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Deepcool Gamer Storm Maelstrom 240 AIO Liquid Cooler

Deepcool Gamer Storm Maelstrom 240 AIO Liquid Cooler

February 16, 2015 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Deepcool Gamer Storm Maelstrom 240

AIO Liquid Cooler
Manufacturer
Deepcool
Price
US$106 (MSRP)

While not a household name in North America, Deepcool is a large and aged manufacturer well-known in the rest of the world, producing a variety of different products for both themselves and as others as an OEM. Gamer Storm is a sub-brand they use for their high-end cooling solutions, mainly consisting of CPU coolers and colorful case fans. For watercooling, they offer several models up to 3 x 120 mm in size. The Maelstrom 240 is a middle of the road option, featuring a dual 120 mm radiator. Recently we tested two liquid coolers in particular that impressed us, the NZXT Kraken X61 and Swiftech H240-X. Let's see if Maelstrom 240 can follow their footsteps.



Maelstrom 240 box and packaging.



Contents.

The Maelstrom 240 is uses an Asetek design similar to almost all other manufacturers, complete with the familiar round base, and a radiator measuring about an inch thick. The twin red/black 120 mm fans provided to exhaust the heat out of the case have a rubber rather than plastic housing, presumably to reduce vibration. As per usual, the contents are packed in a cardboard carton with compartments cut out for the odd shape of the cooler, fans, and accessories. Also included in the package is an assembly guide, a 4-way PWM fan hub with an adhesive strip, and all the necessary mounting hardware including a universal backplate. The cooler uses a more robust metal assembly system than some similar models which utilize a plastic scheme.

Deepcool Gamer Storm Maelstrom 240: Specifications

(from the product
web page
)
Application Intel Socket 150W

LGA2011V3 / LGA2011 / LGA1366 / LGA1156 / LGA1155 / LGA1150



AMD Socket 140W

FM2+ / FM2 / FM1 / AM3+ / AM3 / AM2+ / AM2
Net Weight 1116 ± 10 g
Pump Specifications
Dimensions
70 x 85.6 x 31.5 mm
Life Expectancy 120000 hours
Connector
3-pin
Operating Voltage 6 ~ 13.8 V DC
Rated Voltage 12V DC
Speed 2800 ± 10%RPM
Load Current
0.25 ± 10% A (MAX)
Power Consumption
3.0W
Radiator Specifications
Dimensions 274 x 120 x 27 mm
Material Aluminum
Fan Specifications
Dimensions
120 x 120 x 25mm (2pcs)
Speed 600 ± 200 ~ 2200 ± 10% RPM
Air Flow 182.24 CFM (MAX)
Air Pressure
3.71 mmH20 (MAX)
Life Expectancy
100000 hours
Noise Level 17.6 ~ 39.3 dB(A)
Bearing Type FDB (Fluid Dynamic Bearing)
Connector
4-pin
Rated Voltage
12VDC
Rated Current
0.26 ± 10% A (MAX)
Power Consumption 3.12W

PHYSICAL DETAILS

The Maelstrom 240 is composed of a copper waterblock at the end of a combined pump/reservoir structure, 2 x 30 cm plastic tubes approximately 8 mm thick, and a radiator measuring 27.2 x 12.0 x 2.7 (L x W x D) with aluminum coils and mounting points for a pair of 120 mm fans.



The included 120 mm stock fans are equipped with a pleasant bright red interior and ridges on the edges of the blades. The casing is rubberized, giving it an oddly soft feel compared to typical plastic case fans. A PWM fan hub is also provided but it's probably not a good idea use all four connectors as it may overload the fan header.



The radiator is of typical size and thickness for 2 x 120 mm model but the coils are unusually thick, about 0.26 mm on average, and they're spaced about 1.14 mm apart.



The Maelstrom 240 uses ribbed hard plastic tubing but it has a big more give than previous models we've encountered using the same style hoses.



The base is slim, standing only 31 mm tall. The pump inside is powered by via a 30 cm 3-pin cable and is rated for 2800 RPM.



