Other Advice needed - air cooling for a 3900X at stock

Ateles

Efficiency Noob
Original poster
Jan 20, 2021
7
0
Hey guys,

I some need help finding a good air cooler for my Ryzen 3900X. It's the first time for me totally starting from scratch and I do have to admit I wasn't really prepared to handle the heat output of this CPU (140-145W while stress testing). In the past I usually worked with left over and used parts and an Intel quadcore stays much cooler even when being manufactured in 32nm and using the stock cooler.

I'm using the Wraith Prism right now - gaming as well as compute workloads where the cpu hits 95°C quickly. The Prism is quite loud at 100% RPM and it keeps ramping up and down all the time. Setting custom fan curves improves the behaviour but I need to reduce the Package Power (ECO mode, 145W --> 90W) or set the fan to 100% to be able to load all cores.
Bottom view of the wraith prism
: It's not really flat - there are deeper channels between the heatpipes
People tend to say about the Wraith Prism "it's okay, but you'll see an improvement with every other cooler (Noctua etc.)" - I would like to see the temperatures go down a little bit (or the cpu boosting better thanks to not hitting the 95°C mark) and quiter and more consistent fan noise.

I will have to pay at least 30€ for a cheap cooler - if I can get a good cooler by doubling that amount of money I'm perfectly happy but I don't want to buy the wrong one (and send it back and forth - or don't even recognize it's "bad").

It's a regular ATX case (not really SFF) but I'm limited to about 150mm clearance so the usual recommendations like Dark Rock Pro or the big tower coolers from Noctua won't work. Side panel is made from tempered glass but it has more clearance than some of the SFF cases.

I've made a list of some models I found so far but I'm missing real hands-on experience and there might be some models I didn't learn about yet so I would be grateful for giving me some feedback or advice. 🙂

Case: Corsair Carbide SPEC-04 TG (150mm clearance (manufacturer), 160mm minus CPU and socket (measured PCB <-> glass panel))
Mainboard: Gigabyte B550 Aorus Pro
CPU: Ryzen 9 3900X (stock clock speed)
RAM: G.Skill Trident Z Neo (about 44mm high)

- Noctua NH-U9S
- about 53€ (65€ for black version)
- about 95 - 140 Watt TDP (not official)
- pretty small, easy to work inside the case
- "compatible without turbo/overclocking headroom" according to Noctua
- probably about the same cooling capacity as Noctua NH-D9L

- Thermalright Silver Arrow 130
- 70€ and more
- louder than Noctua/beQuiet, adding a Noctua fan increases price even more
- dangerously sharp edges according to some reviews
- 240 W TDP (manufacturer)

- Noctua NH-C14S
- about 75€
- not available in black yet
- Top-Blower
- "low turbo/overclocking headroom" according to Noctua

- BeQuiet Dark Rock TF
- about 73€
- RGB on RAM DIMMs not visible
- 220W TDP (manufacturer)

What does these TDP values really mean given the fact that e.g. Intels boost modes nowadays consume much more during short periods? 145W is a worst case for my cpu, I'm fine with a quiet fan spinning at 100% in that scenario. May I assume e.g. the 22,8 dB given for the NF-A9 PWM featured on the NH-U9S are refering to full speed?

What does "compatible without turbo/overclocking headroom" mean? Probably Noctua's description will be overly cautious - but does this say it won't be able to boost at all or just there won't be any "extra buffer" to let the CPU as high and long as it wants to?

Some of these are top blowers, some tower coolers. While stress testing with the Wraith Prism (top blower) the VRMs (6+2 real phases) stay at 60°C and I'm not going to overclock the cpu - the board seems to handle the temperature of the powerstages quite well (here and here).
I would assume a tower cooler could improve the airflow inside the case since the intake is at the front side and an exhaust fan right behind the cooler.

Sorry for the long post - feel free to ask if I missed to add some information. I might edit / add some coolers to the list above later on.
 

Thehack

Spatial Philosopher
Creator
Bronze Supporter
Mar 6, 2016
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Hey guys,

I some need help finding a good air cooler for my Ryzen 3900X. It's the first time for me totally starting from scratch and I do have to admit I wasn't really prepared to handle the heat output of this CPU (140-145W while stress testing). In the past I usually worked with left over and used parts and an Intel quadcore stays much cooler even when being manufactured in 32nm and using the stock cooler.

