Cooler Master Hyper N520 Heatsink Page: 1
Introduction
 
Cooler Master are a company that no self respecting PC enthusiast won't be familiar with. Providing products such as heatsinks and chassis for several years and recently branching out into the power supply market. We here at Overclock3D are definitely no stranger to CM's products, having recently been impressed with the likes on their ATCS 840 chassis and the Hyper Z600 heatsink.
 
Today we move down from the higher end to take a look at another one of CM's cooling products, a heatsink & fan combination dubbed the Hyper N520. Measuring in at 122(L)x102(w)x141(H)mm it's a fair bit smaller than a lot of heat sinks on the market today - and at 688g it's relatively light too. However we can be sure that monster heat sinks aren't everyone's cup of tea and for smaller systems this could be the ticket.
 
 
Specifications
 
Interestingly, Cooler Master tell us nothing of the N520 on their UK site. I had to travel across the ocean to the US site to find details on the product. So taken from said US site, here is the features list and specification:
 
Features
* Universal Design Intel LGA775
* AMD (754/939/940/AM2/AM2+)
* Optimum Air Flow Distinct appearance with dual fan bracket
* Unique dual fan cooling design ensures cool air accelerates straight through the heat sink
* Superior Cooling Performance Mirror finished copper base guarantees perfect contact between CPU and cooler
* 5 heat pipes optimise heat transfer

Pure Copper Base & Heat Pipes
Pure Copper Base provides excellent cooling performance with 5 Heat Pipes to maximise heat transfer

Aluminium Fins, Dual Fan & Unique Adaptor
Dual Fan for air flow through heat sink with Wide Surface Aluminium Fin Design to improve heat dissipation; comes with a 2 to 1 Plug Adaptor for easy installation
 
The N520 looks impressive on paper. Boasting support for I7 CPU's on top of the mass of 775 and AMD chips. The figures given for the fans also looking rather promising. But will they live up the the claims? 


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Packaging
 
The packaging for the N520 looks quite familiar, sticking with CM's theme of white and purple which we've become accustom to. The front of the box shows off the cooler itself with a few graphics informing the viewer of the retention CPU's  it's compatible with. The sides of the box sport the specification of the product on one, and the phrase 'CPU Cooler, Please visit our website for further details' in 18 different languages. Lastly the back shows the schematics of the cooler, as well as detailing its features along with a few close up pictures to illustrate the points its trying to draw your attention to.
 
Box_Front Box_Back
Box_side1 Box_side2
 
While the packaging may not jump out at you form the shelf of a retail outlet, you can tell its a CM product at a mere glance due to the design printed on the box, and that alone should warrant a second look.
 
Packaging_closed Open_Box
 
Moving inside the cooler is held loosely in place by a double skinned cardboard package that should do an adequate job of protecting the cooler. It would have been nice to see something a bit more substantial such as Styrofoam to give the N520 that extra bit of piece of mind. But the shaped cardboard should protect it from all but the most ham handed of individuals
 
Accs
 
The accessories were supplies in a zip lock bag tucked under the base of the cooler. Inside the bag we find the mounting brackets, back plates and the screws to fit it all together. As well as the mounting hardware CM give us a 3 pin splitter that allows the two fans to be driven from a singe header.
 
 
Appearance
 
Moving on to the cooler itself. You can see that it's based on the very familiar U shaped heat pipe design that has become somewhat of a standard among performance heat sinks. Over the top of the aluminium fins Coolermaster have seen it fit to add a plastic jacket. As well as protecting the fins it has the possibility of acting like a shroud to allow the fans to direct air more efficiently. The two 92mm fans themselves are offset form one another. Presumably this helps eliminate the 'dead spot' in the centre of the heat sink that doesn't get any airflow.
 
Over Top
Side Angle
 
The base of the cooler is covered by a sticky plastic tab that protects it's 'Mirror finish'. Removing the cover you can see that the base is pretty smooth and not far off that claim of a mirror finish. As someone who regularly swaps out heat sinks across various different set ups I was quite happy to see a solid base. This won't concern a lot of people who intend to install the sink a leave it to run for months on end, but for those who change hardware regularly it means no digging out old TIM from the little gaps between the heat pipes and the base (a la the Vendetta II).
 
Base
 
So it's a reasonable looking, mid-weight cooler, time to get on and see how it performs... 


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Installation and Test setup
 
To start putting the N520 through its paces, the first step was to install the cooler into a real life test set up. The system used for this comprised of the following parts:
 
Intel Core 2 Duo E7200
DFI DK P45
2GB Crucial Balistix
4850X2
Seasonic M12 600w
 
So on with the installation, and this is where I hit a little hick up. There was no manual, or instruction sheet about how to correctly assemble the mass of mounting hardware provided with the cooler. So I spent a few minutes trying various combinations and came up with what I hope is the correct mounting procedure.
 
1. Attach the desired mount bracket to the cooler's base with the small screws
2. Screw in the main mounting bolts. Note these are a reverse thread.
3. Mount the larger of the rubber washers on the underside of the mounting bracket, white edge down.
4. Fit the cooler to the board (not forgetting TIM of course) by attaching the nuts on the underside, with the correct back plate.
 
