I took a look back to see just how long ago it had been since we took a look at the original FLC-3000, and to my surprise, it had been quite some time. In fact, it was one of the first coolers I reviewed for TweakTown, so that might be why I was a little fuzzy on the January of 2009 date. From what I can recall going back over the review, the cooler performed pretty good in its day, but by today's standards, and much warmer processors, the FLC-3000 needed some love to keep pace. So Nexus went to the drawing board and rehashed an older work horse to compete with the demand.
Most of the aspects of the FLC-3000 R2 are what you remember. Three sections of fins slid onto heatpipes that run at a 30° angle. The principle behind this concept is a three-pronged attack. It offers more surface area in the fins than most coolers that blow air directly at the CPU, and this should help produce much better results than a stock cooler. The second benefit is the lack of girth of the FLC-3000, so if you have tight confines for a CPU cooler, this can step in to help. The third reason for the angular design is to still allow air to blow onto the power management of the motherboard to help keep all of the components cool.
Along with keeping the basic form of the FLC-3000, the R2 does bring some changes. For one, the mounting hardware has been modified and simplified to use with both AMD and Intel processors. The second and most drastic change comes in the redesigned base and the implementation of HOC technology. Gone is the polished copper base, and left in its place are four heat pipes that make "Heat pipe On Core" contact with the processor. Enough talking about the changes already! I'm sure you are as ready as I am to see these changes and put them to the test.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
As I mentioned, the basic dimensions and setup is exactly what we've seen previously with the original FLC-3000. Starting at the base, the R2 makes its most dramatic change. Keeping the SkiveTek aluminum pre-cooler in place, Nexus solders in the four 6mm heat pipes and leaves them exposed to a second base piece which is screwed to the SkiveTek heatsink. While the pipes are milled flat to each other, there are deep spaces between each, the aluminum gets the heat via the pipes, and it doesn't actually touch the processor. Where the pipes make contact, this is what Nexus calls Heat pipe On Core. The heatpipes go out of the base and make a tight turn and are left on a 30° angle. The copper pipes then pass through three varying sizes of 0.3mm thick fins, fifty-two in total.
The clear 92mm fan that Nexus includes sits inside of the cooler, well in a "U" shaped cutout in the fins. Inside the hub of this fan there are two amber lights that glow when the fan gets power via the 4-pin PWM connection. This fan operates at a near silent 900 RPM, and offers what I would guess to be around 70-80 CFM at 2500 RPM. Watch your fingers! There isn't any real protection besides the aluminum fins on the side of the cooler. With the angle laid out as it is, you get most of the surface area of a small tower cooler, but this fan can offer much needed air flow to other components on the motherboard instead of blowing it well above the board in a tower configuration. Universal mounting is also a big factor with the FLC-3000 R2. Any AMD socket with opposing tabs on the plastic ring can install the FLC-3000 R2, and with the use of a slightly redesigned Intel mounting piece, all of the latest mainstream Intel sockets are supported.
I have seen other reviews from mid August, and I just received my sample a few weeks ago. That in mind, I would have assumed to find this cooler in stock somewhere by now. To my dismay, I was unable to find the cooler stocked anywhere inside of the US. The original version is selling at Newegg.com currently for $44.95, and from what I am told, the proposed pricing of the R2 is going to be less than the original at a MSRP closer to $40. So as always, we have to look at the price objectively. For a smaller cooler $40 is fair; factor in the fact that the Nexus FLC-3000 R2 can fit in a lot of spaces a tower cooler can't is a huge plus, as today it seems smaller cases with more power packed in them is all the rage. Beyond the fit and looks of the FLC-3000 R2, we need to factor in the performance, so let's have a look at this new revision so we can see what sort of performance the R2 is capable of.
Nexus kept the same bright yellow and orange over a black background to ship the FLC-3000 R2 in. You will find eight features listed on the left and the name of the cooler at the bottom. The bulk of the right side houses a window to look at the cooler inside while you are standing in the store.
The colouring wraps around the side and has a bit of a view of the cooler on this side as well. Again, the HOC and SkiveTek features are listed, this time with a rendering of the cooler.
Inside the orange and yellow stripe Nexus shows four renderings of the cooler form every side. Below this in the black section is the specifications chart.
In seven languages Nexus explains a bit about the coolers features and compatibility.
Opening the top of the box exposes a bright orange and yellow box full of hardware slid in next to the clear, plastic, clamshell inner packaging. The snap together plastic package secures the FLC-3000 R2 very well during transit, and there wasn't any signs of damage to my sample.
