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NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review

The larger brother from the Respire series is up for testing. Let's see what the Respire T40 can do.

Published Mon, Jan 21 2013 4:39 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Rating: 75%Manufacturer: NZXT


NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 99 | TweakTown.com

When I received the T20 from NZXT a few weeks ago, I was actually sent two coolers in the same larger box. Initially I opened the T20 and found that there was nothing wrong with it, so I went ahead with the testing and finished up that review. I then moved over to the larger version of that cooler from the Respire series, and even though the packaging showed no damage, I found a surprise once I opened the packaging and inspected the cooler a little closer.

What I found is that the cardboard box is sufficient enough to keep things from poking in, but the plastic inner shell isn't supportive enough to hold the weight of the cooler. Because of this, if there is a dropped box on the way to your house, the cooler can move inside of the box, resulting in the base of the cooler making contact against the hardware packaged directly underneath of it, and in my instance, making for a cooler that while usable, wasn't in any shape to go through what I put a cooler through.

That being said, when I sent over an email to NZXT explaining what I had found, we discussed what happened along with an image I sent to them, and I will show you later as well, but they were very understanding and wanted to rectify this issue as soon as possible. They believed that the hardware is an issue, and I have been told that they have a solution in mind for future packaging, and are implementing it so future customers don't have the issues I did. On top of that I was sent a replacement cooler, this time without hardware in the box to be certain the cooler arrived in great condition, and it did. This all bodes well for their customer service department. Not once did I feel like it was my fault, they took the image, saw what happened, and made sure to get me a replacement, and I am positive buyers will receive the exact treatment I did if you were to have any issues.

Back to why we are all here today, the larger of the siblings in the Respire series, the T40. This time around we are looking at a cooler that is 10mm wider and 20mm deeper to provide more surface area to cool. Unlike the T20 and its three varying sized pipes, this time we are dealing with four of them, and again they are making direct contact to the processor. This is a design all of us have seen work for many manufacturers in the past.

Let's just hope this isn't a repeat of the T20, and NZXT still had something in reserve with the release of the T40.

Specifications, Availability and Pricing

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 01 | TweakTown.com

The T40 is comprised of 04.mm thick aluminum fins, all 48 of them, are equally spaced on the heat pipes at 2mm apart from each other. The heat pipes used on the T40 are copper and are 8mm in diameter. These pipes make direct contact from the milled surface of the pipes in the base to the top of the processor. As they exit the base, they are then arranged in a staggered pattern as they run through the fins dissipating their heat. While the design and style is the same, the T40 is the same 160mm tall, but the width has increased to 134mm and the depth was also increased to 85mm for this cooler. With both the cooler and the fan with its hardware all mounted to the motherboard, you are dealing with 760 grams of T40 hanging on it.

The 120mm fan that comes with the T40 is the same DF1202512SELN fan we got with the T20. Even the same mounting hardware is included. Covering what the fan can do, this 25mm thick fan can run at speeds of around 1800 RPM delivering 68.8 CFM and 2.26mmH2O of pressure. There is an included inline resistor that will allow you to run the fan with a reduced voltage. Then you are spinning at near 1300 RPM and offering 49.3 CFM of airflow and only 1.17mm H2O of static pressure with it in place. There is an additional set of fan mounting hardware to allow you to run this cooler in a push/pull configuration, and since I already have the fan from the T20 to add, I am going to be posting the dual fan results with the T40 as well.

The one thing about the T40 that is going to pique interest even if you are just window shopping is the price. Aside from the T20, it has been a really long time since I have tested coolers in the sub $50 price bracket, and even with shipping included you can have the T40 under that mark. While stock isn't widely available at the moment, I did see that Amazon is showing stock currently with a price of $39.99 plus shipping. Considering the best air coolers on my chart will exceed $100 to obtain them, it's nice to see companies offering an economically friendly solution in this slow time for everyone.

Let's just hope the T40 doesn't bomb in the charts like the T20 did, and we may have a half way decent cooler on our hands.


NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 02 | TweakTown.com

Packaging is almost identical to that of the T20. NZXT keeps with the white background with the hint of blue, and the T40 standing out right in the center. At the bottom you not only have the name of the cooler, but icons to the right denoting some of the features.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 03 | TweakTown.com

On the right side of the box there are three dimensional drawings of the T40 to get you started to see if it will fit inside your case. Below that you can find the specifications chart we just went over.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 04 | TweakTown.com

On the back there is another image of the T40 with six features pointed out on both sides and below it. These cover the 120mm fan, the aluminum fins, fan mounts, the base, the mounting hardware, and the patented heat pipes used.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 05 | TweakTown.com

On the last side of the outer packaging you see a description of what makes up a Respire Series CPU cooler, and that gets followed up with an actual list of the supported CPUs from Intel above the list for AMD.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 06 | TweakTown.com

