Two more coolers to consider:
1. Nexus LOW 7000
At 70mm high (including fan) it is taller than the coolers in the review, but only by a few mm.
Compared to the Shuriken, it has a similar design and a slightly larger fan, plus a much more sensible mounting system - should make an interesting comparison
2. The Thermalright XP-120
I just built a living-room PC using a Nexus LOW-7000, ten days ago. In a Lian-Li PC-C37B, with a Gigabyte GA-E7AUM-DS2H and C2D E8400.
Havenâ€™t had time for any real tweaking, though. Not that there's room for much tweaking, inside this tiny little case.
A few trivial observations about the Nexus LOW-7000:
A.) It uses a 120x120x20 mm PWM fan.
B.) It does fit in this case, but only just. The heads of the little plastic pop-rivets that hold the fan onto the heatsink are only 1mm or so from the underside of the caseâ€™s aluminum top-cover.
C.) The position of the fan does not exactly align with the perforated region of the Lian-Liâ€™s top cover. So some 30% of the fan area is just a couple mm from a solid aluminum surface. Quite sub-optimal, for airflow. If the Low-7000 were only 57mm tall (like the Big Shuriken), then thereâ€™d be room for air to sneak over and into the fan. This alone makes me wish Iâ€™d known about the Big Shuriken when I built this system. Maybe I should do a swap sometime. But given what a project it is to remove the Low-7000, maybe I should mod the Lian-Liâ€™s top cover, instead, and create a larger perforated region by insetting a panel of hex-perf metal.
D.) The extreme asymmetry of this HSF allows it to overhang above the chipsetâ€™s passive heatsink, and blow air onto the northbridge. Air thatâ€™s been pre-warmed by the CPU, mind you, but at least itâ€™s moving air. The bottom of the Low-7000â€™s fin-pack is only ~ 3mm (at the closest point) above the top of the chipsetâ€™s HS.
E.) It uses a PWM fan. With the CPU_FAN header in PWM mode (BIOS setting) the fan runs ~ 1500 RPM (system at idle) and screeches like a banshee. Not horribly loud, but a terrible fingernails-on-a-chalkboard tone to it. Setting (via BIOS) the CPU_FAN controller to voltage-mode instead of PWM made the thing MUCH quieter. It spins a bit slower (around 1250 RPM at idle), but much more importantly, the screeching quality is gone. Setting the CPU_FAN to full-speed results in ~ 2160 RPM â€“ the thing is louder (quite audible from inside a ventilated wooden cabinet, when I'm 5 meters away across the room), but again without the screeching. Just a loudish broad-spectrum whooshing fan noise with a bit of mechanical rumble.
F.) The nasty screeching tone was present even if I removed the lid from the case, so it wasnâ€™t just aluminum resonance due to the very close proximity to the lid. Damping the fan shroud or the HS fins etc with a little finger pressure reduced the ringing tone some, but not a lot. This suggests to me that the source of the screeching is as much the PWM controller as the Low-7000 itself.
G.) The mounting scheme is bolt-through. You attach big knurled standoff/nuts to the HSFâ€™s base, and then run philips-head screws from the backside of the mobo, through a backplate and through the mobo and into those knurled standoffs. Solid and secure, and not horribly difficult. The only trouble is that the final screwdrivering is done from the backside of the mobo, so the Low-7000 must be attached to the mobo BEFORE installing the mobo into the case. Which means that swapping the CPU requires removing the mobo from the case, which turns into quite a project. As I learned, after I built the thing and THEN noticed the E7400 doesnâ€™t support VT, and so couldnâ€™t run Windows 7â€™s Virtual PC for compatibility with older software. Had to swap CPUs with the E8400 from another computer. So it seems (given MikeC's comments about the Big Shuriken) that the acoustically/thermally best coolers for these low-profile cases are just going to be a pain to attach & remove.