Question Best way of cooling a CPU in Fractal Define 7

BadOmen

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Oct 27, 2007
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I have just finished assembling my new build with a Ryzen 5600x CPU running in a Fractal Define 7 case under the stock AMD cooler, but that cooler is pretty whiny and peaks too frequently.
So I need a new cooler but can't conclude what's the best way to go for such a large case while looking for:
- Silence above all else, since I use the computer for audio recording.
- Decent performance as some gaming shall happen once I can buy a good GPU
- No need or wish to overclock right now

So this is what I am considering:

- I should not place any fans on top of the case and keep it closed to reduce noise. So a top mounted radiator becomes out of question. Or not?

- Thought about a 120mm AIO on rear exhaust. Never used an AIO before, but imagined that a 120 should be silent enough while preventing the fan speed instability that we normally see on air coolers. Everybody says a 120mm aio is not worth it, but wouldn't it look cool and do a discreet but decent job? Or are those noisy?

- Thought about an air cooler. Those are ugly and heavy, although I used a Megahalen for 10 years without damage to the motherboard. They seem larger now though, most recommended models have 2 fans. Would they be quieter than a 120 AIO?

- Then it occurred to me I could invert air flow: use the rear as intake and mount a 240mm AIO to the front as exhaust. But I don't recall seeing that before. Any chance that could work? Tubes would have to be long to cross the vast emptiness at the front of that case.

Any help is much appreciated!
 

UsandThem

Elite Member
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May 4, 2000
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AIO is rarely (if ever) quieter than an air cooler as you are adding pump noise along with the fan you need anyways.

If you want a quiet cooler, look at the Dark Rock Slim which is a smaller tower cooler, or if you can handle a little bit bigger, the slightly less expensive Shadow Rock 3.

The Shadow Rock 3 was about $20 cheaper than the Dark Rock Slim when I was getting a new cooler, so that's what I went with. It's absolutely silent (I created a fan curve and keep mine under 900 RPM).
 
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bigboxes

Lifer
Apr 6, 2002
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I use the Noctua NH-D15 on my 5950X in a Define 7. It's got two 140mm fans. My system is dead quiet at idle. My last system had an AIO. This is more reliable and quieter.

 
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mv2devnull

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Apr 13, 2010
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- Thought about a 120mm AIO on rear exhaust. Never used an AIO before, but imagined that a 120 should be silent enough while preventing the fan speed instability that we normally see on air coolers. Everybody says a 120mm aio is not worth it, but wouldn't it look cool and do a discreet but decent job? Or are those noisy?
As said, AIO has both pump and fan that create noise. Furthermore, the liquid does slowly evaporate out of the AIO (through the pipe material). Fans (on AIO and aircooler) last longer and are easier to replace.

The larger multi-fan AIO's have longer tubes. They should reach top and front easily. If you put something on front (Define 7 has two 140mm by default), then keep it as intake and rear fan as exhaust. If you are concerned that AIO radiator in front heats the air that flows to GPU, then there are places for additional intake fans at the bottom too.

Define 7 has door in front. While it keeps some noise in, it also reduces air-flow. Fans could need higher RPMs to compensate, so they could make a bit more noise. Blowing air out from that front ... does not sound a good idea.

Silent, cool, powerful. Pick two.
 

balloonshark

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Jun 5, 2008
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I have an R5 that has the same stock fan setup as yours and I'm using a big ole' Thermalright Macho Rev. B air cooler to cool my I7-10700K. My temps are fine and the noise is minimal.

I have Thermalright coolers in both of my PCs and I think they are the best bang for your buck coolers. Depending on how picky you are about noise you may need to change the heatsink's fan/s. They make models with their pro fan but I have no experience using them. If you want the quietess coolers (and fans) then Noctua is your best bet.
 
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BadOmen

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Oct 27, 2007
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Thank you all for your input and suggestions. Apparently AIOs are quite unpopular these days. Seemed like a great idea when it was launched, especially for me as I watched the Prolimatech Megahalen hanging there from its four little screws, waiting for some motherboard damage to happen... which never did, so I'm fine with air too.

