On Frostytech's review bench today is an interesting heatsink from Coolermaster called the Hyper N520. This tower heatsink stands out because its two 92mm fans are arranged in an offset push-pull formation. There are a couple reasons for offsetting the fans by 20mm that we'll touch on momentarily, and a little history behind the fans themselves.
Before we dive into all of that it's worth noting that the Coolermaster Hyper N520 heatsink is geared for lower-noise cooling requirements. The cooler stands 142mmmm tall, is 118mm wide and accommodates two 92mm fans that spin at 1800RPM each. The heatsink weighs 688grams and is compatible with Intel Socket 775, 771, 1366 (Socket T/J/B respectively) and the entire family of AMD Socket 939/AM2+ processors.
Unlike a lot of heatsinks on the market right now, the Hyper N520 eschews the trendy 'exposed heatpipe base' for a copper base block into which three 6mm diameter "U" shaped heatpipes and two 6mm diameter "L" shaped heatpipes are soldered. The reason for the mixing and matching has to do with the offset aluminum cooling fins.
The two 92mm Coolermaster fans are of the side-vented frame style. This approach to vanaxial fan design first cropped up in the year 2000 when Andrew Lemont released a solid copper heatsink called the Glaciator. It featured horizontal slits in the frame surrounding the spinning fan impeller, a technique which had its origins in noise abatement for aircraft engines, pioneered and patented by Lemont Aircraft Corp. in 1994. The original idea has been steadily simplified and refined to a less complicated shape, but the underlying principles seem to have remained constant.
A few years later a short-lived company called Millenium Thermal Solutions was created to adapt the thrust ring concept down to scale suitable for CPU cooling. Patent No. 5,896,917 Active Heatsink Structure with Flow Augmenting Rings and Method for Removing Heat set down the groundwork for the prototype Glaciator heatsink that was to follow. The concept was supposed to reduce noise levels, particularly when compared to the standard brushless DC fans of the time.
The original aerospace concept was distilled from a fan inset into the heatsink body to a series of thin horizontal vents in the frame surrounding the fan blades. The vents augment the way air is drawn into the impeller, and to some degree this reduces noise levels.
The first processor specific iteration of the technology came in the form of the aforementioned Glaciator heatsink. Its fan hub was recessed into the body of the heatsink with the slits formed by copper plates on all sides. Later iterations abandoned this approach for a free standing fan with horizontal slits in the fan frame, allowing the fan to be mounted onto any heatsink, rather than specially designed and built CPU coolers.
You can see an example of the first generation heatsink/fan integration here, the second generation horizontally slitted fan frame used on the Thermaltake Silent Boost heatsink and Coolermaster Hyper TX2, and the final and greatly simplified side-vented fan frame here. What's interesting about all of this is how the genesis of an idea initially developed to solve an issue in aerospace applications has made its way from helicopter engine design to the world of computer cooling, then over several years distilled by commercial PC fan manufacturers to its most basic form.
The Coolermaster Hyper N520 heatsink uses the same style of side-vented fan as the old Coolermaster Hyper 48, only in this case a translucent clear plastic has been selected for visual appeal. The flow augmentation rings of Adrew Lemont's original patent have been scaled down to horizontal openings which probably suit the lower air velocities that a 92mm diameter fan actually creates... or perhaps it's just different enough to circumvent patent claims - there's no way to really know.
Offset 92mm Fans
The other unique aspect of the Hyper N520 are that its two 92mm fans are set off-axis with one another. One fan forces air into the tower of aluminum fins, while the second is positioned 20mm off to the right, drawing air out from the aluminum fins. There are a couple reasons Coolermaster could have chosen this approach, so let's speculate.
Does all this engineering mean the Coolermaster Hyper N520 heatsink will outperform competing heatsinks on thermal and acoustic fronts? No, not necessarily.... the only way to really discover how a heatsink performs is to test it - so we'll hold off on final conclusions until that data is in.
Coolermaster's Hyper N520 heatsink is compatible with Intel socket 775/771/1366 and AMD socket 754/939/940/AM2/AM2+ processors. The heatsink comes with a set of rear-motherboard support brackets, and a couple metal clips that screw onto the copper base of the heatsink to accommodate the various CPU sockets.
We continue to not be particularly fond of the way the Coolermaster mounting system works; it requires the motherboard be removed from the chassis each time you install or remove the heatsink to access the double-threaded screws and nuts. If you have a computer case which allows easy access to the rear of the motherboard (ie. via a hole cut in the motherboard tray), the system isn't too cumbersome to install.
FrostyTech's Test Methodologies are outlined in detail here if you care to know what equipment is used, and the parameters under which the tests are conducted. Now let's move forward and take a closer look at this heatsink, its acoustic characteristics, and of course its performance in the thermal tests!
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