Mount_Plate Reverse_screws
 
Washers Backplate
 
I felt this wasn't the most gracious of installation methods, it was a little tricky holding the board and cooler upside down to fit the nuts and back plate. But after the first two were in and tightened enough to hold everything in place it wasn't too difficult to complete. Once mounted however the cooler certainly wasn't going anywhere, the mount was easily enough to pick up the setup by safely.
 
 
Test methodology
 
The first test conducted was the tried and tested 'strap the cooler to a chip and see how it fairs' method. The N520 was tested using the E7200 mentioned above, in both stock and overclocked states. The system was left to undisturbed for 30mins after boot and the temperature then recorded for the idle reading. This was followed by a 30 minute Prime95 romp to take the loaded reading. Ambient throughout was 20° (+/- 0.5°).
 
The next test conducted was a simulated load test. The cooler was set to work finding it's equilibrium temperature when exposed to the heat generated by a certain amount of power. The cooler was tested at points of 50w, 100w, 150w and 200w to see how it would cope under various levels. Once again ambient was 20° (+/- 0.5°). The test was performed using a custom built load tester. This device uses two 200w cartridge heaters to warm up a small block of copper, allowing a flat surface for the heat sink being tested to be mounted on. The majority of the block is then insulated to minimise heat escaping via anything other than the side that the sink is mounted in. The heat dissipated by the twin cartridges is regulated via a variac, and the power between the variac and the cartridges is measured to ensure that the correct amount of power is being drawn. The temperature of the block is taken via a digital thermometer and k-type probe, from a small hole drilled into the copper between the two cartridges.
 
The noise levels emitted from the cooler are extremely hard to asitane without some very expensive equipment, therefore you will have to rely on my fair ear for judgement in this department. 


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CPU Tests
 
The CPU tests were conducted at both stock and overclocked stated. The overclock used was 3.6Ghz using 1.45v.
 
CPU temps
 
As you can see the N520 held the little E7200 to perfectly acceptable temperatures in both stock and overclocked states. Even with what some would dub as excessive Vcore for a 45nm chip being pushed through it. Idle temperatures were too close to call, suggesting that the idle heat load was handled with ease.
 
 
Simulated Load Tests
 
STL_Graph
 
The results from the simulated load testing make some interesting reading. The Intel stock cooler pretty much fell flat on its face at the 150w mark, exceeding the 80°C. Where as the race between the OCZ Vendetta II and the N520 was much, much closer. Both held at more than acceptable temperatures all the way up to the 200w mark, where by they still didn't allow the reading to slip over 60°C. The OCZ Vendetta managed to edge out the N520 by the smallest of margins in this test. But it shows that the N520 is certainly not a sloppy product.
 
 
Noise
 
The noise each cooler made during the testing process was a bit subjective to which test was being performed at the time. On the simulator, each coolers fan was run at its maximum 12v to make sure that there was no throttling involved and thus keeping it fair. Out of the three coolers tested here, the N520 was actually the quietest in this state. It wasn't silent, but if you have a pair of medium flow 80mm fans in a case with it they would drown out the noise emitted by the dual 90mm fans with relative ease.
 
Testing on a real motherboard however, the N520 suffered a little for not having a PWM controlled fan, and thus when throttling did occur while the CPU was idle or under little load, the Vendetta II managed to be a whisper quieter than the N520. 


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Conclusion
 
So over the last few pages we've take a pretty solid thorough look over the Cooler Master Hyper N520, so what can we conclude about it? Well for starters, it's a pretty nifty looking heat sink. Unless you have something against the form that a lot of heat sinks today adopt you can't say it's particularly bad aesthetically. The plastic shroud could have been made out of aluminium to make it a little better looking but never the less, the plastic does the job. The build quality certainly isn't to be sniffed at either. The N520 feeling so sturdy that once mounted you can pick up the setup and wave it around without fear of losing it to a nearby wall.
 
So the crucial factor comes into sight next, how the heat sink performs. Looking at the first test, it kept the CPU well within reasonable temperatures, not exceeding 60°C under load even when the chip was overclocked using a generous amount of Vcore. The simulated load test shows again that the N520 is a capable cooler. It trounced the Intel stock cooler across the board, managing to hold 200w at under 60°C where as Intel's cooler rocketed up to a hairs breadth over 100°C. When pitted against OCZ's Vendetta II however, the N520 wasn't quite as impressive. The result's were too close to call at the lower wattage levels, but as the power increased the gap between the two widened. While the Vendetta produced lower results, however, the N520 was nipping at its heels the whole time. And even the widest gap at 200w was only around 3°C.
 
So pricing wise, where does the N520 sit? A quick google product search revealed a few places that listed the product. Prices ranged from £26.44 over at Scan (who were out of stock at time of writing) up to £32.27 at Overclock.co.uk. The best looking deal came from Play.com who had it in stock for £29.99 with free delivery. This seems a tad on the expensive side for an air cooler that's edged out ever so lightly by the Vendetta II, but still with in reason.
 
Overall then, we can safely conclude that the Cooler Master Hyper N520 is a capable little cooler that will find a home in smaller setups with little fear of not fitting. It's reasonably priced and not to noisy, even without PWM controlled fans.
 
The Good
- General Performance
- Noise Levels with the fans @ 12v
- Build Quality
- LGA1366 compatible out the box
 
The Mediocre
- Price
- Edged out by the Vendetta II
 
The Bad
Nothing!
 
 
Thanks go out to Cooler Master for providing the sample for review
 
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