The copper waterblock has its own pre-applied thermal compound.



The waterblock has a less-refined, rustic finish. The surface is mostly flat from the center outward, though it curves upward slightly at the edges.

INSTALLATION

The most critical aspect of installation is firm, maximum contact
between the base and the CPU heatspreader for efficient heat conduction. Ideally
it should also be a simple procedure with the user having to handle as few pieces
of hardware as possible. The Maelstrom 240 takes a bit of work to install and as the mounting clips attach underneath the base, it doesn't exert as much pressure as most high-end modern air-cooled heatsinks.



The mounting gear and accessories.



For Intel installs, bolts are inserted through the appropriate holes and are then covered by plastic fittings to keep them from shifting position. On the cooler itself, the mounting clips are screwed into the base. The two portions are then secured to one another via nuts. It's difficult to put this all together as neither the base or backplate are immobilized during this process.



The fans are bolted to the radiator, and in a case, the radiator is screwed to 2 x 120 mm fan placements. As we conduct our tests on an open test platform, the radiator finds itself placed on foam and positioned in an analogous location.



The Deepcool logo lights up white and breathes on and off during operation.



Unfortunately, the Maelstrom 240 left leaves a less than desirable thermal compound imprint. There appears to be more contact being made a the center but there are some noticeable branching patterns. When more pressure is applied, this excess gets squeezed out to the sides. The fainter residue on the left/right sides are from a previous cooler installation.

TESTING

Before thermal testing, we took some basic physical measurements of the product(s) for comparison.

Large Heatsink Comparison:

Average Fin Thickness & Spacing
Heatsink
Fin Thickness
Fin Spacing
SilverStone Heligon HE02
0.52 mm
3.30 mm
Thermalright HR-01 Plus
0.45 mm
3.15 mm
Thermalright HR-02 Macho
0.34 mm
3.12 mm
Thermalright HR-22
0.53 mm
2.74 mm
Scythe Ninja 3
0.39 mm
2.64 mm
Noctua NH-U12P
0.44 mm
2.63 mm
Noctua NH-C12P
0.47 mm
2.54 mm
Cryorig H5 Universal
0.40 mm
2.47 mm
LEPA LV12
0.51 mm
2.38 mm
Noctua NH-D14
0.43 mm
2.33 mm
Thermalright Archon SB-E
0.49 mm
2.33 mm
Phanteks PH-TC12DX
0.39 mm
2.30 mm
GELID Tranquillo Rev.2
0.40 mm
2.30 mm
GELID GX-7 Rev.2
0.31 mm
2.25 mm
Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3
0.40 mm
2.24 mm
Be Quiet! Dark Rock 2
0.38 mm
2.22 mm
Phanteks PH-TC14PE
0.40 mm
2.21 mm
Prolimatech Armageddon
0.51 mm
2.08 mm
Cryorig R1 Ultimate/Universal
0.42 mm
1.78 / 2.37 mm
Zalman CNPS10X Quiet
0.40 mm
2.00 mm
Prolimatech Megahalems
0.50 mm
2.00 mm
Scythe Ashura
0.43 mm
1.97 mm
NZXT Havik 140
0.41 mm
1.91 mm
Scythe Mugen-2
0.31 mm
1.89 mm
SilverStone Tundra TD03 (radiator)
0.43 mm
1.86 mm
SilverStone Argon AR01
0.30 mm
1.85 mm
Thermalright Venomous X
0.53 mm
1.84 mm
Scythe Mugen 4
0.30 mm
1.82 mm
Noctua NH-C14
0.38 mm
1.79 mm
Enermax ETS-T40
0.40 mm
1.79 mm
Noctua NH-D15
0.46 mm
1.79 mm
Scythe Yasya
0.32 mm
1.78 mm
Enermax Liqtech 120X (radiator)
0.46 mm
1.76 mm
Be Quiet! Shadow Rock Slim
0.42 mm
1.73 mm
SilverStone Argon AR03
0.42 mm
1.72 mm
Noctua NH-U14S
0.42 mm
1.72 mm
Cogage TRUE Spirit 1366
0.40 mm
1.70 mm
Scythe Kotetsu
0.35 mm
1.66 mm
Scythe Grand Kama Cross
0.38 mm
1.66 mm
Zalman CNPS9900 MAX
0.16 mm
1.59 mm
Thermalright Silver Arrow
0.32 mm
1.57 mm
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus
0.43 mm
1.54 mm
Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme Rev.C
0.56 mm
1.52 mm
Swiftech H240-X (radiator)
0.13 mm
1.80 mm
Deepcool Gamer Storm Maelstrom 240 (radiator)
0.26 mm
1.14 mm
NZXT Kraken X31/X41 (radiator)
0.15 mm
1.07 mm
NZXT Kraken X61 (radiator)
0.13 mm
1.02 mm