One question though:
A 120mm AIO would have two noise sources: the pump and the rear fan (on radiator, as exhaust).
But an air cooler would also have two noise sources: the heatsink fan and the rear fan that is already there (as exhaust. I changed the stock one to an awesome Arctic F14)

From a noise perspective, would fan + fan be more silent than fan + pump? I really don't know how's pump noise, but they say it's <8db.
 

UsandThem

Elite Member
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May 4, 2000
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Thank you all for your input and suggestions. Apparently AIOs are quite unpopular these days. Seemed like a great idea when it was launched, especially for me as I watched the Prolimatech Megahalen hanging there from its four little screws, waiting for some motherboard damage to happen... which never did, so I'm fine with air too.

One question though:
A 120mm AIO would have two noise sources: the pump and the rear fan (on radiator, as exhaust).
But an air cooler would also have two noise sources: the heatsink fan and the rear fan that is already there (as exhaust. I changed the stock one to an awesome Arctic F14)

From a noise perspective, would fan + fan be more silent than fan + pump? I really don't know how's pump noise, but they say it's <8db.
There's plenty of sites that do reviews on AIO coolers, so you can see how noisy particular units you are considering are.
 

bigboxes

Lifer
Apr 6, 2002
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Thank you all for your input and suggestions. Apparently AIOs are quite unpopular these days. Seemed like a great idea when it was launched, especially for me as I watched the Prolimatech Megahalen hanging there from its four little screws, waiting for some motherboard damage to happen... which never did, so I'm fine with air too.

One question though:
A 120mm AIO would have two noise sources: the pump and the rear fan (on radiator, as exhaust).
But an air cooler would also have two noise sources: the heatsink fan and the rear fan that is already there (as exhaust. I changed the stock one to an awesome Arctic F14)

From a noise perspective, would fan + fan be more silent than fan + pump? I really don't know how's pump noise, but they say it's <8db.
My last AIO had two 120mm fans that I exhausted out through the top. I still had the rear exhaust fan. Then there was the four Noctua's that I had pulling air in from the front. Then there was the video card's two large fans. The power supply had one fan. My PC was still very quiet. My home server is the one that makes the noise, but that is due to the 8 HDDs that are constantly spinning.
 
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mv2devnull

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One question though:
A 120mm AIO would have two noise sources: the pump and the rear fan (on radiator, as exhaust).
But an air cooler would also have two noise sources: the heatsink fan and the rear fan that is already there (as exhaust. I changed the stock one to an awesome Arctic F14)
I saw a "HP Workstation" (Xeon, NVidia Quadro, etc) in 2012. It had AIO, radiator at back of case and the fan on radiator also acting as the exhaust fan. However, there was also small fan set to blow on the components on motherboard, near CPU, probably power phases (or whatever they are).

The next generation HP had again (much better) AIO, but now the radiator was on top of CPU like in air-towers, and there was separate exhaust fan. Furthermore, the AIO had in its base a tiny (max 40mm) fan to blow on motherboard/pump(?) ... and there was still small fan cooling motherboard.

Third anecdote, self-built system circa 2008, I had Noctua cooler, with two (92mm?) fans (push-pull) and tried to minimize their speed and hence noise. At some point the motherboard did throttle the (AMD) CPU clocks to prevent overheating. Apparently the low air flow did not cool the power components (VRM?) on the board and board had a safety. The other two major motherboard brands did not have that but fire and smoke at the time, allegedly.

The common theme in these was that CPU/GPU are not the only components that produce heat and airflow is a feasible tool.

There is a subgroup of users among whom AIO is immensely popular and perhaps the current motherboard designs work fine with that.
 