I'm using the Wraith Prism right now - gaming as well as compute workloads where the cpu hits 95°C quickly. The Prism is quite loud at 100% RPM and it keeps ramping up and down all the time. Setting custom fan curves improves the behaviour but I need to reduce the Package Power (ECO mode, 145W --> 90W) or set the fan to 100% to be able to load all cores.
Bottom view of the wraith prism: It's not really flat - there are deeper channels between the heatpipes
People tend to say about the Wraith Prism "it's okay, but you'll see an improvement with every other cooler (Noctua etc.)" - I would like to see the temperatures go down a little bit (or the cpu boosting better thanks to not hitting the 95°C mark) and quiter and more consistent fan noise.

I will have to pay at least 30€ for a cheap cooler - if I can get a good cooler by doubling that amount of money I'm perfectly happy but I don't want to buy the wrong one (and send it back and forth - or don't even recognize it's "bad").

It's a regular ATX case (not really SFF) but I'm limited to about 150mm clearance so the usual recommendations like Dark Rock Pro or the big tower coolers from Noctua won't work. Side panel is made from tempered glass but it has more clearance than some of the SFF cases.

I've made a list of some models I found so far but I'm missing real hands-on experience and there might be some models I didn't learn about yet so I would be grateful for giving me some feedback or advice. 🙂

Case: Corsair Carbide SPEC-04 TG (150mm clearance (manufacturer), 160mm minus CPU and socket (measured PCB <-> glass panel))
Mainboard: Gigabyte B550 Aorus Pro
CPU: Ryzen 9 3900X (stock clock speed)
RAM: G.Skill Trident Z Neo (about 44mm high)

- Noctua NH-U9S
- about 53€ (65€ for black version)
- about 95 - 140 Watt TDP (not official)
- pretty small, easy to work inside the case
- "compatible without turbo/overclocking headroom" according to Noctua
- probably about the same cooling capacity as Noctua NH-D9L

- Thermalright Silver Arrow 130
- 70€ and more
- louder than Noctua/beQuiet, adding a Noctua fan increases price even more
- dangerously sharp edges according to some reviews
- 240 W TDP (manufacturer)

- Noctua NH-C14S
- about 75€
- not available in black yet
- Top-Blower
- "low turbo/overclocking headroom" according to Noctua

- BeQuiet Dark Rock TF
- about 73€
- RGB on RAM DIMMs not visible
- 220W TDP (manufacturer)

What does these TDP values really mean given the fact that e.g. Intels boost modes nowadays consume much more during short periods? 145W is a worst case for my cpu, I'm fine with a quiet fan spinning at 100% in that scenario. May I assume e.g. the 22,8 dB given for the NF-A9 PWM featured on the NH-U9S are refering to full speed?

What does "compatible without turbo/overclocking headroom" mean? Probably Noctua's description will be overly cautious - but does this say it won't be able to boost at all or just there won't be any "extra buffer" to let the CPU as high and long as it wants to?

Some of these are top blowers, some tower coolers. While stress testing with the Wraith Prism (top blower) the VRMs (6+2 real phases) stay at 60°C and I'm not going to overclock the cpu - the board seems to handle the temperature of the powerstages quite well (here and here).
I would assume a tower cooler could improve the airflow inside the case since the intake is at the front side and an exhaust fan right behind the cooler.

Sorry for the long post - feel free to ask if I missed to add some information. I might edit / add some coolers to the list above later on.

Ignore TDP and DBA. They're generally not that meaningful without context, and they're not real specifications.

You have a glass PC so I'd avoid top flow coolers.

Pick a price point, and buy the biggest, most heatpipe, cooler you can afford. In this case, since the 150mm is an obstacle, unless you use spacers or something. 150mm is an awful size, since it doesn't give you access to the most common 155mm coolers.

So seems like the silver arrow or the assassin king mini is your best choice. I'd skip the U9S if you can get access to the 120mm coolers. Despite what noctua says, a 92mm fan cannot compete in performance/noise vs a 120mm fan.
 

