Who needs liquid cooling?
We think it’s a fair comment that most people would say that if you want the best in PC cooling that you have to go with a liquid cooling rig.
Liquid cooling systems are generally regarded as being better at getting harmful heat away from your CPU, while at the same time keeping noise levels to a minimum.
So it’d be a bit much to ask from a traditional air cooler to perform at the same level as a liquid cooling system, right?
Wrong. traditional air coolers can be just as efficient as some lower-end liquid cooling systems, at a fraction of the cost and with a fraction of the hassle. The Deepcool Neptwin is one of these coolers.
The first thing that might strike you when taking the Neptwin out of it’s box is the sheer size of it. You’re certainly justified in wondering if the thing is going to fit in your existing rig. To be honest, most users should be fine, though you might get a bit closer to your memory chips than you’re comfortable with.
The Neptwin takes the form of two separate heatsinks which are each joined to the CPU block with three U-shaped heatpipes. Sandwiched with the two heatsinks are two 120mm fans which push and pull air through the fins on the heatsinks. Nothing revolutionary in terms of the mechanics, but it’s interesting to see a configuration like this, rather than a bloody great fan strapped to the side of an even bigger heatsink.
Included in the box you’ll find everything you need to connect the Neptwin to your CPU and motherboard.
Fittings are provided for all major socket types, both Intel and AMD:
- Intel Socket 150W
- Core i7/i5/i3
- Core 2 Extreme
- Core 2 Quad
- Core 2 Duo
- Pentium/Pentium G
- Pentium D/Pentium 4
- Celeron Dual-Core
- Celeron/Celeron D
- AMD Socket 140W
- FX X8/X6/X4
- Phenom II X6/X4/X3/X2
- Phenom X4/X3
- Athlon II X4/X3/X2
- Athlon X2
- Athlon/Athlon FX
- Business Class
You also get a little junction box which allows you to connect both fans to the CPU cooler header on your motherboard, so there’s no need for any additional molex converters. The downside to this is that you’ve got to find some place to mount the thing, and depending on your case this may end up looking a little untidy.
We really liked the look and overall design of the Neptwin. It feels really well built and looks the business as well.
But for us it was an absolute nightmare to fit. The provided paper instructions are overly simplistic in places and try to demonstrate the whole installation process in only a couple of steps.
When the process involves removing the original cooler mount from your motherboard, preparing and fitting the new backplate, correctly aligning and mounting the cooler, installing the fans and then connecting up the fan adapter, it’s just not enough to provide a two step user guide.
There’s nothing incorrect about what’s written there, but the layout could be better and some less experienced builders might find themselves pulling their hair out for a little while.
Some users may also experience problems with installation depending on the amount of available room in their case. We had to remove a couple of case fans from the top of our test rig in order to be able to get our hands in and attach the fans to the heatsinks.
Speaking of which, some may call the mounting method for the fans a stroke of genius, but we’re not convinced. Rather than opt for a screw fixing or some sort of pushpin, the two fans are held in place by thin wire retention bars.
The end result is that the fans ARE held in place securely, but the whole thing seems like it might be prone to noise from vibration, even though Deepcool provide you with small sticky pads to try and isolate noise from the vans bashing up against the aluminium fins.
That being said, any traditional kind of fixing would have altered the design of the Neptwin, and we can’t imagine that it would have looked anywhere near as good as it does.
Remember when we said that air coolers could perform as well as liquid coolers? Well we put it to the test.
Although it’s not a full liquid cooling solution, our test rig normally chugs along with an Antec Kuhler 920 setup – a self contained liquid cooling system that uses twin 120mm fans to push air through a liquid filled radiator connected to a cooling block on the CPU.
It does an awesome job of keeping our rig cool, so we thought it would be interesting to see how it stacked up against the Deepcool Neptwin.
Before we get to the results, a quick run through of the test system and the test procedure:
Our rig features an AMD Phenom II X4 840. That’s a processor with four physical cores, each with a clock speed of 3.2GHz
Our case is a Fractal Arc Midi tower with a 120mm intake fan at the front and two 140mm exhaust fans at the top of the case. We’re running them at low speed using a fan control unit.
Our PSU is an Antec HCP 750W unit, with it’s own 120mm exhaust fan.
We have a separate graphics card – a Radeon HD 6850 1GB unit.
The ambient temperature of the room during the test was around 20 degrees throughout.
The test was simple:
- We ran the rig idle for around 20 minutes and then measured the temperature
- We then stressed the CPU for a further twenty minutes using Prime95 and then measured the temperature again.
- Then we overclocked the CPU by increasing the bus speed and conducted the same tests.
- Then we swapped out the Antec Kuhler for the Deepcool Neptwin and did the whole thing again.
The results were actually surprising:
The graph above shows the temperatures during testing, measure in degrees Celsius.
It’s clear that there isn’t much difference in terms of performance between the Antec water cooling unit and the Deepcool Neptwin, although we’d have to give the edge to Antec when it comes to cooling.
What’s interesting, though, is that the Neptwin was far quieter during stress testing than the Antec unit. This is surprising, as liquid coolers tend to have a reputation for running quieter than traditional coolers. We also had major concerns with the Neptwin that the fans may vibrate due to those wire retention clips, but it looks like we were wrong on that front.
It’s also worth considering that the Antec unit bolts onto the back of a case, expelling hot air from it. While the Neptwin relies on good airflow inside the case to make sure that things don’t get too hot.
In reality, we’d probably add a 120mm fan to the back of the case, which might be enough to edge the Neptwin into the lead in terms of cooling power.
In any case, we were surprised that there wasn’t a bigger gap between the two coolers, especially when you consider that the Antec unit is likely to be a lot more expensive.
|Overall Dimension126X136X159mm ((With Fan)||Fan Dimension120X120X26mm(2PCS）||Net Weight1109g||Bearing TypeHydro Bearing|
|Rated Voltage12VDC||Operating Voltage10.8～13.2VDC||Started Voltage7VDC||Rated Current0.16±10%A / 0.13±10%A(MAX)|
|Power Input1.92W / 1.56W||Fan Speed1300±10%RPM / 900±150~1500±10%RPM||Max. Air Flow53.65CFM / 60.29CFM||Noise26.6dB(A) / 21.4~32.1dB(A)|
The Deepcool Neptwin is a bit of a mixed bag really.
We love the design and the cooling performance, but we’re not so keen on the overall size or the untidy wiring caused by the separate fan power unit.
Its strengths are pretty obvious really: it looks great, it’s nice and quiet, it will fit pretty much any processor on the market today and it’s got a decent level of cooling performance.
But, some may find that having a heatsink this size is not practical, especially if you’re using a smaller case
We’d recommend checking the dimensions on the previous page before taking the plunge and buying this unit, particularly if you have restricted space around your CPU.
It’s also hard to put a score to this cooler given that we haven’t been able to find it for sale online as of yet.
If it’s priced toward the mid-range of CPU coolers then we would buy it without hesitation, but there are better performing coolers out there if money is no object.
On the assumption that it’ll be priced around the £30-£40 mark, we’d score it as follows: