Ncore V1 No Frame Water Block Prototype Testing

The Ncore V1 is a prototype CPU water block for custom built PC cooling loops. It has a couple of big draws when it comes to enthusiast features, namely it is a direct-die cooler, and the other feature is that no mounting hardware is required. We have put the Ncore V1 through some cooling and have results to share.

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Ncore V1 No Frame Water Block Testing

Our testing for this Ncore V1 prototype is very simple. We made a few test mates with our delidded 7600K CPU first to make sure that the mounting procedure we were using worked well. And if fact it did. The two pictures below are of the actual footprint we got after taking our Ncore V1 off after testing.

From there we ran our system with Prime95 SmallFFT till we heatloaded the radiator. Once that was done, we restarted the testing and ran our system for an hour and used the CPU package temperature peek as our data point used in the graph.

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We used Coollaboratory Liquid Ultra TIM. You can see our near-perfect footprint.

Once we were done testing, we relidded our CPU using a Rockit 88 tool. You can see us actually relid the CPU in the video on this page. We used Prolimatech PK-1 (Thermal Conductivity at 10.2 W/m-C) for the TIM between the IHS and RayStorm Pro cold plate.

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Ncore V1 No Frame Water Block Results

Temperature Results

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As you can see, our cooling solutions are neck and neck. For all intents are purposes these are close enough to dead even. During our testing the temperature on our test bench fluctuated about 0.5 degrees F, holding right at 70F.

So let's talk about some reasons why, starting with flow rate.

Flow Rate

Below are a our flow rate measure measurements for the two water blocks being tested. Given the diminutive size of the Ncore V1, this was the first thing that came to mind if there was something inhibiting its performance.

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To be frank, I thought our flow rate tools were broken when I saw how high the flow rate was. I checked, and it was not broken. You can see our flow testing equipment here, and it in action here.

As you can see, the flow rate on the RayStorm Pro matches the Ncore V1. Certainly we do not have a flow issue.

The Prototype Bottom Line

At first I was bit surprised that our RayStorm Pro performed as well as it did, or that the Ncore V1 did not perform up to where we thought it "should" looking at the data. As mentioned above, my first thought was poor floor rate, but as the data shows, the Ncore V1 actually exhibits what I would consider excellent flow rate in a water block of its size. I then considered the radiator being loaded and holding back performance, but considering we are using their huge XSPC RX480 Radiator, I highly doubt that. With either system, the moment you unload the CPU, the package temperature drops back close to our idle temperatures shown almost instantly. If the radiator was our bottleneck, I would not expect our package temperatures to drop so much so quickly.

I think it all comes down to the Ncore V2 water block's micro-fin footprint (and possibly profile and mass). It's micro-fin footprint is tiny compared to that of our RayStorm Pro. Of course, the Ncore V1 benefits from the direct-die mating with a metal TIM while the RayStorm has the disability of the IHS and an extra layer of TIM. However the RayStorm has the benefit of a "huge" surface area with much greater mass to pull heat off of compared to the Ncore V1. It would be quite possible to build a larger microfin footprint into the Ncore V1, but of course that would make it a lot larger in size and cost. However I think that could be done while keeping its mounting system.

That all said, NUDEcnc is claiming on the KickStarter page to see a much larger delta that we have, so that leaves me wondering is the RayStorm Pro that good compared to what he is using, or did we leave some Cs on the table with our Ncore install. Looking at our TIM footprint, as pictured above, I think our mating was dead on, and our results were repeatable. Also, the Prime95 SmallFFT load we are using is a "monster" as well when it comes to heating up CPUs. I generally do not read a lot of reviews at other sites on the products we test, but I am interested in seeing some more reviews on this product and see if larger temperature deltas are found and how exactly those tests are carried out.

The Ncore V1's mounting system is worth discussing as well. It claims a 12 second install. And I am sure we could get it down to that with a bit of practice...without any tubing attached to it. Once you put tubing on the Ncore V1, installing the thing can get downright tricky. Even with the tubing zip-tied in place to keep it from pulling hard one way or another, it was difficult to get locked down under the LGA 1151 socket cap with confidence. If you are using this block I would suggest installing it before plumbing it. That said, once it is in place, it seemed to be very much in place. I did move the tubing about a good bit to see if I could get the Ncore V1 to slip and slide, or tilt, but I could not. That said, I did not exactly go bonkers on it either as I did not want to shatter the core of my CPU.

The Ncore V1 is a very good product in its current prototype state and we know changes are being made. The biggest is that the Ncore will be moving to a flat cold-plate and will come with an included shim-plate, instead of the "built-in" shim the prototype has. (Everything old is new again!) The Ncore V1's cooling prowess is solid. Its mounting system seems to be solid as well, but it will certainly be tested by users and I think limits will be found. The Ncore V1 Kickstarter was just launched, and actually acquiring an Ncore V1 through it will cost you 69 Pounds Sterling, which is $96.94US. The RayStorm Pro can be had for $80 or $74, depending if you want Frag Harder Disco Lights, or just lights.

We very much like the Ncore V1. It comes across as a very solid product. It will simply come down to what you value and how you want your system configured. Of course it is worth keeping in mind that the Ncore V1 cannot be used on a CPU with a heatspreader installed, and the RayStorm Pro cannot be used for direct die (at least not without socket modifications.)

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