Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
When it comes to cooling a PC, not always is the best of the best in cooling technology, or the pricing associated with it, what the customer truly needs. In fact, the CPU air cooling market has made a few advances in cooler design, which has eliminated most of the issues older tower designs showed with newer motherboards. So this makes it almost as easy to use a tower cooler in most instances, rather than to have to opt to liquid coolers for access to all of your memory, and not hovering over motherboard screws to be able to compete.
Along with staying "inside the box" with this design, Enermax has added a few features to make this compact cooler design run with the big dogs. They opted for an asymmetric design to allow access to memory by offsetting the heat pipes, and being a 92mm tower covers the main issues, but they do even more. There is the Vortex Generator Flow technology, using small fins near the heat pipes, which moves air toward the next pipe in line. This design also offers a Vacuum Effect, which keeps air moving through the fins rather than blown out the sides of it, and both of these should take the best advantage of the optional fan dependent on which of these two coolers you opt into. On top of those technologies at the top of the cooler, Enermax offers the base of these coolers milled down so that Heat-pipe Direct Touch is what is left to remove the heat from the processor.
For such a small tower cooler, it seems that Enermax has gone to great lengths, adding in the various technologies, to keep these newer coolers in the fray with the massive list of coolers already out there. Of course, there are always users where space constraints make you have to think about these designs automatically, and in those instances, compatibility and fitment are high on the list of needs. The reality is, though, once those boxes have been checked, performance and noise still come into play as well. If a cooler is not up to snuff in those departments, it will likely be overlooked. Just how well do these coolers perform? Keep reading as we look at the Enermax ETS-N30R-HE and the ETS-N30R TAA (LED fan version) for a spin, and see just how well these ETS-N30 II coolers stack up on our test bench.
In the Enermax ETS-N30 II series of coolers, we are offered a choice between the ETS-N30R-HE, and the slightly fancier ETS-N30R-TAA compact tower coolers. Both of them, sharing identical hardware, provide compatibility with all the current gear as well as many older sockets. With an array consisting of 43 aluminum fins, pressed over three heat pipes, this entire tower is only 137.2mm tall, 95mm wide, and 77.5mm thick, but no total weight is given. The trio of heat pipes is 6mm in diameter and run closely together in the base before it is shaved to expose the heat pipes in the aluminum base. Enermax also supplies a tube of TIM, and while it sports an Enermax sticker on it, it is TC-5121 from Dow Corning.
Here is where the designs differ. Both coolers are shipped with a 92mm fan to cool the tower, but one of the fans is an all-black UCHE9P on the HE, and the second option is the UCTAA9P sporting blue blades inside of a black frame, but also offers twelve LEDs around it in the TAA version. The ETS-N30R-HE has the most powerful fan, rated at 2800 RPM delivering 55.4 CFM with 4.37 mmH2O of pressure. The LED fan offers 2800RPM again, but the airflow and static pressure are reduced to 50.8 CFM and 3.86 mmH2O. Both fans are 4-pin PWM powered, but we do find the noise ratings are slightly different to each fan. The HE cooler is rated to 28 dBA maximum, and the TAA is ever so slightly quieter with a 27 dBA rating on it. The last important bit to know about these coolers is that they also come with a 150W TDP rating on both versions.
Shopping around, we see that affordability is a big factor in the ETS-N30 II coolers. We ventured over to Newegg first to see what they offer, and we found the ETS-N30R-HE listed at $35.45, and the ETS-N30R-TAA selling for $30.99, with mention of free shipping. It was then that we changed over to Amazon, and found a better deal on the ETS-N30R-HE, listed at just $27.95 with free shipping, but obtaining the ETS-N30R-HE costs slightly more, listed at $31.29. In essence, if you want more performance look to Amazon, and if fancy lights win the day, Newegg is your best bet. With the availability being good, and they certainly are affordable, all things are pointing to the fact that these ETS-N30 II coolers from Enermax could be contenders in a flooded market of products asking for your hard earned money.
Packaging on both coolers are identical down to all but one small aspect. They both sport images of both designs on the front under the ETS-N30 II naming. Between the images and the five features along the bottom is how you tell them apart on the shelf. Each box has a red sticker that denotes which of the two models listed is inside of that box.
The next panels are blue, and offer specifications charts with white text. Here they address the 290-gram weight of these coolers, but the rest of the chart is identical to what we previously covered. The last thing offered is found at the bottom, and there we see three, dimensional renderings, of the coolers.
Around to the back, we find that a list of nine features tops the panel. Below that images point out the more important of those features, and at the bottom, we see that there is a one-year warranty on these coolers.