MrJvr

Caliper Novice
Jan 18, 2021
27
11
Edited: lack of relevance.
I cant seem to delete my rambling post. :\
 
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Ateles

Efficiency Noob
Original poster
Jan 20, 2021
7
0
Thx, the Assassin King 120 Mini looks interesting - but I didn't found any offer. Nothing in Europe or on AliExpress or ... Any idea where to get? I mean it's cheap, might be worth a try.
The Assassin King 120 (Plus) is tempting - 154 mm might fit exactly. Same problem - where to get it?
 

tinyitx

Shrink Way Wielder
Jan 25, 2018
2,046
1,958
To cool a 3900X (overclocked to 4.2 GHz at 1.25v, generating about 170W), a comparison between Thermalright Silver Arrow 130 and Assassin King 120 Mini is here:-

There are many factors but, basically, 6x6mm heatpipes beat 5x6mm heatpipes. Nothing unexpected.

For AK 120 Mini vs AK 120, the difference in thermal performance is not much (when cooling i9-9900KF)

Use your favourite translator if graphs do not give you enough data.

My very brief conclusion:- SA 130 is still the king of small cooler. But since you are doing 3900X at stock, maybe your situation will not reap the thermal benefit of the SA 130.
(I have recently built a system with a SA 130. It does have sharp pointy edges but not too bad. I did not use any gloves and still manage to install without any blood...lol)


AK120/Mini/Plus
 
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Legion

Airflow Optimizer
Nov 22, 2017
279
320
Hey guys,

/snip wall of text

Some other options:

Alpenfohn Brocken ECO

Thermalright Macho 120 SBM

Cryorig H7 Quad Lumi (The ordinary H7 has 3 heatpipes, this has 4)

Those are all "good" Air coolers in the height limits you have.
Have you thought about a 240 / 280mm AIO? If you really need to keep the multi-threaded frequency up for your workload an AIO will cool more effectively than a sub 150mm Air cooler and that case you have does support them !!!

Arctic Liquid Freezer II 240​


Certainly not the best looking units out there but they perform well and are highly regarded. They are also at the more budget friendly end of AIO coolers.
 
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Thehack

Spatial Philosopher
Creator
Bronze Supporter
Mar 6, 2016
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Some other options:

Alpenfohn Brocken ECO

Thermalright Macho 120 SBM

Cryorig H7 Quad Lumi (The ordinary H7 has 3 heatpipes, this has 4)

Those are all "good" Air coolers in the height limits you have.
Have you thought about a 240 / 280mm AIO? If you really need to keep the multi-threaded frequency up for your workload an AIO will cool more effectively than a sub 150mm Air cooler and that case you have does support them !!!

Arctic Liquid Freezer II 240​


Certainly not the best looking units out there but they perform well and are highly regarded. They are also at the more budget friendly end of AIO coolers.

Out of all of this, the Macho seems the best pick. 5 heatpipes and comes in at exactly 150mm.

There is also the ID Cooling SE-223. Only 3 heatpipes though.

Regardless, any tower upgrade is going to be a big step up from the stock wraith. The other thing is to have higher base-line RPM on the fans and a slow ramp at higher temps. This will reduce noise ramping up and down.
 
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Ateles

Efficiency Noob
Original poster
Jan 20, 2021
7
0
Cryorig H7 Quad Lumi
The Quad Lumi doesn't seem to be suited for the task:

Thermalright Macho 120 SBM
Seems to be out of production - but the Thermalright Macho 120 Rev. B seems to be quite similiar: 5 heatpipes, 200W TDP, 46€.

Alpenfohn Brocken ECO
Nice, I read about it before but didn't notice it was that small. 1 heatpipe less than the Macho means 11€ less (35€). Not sure about the direct heatpipes though - I assume the non directly touching ones (Macho) offer kind of a thermal buffer. Does that make any sense?
 

Thehack

Spatial Philosopher
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Mar 6, 2016
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The Quad Lumi doesn't seem to be suited for the task:


Seems to be out of production - but the Thermalright Macho 120 Rev. B seems to be quite similiar: 5 heatpipes, 200W TDP, 46€.