This is the inner packaging from the original cooler. The T40 is supported inside of the clear plastic with the hardware only being separated from the base with one thin layer. I am not quite sure what they are doing to change this, but I am told it is being taken care of.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 07 | TweakTown.com

This is the inner packaging and the second cooler I was shipped. As you can see this one shipped without the hardware in place, and the plastic has broken near the base under the weight of the cooler. Had there been hardware there, it would have likely ended up the same as the original.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 08 | TweakTown.com

Out of the packaging and looking right into the face of the T40, you can see that even with a slightly wider fin array the 120mm fan does a good job of covering a good percentage of those fins.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 09 | TweakTown.com

From the side the T40 is a bit deeper than the T20 was; this allows the air flow to have the chance to grab more heat as it travels from the front to the back.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 10 | TweakTown.com

Looking at the back of the T40 you can see two things. First of all the fins are offset on a slight angle, and to recover a flat top, they use an additional half of a fin to make up for the angle. The second thing is that the edges are designed with shapes to help create turbulence in the high flow areas, and leave gaps where the lower air flow is to try to help things along.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 11 | TweakTown.com

On this side I want to discuss how tight of a fit it is for the four 8mm heat pipes at the bottom of the cooler. I also wanted to mention that the sides of the T40 are designed to allow for two fans to be mounted using the NZXT fan mounts, and there is an extra set included.

On the top of the T40 you can see that the pipes have changed from side to side layout into an offset pattern to allow them to fit easier and offers two profiles to cool versus one if they were in a straight line. You can also see the half fin and how it is bent to meet the angled one in the middle by the embossed NZXT name.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 13 | TweakTown.com

Moving to the opposite end of the T40, we see an aluminium base plate that allows for the mounting hardware to keep pressure on the coolers heat pipes. Speaking of the heat pipes, just like in the T20, they use epoxy to mount the aluminium top plate.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 14 | TweakTown.com

This is just to show that each of the 48.5 fins in this tower are all pressed onto the heat pipes and are fit very tightly against the pipes.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 15 | TweakTown.com

Before you do anything with the T40 as far as mounting it or adding any thermal compound, make sure you remove the clear sticker that is currently protecting the surface from oxidation.

The box we first saw when we opened the top of the packaging has a full assortment of hardware included. Also note that the box isn't all that full, so if the cooler was to get dropped, the hardware isn't going to be slamming into the cooler either.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 17 | TweakTown.com

Here is a look at the second T40's base. Here you can see that with four 8mm pipes laid across this small base, they did a good job of getting them all in there. There are pretty obvious gaps, but the milled surface is level.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 18 | TweakTown.com

Here is the base of the original T40, and why I emailed NZXT. This is due to the cooler compressing the inner packaging, and running into a stud on the mounting hardware. I didn't think this cooler would perform that well, and is why I requested another. As we mentioned, NZXT is looking into ways to prevent this from happening.

Accessories and Documentation

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Part of what you receive in the hardware bag is this universal back plate that is isolated on this side for AMD use, and the legs are isolated on the reverse for Intel. At the top is the cross bar that actually mounts the cooler to the various bits of hardware.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 20 | TweakTown.com

Shown here is the fan adapter on the far left, and the extra pair of fan mounts at the top and bottom with the rubber isolation pads on the right side. In the middle are the AMD and the Intel top brackets for the mounting, and are what the cross bar attaches to, and likely what damaged my first T40.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 21 | TweakTown.com

Then of course you will need the screws, nuts, spacers and such to mount the cooler. Here there is the LGA2011 top mounting screws in the left bag. The bag on the right contains the universal studs, black spacers, thumbscrews, fan screws, and the pair of nuts for the cross bar. There is also an envelope of thermal compound provided so you can mount the T40 right away.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 22 | TweakTown.com

You do have to remove the fan from the cooler to mount it to the motherboard. While I had it off the cooler I figured I should show the model of the fan and its power ratings.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 23 | TweakTown.com

In each of the corners on the fan, there is a screw that is run through the fan mounting clips, and is then covered with a rubber pad to keep the screw head from rubbing against the fins.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 24 | TweakTown.com

After a bit of unfolding, you can now get a look at the manual for the T40. NZXT starts things off by showing you a list of all the parts that should have been included with your purchase. It also gives you some preparation tips telling you to clean the CPU and remove the sticker.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 25 | TweakTown.com

Below that section you immediately run into the step by step instruction for mounting the T40 to the various Intel sockets.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 26 | TweakTown.com

Flipping the manual over, you are shown the instructions on how to assemble the T40 for use with AMD systems.