BadOmen

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Third anecdote, self-built system circa 2008, I had Noctua cooler, with two (92mm?) fans (push-pull) and tried to minimize their speed and hence noise. At some point the motherboard did throttle the (AMD) CPU clocks to prevent overheating. Apparently the low air flow did not cool the power components (VRM?) on the board and board had a safety. The other two major motherboard brands did not have that but fire and smoke at the time, allegedly.
I hope VRM cooling is not a big deal nowadays, because an AIO radiator on rear should be a hot thing very close to the vrm heatsink (then again I have never seen an AIO up close), while an air cooler blows hot air directly on it.

It gets more and more clear that a 120mm AIO on rear is frowned upon...
The Shadow Rock 3 was about $20 cheaper than the Dark Rock Slim when I was getting a new cooler, so that's what I went with. It's absolutely silent (I created a fan curve and keep mine under 900 RPM).
Been checking those two very carefully, I am not a big fan of large heatsinks but that shadow rock does look good
 

kschendel

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Aug 1, 2018
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The 5600X doesn't run super hot. If noise is an issue, I'd suggest a Scythe Mugen 5 PCGH edition. It replaces the stock fan with a pair of RPM-limited fans. I use one to cool a 2700X, and while it runs a few degrees hotter at max load than beefier coolers, it's essentially inaudible even at max.

An NH-D15 is another, probably pricier option. I'd be inclined to replace the front fan with an NF-A12x25 for both clearance and slightly lower noise.
 
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aigomorla

Cases and Cooling Mod PC Gaming Mod Elite Member
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Furthermore, the liquid does slowly evaporate out of the AIO (through the pipe material). Fans (on AIO and aircooler) last longer and are easier to replace.
Its actually more from the tubing... then the metal pipes...

AIO's are a bling fashion... i only ever push recommending them if you do not have the room, or you want a super fancy blingy RGB center piece with a OLED screen on the cpu block.

Overall you will get quiter and sometimes even better results on a big heat pipe heatsink then you would on an AIO.

The Dark Rock Pro 4, or the D15U is probably the best of the best you can get for air sinks.
Oh there are also a few thermalright dual fin heat sinks that will also give Noctua and DRP4 a good run for its money.

Do note tho, you are paying Noctua more for the fan and packaging then the heatsink itself.
They also have excellent after purchase support if you ever need it, if that is important to you, and noctua fans are top premiums compared to the other vendors fans.
 

In2Photos

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Mar 21, 2007
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My son just built his first new PC using the 5600x and a 240mm AIO in an NZXT H510 Flow. When I first started stress testing it I was shocked at how loud everything was. This was my first time using an AIO. After playing around with fan curves the noise was much better. I could still here the pump though. One of the things that helped the most was undervolting the 5600x. Our temps dropped about 10 degrees while stress testing so the fans got even more quiet. I was shocked at the difference.
 
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BadOmen

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Oct 27, 2007
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Believe it or not, I didn't buy anything yet. Still reading.
By now - and thanks to your invaluable opinion - I can see an AIO is not a good option.

My main goal is silence. But the Define 7 is a big case with a windowed side, so some bling wouldn't kill, and I have space for it.

But the Coolermaster ma410 ARGB seems noisy. It has the one thing that makes RGB nice AND useful: lights that respond to a thermal sensor. But no great temps and no silence. It's out unfortunately.

Then comes the Shadow Rock 3. There's no rgb but some good looking white coating for my white case, plus decent temps for a 5600X and awesome silence. But ashamed as I am to confess that, I like the RGB detail in my motherboard VRM heatsink and the SR3 will probably cover it. I KNOW I KNOW it is the most ridiculous reason not to buy a heatsink ever.

Size and also price make me think twice about most options, including the NH-D15, although Bigboxes' cat makes me want to buy it. I can't say no to a cat.

So right now, even though the case has a lot of space, I am leaning towards the Dark Rock Slim. Lose heatsink bling but keep the little I have from the MB, getting some decent performance and total silence in the process.

Silent, cool, powerful. Pick two.
Isn't it amazing how it comes down to this?
 

