It has been quite some time since I have seen a cooler from Nexus cross my desk. But alas, they have released a new cooler that uses an older design idea that I remember in the FLC-3000. But it seems they definitely went back to the drawing board and reconfigured the layout, moved the fan on top of the cooler instead of inside it, just to hit a couple of key points. The cooler we are going to see also keeps the angled approach to cooling.
Rethinking the basic fin arrangement and shape, this time Nexus gives us a cooler that is crossed between the older FLC-3000, but also uses a tower arrangement for the fins. In order to lean the fan downward, the fins have been cut in intervals and steeped back, allowing the pitch of the fan. Speaking of the fan, they went larger this time and jumped to the typical 120mm size we are all used to. Also or a bit of added direction, this cooler flaunts a stylish shroud.
The basics behind all of this are two simple technologies. There is SkyveTek and HOC. SkyveTek refers to a pre-cooler design where they take a single solid piece of aluminum. Carefully they thinly cit the aluminum block and bend the fins into place. This cooler is then placed on top of the base for additional surface area. HOC is Nexus' way of saying that the heatpipes make direct contact with the CPU. Nexus says it makes for a better transfer of heat, but personally I am not sold on the technology. Our current top two coolers don't use it.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
With a basic knowledge of the design and concepts in play, let's get into what holds the VCT-9000 together. Starting at the bottom, there are five total heatpipes, four of which have a 6mm diameter, while the center pipe is 8mm. These pipes are Nickel plated to fight corrosion, but the base is milled and exposes the copper underneath, or insert HOC. These pipes are then soldered to a copper spacer plate with a SkyveTek heatsink screwed on the top of it all. The other ends of the pipes lead into a set of 0.3mm fins, a total of 53 of them in three sections and lengths. These allow for the fan to be mounted on an angle.
The angle of the 120mm, blue LED, translucent black fan is done with three principals in mind. The first and most obvious is to cool the 53 fins. Even though the fan is angled, it has no problem getting through the fins. With a clever shape of some of the bottom fins, Nexus created a V-shaped valley for some of the fans flow to be directed onto the SkyveTek "pre-cooler". Last but not least, the angle allows for some of the flow to be utilized on the motherboard for additional cooling in the immediate area of the cooler.
Taking a look at Google shopping, there are still currently no hits for product listings, but there are quite a few of the news blasts I saw about a month ago. Those same news sites list the cooler in the EU market and the listings I have seen for the MSRP have been as high as 50. Basic math doesn't bode well at all for the VCT-9000. That puts it in the $70 USD range to get one anywhere here. Pricing itself against some of the better air coolers on the market may not be such a great idea, but I will let the images and results do the deciding. Let's dive in and see what the VCT-9000 from Nexus has to offer.
Nexus packages the VCT-9000 with all black as the background of the front. This highlights both the text on the left about the cooler and the white-ish flames around the window.
This side is a bright orange and should attract the eye from quite a distance. That is if you can see this side on the shelf. The window from the front wraps around here with the flame pattern allowing a sneak peek at the VCT-9000 inside.
The back of the box is grey and has a few drawings of the cooler from various angles. The bottom half of the panel is where you will find the specifications for size and fit, as well as information on the included fan.
The last panel is mostly grey with the repeating bar of black with text from the opposite side. The top holds a brief statement about Nexus and their coolers in multiple languages and offers one last drawing of the VCT-9000 from underneath.
Opening the top of the box brings you directly face to face with the hardware box at the left. Once that is out of the way the cooler has some high density foam, both top and bottom, to allow me to get a cooler in perfect condition.
The Nexus VCT-9000 CPU Cooler
Looking into the translucent, black plastic fan that also houses LED's, we can see it is leaning back quite a bit, but still makes for excellent coverage of the aluminium fins. The shroud is attached with two screws here (bottom), and a couple up top. This does need to be removed for certain installations.
From the side you get a better idea of the overall concept here. Nexus wanted to lean the fan back to triple its functionality. It cools the fins, cools the SkyveTek portion of the heatsink and also provides the motherboard with a bit more air flow than a typical tower cooler. Instead of a plain design, Nexus added flames to the side of it, or is it a seal clapping? Either way, it adds a bit of style to an otherwise plain black shroud.
From the back we can see that Nexus did add a section of extra fin area in the mid-section of the cooler. It should help the center 8mm pipe and the flanking two 6mm pipes on either side. The two screws in the top of the shroud are the others needing to be removed to pull the fan and shroud.
