Comparison Hardware, Evaluation & Conclusion
We retain the hardware configuration from previous big cooler reviews while comparing the CLC 280 to previously reviewed rivals. We retain the stock fan configuration of our Corsair 760T case, removing the magnetic panel cover to mount radiators under its top panel in exhaust orientation.
Three similarly sized closed-loop coolers set the pace for the CLC 280. Cooler Master’s Masterliquid Pro 280 comes in at an identical price (MSRP), the NZXT Kraken X61 was known for its great cooling performance, and Swiftech upped the game with the X240 H2’s ability to be reconfigured with additional components.
EVGA leads the cooling performance metric with a temperature delta of only 37°C. Our comment about airflow at the recessed edge of the fan frames appears accurate too, given the ultra-low CPU voltage regulator deltas of 7°C at full fans and 10°C at half speed.
One might have expected the greatest cooling effect to come from the fastest fans, but that statistic went to Cooler Master. Will the CLC 280 also be the second noisiest?
Actually, the CLC is the noisiest cooler in spite of its second-place fan RPM. This could set up an interesting cooling-to-noise chart . . .
Since low noise is also a performance metric, cooling-to-noise ratio is the best way to rate a cooler’s overall performance. The CLC 280 takes third place overall in Acoustic Efficiency, though it really must be noted that its full speed performance was best. That’s certain to affect the buying decisions of many overclockers.
Not surprisingly, the cooler with the best overall full-speed performance, EVGA’s CLC 280, also had the best value at that speed. The MasterLiquid Pro 280, on the other hand, needed to be $10 cheaper than the Kraken X61 to edge it out in value at both half and full speeds.
So what would we do with the CLC 280? Well, if we needed all of that cooling performance and didn’t mind a little extra noise, we’d use it. Perhaps even without the software. After all, those are PWM fans. Thus we recommend the CLC 280 specifically to buyers with hot processors and room for a 2x 140mm radiator.
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