Black Ridge 120mm Fan vs. Noctua L9a + Fan Duct

darknoise

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Original poster
Sep 28, 2020
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Hi guys,

I just received a Dan A4 case today and I wonder which way I should go to cool the CPU. I havent bought any CPU or other components by now. I probably go for an AMD Ryzen 3600, 3700X or a similar Zen 3 chip. Originally I considered the Asetek 645LT. But a lot of unhappy reports (especially from users without custom cables or gurgling noises) let me rethink my solution. In my opinion there are 2 good solutions for air cooling the CPU in the A4:

1) Black Ridge with 120mm Fan
2) Noctua L9a with a Fan Duct (3D printed)

For both solutions I‘m planning to install two noctua case fans as exhaust at the bottom of the case.

The problem with the Black Ridge and a 120mm fan is the usage of VLP memory. The fastest affordable RAM I‘ve found is the Kingston KVR26N19S8L. But it is only 2666 MHz and does not have very good timings (19).

https://www.kingston.com/dataSheets/KVR26N19S8L_8.pdf

Because I‘d like to buy a RTX 3080 (probably the EVGA XC3 Black Gaming) I see an issue with RAM limiting the GPU potential. 3600 MHz memory is almost the same price as VLP memory but in average gaming about 5-20% higher FPS. Of course the difference is smaller with higher resolutions, but I have a 1440p monitor and with an RTX 3080 I think the performance difference in this setup is not too small.

I guess the Black Ridge with 120 fan is superior in noise and TDP but comes with a penalty of reduced FPS due to the VLP memory.

What is your opionion and experience about the two CPU cooler solutions? Which one has less noise? Which one has better TDP (also regarding to higher TDP with Zen 3 CPU‘s)?

Can the lower VLP RAM performance be compensated with better overclocking with the Black Ridge?

Kind Regards and thanks in advance for your ideas!
 

scatterforce

Airflow Optimizer
May 21, 2018
241
139
Disclaimer: I have a sandwich case, but not a Dan A4.

I would add the AXP-90 full cooper to the short list of "A-tier" options for a good <50mm heat sink. The trade off is that the fan will be right next to the vent, and will add noise. Performance wise, it should be on par (within 2 degrees) of the Blackridge + 120 fan under max load and you get to use any Ram kit you want.

Personally, I went with the Blackridge + 120mm fan and 16 Gb of these ADATA vlp ram. I was able to get them stable at 3333 Mhz with 16-19-18-38 timings. I then went in and tweaked the sub-timings for further improvement. Some people have managed to push these to 3400 Mhz, but I ran out of patience. I don't think I've seen anyone get to 3600 on the ADATA kit.

IF I were to re-do my build, I would have used the AXP-90 with better ram. With the prospect that Ryzen 4xxx/5xxx CPUs will scale with even faster ram, I would think twice about going with VLP. Of course, if noise is your #1 concern, then get the L9a + fan duct over the AXP-90.
 

darknoise

Caliper Novice
Original poster
Sep 28, 2020
28
4
Disclaimer: I have a sandwich case, but not a Dan A4.

I would add the AXP-90 full cooper to the short list of "A-tier" options for a good <50mm heat sink. The trade off is that the fan will be right next to the vent, and will add noise. Performance wise, it should be on par (within 2 degrees) of the Blackridge + 120 fan under max load and you get to use any Ram kit you want.

Personally, I went with the Blackridge + 120mm fan and 16 Gb of these ADATA vlp ram. I was able to get them stable at 3333 Mhz with 16-19-18-38 timings. I then went in and tweaked the sub-timings for further improvement. Some people have managed to push these to 3400 Mhz, but I ran out of patience. I don't think I've seen anyone get to 3600 on the ADATA kit.

IF I were to re-do my build, I would have used the AXP-90 with better ram. With the prospect that Ryzen 4xxx/5xxx CPUs will scale with even faster ram, I would think twice about going with VLP. Of course, if noise is your #1 concern, then get the L9a + fan duct over the AXP-90.