Nice, I read about it before but didn't notice it was that small. 1 heatpipe less than the Macho means 11€ less (35€). Not sure about the direct heatpipes though - I assume the non directly touching ones (Macho) offer kind of a thermal buffer. Does that make any sense?

I wouldn't place much faith in a single reddit post. You're starting to get into analysis paralysis.

At the end of the day, it's a simple computer, a simple project that is less than 50 euros. Don't sweat the details; sweating details are for engineers working on million euro projects. The fact is, you're limited by market availability and the overall height. Just get the beefiest looking one, set a good fan curve and you're set.
 
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Ateles

Efficiency Noob
Original poster
Jan 20, 2021
7
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Use your favourite translator if graphs do not give you enough data.
I'll do that tomorrow. No idea how you found these ones. 😃

Have you thought about a 240 / 280mm AIO?
Yes, but I've got zero experience with these. As far as I know, some pumps cause noises and corrosion is a thing (copper - aluminium). Starting at 80€ (up to 160€) and having a limited lifetime. Might be okay for some people but this system will be in use for more than five years and I don't want to have worry about the cooling - heard more bad stories about leaking AIOs than about air coolers. 😉 Don't get me wrong, looks like a nice solutions to get the heat directly outside the system. There will be people and use-cases where it's just great.

Macho seems the best pick
That's my impression so far as well. Any idea if it would be worth upgrading the fan on these?

There is also the ID Cooling SE-223. Only 3 heatpipes though.
Yeah, I think I'll pass on that one - less heatpipes and bad availability here.
 

Revenant

King of Cable Management
The Gamer Way
Editorial Staff
Gold Supporter
Apr 21, 2017
954
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Thermalright Silver Arrow is a good albeit sharp choice. My 8086K runs well with it. They give you handling gloves... wear them.

AIOs seem a bit daunting at first, but I assure you they really are very easy to install. So much so that I suggest them pretty exclusively these days for ATX cases.
 

Ateles

Efficiency Noob
Original poster
Jan 20, 2021
7
0
I ordered the Macho 120 Rev. B last week. First impression is quite good - installation of the backplate took some time (and the included manual features very small pictures - you can find a better manual here (it's for the Rev. A but it looks identical)).

Cinebench R20 @ 142 W (10 minutes warmup, 1800 RPM): 80-83°C and 6960 points nT score (was 95+°C and 120 points less with Wraith Prism).

Prime95 @ 110 W (1200 RPM): 74°C

Usual usage - browser + some stuff @ 50 W (1000 RPM) is around 65 °C

Bare desktop @ 25-35 W is around 50°C (peaks to 40-60°)

I did a quick comparison of the Thermalright fan at 100% to an Arctic P12 PWM PST, it seemed to me as if the Arctic fan had much less airflow so I didn't tried to replace the stock fan on the cpu cooler.

When the Thermalright fan goes up to 100% (1830 RPM), it's a roaring sound but not too bad for the default fan I think. At 90% (1680 RPM) and 80% (1550 RPM) it's still noisy. At 70% (1400 RPM) it starts getting much quiter. At 60% (1250 RPM) I can still hear it. At 50% (1070 RPM) it's barely hearable. Below this point I can't distinguish the CPU cooler fan from the case fans (2x Arctic P12 PWM PST @ ??? RPM, 1x Noctua NF-S12B redux-1200 PWM @ 550 RPM).
At 30% (700 RPM) it still keeps the 50 W at 50°C - lowering the value in the fan curve won't make the fan go slower.

Thanks a lot for all the advice! Feel free to ask any questions, I don't mind necrobumping as long it's on topic. 😉

EDIT No.1: Apparently I mixed up "Thermaltake" and "Thermalright" several times - the Macho 120 is manufactured by Thermalright and its their default fan I was writing about. I fixed all occurences above.

EDIT No.2: It looks like the fan will block the top part of the closest RAM DIMM (G.Skill Trident Z RGB) on a Gigabyte B550 Aorus Pro). Mounting the fan in a pull configuration on the opposite site of the cooler would probably solve this.
 
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