Introduction: Budget Cooling Options and the Seidon 120V
Budget Liquid vs Air CPU Cooling
The Seidon 120V is Cooler Master's newest 120mm all-in-one liquid CPU cooler, and its affordable price adds another option to anyone looking for an aftermarket cooler on a budget. But when we start comparing low-cost options it's valid to wonder just how much better a liquid cooler in this price range might perform over air. To find out we'll test the Seidon 120V against a popular budget air solution, and see how these aftermarket coolers compare against the stock solutions from AMD and Intel.
Image courtesy of Cooler Master
Cooling on a Budget
When you’re pricing out a new computer build these days it’s pretty easy to put together a solid group of components for $500 or so, and these will get you going on all the latest games at HD resolution. Sounds awesome! Of course, within that tight budget certain things are going to have to wait, and right up there on the list is probably some better cooling. It’s easy enough to change out a CPU cooler later, but if the stock cooler is doing the job within the thermal specs of the processor is it really needed? Clearly, AMD and Intel are not going to ship a cooler with their product that can’t keep it cool enough under stock workloads, but having better cooling can allow for overclocking as well as extend the life of not only the CPU, but the components around it on your motherboard. Aftermarket coolers are often able to cool more efficiently as well, producing less noise.
The selection of aftermarket coolers available is, well, ridiculous. As easy as it is to get lost looking at, say, every virtually identical stick of DDR3 memory, scrolling through product pages for CPU cooling is on another level entirely. Liquid cooling systems are much easier to navigate, as there are not only fewer of them, but the pricing segmentation allows for easier selection if you’re on a budget. For instance, the Seidon 120V at around $50 was the least expensive AIO option on Amazon when this review was started (actually coming in at 47.99 shipped, though this has been fluctuating quite a bit lately). Finding a suitable budget air cooler was not so easy, and it needed to be at least comparable to the performance of a liquid cooler, while coming in at or below the $50 mark of the 120V. (This might take a while…)
On the air-cooling side of things narrowing the selection to $50 or less doesn’t help much, as there are still (roughly) 50 million to choose from in that price range. There are going to be so many different preferences and opinions on these, so an easier alternative would be to simply follow the consensus pick, e-tail style. This intensive research project involved visiting Amazon and typing “cpu cooler” into the search box. (OK, that was pretty easy!) The plan was to put whatever came up first under $50 in the cart. Turns out the most popular air-cooler is also under $50 (not surprising). This top result was also from Cooler Master, their Hyper 212 EVO which was selling for under $34 shipped. Done.
|Cooler Master Seidon 120V|
|Intel Socket Support||Intel LGA 2011 / 1366 / 1150 / 1155 / 1156 / 775|
|AMD Socket Support||FM2+ / FM2 / FM1 / AM3+ / AM3 / AM2|
|Radiator Dimensions||154 x 119 x 27 mm|
|Fan Dimensions||120 x 120 x 25 mm|
|Fan Speed||600~2400 RPM (PWM) ± 10|
|Fan Airflow||19.17 ~ 86.15 CFM ± 10%|
|Fan Air Pressure||0.31 ~ 4.16 mm H2O ± 10%|
|Bearing Type||Rifle bearing|
|Fan Noise Level||(dB-A) 19 ~ 40 dBA|
Now let's take a look at the kind of liquid cooler you can get for less than $50 these days.
Packaging and Contents
The Seidon 120V from Cooler Master ships in a very modest brown box with some basic info printed on the outside. It resembles a tiny computer case box more than a modern AIO cooler, but it gets the job done.
Inside the components are wrapped in plastic and sit neatly within the usual paper-based tray.
The kit includes everything needed to install the cooler on all recent AMD and Intel processors, along with thermal paste and instructions.
Next we'll take a closer look at the Cooler Master Seidon 120V.