I‘ve just checked the AXA-90. But it seems it‘s not very easy available. The Cryorig C7 is similar. I‘ve checked the review from Optimum Tech.


It is pretty loud with the stock fan. Should be much better if the copper cooler is combined with a noctua 90mm fan on top. Unfortunately Optimum did not test the noise level of this combo.
 

scatterforce

Airflow Optimizer
May 21, 2018
241
139

The AXP 90 can be purchased directly through Aliexpress world wide. No third party required. The C7 Cu is a popular option, but the AXP 90 is just simply better. This thread has a comparison table to look at.

O, and here is a full black version from Thermalright (not an aftermarket pain job)
 

darknoise

Caliper Novice
Original poster
Sep 28, 2020
28
4

The AXP 90 can be purchased directly through Aliexpress world wide. No third party required. The C7 Cu is a popular option, but the AXP 90 is just simply better. This thread has a comparison table to look at.

O, and here is a full black version from Thermalright (not an aftermarket pain job)

Indeed, the AXP90 seems better than the C7. However the L9a, even a little warmer, is much quieter.

Here is a nice comparison between the three coolers. It is in german. But since you dropped a german aliexpress link you might be from Germany ;-)

 

nightshift

Average Stuffer
Jul 23, 2020
88
52
Maybe the 3700x will need a little tuning if it wants to run too hot in stock form, but I'm still yet to ssemble my Dan A4 build so I can't speak from my own experience yet. All I can say is that I would not recommend the vlp ram for the resons so well described above. When it comes to gaming with the titles of today, a good 16 gb will provide as much performance as 32 gb, especially if the latter is on lower Mhz. This tells me that frequency is important.
All considered, I think th L9a is the best option.
Still gives significant performance while being the most quiet and the best looking. Not to mention that all these comparison-videos only tests the cooler itself, never combining it with the fan duct which would add a notable bonus. Also almost always using a b-450 motherboard, while it is said that b550 motherboards operate these chips much cooler - that should also contribute for the better.
 
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Thehack

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Mar 6, 2016
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Maybe the 3700x will need a little tuning if it wants to run too hot in stock form, but I'm still yet to ssemble my Dan A4 build so I can't speak from my own experience yet. All I can say is that I would not recommend the vlp ram for the resons so well described above. When it comes to gaming with the titles of today, a good 16 gb will provide as much performance as 32 gb, especially if the latter is on lower Mhz. This tells me that frequency is important.
All considered, I think th L9a is the best option.
Still gives significant performance while being the most quiet and the best looking. Not to mention that all these comparison-videos only tests the cooler itself, never combining it with the fan duct which would add a notable bonus. Also almost always using a b-450 motherboard, while it is said that b550 motherboards operate these chips much cooler - that should also contribute for the better.

Would also consider the ID-Cooling IS-47K. Should sit somewhere between L9a and Black Ridge +120 mm. Make sure you get the mounting pressure right, some users had better experience with using the Noctua L9a backplate.
 

nightshift

Average Stuffer
Jul 23, 2020
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I'm not sure if this is 100% right, it's just that cpu coolers like the Blackridge or the IS-47K that blows the air away from the chip seems less effective to me, then the ones that blows towards it. I mean the air around the cpu that gets used are presumably hot, therefore it might not cool down the heatsink all that much, than the L9a or C7, that takes the colder air from outside the case and push it onto the heatsink and the cpu. Then again to me, the ideal setup sounds like the air cooler intaking air form outside as well as the fan at the bottom, and all goes out at the top. We know that with air coolers the fan below should be on exhaust, but I can't help but think that air is gonna get reused by being sucked in through the side. So who knows. My vote goes for the Nh-L9a + fan duct combo.
 