Larger heatsinks are tested on our
LGA1366 heatsink testing platform
, while smaller coolers tackle our
LGA1155
heatsink testing platform
. A summary of the test system and procedure follows.

Key Components in LGA1366 Heatsink Test Platform:

Key Components in LGA1155 Heatsink Test Platform:

The systems are silent under the test conditions, except for the CPU cooling
fan(s).

Normally, our reference fans are used whenever possible, the measured details
of which are shown below.

Reference Noctua 140mm fan

Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
Speed
12V
1250 RPM
28~29 dBA
9V
990 RPM
21 dBA
8V
880 RPM
18 dBA
7V
770 RPM
15~16 dBA
6V
660 RPM
13 dBA


Reference Nexus 120 mm fan

Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
Speed
12V
1080 RPM
16 dBA
9V
880 RPM
13 dBA
7V
720 RPM
12 dBA


Reference Nexus 92 mm fan

Anechoic chamber measurements
Voltage
Speed
12V
1470 RPM
17 dBA
9V
1280 RPM
14 dBA
7V
1010 RPM
12 dBA

Measurement and Analysis Tools

  • Extech 380803 AC power analyzer / data logger for measuring AC system
    power.
  • Custom-built, four-channel variable DC power supply, used to regulate
    the fan speed during the test.
  • PC-based spectrum analyzer:
    SpectraPlus with ACO Pacific mic and M-Audio digital
    audio interfaces.
  • Anechoic chamber
    with ambient level of 11 dBA or lower
  • Various other tools for testing fans, as documented in our
    standard fan testing methodology
    .
  • SpeedFan,
    used to monitor the on-chip thermal sensors. The sensors are not calibrated,
    so results are not universally applicable. The hottest core reading is used.
  • Prime95,
    used to stress the CPU heavily, generating more heat than most real applications.
    All instances are used to ensure full stress.
  • CPU-Z,

    used to monitor the CPU speed to determine when overheating occurs.

  • Thermometers to measure the air temperature around the test platform
    and near the intake of the heatsink fan.

Noise measurements are made with the fans powered from a separate, fanless system. Load testing was accomplished using Prime95 to stress the processor, and the
graph function in SpeedFan was used to ensure that the load temperature is stable
for at least ten minutes. The temperature recorded is the highest single core
reading. The stock fans were tested at various voltages to represent a good
cross-section of airflow and noise performance.

The ambient conditions during testing were 10~11 dBA and 21~23°C.

Noise Measurements

Specifications: Deepcool Maelstrom 240 Stock Fan
Manufacturer Deepcool Power Rating 3.12 W
Model Number GF120 Airflow Rating 182.24 CFM
Bearing Type Fluid Dynamic Speed Rating 600 ~ 2200 RPM
Frame Size 120 x 120 x 25 mm Noise Rating 17.6 ~ 39.3 dBA
Hub Size 40 mm Header Type 4-pin PWM
Blade Diameter 111 mm Starting Voltage 4.0 ~ 4.5 V
Cable Length 30 cm Weight 150 g
Corner Type Open Retail Availability No
Data in blue cells provided by the manufacturer
or observed; data in the green cells were measured.

