When the original concept to this design was released, the NT06E was a C-Style cooler that had performance in mind, above and beyond anything else. The cooler stood 82mm tall without any fans on it and was 106mm tall once you added a fan. Since black was so hot then, the sides of the cooler had plates attached to apply the cooler name while adding some style, but the fins and the heat pipes were all left in their natural state. At that time, another concern was to be able to fit in the SUGO SFF cases, and while the NT-06E was good for that then, SilverStone has really pushed the boundaries of just how small a case can be and still provide all the necessary things.
With the trend to "smaller is better" as more and more SFF chassis roll off the assembly lines, SilverStone found the NT06E a bit lacking. While it was a solid contender in its day, as the world evolved around it, they soon saw the need to take this design back to the drawing board. Quite a few things got addressed with this retake on an older idea. For one, noise was a big concern, and they didn't want this to be the loudest thing in the PC, specifically with most SFF chassis sitting very close to the user. The second and really most important thing was to reduce the overall height of the cooler without disregard for the thermal efficiency. Although there is a slight twist on the way this cooler is to be cooled, I get why it was done, but more on that later.
The cooler we are just about to get real up close and personal with today is the SST-NT06-PRO from SilverStone's Nitrogon series of coolers. While the cooler addresses all the things I just mentioned, they also upgraded the looks of the PRO to give it a distinct look when placed next to its aging brother. Considering some of the awkward layouts inside of quite a few SFF chassis designs, this cooler is kept short, and the fan is to be used under the fins blowing up and out of the CPU cooler. The main reasoning to this concept is to try to eliminate the hot air from recycling into the motherboard, but another reason this concept can work well, is that SFF chassis designs put the PSU over the CPU in a lot of layouts, so essentially you can use the fan from your PSU to aid in the CPU cooling when things are too tight for anything other than an AIO offering.
Enough about how, when, and why this is all coming about, I say it's time to jump right in with both feet and see how well this little cooler holds up to our abuse.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The NT06-Pro is constructed with a two piece copper base that takes the six 6mm heat pipes between them, and they are then soldered into place for better thermal transfer. Once the base and pipes are assembled, they are then coated with nickel plating. At this point SilverStone adds natural aluminum fins to the pipes. There are 52 in total, five of which are shorter to allow access to the mounting hardware, and each fin has the SilverStone name pressed into it. This is a C-Style cooling solution, so the fins run parallel to the motherboard, and while most times the fans blow at the motherboard, for clearance concerns, the fan with this cooler is meant to hang from under these fins.
Since I brought up the fan, we may as well continue on that subject. The fan includes with the NT06-PRO is the HA1220H12SA-Z. The fan is capable of delivering 73.9 CFM of airflow through its 20mm thick frame. The nine blades can revolve at up to 2200 RPMs, but there is no mention of the noise levels. There is however some special TDP remarks concerning this cooler. You can run the NT06-PRO passively if you don't have more than 65W of processing power under it. With the fan that ships in the box added, you can tame 95W worth of CPU heat. If you are to grab a solid performing 25mm thick fan, the TPD rating jumps to 130W. If you take the fan from the box and put it under the cooler, and add a 25mm fan to the top, you can then cool up to 150W of CPU. Keep in mind, while the last solution may offer the best results, it does take the height back up and may not work for many SFF cases.
As I look around, it doesn't seem to be that hard to locate the NT06-PRO for sale. Through Google I found three hits, two of which were eBay, while the other was a listing at AeroCooler.com for $55 flat. Thing is when you add one to the cart, I am looking at spending at least $18 to get one to my door. Then I went to Amazon and searched for it and found that I can just get one there, and pay $58 with shipping included. I will say this though, it has been quite some time since I saw a cooler at this price range that looks and it foretold to be able to handle the job at hand, even if you do have to mess with the fans on the cooler body some.
For effect, and as far as this review is concerned, the cooler will be tested with the fan that comes with it only. If it can handle what my 2600K can deliver with just that fan on the cooler, I think SilverStone may have a real winner on their hands.
On the top of a plain brown cardboard box, SilverStone explains why you should choose this cooler with a list of features it contains with a rendering at the right as if you were looking down onto the NT06-PRO.
The front of the box offers very little other than the company name, the coolers name, and the tag line of "the ultimate heatsink with flexibility in nearly all applications".
Moving things to the right, we run into a specifications chart. It isn't as inclusive as the one we just looked at, but it does cover most of the basics and allows buyers to make an educated choice in the store.
The back of the package doesn't offer anything we didn't already discuss when we saw the front of the box.
Remembering back to the first image, where the features were listed next to that image, well here they are again in nine languages to cover the markets in which SilverStone has been a success.
Lifting the top on the box allows us to peek inside. The manual is shipped on top of everything, and that everything includes the hardware box in the front, while the cooler and fan are wrapped in high density foam to keep it safe in transit.
SilverStone NT06-PRO CPU Cooler
Out of the box and looking it in what I will call the front of the cooler, you can see the aluminum fins are in fact impressed with the SilverStone name and the snowflake logo. You can also see the fins are press fit on the heat pipes, and the pipes are very even across the fins spread.