Thehack

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Mar 6, 2016
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I'm not sure if this is 100% right, it's just that cpu coolers like the Blackridge or the IS-47K that blows the air away from the chip seems less effective to me, then the ones that blows towards it. I mean the air around the cpu that gets used are presumably hot, therefore it might not cool down the heatsink all that much, than the L9a or C7, that takes the colder air from outside the case and push it onto the heatsink and the cpu. Then again to me, the ideal setup sounds like the air cooler intaking air form outside as well as the fan at the bottom, and all goes out at the top. We know that with air coolers the fan below should be on exhaust, but I can't help but think that air is gonna get reused by being sucked in through the side. So who knows. My vote goes for the Nh-L9a + fan duct combo.

You can/should flip the fan around?
 
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darknoise

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Original poster
Sep 28, 2020
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Bitwit has a nice video about pairing a RTX 3080 with a Ryzen 3600. At 1440p it is only 3% slower (112% vs. 115%, base at 100% with a 2080 Ti) compared to the 3950X combo.


If I‘d buy a CPU today I would go for a 3600.This CPU is a sweetspot for gaming at 1440p and should be cooled good enough with a L9a.

Of course a wanna wait another week when AMD shows their Zen 3 chips. I‘m really looking forward for Ryzen 5000. However, the new generation has probably a higher TDP and only the 5900X and the 5800X are rumored to be released in 2020.

Even if the 5800X will be a pretty good gaming CPU, it‘s probably too much for an air cooled solution in the Dan A4.

What are your opinion and ideas about Zen 3 chips in the Dan A4?
 

nightshift

Average Stuffer
Jul 23, 2020
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Interesting. So the moral of this video is that despite this youtuber saying "the 3080 puts the 2080ti to shame", the difference in fps between the two cards with the same cpu is practically nothing (10-15 fps on average). Certainly no reason to upgrade, even from a 2070 in my opinion, especially since those consume a lot less power. Ryzen 3600 was really the star of the show, sometimes even outperforming the 3950. Then again, that cpu was always intended to be a part of high-end workstations, there's really no reason to purchase it just to max out your gaming rig.

As for the ideal chips from the upcoming ryzens, the 4000 series seems really promising. I know they are mobile cpu's, but they endend up being so good, some will be made for desktops. For example there's one that outperforms the 3700x and it runs only on 35W. Sounds perfect for small itx cases with the L9a. I think that since we're having the option to get the 3600 since 1.5 years now and it's still the best AMD for gaming (on par with their 3950), they should focus on advancing in other areas for a change. Acknowledging that performance is not the only way to improve, making their cpu's more power efficent, designing them to consume less for a change, it would be just as much of an achievement, if not more. That is what itx cases with limited cooling options would benefit from the most as well and is what I would look forward to see.
 
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darknoise

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Original poster
Sep 28, 2020
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Interesting. So the moral of this video is that despite this youtuber saying "the 3080 puts the 2080ti to shame", the difference in fps between the two cards with the same cpu is practically nothing (10-15 fps on average). Certainly no reason to upgrade, even from a 2070 in my opinion, especially since those consume a lot less power. Ryzen 3600 was really the star of the show, sometimes even outperforming the 3950. Then again, that cpu was always intended to be a part of high-end workstations, there's really no reason to purchase it just to max out your gaming rig.

As for the ideal chips from the upcoming ryzens, the 4000 series seems really promising. I know they are mobile cpu's, but they endend up being so good, some will be made for desktops. For example there's one that outperforms the 3700x and it runs only on 35W. Sounds perfect for small itx cases with the L9a. I think that since we're having the option to get the 3600 since 1.5 years now and it's still the best AMD for gaming (on par with their 3950), they should focus on advancing in other areas for a change. Acknowledging that performance is not the only way to improve, making their cpu's more power efficent, designing them to consume less for a change, it would be just as much of an achievement, if not more. That is what itx cases with limited cooling options would benefit from the most as well and is what I would look forward to see.