The included 120 mm fan model is a higher speed (2200 RPM vs. 1800 RPM) variant of the GF120, a boxed fan sold separately by Deepcool also under the Gamer Storm brand. Aside from its rubber housing, it has a relatively pedestrian nine-blade design with fluid bearings. Compared to most AIO cooler fans, it has less aggressive curvature, not appearing to have been designed with increasing static pressure in mind. As a result, it has a more pleasant sound overall.

Noise Measurements:
Deepcool Maelstrom 240 Pump
Speed Setting
Speed
SPL @1m
100%
2600 RPM
17~18 dBA
70%
2170 RPM
15 dBA
40%
1300 RPM
12~13 dBA
Stock Fans
100% (PWM)
2140 RPM
44 dBA
70% (PWM)
1530 RPM
36 dBA
50% (PWM)
1300 RPM
29 dBA
40% (PWM)
1070 RPM
23 dBA
30% (PWM)
820 RPM
16~17 dBA
25% (PWM)
700 RPM
13~14 dBA
0% (PWM)
580 RPM
12~13 dBA
Combined
100% / 40%
2600 / 1070 RPM
24 dBA
100% / 30%
2600 / 820 RPM
20 dBA
40% / 40%
1300 / 1070 RPM
23 dBA
40% / 30%
1300 / 820 RPM
16 dBA
40% / 25%
1300 / 700 RPM
15 dBA
40 % / 0%
1300 / 580 RPM
13 dBA
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle from
the center of CPU.

Ambient noise level: 10~11 dBA.

Note: According to RPM reporting on our system, the pump motor spins at 5200 RPM at full speed, almost double that of the rated speed. It's highly unlikely this is true, rather the result of a bug with regard to how the speed is reported. As such, these figures have been halved (presumably) to be more accurate.

The pump is reasonably quiet, producing 17~18 [email protected] at top speed, and can be made nearly inaudible by cutting the speed in half. It's powered by a 3-pin connector so it requires a separate header that supports voltage control in order to be slowed down. The stock fans are unbearably loud at top speed but with PWM control, they can be slowed to just shy of 600 RPM. At this level, they produce the same amount of noise as the pump running at half speed. To achieve quiet noise levels under normal operation, one or both must be slowed down considerably.

The stock fans sound whiny and turbulent at high speeds like most fans but at lower speeds they have a mostly smooth, broadband acoustic profile. Unfortunately one of the fans emits an odd ghostly tone in the 25~30% speed range. This appears to be a manufacturing defect or the result of shipping damage as a third sample from a different Deepcool product sounds fine. Despite this issue, the pair still sound superior than most fans that ship with liquid coolers.

On its own, the pump emits a high frequency buzzing which lowers in intensity as the speed is reduced. It has a consistent nature which makes it preferable to some competing models. There also is almost no audible water noise from the system, that is to say it has a distinct lack of dripping and gurgling sounds which often afflict AIO coolers.

Test Results

As there are two components to this cooler, both the pump and fan speeds are adjusted during testing to provide a wide array of results. Typically we only see a minor reduction in performance when the pump is slowed down, so testing at full and half speed is sufficient.

Test Results: Deepcool Maelstrom 240 w/ Stock Fans
Pump / Fan Setting
Pump / Fan Speed
Combined SPL @1m
CPU Thermal Rise
100% / 100%
2600 / 2140 RPM
44 dBA
32°C
100% / 70%
2600 / 1530 RPM
36 dBA
33°C
100% / 50%
2600 / 1300 RPM
29 dBA
35°C
100% / 40%
2600 / 1070 RPM
24 dBA
39°C
100% / 30%
2600 / 820 RPM
20 dBA
40°C
40% / 40%
1300 / 1070 RPM
23 dBA
40°C
40% / 30%
1300 / 820 RPM
16 dBA
41°C
40% / 25%
1300 / 700 RPM
15 dBA
45°C
40% / 0%
1300 / 580 RPM
13 dBA
46°C
w/ Ref. Nexus 120 mm Fans
100% / 12V
2600 / 1080 RPM
24 dBA
39°C
40% / 12V
1300 / 1080 RPM
23 dBA
40°C
40% / 9V
1300 / 890 RPM
18 dBA
42°C
40% / 7V
1300 / 720 RPM
15 dBA
44°C
Measuring mic positioned 1m at diagonal angle from
the center of CPU.