BadOmen

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Oct 27, 2007
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There are both solid and window versions of Define 7. (There are also "Compact" and "XL" versions.)
True, but that ship has already sailed, I already have the case since late last year. The system is alive and kicking, it's just the stock wraith that needs to go now...
 

bigboxes

Lifer
Apr 6, 2002
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Believe it or not, I didn't buy anything yet. Still reading.
By now - and thanks to your invaluable opinion - I can see an AIO is not a good option.

My main goal is silence. But the Define 7 is a big case with a windowed side, so some bling wouldn't kill, and I have space for it.

But the Coolermaster ma410 ARGB seems noisy. It has the one thing that makes RGB nice AND useful: lights that respond to a thermal sensor. But no great temps and no silence. It's out unfortunately.

Then comes the Shadow Rock 3. There's no rgb but some good looking white coating for my white case, plus decent temps for a 5600X and awesome silence. But ashamed as I am to confess that, I like the RGB detail in my motherboard VRM heatsink and the SR3 will probably cover it. I KNOW I KNOW it is the most ridiculous reason not to buy a heatsink ever.

Size and also price make me think twice about most options, including the NH-D15, although Bigboxes' cat makes me want to buy it. I can't say no to a cat.

So right now, even though the case has a lot of space, I am leaning towards the Dark Rock Slim. Lose heatsink bling but keep the little I have from the MB, getting some decent performance and total silence in the process.



Isn't it amazing how it comes down to this?
Although I like my internals to look nice, I've always been function over form. That's why I have no window. I just want it fast and quiet. 😛
 

beginner99

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Jun 2, 2009
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As a long time owner of a define R2 and including the case test of the define 7 on gamersnexus, the define series simply isn't very good at thermals which means a poor cooler will have to really up the fan speed. I have a nh-d14 in my case and always had pretty high cpu temps compared to people here with same cpus.

I am now looking for new case because the define R2 has a irremovable hdd rack greatly limiting GPU size and given the gpu market, limiting yourself to certain shorter models (dual fans max) doesn't help. Hence if have looked an many reviews recently. The consesus for the define 7 is to open the door when doing heavy work as that alone can lower cpu temps by more than 5°C. Still thermals will always be mediocre in this case. it is obviously a trade off with noise.
 

BadOmen

Senior member
Oct 27, 2007
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As a long time owner of a define R2 and including the case test of the define 7 on gamersnexus, the define series simply isn't very good at thermals which means a poor cooler will have to really up the fan speed. I have a nh-d14 in my case and always had pretty high cpu temps compared to people here with same cpus.

I am now looking for new case because the define R2 has a irremovable hdd rack greatly limiting GPU size and given the gpu market, limiting yourself to certain shorter models (dual fans max) doesn't help. Hence if have looked an many reviews recently. The consesus for the define 7 is to open the door when doing heavy work as that alone can lower cpu temps by more than 5°C. Still thermals will always be mediocre in this case. it is obviously a trade off with noise.
Ah yes, I knew that about the Define 7, but it's been always silence over thermals for me, so I still went with it. In the end it has good sound dampening but it's no anechoic chamber either. Still I have to say it's the best case I have ever had. Loads of fun to work with, and if it wasn't for the AMD stock cooler it would be silent enough by now for my home studio, even with two stock Fractal fans and one Arctic PWM attached to the fan hub, which I assume is controlling the speed of the rest of the hub.

Back to coolers, the Noctua nh-u12S (and its Chromax version) caught my attention, better thermals then the Dark Rock Slim but louder on load. Then again I can't seem to find a direct comparison between the two. The Slim in the Define 7 could mean risky business when on load, but it's still looking like a winner.
 

kschendel

Member
Aug 1, 2018
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I was able to keep a 2700X cool and silent in a Define R6; you shouldn't have any trouble at all with a 5600X which should run cooler (or at least, no hotter). I did replace the rear exhaust fan with a Silent Wings 3, and the front stock fans with a stack of NH-A12x25's (Silent Wings would probably work just as well, but I already had the A12x25's.)

If you want a bit of bling, I think some of the new Thermalright Assassin variations ought to cool pretty well at low fan speeds. I don't have personal experience to comment on the noise levels though.
 

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