Installation and Finished Product

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 27 | TweakTown.com

Installing the back plate is pretty simple. All you have to do is align the studs to fit the plate, and set the nylon risers over them to hold them to the board. Also the back plate is drilled to fit the socket both ways, so no real worries on getting it exactly right.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 28 | TweakTown.com

Since the black spacers were already in place when we ran the studs through the back, all you have left to do is set on the top brackets and screw them into place with the nuts provided.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 29 | TweakTown.com

After applying the thermal paste, set the cooler on the processor and install the top mounting bar that crosses the base. Once everything is centered, you can then install the nuts with the hex-heads screwing them in until they stop.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 30 | TweakTown.com

For those of you running low profile or bare memory like I have, you can see the fan will stand over them and not cause too much of an issue.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 31 | TweakTown.com

If you do plan to populate all four slots, you may run into some issues. With shorter sticks there is only a little effort needed to wiggle the stick in and out. For those using memory with heat spreaders, the fan will be pushing on the stick since it does reside over the nearest slot to the CPU.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 32 | TweakTown.com

It seems there must be a slight twist to this cooler after all. Trying as hard as I could, I couldn't reseat the cooler straight, and you can see the top of the motherboard is pretty level, but the T40 still sits at a bit of an angle from being perpendicular to the top edge as it should.

The Test System and Thermal Results

I would first like to thank HIS, GIGABYTE , InWin and AVADirect for supplying products for me to test with.

Testing for the CPU coolers is done with the use of RealTemp to ascertain temperatures, Intel Burn Test to deliver the load to the CPU and CPU-Z to verify the CPU speed and the voltage being used in Windows. All of the testing is done with an ambient temperature of 24.5-25C and humidity is maintained to 35% sometimes less.

For the "stock" runs, it's more of a plug and play setup where the PWM of the motherboard is in control of the fans speeds for both the idle and load results. Speed Step is active and the processor idles at 1600 MHz and loads at 3500 MHz for the stock settings. I also set the memory to run at 1600 MHz for stock. As for the overclocked runs, I load the CPU at 4.5 GHz and idle results are obtained with 7.5V to the fans while the load run is set to deliver 12V to the fans. This allows me to gauge the lowest and highest fan ratings for my charts.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 33 | TweakTown.com

As we start things off with the idle thermal results, you can see that with the fan adapter in play, at stock the T40 comes in respectively with a 27 degree reading. Once I let the fans go to full speed, I was able to remove a degree even with the overclock applied and a bit of extra voltage going through the CPU.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 34 | TweakTown.com

Any way you want to cover the loaded results, they just aren't good. With only one fan on the T40 it allowed my CPU to reach 84 degrees when overclocked, and even at stock settings is was 55 degrees.

Adding the second fan from the T20 I was able to take off an additional three degrees at stock levels, and had that same three degree improvement when I overclocked the processor. At this point I am still left scratching my head as to why NZXT classifies these as "performance" coolers.

Noise Level Results

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 35 | TweakTown.com

Noise levels are very acceptable and may be one of two saving graces for the T40. While the resistor was in place, and the fan was spinning at 1358 RPM I took a sound measurement and got a reading of 32 dB.

NZXT Respire T40 CPU Cooler Review 36 | TweakTown.com

Without the resistor inline, the fan was spinning at 1858 RPM and while audible, was still only 52 dB here. One thing I did notice at high speeds is that I was starting to get a vibration from the fan. Using just the fan from the T20 got rid of the issue, but the fan equipped on my T40 would cause one strong enough to feel through the desk.

Final Thoughts

Honestly, at this point, I don't really know what to say. Billing a cooler as a performance cooler and taking some of the last few spots on the thermal charts; that's just mind boggling to me. I mean I could see if the Respire Series was billed as a silent solution, I could almost let that slide due to the relatively low acoustic levels it produced, but even then I had to deal with that strange vibration like the T40 needed a tire balanced. The sad fact here is that the old rules apply to this cooler exactly. Good things don't come cheap, and just because something looks good on paper, doesn't mean it does all that well in the real world. Any way I try to sugar coat the T40, it just doesn't have the right balance to me.

Even though the T40 comes with great mounting hardware, has the included resistor, and even offers additional mounting for an optional fan, if I were to buy this cooler, I would definitely plan on some sort of fan swap right out of the gate. That little bit alone could be an additional investment of somewhere between $15 and $30 to tack on to the overall cost, and then the economically friendly price tag gets thrown out the window. That leaves you with the fact that only its limited noise levels and aesthetic appeal is all the T40 really has to offer. For what that is worth, I can go onto Newegg right now and find you three coolers just as affordable with a similar tower design that flat out perform better.

With what I saw from the T20, I don't know why I feel so cheated with the results I see in the T40. While it is a definite step up in performance over the much smaller and less equipped version, there just isn't the level of performance worthy of my recommendation. Even if you were super strapped for cash and $39.99 is all you have to spend, there are better choices.

The fact that my cooler, and possibly others arrived damaged is outside of my realm of thought here, and since they were so on point about replacing the cooler and rectifying the packaging issue, I won't even hold that against them. The chart that follows is based purely on what is included, how it works, the performance, and the cost alone.

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After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM, cooling, as well as peripherals.

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