at one of their low profile CPU coolers. I saw they had both and AMD and Intel versions of these low profile coolers and with my ZOTAC mITX being LGA775 my choice was made easy to figure out which one I would test. I was hoping in the end that this may cure my binding issue inside my Cupid 3 HTPC.
The low profile cooler in question I will review today is the SilverStone NT07-775. The NT is for the Nirogon series of coolers and the 775 at the end is of course for the socket it applies to. The AMD counterpart is labeled as NT07-AM2 and sports a different design entirely; this makes selection of the right version of CPU cooler very simple. SilverStone boasts better cooling performance and at a lower noise level than the Intel retail cooler. Soon, after a few images, I will strap these two coolers up in a head to head comparison. Let's see what the NT07-775 low profile cooler has to offer in HTPC or SFF cases.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The SilverStone NT07-775 comes as an all extruded, aluminum finned cooler, with a copper core like the older E6XXX series CPU's came with, just slimmed down. The NT07 utilizes a 90mm, 23 CFM, 1800 RPM fan to keep things comfortable during operation of any 45nm processor, or one with a 65 watt or less TDP. The NT07-775 comes with the same basic push-pin mounting as the Intel retail cooler uses, so there are no special tricks to mounting this cooler. The NT07 does weigh in a bit less than the retail version and comes in at 310 grams.
Taking a look at Google to shop around for the NT07-775 leads me to only seven e-tailers that do carry this cooler. With a limited amount of shops that carry the NT07-775, it leaves me a feeling the availability is moderate at best. Even though the e-tailer selection is slim, if you should choose to purchase this, all of them show stock and they are ready to take your money and ship the NT07-775 to your door.
While I was searching Google for the NT07-775, I see it is in fact available at Newegg. The retail pricing there is $22.99 with free shipping; you really can't complain about the price if you are in search of a low profile cooler for those tight small form factor and home theater environments. I myself have wasted a twenty on a few things I wish I had never gotten, but if this can solve the issue in my HTPC, it's a reasonable deal in my eyes.
SilverStone keeps it simple with the packaging of the NT07-775 to help keep costs down. Fancy packaging costs money and SilverStone still gets the point across with the black type on the brown cardboard box. The top of this box also displays the five main features of their product.
As you can see, at the top of the front you just need to break the SilverStone snowflake sticker to gain access to the NT07. Again, keeping things basic with the labelling on this side and the rear of the package is this text repeated.
The right side of the packaging is where SilverStone displays both the support and website addresses. The majority of this space is used by the various bar codes as you can see.
The left side is used to display the specifications of the NT07-775 and is a very easy to read black and negative text. At the bottom it displays the various labels like "please recycle", "fragile" and "RoHS" compliancy.
Opening the box, in my case, slicing the snowflake sticker in half and pealing out the tab to lift the top of the box, reveals the black instruction manual staring back at you. The manual is laid on top of a layer of open cell foam padding. Under that is the NT07-775 and supplied pouch of thermal compound floating atop another layer of this foam, which can be seen under the NT07-775 in this image.
The SilverStone NT07-775 Low Profile CPU Cooler
As you can see from this angle, the Silverstone NT07-775 resembles the Intel retail cooler quite a bit. Black top mounted fan, short stack of aluminium fins and the basic push-pin mounting, it's all very familiar.
Looking at the NT07-775 from the top, the differences start to appear. SilverStone uses a nine bladed fan with seven piece fan guard above the 90mm 23CFM fan. As I addressed previously, SilverStone claims lower sound levels with this 23 dBA fan.
The bottom of the NT07-775 is shipped with a clearly labeled "warning" sticker to protect the base of this cooler during shipping.
With the sticker removed it exposes the copper center core of the base. The base is far from a polished finish, but is milled flat and smooth.
Here we have a comparison between the SilverStone NT07-775 at the left as it compares to the retail cooler that accompanied my E8400. As you can see, the NT07-775 is in fact lower profile than a stock cooler and by a full centimetre by my measurements.
You can see here the basic design of the fins is the same as the retail cooler, just SilverStone flips the fins over so the flow in the opposite direction. The fan mounting is very similar as they clip onto the sides for support. The NT07-775 sports thinner gauge wires as well; this may help in flexibility to route the power as needed in the tight confines of a SFF or HTPC.
I addressed that the NT07-775 has a nine blade and seven guard configuration; this would help aide in keeping wires at bay inside those small confines that this cooler is designed to co-exist in. The retail cooler had much larger blades and virtually no means of keeping things completely out of harms way.