From the side you can tell there is a large section of uninterrupted fins, but then you find a small section that doesn't come all the way to the outside edge. This allows for access to screws as you install it. You can also see the bends in the pipes, and while the tops are kinked, the bottom bends are much smoother.
From the back of the NT06-PRO you can see the nickel plated heat pipes as they are tightly held into the base, and spread like a fan to take on the even spacing through the fins of the top half. You can also see that the last fin in the stack has the name reversed, and while it may be for show, this rippling of the fin induces turbulence, which is good for efficiency.
The one thing I forgot to mention when we looked at the other identical side is that each fin has a tab that locks into the next, so these evenly spread fins you see now will be able to be maintained for the life of the cooler.
Looking down upon the NT06-PRO, you can see that not only are the fins shaped on the top to allow for fan spacing and pressure building, but on the sides there is a protruding section in the middle to allow the fans to clip to.
The NT06E had a skived pre-cooler here, but that was done away with on the PRO. Here you just have the two solid plates of copper with the pipes soldered in, and four tabs at the top to align the cross-bar of the hardware kit.
SilverStone NT06-PRO CPU Cooler Continued
Just to show you that the pipes are in fact soldered into place, as I was prepping for the base images, I saw it was painfully obvious that these weren't installed with paste.
To protect the base a bit in transit, as well as keep the surface from oxidizing, there is the clear sticker covering the base, which must be removed prior to usage.
The base of the NT06-PRO is relatively flat across most of the bases span. Near the corners is starts to round off away from the center height, but it is well outside of the contact area. The milling isn't so perfect, but there are still a lot of people that think small grooves works better than lapped surfaces for thermal transfer.
Of course when you install the cooler, you can place the fan on as I did here, and blow the heat down at the motherboard, but you are giving up the low-profile nature of this design like this.
Since SilverStone show the cooler to be used like this, with the fan underneath, blowing up through the fins, this is how I will be using and testing it.
Accessories and Documentation
The four wire fan mounts you see here are left floating free inside of the hardware box. As for the universal back plate, it was shipped inside of a bag to keep the paint in good shape. There are already Intel isolation pads on this plate, but for AMD usage you need to get some pads out of the rest of the hardware.
There are studs that run through the back plate and up thorough the motherboard. Once you add some risers, you can then add either the pair of Intel or AMD top brackets that are held in place with thumbscrews. Once those are in, you can attach the cross-bar to the studs to mount the cooler to the motherboard.
Starting at top left, you are given four LGA2011 mounting screws, some thermal paste, and the four studs to use with the back plate. The bag of screws doesn't go to this cooler, but are included with the four black spacers, an LGA775 plate spacer, eight fan isolation pads, four thumbscrews, and a sheet of clear plastic pads to use on the AMD side of the back plate.
The included fan is the HA1220H12SA-Z, which is 120mm by 20mm. This nine blade fan that is solid black in color is PWM controllable as it is powered via the 4-pin fan connection on its left.
Here again we get to see the manual. Things are kept very simple on the outside and on the inside.
As you can see, SilverStone must use the same kits for all of the Nitrogon series coolers, and it explains the extra screws. It also explains why in the six simple steps to installing the CPU cooler for both AMD and Intel, you find renderings with the instructions of tower coolers and other oddities. So keep in mind that these are general installation instructions, and it may differ slightly from the images to your actual cooler.
Installation and Finished Product
For AMD, once you have the clear plastic isolating pads on it, you send the studs through the holes and align the flat side of the stud with the holes. For the Intel mounting, excluding LGA2011, you find the correctly market hold for you socket, and again line up the flat sides of the studs and send them through.
For Intel sockets make sure you have this on the right way. There are only holes drilled for the pair of socket screws in the one side. If you look closely at the bottom two studs, you can see a line on the head that lines up with the flat post on the side of it to match the plate.
For both the AMD and Intel hardware, you can set these in a north/south or east/west orientation. What you need to consider is that the holes in the brackets need to point at the CPU like the ones installed here.
Once everything is set on correctly and ready to be secured, you just simply add the four thumbscrews and tighten them all the way down.
Drop on some thermal paste on the CPU and set on the NT06-PRO. When you go to get to the screws on the cross-bar, you see how important removing the ends of these five fins really was. Without this sort of access there would be no way to get in here and tighten these screws. With the access we do have, alternate between sides and send the screws in until they stop spinning.
Before you get too far with the fan, make sure to take four of the isolation pads and set them onto the fan just outside of the screw holes. Keep in mind the direction of the fans air flow when placing these on the fans, too.
Installation and Finished Product Continued
Just for the product image I went ahead and put the fan on top of the cooler to give those planning to use it in this fashion an idea of what they will get.
If you don't have a height restriction, with a fan on top, it allows plenty of room for any sort of memory heat spreaders to easily pass under the fins.