The last panel is blue to match the other side, but this time, we are told what is inside. It addresses that this is a high-performance compact CPU air cooler and that it comes with patented technologies and an asymmetric design.
Inside of the boxes, we find the coolers, assembled, and resting inside of a smaller cardboard box for protection. To keep the hardware from causing damage, it rides in a bag outside of the cooler, and so does the paperwork. Being so light, these coolers are almost over-protected, and both versions arrived with no signs of damage or deformation.
Enermax ETS-N30 II CPU Coolers
Standing side by side, it is easy to distinguish between the two coolers, but once the fans are removed, the towers are identical. Here we have the ETS-N30R-HE on the left with the plain looking 92mm fan and the ETS-N30R-TAA on the right. Both also offer a long fan lead which provides a braided covering and terminates in 4-pin PEM connections.
What is evident to us from this side view are three things. First of all, the sides of the tower are enclosed to capture air, the fan clips on easily with plastic tabs, and the cooler is offset compared to the base, because of the asymmetric heat pipe layout.
The back and front of the cooler offer the same fin structure. The 43 aluminum fins provide a valley in the midsection, and where the cooler is deepest near the edges, the fins have grooves cut there, both features allowing the fan to produce pressure before entering the tower.
This side is identical to what we saw on the other side. The fins are closed off, and the cooler is still shifted away from the DIMM slots to the right of the base.
Looking at the top of the fin stack, we see the Enermax name embossed into the fins in the middle, and we get a better idea on the grooves on either side. We can also see the bits of the fin that are pressed in, which directs the air flow from the next heat pipe, as they are out of line with each other.
The top of the base to which you mount hardware is made of a solid piece of aluminum. It offers threaded holes on either side, and the top of the plate has been grooved to act as a passive heat sink, removing some heat before it travels into the tower.
As the trio of heat pipes travel through the aluminum base plate, after milling it and cleaning it, this plastic sticker is applied. Of course, you do need to remove this as the writing on it suggests.
Under the sticker, we find the three pipes are tightly grouped to ensure they all contact any IHS. The surface is milled in an arc pattern, with marks left in the finish, and we also find that the gaps between the copper and aluminum are very minimal.
Accessories and Documentation
The bag of hardware has plenty to look at, but there we have the basis for mounting the cooler. On the left is the AMD socket bracket that will mount to the base of the cooler. In the middle, we have the universal backplate made of plastic, and to the right are the Intel brackets for the base of the cooler.
To go along with those components, we need most of this as well. Along the top, there are the thumbscrews to lock the brackets to the square-head screws that pass through the backplate, once the three spacers to the right have been placed on the screws. Below those, we find the four screws used to secure the brackets to the base of the cooler, and for those using LGA2011 motherboards, there are screws for those sockets as well.
Enermax also includes an inline resistor connection to reduce the fan specifications by 25 percent. We do like that is still PWM controlled and braided to blend in better. There is also a plastic case which houses the Enermax labeled Dow Corning paste.
The instructions are done on this fold-out pamphlet. Inside you will get a parts list to start you off in the right direction, excellent renderings, and instruction to mount this cooler to all supported sockets, and is written in thirteen languages.
Installation and Finished Product
Since we test with an Intel motherboard, we grabbed the Intel brackets and mounted them to the base of the cooler. Using the provided threaded holes in the base, you screw in two screws on each side, and this is also true with the AMD bracket as well.
Then we moved onto putting the square-head screws into the right spot for LGA115X, and being sure to align the heads with the grooves offered in the plastic backplate. Then it slides right into the holes around the socket, with holes cut on both ends for socket clearance.
To hold the back plate in place when installing the ETS-N30 II coolers, you must install the tall black spacers. These will grab onto the longer screws, and keep it locked to the motherboard, once pressed all the way down.
To lock the cooler into place, put the brackets over the long screws, and using the thumbscrews, lock the brackets down to the motherboard. We also noticed we had the cooler on wrong here as the pipes show, so we quickly turned it around for testing, after some images were taken.
This cooler is just the right height. It is just tall enough that the fan would not be blacked by average height RAM, and is barely affected by our choice of RAM either. At the same time, it is not a monster hanging over the top, and engulfing the motherboard.
Under normal circumstances, the ETS-N30II coolers will clear the top of the memory in all four slots. It does just cover our innermost slot, and those using taller memory may have issues here.
The tower stands proud of the thermal armor of the motherboard, so it is unlikely to be affected by power management heat sinks, and also offers room to tuck the extra fan cable. From this view, the offset is pronounced, but even with a second fan on the tower, you can still get to everything else.