Ambient noise level: 10~11 dBA.

The Maelstrom 240's effectiveness varies greatly depending on the fan speed, requiring 820 RPM or above to achieve strong results. Below this level, its cooling proficiency drops considerably. On the other hand, decreasing the pump speed has a minimal impact; With fan speeds of 1070 RPM and 820 RPM, halving the pump speed causes only a 1°C increase in thermal rise.

There is also a negligible difference when the stock fans are swapped for our reference Nexus fans, so there's no easy way to remedy the lackluster performance. Looking back it would seem that the base and/or mounting system is to blame considering the less than optimal contact pattern left behind after the cooler is disassembled.

COMPARISON TABLE

CPU Thermal Rise Comparison (°C)
22
21
20
19
18
17
16
15
14
13
12
11
NZXT Kraken X61
 
33
34
35
 
37
           
Prolimatech Genesis*

(reference 140 mm fans)
35
   
36
   
37
   
39
   
Thermalright Silver Arrow
   
35
       
38
40
 
Noctua NH-C14
 
36
   
37
   
39
 
41
 
Scythe Kotetsu
35
         
38
 
41
 
42
 
Thermalright HR-22*

(reference 140 mm fans)
37
   
38
 
39
       
Swiftech H240-X
33
35
36
  39              
Noctua NH-D15
 
38
   
39
   
40
   
Thermalright Archon SB-E
   
39
         
40
   
43
Phanteks PH-TC14PE
 
38
   
39
   
41
     
Thermalright HR-02 Macho
38
   
39
     
40
41
 
43
 
Scythe Mugen 4
           
40
   
42
 
45
Noctua NH-U14S
     
38
 
40
   
43
   
NZXT Kraken X41
   
38
                 
Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3
 
39
     
40
   
44
49
 
NZXT Havik 140
   
39
   
41
         
Be Quiet! Shadow Rock Slim
     
40
   
41
 
42
   
Cryorig R1 Ultimate
 
37
   
41
 
42
     
Scythe Yasya
       
40
       
43
   
Cogage TRUE Spirit 1366
         
41
 
43
 
46
 
Cryorig R1 Universal
   
39
   
41
           
Zalman CNPS10X Quiet
   
40
       
42
 
47
 
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus
       
41
       
44
54
 
22
21
20
19
18
17
16
15
14
13
12
11
Deepcool Maelstrom 240
   
40
     
41
45
 
46
   
SilverStone Tundra TD03
   
40
                 
Scythe Grand Kama Cross
 
40
     
41
   
44
 
49
Deepcool Maelstrom 240

(reference 120 mm fans)
       
42
   
44
       
Cryorig H5 Universal
 
41
   
42
45   46    
Scythe Ashura
     
42
     
44
     
Phanteks PH-TC12DX
 
41
       
44
         
Silverstone Argon AR03
41
     
43
         
48
SilverStone Argon AR01
42
     
44
         
50
Scythe Ninja 3
       
44
       
46
   
Titan Fenrir
 
43
   
45
 
47
     
Cooler Master Seidon 240M
     
40
 
43
   
53
     
SilverStone Heligon HE02*

(reference 140 mm fans)
     
44
     
46
       
Antec Kühler H20 620
42
   
44
     
47
     
LEPA LV12
         
45
48
52
 
Zalman CNPS9900 MAX
   
45
     
47
 
49
     
NZXT Kraken X31
 
43
 
44
 
47
         
Enermax Liqtech 120X
 
44
 
45
               
GELID Tranquillo Rev.2
     
48
 
49
   
50
     
Be Quiet! Dark Rock 2
     
48
     
52
 
55
61
 
Zalman CNPS9900DF
   
48
   
50
   
53
     
GELID GX-7 Rev.2
49
       
51
     
56
   
Core i7-980X Stock Cooler
             
53
   
62
 
Enermax ETS-T40
   
49
         
55
 
64
Core i7-920 Stock Cooler
64
FAIL
22
21
20
19
18
17
16
15
14
13
12
11
Single/dual fan air-cooled heatsinks in light/dark green.