The 120mm, 4-pin PWM connected fan is attached to the shroud with soft plastic, push pin locks. They are secure and keep all rattles at bay. The shroud itself is held in place with the four screws, but also has two o-ring washers under the top two to keep metal to metal contact from happening.
Now things get interesting. Once the shroud is gone, it is very apparent why the fan has a lean to it. Twenty-one fins make up the top, narrowest section, twenty-one in the middle section, and eleven in the bottom section with the V-shaped missing section. Now those take care of what the heatpipes bring up, but what about the base? Nexus used the SkyveTek heatsink mounted to the top of the base for additional pre-cooling.
The SkyveTek cooler is made from a solid piece of aluminium then cut and shaped to make the finished product. Mounting it to the top of the plate where the heatpipes emanate isn't the best solution, but does give heat an alternative source to run to other than the fins. I would like to see this cooler set on top of the pipes directly. I think it would have much greater effect.
All five of the Nickel plated pipes got milled down to bare copper, some more than others. While the outer 6mm pipes are milled pretty much across the entire width of the pipe, the centre 8mm pipe isn't getting as good of contact. These pipes are soldered to the aluminium spacer plate and then the SkyveTek is screwed into place with a bit of thermal compound between the surfaces. These same screws, when loosened just a little bit, also allow for the hardware to be inserted.
Accessories and Documentation
Inside that hardware box I showed you in the beginning, this is what you will find. For Intel the cooler utilizes a universal push-pin setup, just like a stock cooler. For AMD this is when the fan has to be removed. In order to get to the hex head screws with the supplied wrench, the fan is just in the way to tighten them.
With no back plate you must use the surrounding plastic retainer ring supplied with your AMD motherboard, also much like a stock solution. The wrench like metal tool at the bottom is to easily lock or unlock the Intel push-pins. That leaves the vacuum sealed package with a syringe of thermal compound and the little plastic spreader.
Making sure I had the concept of installation correct, I had to refer to the manual a couple of times to make sure I was doing the right thing. The manual is very explanatory and got me through any question I ran into.
Test System &Testing Results
Test System & Test Results
TweakTown uses a different method for testing CPU heatsinks which allows for an even playing field across all product tests. We feel that by using the same ambient temperature and strict lab-like testing procedures we are able to accurately compare one product to another. More information on our testing procedure can be found in the T.E.C.C. article here.
At idle the cooler was quiet, but turned out only average results.
At load, again the VCT-9000 wasn't making too much noise, but you can see the lack of surface area and the slow speed of the fan did come at a cost to performance.
42 dB is a very respectable rating and I would in fact consider this a "quiet" solution to cooling.
Even with everything fully loaded and the fan at full go, it is one of the top ten quietest fans I have had the pleasure not to hear.
The Nexus VCT-9000 can get the job done, don't get me wrong. It's better than stock and offers that performance with barely any noise at all. The design is innovative, not many manufacturers would go the way of removing surface area from the fins to offer a bit more motherboard cooling in exchange. And I do mean "in exchange", and here is why. For the loss of the extra fin surface area that could be present in a tower cooler, it theoretically should add to better CPU temperatures. With this cooler they took away from the CPU to give to the motherboard. This seems sort of odd to me!
In my mind the motherboard manufacturer builds the board to allow for silly builders who put really hot components into a tiny chassis and let it run all summer. With overclocking things are a bit different; I can replicate those temperatures in the dead of winter if I add enough voltage, but here is my point. This cooler is better than stock, and should allow for a fair bit of overclocking headroom. Realistically though, most people who overclock their components have thought out the case air flow prior to slapping on a cooler. That being said, the degree or three your motherboard drops in temperatures isn't going to allow for much more of an overclock since the CPU is still just as hot.
On top of its mediocre standings on the list, I find that the cooler only lists over the pond, and doing some quick math, that $45-50 price tag overseas translates to near $70 USD. Now, I'm no genius, but there are plenty of coolers on the market that will offer better cooling at a lesser price, and deservingly so would most likely get my hard earned dollars before I chose this. Even looking at it as a better than stock replacement, the stock cooler offers air to the motherboard for free; I couldn't see paying so much for such a marginal difference. While the cooler is not currently listed in the US for sale, I am lead to believe it should hit shelves soon. So, if you are looking for a mediocre, silent performing cooler with a bit of flash and LED's, keep your eyes peeled.
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