The Nexus FLC-3000 R2 Universal CPU Cooler
The R2 at first glance looks very much like the original. It uses the same fin shape and the same fan that we saw the first time. Not a whole lot new here to discuss.
At the bottom you get a bit of a look at the side of the SkiveTek heatsink under the three sections of fins. The smallest section of fins is made up of fifteen fins, the middle section is eleven fins thick, and the largest section is made up of the remaining twenty-six fins.
The heat pipes make it all the way through the top fin, and also here is where the other end of the fan mounting is. If you need to remove the fan, this pair of screws and a matching pair on the other end need removal and the 92mm fan comes right off. If you look under the fins you get a much better look at the fins of the SkiveTek pre-cooler.
A look from the other side shows that it looks just as the other side does. I did add the connection for the fan at the bottom. This 4-pin PWM connection can be plugged into a motherboard header for finite control of the fan.
As the heat pipes leave the base they make two bends to return through the fins at 30° and get spread to distribute heat across the fin area.
Here is where Nexus got serious with the redesign. While the original had a smooth copper base plate, they removed it this time in favour of the HOC. As you can see, the four 6mm heat pipes are milled level, but there are large spaces to fill with thermal paste between the pipes. When it comes time to mount the hardware, loosening the four screws on the edge of the base will allow for them to slide in between this section of the aluminium base and the top SkiveTek heatsink.
Accessories and Documentation
The manual that comes with the R2 explains how to prep and install the cooler. These instructions will get you easily through installation on both AMD and Intel with nice pictures to follow if you get lost in the text.
I broke the hardware up into two groups. First we get a hex wrench to use with the AMD mounting along with a syringe of thermal compound (I actually got two) and a spatula. You also get two sets of washers. One set is Mylar and these black washers come stuck to a piece of wax paper. There is also the set of white, nylon washers to use during the assembly.
The AMD and Intel clips are the same as what was delivered before. Just that this time the Intel back plate is gone, and both AMD and Intel are now mounted with the four screws in the middle, through the motherboard.
Installing the hardware for testing, I snapped an image of what it looks like when they are installed. The AMD clips mount in the same fashion.
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.
Jumping into the top ten in the idle results, the R2 brings some impressive performance over the original version by almost a full two degrees.
Once the testing was run at full steam, the R2 raises up a couple more spots in the loaded results. Getting rid of that thick copper plate was a brilliant idea. It doesn't take a genius to see the improvement from 63.1 degrees to the R2 performance of 59.4°C, it's well worthy of calling the new FLC-3000 a revision and not some smoke and mirrors change in appearance.
I do remember having reservations on the first version of the wording on the package denoting the silence of the cooler. With the R2 the lowered voltage results did produce near silent results.
With the full 12V running through the wires, the amber glowing fan produced the same results I found with the fan almost two years ago. With PWM controlling the fan, it is likely you won't hear this level of noise, but as things warm up inside the case, don't be surprised if the R2 is in fact a bit audible.
Ok, so now it's time for the reality check. At first glance the R2 looks just like the original, and with the way the cooler is oriented in the package, the revision is hidden. It takes a closer look of the FLC-3000 R2 to really see what the HOC and SkyveTek technologies offer in such a small package. It just proves that I shouldn't pass judgment before I saw what this cooler was capable of. When the cooler first arrived, I sort of gave it the "I remember this cooler" and sort of put it out of my mind while I reviewed some other material. When I finally got to looking at what Nexus had produced in the R2 I thought this cooler has a real chance. The final realization that Nexus has really produced a worthy revision of a cooler that just couldn't handle even 150W processors is when I saw the results. The FLC-3000 R2 took my presumed impressions and smacked them right in the face.
Not only did they bolster the performance level of the R2, there are still two other factors to take advantage of. One is the size; the R2 will fit almost anywhere, except for a few extreme SFF chassis'. The second is even while they are keeping your CPU cooler than a stock cooler could ever hope to, the directed air flow to the motherboard should allow for lowered ambient around the CPU as long as you have a case fan or two to help remove the air after it passes across the motherboard components. Now, while the cooler isn't the most attractive of all the options as it lacks the nickel coatings and fan shrouds that are all the rage as of late, they do offer you performance at a good price, and in the end, that is what we all want most.
With limited information on hand, the pricing and date when they will hit the various markets is still up in the air a bit. I would assume the $40-50 range is where the cooler will be priced, as the original can be bought for a little less than $40 if you shop around a bit. While there is a bit of a wait for them to start to surface at your favorite shop, if you have limited space for an aftermarket CPU cooler, the Nexus FLC-3000 R2 is a perfect solution. Even if you are just looking for something a little different to tame a processor under 180W, I would still recommend you take a look at this.