Single/dual fan liquid coolers in light/dark blue.

*Fanless models tested with dual reference fans.

When operating at 22 [email protected] or below, the Maelstrom 240 is bested by half of the large coolers we've tested over the past few years. It's roughly equivalent to the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus, one of the best budget tower heatsinks on the market. It does outperform a handful of closed loop coolers, but for a pricey dual fan/radiator model, it's obviously disappointing.

MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high
resolution, lab quality, digital recording system
inside SPCR's
own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber
, then converted to LAME 128kbps
encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation
from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of
what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds
in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer
or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient
noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware
that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from
one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recording starts with 5 second segments of room ambiance, then the fan
at various levels. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that
the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume
setting again.

  • Deepcool Gamer Storm Maelstrom 240 stock fans at 1m
    — at 0% PWM / 580 RPM (12~13 dBA)

    — at 25% PWM / 700 RPM (13~14 dBA)
    — at 30% PWM / 820 RPM (16~17 dBA)
    — at 40% PWM / 10700 RPM (23 dBA)
    — at 50% PWM / 1300 RPM (29 dBA)
    — at 70% PWM / 1530 RPM (36 dBA)
    — at 100% PWM / 2140 RPM (44 dBA)
  • Deepcool Gamer Storm Maelstrom 240 at 1m
    — pump at 40%, fans at 0% PWM (13 dBA)
    — pump at 40%, fans at 25% PWM (15 dBA)
    — pump at 40%, fans at 30% PWM (16 dBA)
    — pump at 100%, fans at 30% PWM (20 dBA)
    — pump at 100%, fans at 40% PWM (24 dBA)

FINAL THOUGHTS

Like many pre-filled AIO coolers that have passed through our lab, the Deepcool Gamer Storm Maelstrom 240 is the norm rather than the exception. It doesn't cut it as a premium cooler, delivering middling performance at a rather high price. While both the fan and pump have a more pleasant sound than competing models, the combination is still noisier than traditional air-cooled heatsinks, and the effectiveness of the overall system is limited. The only liquid coolers that have impressed us thus far are the Swiftech H240-X and NZXT Kraken series, and they both share two commonalties: a clearly convex base and mounting clips that attach over the waterblock. This combination generates more pressure and ensures superior contact at the center of the heatspreader, directly above the CPU die. The Maelstrom 240's base is relatively flat by comparison and the clips are attached under it, limiting the amount of force pressing the waterblock against the CPU heatspreader.

When you throw performance out, the only technical advantage this type of cooler can offer is superior compatibility due to the short height of the base structure. This is true for the Maelstrom 240, but it's uncommon for a case to have both a severely restricted CPU heatsink height limit and fan mounts to accommodate this dual radiator design. Outside of that, all that's left are superficial reasons. The red fans do give it an agreeable and somewhat sinister demeanor but the case would have to have a window and be above eye level to even be visible in most circumstances, while the white pulsing LED on the pump is almost too subtle by design. As the Maelstrom 240 lacks additional appreciable benefits that would help offset its performance deficiencies, the US$106 MSRP is hard to justify.

Our thanks to Deepcool
for the Gamer Storm Maelstrom 240 AIO liquid cooler sample.

* * *

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

Be Quiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 & Cryorig H5 Universal Coolers
NoFan CR-80EH & CS-60 Fanless Cooler & Case
Quiet Liquid Cooled Gaming PC Build Guide
Arctic Accelero Hybrid II-120 Liquid GPU Cooler
Cryorig R1 Ultimate & Universal CPU Coolers
Swiftech H240-X CPU Liquid Cooling Kit

* * *

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this article in the SPCR forums.

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