In the custom PC world, overclocking is the name of the game for the hardest of hardcore users. Wringing out extra performance from your hardware — for free — is one of the best feelings in the world. The only problem: increasing CPU speed and voltage means extra heat.
While the most extreme PC enthusiasts will immediately look towards custom water cooling loops as they offer the most options and performance. But, what if you’re just dipping your toes into this whole custom PC thing. That’s where high-end air coolers such as the NZXT Havik 140 come into play.
Step inside as we see if NZXT’s new air cooler has enough to keep up with the current champs, and just maybe see if it can nip a sealed water cooling kit in the butt while we’re at it…
Design, Installation & Fit
From a design perspective, the Havik 140 is pretty hot as far as PC air coolers go. It features a towering stack of radiator fins and two slick fans, which on the surface, at least look the part. Featuring Six 6mm heat pipes and a tall, single-tower of closely spaced fins means the Havik 140 at least looks the part. Other specs include: 100% soldered copper base and aluminum fins with nickel plating, fans rated at 25 dBA and 90.3 CFM, and support for Intel socket 1366, 1155, 1156, 775 and AMD socket AM3, AM2+, AM2.
But what good is a pretty face without some oomph to back it up? Thankfully, the Havik 140 is a beast.
That said, owners of smaller mid-tower cases may find some issues fitting the Havik 140 inside their cases. We have a Coolermaster Storm Scout as our main case of choice and were able to just barely close the side panel on top of the Havik 140. One big thing we must note is that in order to get everything in agreement, the top side panel fan slot must remain unused. There are a few millimeters at best sans fan, so obviously it had to go.
One other thing we must note is that of RAM clearance. Up until now we’ve used Corsair Vengeance RAM which employs some pretty tall heat spreaders. Unfortunately, the heatsink on the Havik 140 (more specifically, the heatpipes) comes over the 1st RAM slot on our Gigabyte P67-UD7 motherboard, making such RAM all but impossible to use. We briefly toyed with the idea of removing the heat spreaders as a solution but ultimately decided resell and warranty support were more important.
Mounting the fans onto the giant tower is a somewhat meticulous process. Using the included rubber bands to stretch around the four corners of the Havik 140 can be a bit testing of your patience, especially if you’re like us and installing the Havik in a smaller case. That said, we’re half-and-half on NZXT’s choice to use rubber bands (essentially) to hold the fans in place. On one hand they’re extremely versatile and allow a more customized installation. However, what we worry about, as other reviewers of the Havik 140 have noted, is how well the rubber bands will hold up over longer term use.
Rubber has a nasty habit of becoming brittle and breaking as the years mount. What NZXT has done different with their rubber (if anything) hasn’t been made available. Because of this, we would have liked to see NZXT include some extra rubber bands, or gone with a more tried and true approach of using metal hangers instead.
Just for review’s sake we got our old Coolermaster HAF 932 out of the closet to see how well the Havik 140 fit. Unsurprisingly, things were much roomier and easier to deal with.
We’ve heard plenty of things about the Havik 140’s cooling abilities since it was released (and other reviews began trickling out). We were skeptical that it was on par with the mighty Noctua NH-D14. And while we can’t speak on the Noctua as we haven’t personally tested it, our numbers have at least matched up with other reviews.
On our Intel Core i7 2600K overclocked to 4.5 GHz @ 1.33v we saw temps max out at right around 60C (+/- 1-2 degrees over 24-hour testing). The room in which we tested was in a cool Indiana basement, (65F) so our results are admittingly going to be lower than many others. That said, comparing our results at our room temps. is consistant with tests consisting of higher ambient temps — the NZXT performs and performs well. In fact, the Havik 140 offers up 1-2 degrees cooler temps than our normal cooler, the Corsair H70.
In short: NZXT’s first foray into high-end air cooling is a smashing success.
The Havik 140 marks a new market for Gadgetsteria. While we’ve dabbled with some PC hardware before, air coolers are new for us. Because of that, we don’t have a long list of data consisting of other coolers to compare to. But rest assured, we’re working on continuing the PC hardware reviews and look forward to adding more data to help you make better buying decisions when it comes to such things.
Soapbox speech aside, is the Havik 140 really worth buying at its asking price of $74.99? We’ll note that the Havik 140 is priced on the higher side of air coolers and beginning to encroach on sealed water cooling systems. While the latter don’t always exceed the performance of a good high-end air cooler, they are generally much more compact — something smaller case owners will greatly appreciate.
In the end, we’re comfortable recommending the Havik 140. It’s a great high-end air cooler with a smaller-than-your-average footprint that also happens to run rather quietly. That said, we worry about the agin of the rubber bands holding the fans, and owners of mid-size cases will want to do some measuring before taking the plunge.
Purchase: NZXT Havik 140
Gadgetsteria’s Rating: 8
- Performance: 9
- Price: 8
- Included Parts & Installation: 7.5