This happens to be an image where we got it wrong. To orient the cooler properly, the Enermax name on it should read from the bottom to the top. This puts the Vortex Generator tabs behind each heat pipe, to direct the air flow though the cooler properly. For those who are not concerned with memory, you may not even see this at first, so be sure these ETS-N30 II coolers are installed properly, as it will make a huge difference in the way they work.
Test System Setup, Thermal Tests, and Noise Results
Chad's CPU Cooler Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS Sabertooth Z87 - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: Intel Core i7 4770K - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Memory: G.Skill F3-2666C11D-8GTXD - Buy from Amazon
- Video Card: HIS Radeon HD 7950 IceQ - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage: Patriot Torch 120GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: IN WIN D-Frame - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Power Supply: SilverStone ST85F-G - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 8 Professional 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Software: RealTemp 3.70, AIDA64 Engineer 5.20.3400 and CPU-z 1.72.1 x64
To see our testing methodology and to find out what goes into making our charts, please refer to our CPU Cooler Testing and Methodology article for more information.
As our processor was loaded with the stock clocks applied, we found the results not to be all that great as you look at them near the bottom of the chart. However, considering some of the coolers these fall just behind, the ETS-N30R-HE at 54 degrees, and the ETS-N30R-TAA at 56.25 degrees, they are acceptable results.
While many coolers outperformed this pair when we overclocked the system, for a 150W TDP cooler, these ETS N30 II coolers do well. The HE came in at 78.75 degrees, and the TAA was slightly warmer at 79.5 degrees. They may be compact, but can play with much larger coolers, and still kept us from thermal throttling.
Noise Level Results
The results here are decent as well. With 7.5V supplied to the fans, the lesser producing of the two is more silent, but just slightly. The UTCTAA9P fan came in at 29 dB, and the UCHE9P fan registered at 30dB. At this point, both are barely audible and left us with no complaints.
The gap between them widens at 12V, but both versions were still under the level where the drone of the cooler is just too much. The slower TAA LED fan delivered 47dB of noise here, and the plain HE fan with better specifications, it comes in at 51dB.
While we have seen coolers with HDT bases, rarely have we seen them with a fin array offset, closed sides, and little tabs to help direct all of that captured air flow. Unlike in some of our images, once this cooler is aligned properly, it affords room for memory and does not block the motherboard screws or the 8-pin lead either. It may be small, but the ETS-N30 II coolers have shown merit in our testing. There are better coolers out there; but as far as towers go, many need to be much bigger to offer more performance. On the flip side, if you are looking for a tower cooler for a Mini-ITX chassis, many of the larger coolers simply will not fit, and is where coolers like these tend to shine.
The step-by-step instructions walk you right through every detail, of mounting the cooler, and even if, like us, you happen to do it wrong, there is plenty of TIM. Mounting is easy; you would not be upset if you got it wrong the first time. The clip on fan design is also a plus, making removing them for cleaning, and while mounting the cooler, super simple to accomplish. We also like that we are offered a low-noise adapter in the kit at this price. We like that there are options with the fan too. You can opt for a plainer looking cooler that offers slightly better results with slightly more noise, or you can go for fancy blue LEDs with slightly worse performance and less fan noise. The hardware is sturdy, and once the long screws are held into the backplate, we had no issues getting everything tight the first time. Enermax put a lot into this little cooler, and all things considered, these ETS-N30 II coolers are decent choices.
So, for those of you with space confinement issues for a CPU air cooler, Enermax does have a viable solution for you. Even if you are just a beginner looking to save some money and have some fun overclocking, this cooler is up to that task as well. With the ETS-N30R-HE found for as low as $27.95, and the ETS-N30R-TAA for as little as $30.99, these solutions pack an enormous amount of bang for the buck. The fact that the better of the two, performance wise, is the more affordable of the two, just makes that even better.
While they seem to perform low on our charts, we were able to pass all of our stress testing without failure. With the pricing of some of the coolers they fall in line with considered, this is where Enermax rises to the top of the pot. It may not be the most amaze-balls cooler on the market, but with little cost, you have a cooler that is more than able to tame most processors out there.
|Quality including Design and Build||95%|
|Bundle and Packaging||95%|
|Value for Money||95%|
The Bottom Line: There is a lot of ingenuity involved to make such a small cooler do well enough to pass our testing! Everything Enermax put into the ETS-N30 II coolers is worth it. They are low cost, relatively strong performers - all you need to decide is if you want the LED version or not.
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