Here we have one last look at the SilverStone NT07-775 and the 4-pin power connection, awaiting installation and testing.
Accessories and Documentation
The accessories that accompany the NT07-775 from SilverStone are limited to just the packet of thermal compound that is shipped inside the box. Since the mounting hardware is already in place, aside from some instructions, what more should you need to get the NT07-775 strapped in and cooling your processor?
The black instruction pamphlet I showed earlier can be unfolded for easier reading. This side has a basic introduction to the Nitrogon line of coolers, followed below by the features. The bottom left has all of the pertinent SilverStone information, while the right side of the bottom has all of the warranty information.
Reversing the pamphlet shows both the installation and un-installation instructions for mounting the NT07-775 to your motherboard. Honestly, though, who doesn't know how push-pin coolers install by this point in time?
Test System &Testing Results
Test System Setup
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 45nm (9X333MHz)
Memory: 2 X 1GB DDR2-800 Geil Esoteria
Motherboard: Zotac mITX NF630i F-E with WiFi
Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate X64
Cooling: Intel retail for the E8400 / SilverStone NT07-775
Normally at this point you would see the usual test setup paragraph with a link to our T.E.C.C. setup and testing methodology. As the Intel and SilverStone coolers are made for a much smaller TDP than our test bed is set up to run, which starts at 125W, it's not being at all fair to the coolers; so I decided setting up a PC inside the box and I could use the lights and the extra components to help keep an average ambient temperature during testing. By assembling the parts listed above, I installed a few applications to stress the processor, as well as monitoring the temperatures.
I originally wanted to run OCCT as my stress test, but due to some unrecognizable features in this ZOTAC, I was not able to run the application correctly. I then went to an old standby that I use when others present issues and that is Orthos Stress Prime 2004. Testing this application went well so I started up RealTemp 3.0 to monitor the core temperatures under both the E8400's original cooler as well as the NT07-775
I mentioned above that I used the lighting and components to keep an even ambient temperature. For this testing I was able to keep ambient between 29.8 - 30-2° Celsius. I gathered this information from the temperature sensor that is attached to our T.E.C.C. base that was placed just to the rear of the motherboard, which was centralized inside the foam box. Once I was certain I could keep ambient temperatures, I allowed the PC to boot and sit in an idle state for about fifteen minutes to allow everything to finish running on boot up and allow the temps to hit their lowest point. At this point RealTemp was used to note the temperature at this state.
For load testing I tested both coolers with an hour of Orthos Stress Prime 2004 with the CPU only small fft testing method. After the hour had passed, still with a thirty degree ambient, I then recorded what RealTemp displayed. I then shut the computer down, cleaned the thermal compound, which is still AS5, from the processor with 91% alcohol, and re-applied the thermal compound and repeated this process.
After all the testing I could throw at them, you can see the Intel retail cooler does still edge out the NT07-775 by three degrees in my testing at load. Both of the coolers tested were kept at the same idle temperatures. In the use of a small HTPC like the Cupid 3, or many others, overclocking usually isn't in the plans. With a 45nm processor thermally throttling somewhere around the 100° Celsuis mark, the SilverStone still produced an acceptable result.
As you can see by my testing, SilverStone's NT07-775 is in fact a bit quieter than the factory Intel fan, but not by much. It takes a really discerning ear in my opinion to actually be able to tell once testing was done and I ran them both inside the Cupid 3.
My take on the SilverStone NT07-775 is this. If you have a clearance issue in your HTPC or SFF case, as I did in the Cupid 3, this cooler is a good solution to the problem. Most of the market as I see it, uses tiny fans or chooses to go the passive route for low profile coolers. I think SilverStone did a fairly decent job in adding a solution that doesn't need extra case fan noise to keep the processor cool.
After all the testing was done, I mentioned previously that I did in fact install everything into the Cupid. Once the NT07-775 was installed, I did notice a couple of degrees drop in CPU temps with the case lid on over the retail cooler that was combating the PSU for air intake. On the subject of the PSU, the exhaust to my hand felt a bit cooler as well. Dropping the fan one centimeter closer to the processor seems to allow my HTPC to function a little cooler now.
Considering the SilverStone NT07-775 is $22.99 at Newegg with free shipping, again, how can you go wrong here? It is slightly ironic that I am a cooler reviewer and was actually looking for a replacement cooler for my home theater system. SilverStone offered me a great solution to my clearance issues without compromising too much performance in doing so.If things are a bit tight or you have peripherals binding a retail cooler, I suggest you take a look at the SilverStone NT07-775 to solve your space issues.