With the ever growing mountain of components built into motherboards and the rapid increases in speed these days, chipsets are getting hotter and hotter. Even with these blatently obvious issues, many motherboard manufacturers still choose to install inferior cooling solutions on their motherboards. In this review I will be looking at the NHP-2200 - Nexus’ universal solution for cooling modern motherboard chipsets with zero noise.
Nexus are a European company based in the Netherlands who aim to bring the most effective cooling solutions, while keeping noise levels to a minimum. They’ve been operating in the market since 2000 and have established a good foothold in the industry. As a result a lot of major retailers are stocking their products all over the world.
Here are the specifications of the heatsink taken straight from Nexus’ site:
Features - Universal mounting, fits all major chipsets - Full copper - Heat pipe Technology - 0 dB(A) noise level - Easy installation - Size: 46x46x63.3mm / 1.81x1.81x2.49 inch - Weight: 114.5 gram - Patented design - Thermal grease supplied
Heat Pipe specifications - U-type heat pipe - Diameter: 5 mm - Length: 143 mm
The box that the heatsink arrived in was quite substantial for the size of the item. Good to see Nexus packaging their items with care to ensure they arrive in tip-top condition.
Inside the outer packaging we can see the retail packaging: A flashy, well finished box that would look fantastic on the self of a store. On the front there's a picture of a person making the ‘shh’ sign and a few yellow bubbles outlining the main selling points of the heatsink. There is also a small porthole cut into the box so you can get a preview of the item contained inside.
On the left there are specifications printed onto the side of the box, and the back presents us with a longer description of the heatsink.
Upon opening the box you see that the heatsink is held in place by a molded plastic insert. Under this, the mounting hardware is stowed away along with various other bits and pieces.
The NHP-2200 comes with all the hardware you need to mount the sink to most motherboards and it’s all tightly wrapped in a zip lock bag. Along with the mounting hardware the heatsink also comes bundled with a shim to help protect your Northbridge and a syringe of thermal paste. The manual included is quite comprehensive and outlines installation of the heatsink on most modern types of boards.
The heatsink itself works via two heat pipes that draw the heat from the base into the upper rounded fins where convection disperses the warm air into the case.
The first thing that drew my attention to the cooler is that it’s all incredibly shiny. Looks wise this heat sink is very appealing! It’s got a yin-yang style design on the top, which is polished to a very smooth mirror finish. I can only hope that nexus have somehow coated the copper with a fine layer of something to prevent the cooler from tarnishing over time.
The build quality on the NHP-2200 is very solid. Aside from the thin fins, the heatsink feels like it was crafted with care.
While the heatsink is designed to work passively, there is no easy way of attaching a fan to further increase the potential performance. This is an option available on many other passive NB solutions from other manufacturers, and it's a shame to see that Nexus haven't taken this into consideration. This could be considered a disadvantage in some eyes as they may favour performance over silence.
To test the capability's of the NHP-2200 I installed it into a system of the following specification:
Intel Core 2 Duo E4300 Asus P5N-E SLI 1GB Crucial Balistix XFX 7800GT EE Silverstone ST60F WD Raptor 150GB Antec P180b
The P5N-E SLI is based on Nvidia's 650i chipset. While being regarded as a mid-range chipset, the 650i puts out a substantial heat load.
First I had to install the heatsink to the motherboard. The picture below shows the base of the heatsink. It's fairly well lapped but still sports a few scratches. And like the rest of the sink its polished to a deeply reflective shine.
I was slightly concerned that the two retaining bolts may interfere with contact between the sink and the chip. This may cause a problem with big die northbridges, but the die of the 650i squeezed comfortably between them. Further, in the picture above you can see the mass of mounting hardware that comes with the heatsink. The type compatible with my motherboard was the push-pins, or 'Type 3' as the manual refers too them.
Here you see the heatsink with the bolts removed to allow the mounting plates to be installed. I was pleased to see that the screws went into the small finned heatsink that sit under the main fins, meaning that the heat pipe was soldered properly to the base.
Above you can see the mounting plates fixed onto the heatsink ready to be fitted. I removed the old heatsink from the board, cleaned off the old thermal paste and then applied a small amount of the supplied nexus silver paste.
Next up I rested the sink on the die and rotated it slightly to spread the TIM about a bit. Then it was a simple proces of pushing in the pins that would hold the unit in place through the mounting plates and through the motherboard holes. The heatsink was then ready to go.
As you can see, installation of the NHP-2200 was a breeze. The most difficult part was trying to keep the heatsink flat while pushing in the pins. The other methods looked a bit more complex judging by the manual, but it was comprehensive enough to make sure you won't get lost.
Next up we'll see how the heatsink performed.
Nexus NHP-2200 Northbridge Cooler Page: 4 Testing
To test the NHP-2200 I used a Laser thermal probe mounted between the sink and the chip, as close to the core as I could possibly get without disturbing the mounting.
Firstly I set the voltage for the 650i to its default 1.2v and booted into Windows. Within about 10 minutes the temperature has rocketed up to 70°C and was still rising, so I shut the machine down before any damage occurred. This was extremely disappointing as it showed that the heatsink just couldn't handle the load that the 650i output passively. The airflow in my P180 should have been more than adequate with all the fans on the maximum setting to cool a passive heatsink, but alas, this was not the case with the NHP-2200.
Undeterred, I then sat a Yate Loon 80mm fan over the the heatsink too see how well it would perform with some air flowing directly over it.
Seeing a stable temperature on boot I went ahead and tested the heatsink. To create a load situation I ran Orthos for 30 minutes, while idle tests were performed 30 minutes after the computer had been switched on, but left doing nothing. I tested the heatsink with the chipset at its stock 1.2v and the elevated 1.5v that I use for overclocking. Idle temperature was recorded at 26°C throughout the tests.
Results with an 80mm fan
As you can see, having a fan blowing over the NHP-2200 gave fantastic performance results. Keeping the chip well within its operating parameters at stock and sub-40 deg C at 1.5v. It was effective enough to keep the 650i practically the same temperature at idle and load.
Overall I have mixed feelings about the performance of the NHP-2200. It worked extremely well with some direct airflow, but when used passivly it couldn't keep up with the heat-load that the chip created, even with a very high airflow in the case. This leaves me wondering again if Nexus should have designed a fan mount into the heatsink as mentioned before.
If Nexus' aim was too make a passive, silent heatsink that needed no direct airflow then they haven't quite made the grade. Coupling the NHP-2200 with a toasty Nvidia 650i chipset gave some extremely worrying temperature results in the 70°c range. However, add a small fan to the NHP-2200 and the outcome is quite different.
The design and quality of the heatsink is simply amazing and a credit to Nexus - it's just a shame they didn't provide a graceful way of attaching a fan without the need for elastic bands or other "home-baked" solutions.
I was unable to obtain a UK price from my online searches, but I found it on sale for $19.95 over at cooltechpc, and for €18.95 from SilentPC. This translates to about £10, making it a good buy if you are replacing the heatsink on a lower end chipset.
Pros • Looks fantastic • Quality built • Actively cooled it performs brilliantly •Wide range of mounting options
Cons • Not enough too cool my test bed passively
Thanks to Nexus for providing the NHP-2200 for review.