Akasa has quite the product portfolio of accessories that we enthusiasts lust after to add the final touches to our builds, but I for one was completely unaware of just how large their product line has become. It was not until I had the pleasure of stopping by their booth at CES did I finally get a chance to see just how many products they have. Additionally, Akasa distribution was primarily focused on the European and Asian markets and have only recently began to appear at retailers in the US. With that said, Akasa has quite a few Air Coolers in their line-up and we have the flagship Nero S on the bench today. To cut my usual wordiness short, let’s get to the matter at hand and take an extensive look at the Akasa Nero S.
As I mentioned in the Intro, the Akasa Nero S is the flagship air cooler in the extensive line-up from Akasa. Additionally, the Nero S is the only cooler that comes with the 120mm S-Flow fan that we will take a pictorial look at (no fan testing folks) further down the page and cover performance later in the review. The Nero S is a direct contact heat pipe tower cooler like most of the top tier coolers on the market today, where there are a set of heat pipes with a tower of fins above the contact area. The concept of a tower cooler is to provide larger surface area for airflow from the fan to dissipate the heat collected by the heat pipes. In addition, for those of you paying attention, this is a direct contact cooler… where the heat pipes make direct contact to the IHS of the chip. One other major feature of the Nero S to mention is the socket compatibility, the Nero S includes mounts for all of the latest socket types for both Intel and AMD including; LGA775, LGA1156, LGA1366, Socket AM2, Socket AM2+ and Socket AM3.
Back to the physical characteristics of the Nero S… The copper heat pipes on the Nero S are a little larger in diameter, measuring in at 8mm. The idea here is the larger heat pipes are able to carry more heat to the fins for dissipation, and that in with direct contact to the CPU HIS and those 8mm copper heat pipes present a larger surface area to pull heat from the processor. Surrounding the heat pipes is an aluminum base, which is also the mount point for the legs that attach to the mounting mechanism for Intel applications, you can see these up close in the TIM print photo on page three but I can certainly say I like the single screw attachment as it makes the mounting mechanism simple. Also in regards to the mounting, Akasa supplies two backplates, one for the Intel sockets and one for AMD. The Intel backplate uses one side for LGA1156 and LGA1366, and the opposite side for LGA775, which has small standoffs to provide some clearance from the mount holes on the board. To mount the cooler, the Nero S comes with 4 set height or limited depth screws and springs. The set height or limited depth screws provide a mechanism for the installer to know when to stop tightening the screws and optimal pressure has been reached, which means people like me cannot over tighten the screws.
One of the features clearly visible on the Nero S is those cutaway slots, these channels are for the rubber fan mounts. The rubber fan mounts are intended to cut down on vibrations and noise from the fan contacting the cooler fin surface, and I will say they certainly meet their intent. However, they also make mounting the fan after installing the cooler very easy… just line them up and pull, no clumsy wire clips to fight with. The added bonus with this style of fan mounts is you can use almost any 120mm fan since you’re not dependant on clips, but as you’ll see in the thermal performance the S-Flow fan does quite well on its own as well as being whisper quiet.
To round out the features and specs section here are overall dimensions, after all we need to make sure you have the clearance in your case. From the tips of the heat pipes to the bottom of the base, the Nero S is 158mm tall, 117mm wide and 59mm thick without a fan mounted. The working area of the Nero S measures 116mm with 52 aluminum fins, these 0.5mm thick fins are spaced just under 2mm apart (1.95mm if you want to split hairs). Overall, this makes for a compact cooling area but provides quite a bit of surface area for heat dissipation.
Before we dive into the test specification and procedure, let us have a look at some more photos and become more comfortable with the Akasa Nero S including a look at all the goodies that are bundled with the retail package.
One thing I must mention here is the condition of the base in that last photo… I didn’t realize how poor the original photos I took of the base were until after testing, so keep in mind that the base pictured is after 15 mounts and the photo still isn’t perfect but it’ll do. With the introduction and first looks at the Nero S out of the way, lets cover the test specification before putting the Nero S through the gauntlet on the test bench.