What is nice about the NT06-PRO is the offset where it allows you to put the excess of the cooler over the memory or over the PWM heat sinks like I have it here. There were no restrictions mentioned in the instructions as to which way you should not install this cooler, and since I use a test bench, the motherboard is flat and vapor in the pipes being trapped is not a concern.
Back to the way the cooler is intended to be used, you can see it really cramps the memory with the fan underneath. There really isn't a good way to correct this either, as any ways you turn the cooler it either has fins over the memory, or the heat pipes were angled over them.
Even though the fan is slightly higher than the memory in these slots, you can see that access to the one closest to the CPU is now completely blocked. Makes sure the memory is in the slot first in your build, or it is going to take a bit of strategy to remove the fan inside of the SFF chassis to get the memory in.
I just wanted to step back and give you all the impression of the NT06-PRO that SilverStone had intended. With the fan under the fins blowing out into the chassis, the components and well as the CPU should stay a bit cooler. It also leaves you with the clean looking side of an air cooler. Even after a few months of dust buildup, this side of the cooler will still look exactly like this.
Test System and Thermal Results
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 24.5-25°C 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.
You will also see that the charts have been slightly adjusted. From now on I will mention the idle temperatures if there is something worth noting other than an average of twenty-five to twenty-seven degrees as the PWM controls and SpeedStep allow for almost ambient results in most instances. What you are now getting is a stock speed loaded temperature chart and an overclocked loaded temperature chart. To clean up the audio results, I also removed all of the fans that aren't on the thermal charts. If you want to compare those results to new coolers, the old chart is still available in the older reviews.
I know we are dealing with a thinner than average fan, and I was in the configuration that had the fan blowing up off the motherboard. At the stock level of the 2600K which delivers 95W of heat to the cooler, and from the chart I am pretty much right on specs for this test. That in mind, I do think that a 50 degree result with a cooler intended to only cool exactly this TDP is respectable, and good for a cooler with its short stature. I mean, it beats out quite a few larger coolers on the list, which has to say something for it.
While the results here may not look all that good, you have to keep it in perspective. This test applies 125 to 150W of power to the coolers, and for a cooler rated to only work up to 95W with this fan on it, I have to say the simple fact that the test didn't make the CPU throttle is a good sign of its efficiency. If room is not an issue, I could see a pair of 25mm thick 140mm fan with about 3.0mmH20 static pressure and some good CFM could take this cooler right on into the TPC-812 range, which is really good for a cooler of this dimension and C-Style design.
Noise Level Results
While the results do seem to be near the bottom of the list, at 34dB for the stock runs, the noise is barely audible without putting your ear or the meter in the exit path of the fan straight out from the NT06-PRO. I am not too pressed at this point as this is a very tolerable result.
I was really sort of surprised at this point. I know I read that the intention was to stay somewhat quiet, but reaching 52 dB with the fans running 2220 RPM it is right in the midpoint of the bunch of cooler. Not exactly loud, not exactly quiet - just right in the middle.
I do like the full package that SilverStone is offering with the NT06-PRO. It has been quite some time since I have seen a cooler more than capable of going about its business, even if rated low for the fan that is shipped with it. In the testing I tortured the NT06-PRO, and I am really shocked that the CPU did not throttle back when doing the overclocked benches. The cooler is low-profile, and more specifically will be the new standard in cooling when it comes to how the new SUGO and other SFF chassis are designed to accommodate. While it is short in stature, it not only took everything I could throw at it, but for those of you out there with a box full of fans, you can fine tune this cooler to possibly provide much better cooling potential, or go completely the other route and leave this passive for absolutely no noise in an HTPC system.
Things like a super secure mounting system, simple and easy to follow instructions, and what really is a cooler for any occasion, SilverStone really has a good thing going here. It seems that every day someone wants to put bigger and more powerful processors into tiny and unrealistically cramped spaces, well here is another solution to choose from. Specifically cases that have the PSU installed right above the CPU area of the motherboard, this sort of design is what you want to be looking at. While an AIO will suffice, it leaves the motherboard components void of any air flow, where a cooler like this takes care of all the concerns without being some 1000 gram monster pulling on your socket. I can really appreciate what SilverStone tried to do, and in my mind, accomplished in almost every aspect. Even with the fact that that fan can get a touch noisy at times, PWM control should keep it from getting there much at all.
The best part about this whole deal is that to get this level of performance and options in a CPU cooler, they usually cost near $80 to $90 to get one to your door. SilverStone takes the sweep in all categories as they are one of the only ones that won't require you to dig so deep to obtain their solution with the NT06-PRO. As I look around, that $58 price on Amazon is looking really good. If you have space limitations and need a cooler, this has you covered. If you want the choice to run a 65W or less processor passively, this has you covered. If you need a cooler that performs really well, looks good while doing it, will fit in a SFF, HTPC, or any case build, and won't demand every last dollar from your wallet, this is for you.
The latest addition to the Nitrogon series with the NT06-PRO is in fact one cooler that can fit in most cooling applications, no matter the situation or heat level of the processor under it.
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