Now for the meat of the review here, lets see how the Akasa Nero S performs on the bench. I will give you warning, we have lots of data to show so you may want to refill your beverage before diving in… we’ll wait why you go and get your refill. Just to reiterate from the Test Methodology and Specification, after the best orientation is determined we cover a minimum of 3 fan speeds per cooler and at least one set of mounts when a fan is supplied in the retail package.
Luckily for us the Nero S comes paired with the S-Flow fan, which is no slouch in the performance and silence arena. What this means is we have two additional test runs to show off. Before we start the data show we have photos of the cooler mounted to the board in the best performing and as-tested orientation along with the TIM print from the orientation testing.
Unless you are familiar with the EVGA X58 Classified, the orientation pictured is what I call “Fan parallel to socket arm” which is the best performing orientation for the Nero S on our bench and will be used for all logged test runs. You cannot tell in the photo, but the socket arm is below the fan. If you opened the full view of TIM print photo you may be straining your eyes to see if there is actually TIM on the base of the cooler, I guarantee it is there. 2 factors played on each other causing the optical trickery; First being the direct touch design employed by the Nero S, which has very small channels between the heat pipes and the aluminum base/cover as the TIM tends to fill in these channels/gaps… look closely you will see what I mean. Second factor is MX-3 in of itself, the consistency and goopyness (highly technical term there) is radically different from most other TIM’s we are used to. The characteristics are difficult to describe, best I can come up with is an oily and clay like combination. Every tube we have used has been the same consistency, so nothing out of the ordinary. For more info on Arctic Cooling MX-3, check out our TIM Round-Up V1.1.
To start us out, lets cover the test results from the S-Flow fan included with the retail package of the Akasa Nero S. In the data table below you’ll see all of the data collected from the 3 mounts with the S-Flow fan running at maximum or “full” RPM as I refer to it and then at minimum RPM. I will state the minimum RPM speed is not set measurement, but more of a combination of my observation and how low I am willing to adjust the voltage through the CrystalFontz fan controller. In the data tables you will see RPM average for all 3 mounts is in the upper right hand corner of the table. As with all our reviews at Skinnee Labs, we provide as much data as possible and the data tables below should satisfy all your desires for data.
Mounting consistency of the Nero S was very good, which does mean the mount system works well and I did not botch anything. In addition, the S-Flow fan performs quite well at full RPM keeping the 4 Core Avg right at 65.5C when adjusted for an Ambient or Air In of 21C. Towards the end of the page, you will see a full chart with compiled data and comparison to a Noctua NH-U12P. However, we have more data to cover before comparison time… Now for the S-Flow fan at my minimum RPM setting of 1000RPM.
I must state, I was very surprised and pleased to see the S-Flow perform this well at 1000RPM as we only experienced a 4C jump for a 33% reduction in fan speed. The S-Flow is already near silent at full speed but just goes to show the quality and performance that is capable of a stock fan. Once again we experienced very consistent mounts with very little variance for the 3 mounts.
With the stock fan tests complete we can move to the common fan for all coolers, the Scythe Gentle Typhoon 1850 (AP-15), this way we can provide a comparison of every cooler. With the GT-1850 strapped to the Nero S (push configuration), we see a small performance increase over the S-Flow fan, but not much. Once again, mount consistency was very good with very little variation amongst the three mounts.
Time to crank the GT-1850 down to 1300 RPM… and as expected, we see a rise in Core Temps, but not a huge rise only bearing 2-2.5C from the GT-1850 at full RPM. If you have already peaked down to the graph, you will see we finally ran into some mount variation on the first mount that was not so bad except the hottest core was out of whack by almost 3C, but the average core and low core temps were ok on the wacky first mount.
Moving on to the lowest speed for the Gentle Typhoon 1850 of 900RPM, we see the highest core temps of the test runs, which should not be a surprise. Even with the super slow fan speed the Nero S proves to be quite capable of handling the load of the 920 @ 1.275V Vcore. And even better news is the mount consistency has returned with very little variation in the three mounts.
With the gauntlet of data on the Akasa Nero S covered, lets take the results from the Nero S and compare to our baseline Noctua NH-U12P. For this comparison, we will only include the single fan data from the Noctua since the Nero S is a single fan cooler. Enough jabbering until we look at the results.
Okay, now that you have soaked in the comparison chart you get to see what I was alluding to… The Akasa Nero S is quite the cooler. The stock S-Flow fan shows very well against the NP-F12 and the Nero beats the Noctua at every fan speed on the Gentle Typhoon. Well, that is all the thermal data we have today, time for me to wrap up on the Akasa Nero S.
Those of you seeking the maximum thermal performance from your radiators always want to see how close you can get your Delta’s to ambient, and like always we have the 2º Delta or Ultra Performance chart for you. In most cases, this chart is purely to show what wattages and fan speeds you need to get really close to ambient water temps. A 2º Delta is rather tough to achieve, you have to make a choice of Delta, Noise, or Wattage of the loop. Most often, you will need low wattage loops and high fan speeds (or multiple radiators) to achieve 2ºC or better deltas.
After saving out the charts and tables on this page, I just had to inspect the EK CoolStream 360 a bit closer. After racking my brain and causing some serious eyestrain, I went back to the data. The plotted results are a bit deceiving, after all the performance difference here ranges from roughly 10% to 25% across the fan speed range. Moreover, the PA120.3 is a standout performer across all fan speeds. We are fooling ourselves if we expect every radiator to match the market standard. Well, that is all the thermal data we have today, time to look at market pricing and the conclusion…