Well, the 3080 is still 10-15% faster on average than the 2080 Ti in the tested games. This is in line with about 50-80% faster than the 2080, which is a pretty decent increase in performance for the same money.
 

nightshift

Average Stuffer
Jul 23, 2020
88
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Well, the 3080 is still 10-15% faster on average than the 2080 Ti in the tested games. This is in line with about 50-80% faster than the 2080, which is a pretty decent increase in performance for the same money.
Yep. Absolutely right. It's just that for anyone owning a 2080ti, that 10-15% does not worth the hassle to sell their card for below 500$ and buy a 3080 for 700$. While the question of which card to choose upon building a pc from scratch shouldn't be hard. I highly doubt that there are people out there who are uncertain and needed this video to show them the light. The results are pretty unerwhelming honestly. I expected a bigger performance difference after all the hype. So if it there's no significant perf. boost and it's even worse when it comes to consumption, at least the price got reduced. Which still qualifies as an improvement. And can be the most damaging to the competition. I mean if AMD does not mach the performance with their new lineup, then they are forced to sell their cards even cheaper than this now.
 

darknoise

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Original poster
Sep 28, 2020
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Yep. Absolutely right. It's just that for anyone owning a 2080ti, that 10-15% does not worth the hassle to sell their card for below 500$ and buy a 3080 for 700$. While the question of which card to choose upon building a pc from scratch shouldn't be hard. I highly doubt that there are people out there who are uncertain and needed this video to show them the light. The results are pretty unerwhelming honestly. I expected a bigger performance difference after all the hype. So if it there's no significant perf. boost and it's even worse when it comes to consumption, at least the price got reduced. Which still qualifies as an improvement. And can be the most damaging to the competition. I mean if AMD does not mach the performance with their new lineup, then they are forced to sell their cards even cheaper than this now.

I‘ve just found an efficiency review of the 3080. If you run the 3080 with the same power as the 2080 Ti (270 W), it is still 25% faster. Or in other words, Nvidia used 50 Watts for only 4% better performance. The card is still more efficient at 320 Watts than the 2080 Ti but at only 10% (Compared to the 25% at 270 W).


That‘s probably the reason why you can undervolt the 3080 so nicely without loosing too much performance. I guess it is a good GPU also for SFF when undervolted.
 

darknoise

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Original poster
Sep 28, 2020
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Back to the main topic. I found a thread discussing VLP memory. Many guys are able to run the VLP with 3600 MHz. For example the Kingston KVR26N19S8L. Here is a very promising post:

https://smallformfactor.net/forum/threads/very-low-profile-ddr4-ram.9258/post-193548

This would mean that the Black Ridge with 120 fan is still a valid option since with overclocked VLP memory the system does not lose performance due to slower 2666 MHz RAM. What do you think of this solution?

I‘m considering to buy the ASUS B550-i. Does anyone know if the Black Ridge with 120mm fan fits on this motherboard?
 

dondan

SFF Guru
DAN Cases
Feb 23, 2015
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Best board for the Black Ridge with 120mm fan should be ASRock B550M-ITX/a. Setup the fan as intake through the fin array. For even better temps dont use I/O shield.
 

darknoise

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Original poster
Sep 28, 2020
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Which 120mm fan is recommended for the black ridge?

The best option is the 120x15 from Noctua. It‘s available either in the standard color


or in black.

 

supremeMilo

Trash Compacter
May 3, 2019
37
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The best option is the 120x15 from Noctua. It‘s available either in the standard color


or in black.

Thanks, ordered, wondering if I am going to notice going from 32GB to 16GB..... needed ram for my NAS/Server anyway and the VLP wasn't THAT much more than a normal 16GB kit.
 

darknoise

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Original poster
Sep 28, 2020
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Thanks, ordered, wondering if I am going to notice going from 32GB to 16GB..... needed ram for my NAS/Server anyway and the VLP wasn't THAT much more than a normal 16GB kit.

For gaming there should be no difference between 16 and 32 GB. Only the speed of the memory matters.

Which RAM are you going for and what other components (motherboard, CPU, GPU) do you have?