Cooler Master Nepton 280L CPU Cooler Review

Author: AkG
Date: March 31, 2014
Product Name: Nepton 280L
Part Number: RL-N28L-20PK-R1
Warranty: 2 Years
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Bolstered by the success of their Seidon series of all in one water coolers, Cooler Master is stepping things up a notch by introducing the Nepton 280L. This represents an effort to offer up higher performance by utilizing the niche 280mm form factor and implementing several design additions to set the Nepton apart from its competition.

ďSupersize meĒ is a fitting term for Cooler Masterís latest effort since everything built into the Nepton 280L has been upsized. It uses two 140mm fans, has a thicker radiator, boasts massive (for an AiO at least) tubing and even includes a completely custom water block design thatís supposed to drastically improve flow rates and CPU heat dissipation. Considering that most entrants in this market simply tow the same line by using rebadged Asetek and CoolIT derivatives, Cooler Master is hoping to breathe some new life into a somewhat stagnant market. However, is you might expect, there are risks associated with taking the path less travelled.

On paper the Nepton 280L's specifications and features do not appear to be all that unique. Many manufactures are now offering larger '280mm' / dual 140mm radiator based units. In fact the only item which will likely jump out at consumers is Cooler Masterís use of FEP tubing instead of more modern compounds which have rightly superseded FEP. In many ways this would make the Nepton 280L just another closed loop cooler with visions of grandeur from a company that has traditionally struggled to differentiate their wares. However, weíd dare say Cooler Masterís latest attempt will likely be enough to insure folks will rethink their purchasing decisions.

Itís impossible not to mention the Nepton 280Lís price because at $140 USD, this happens to be one of the most expensive units on the market. However, there is a real lack of competitors right now since Corsairís H110 and NZXT's Kraken X60 are really the only other 280mm alternatives that are broadly available. With a situation like this taken into account, Cooler Masterís flagship will need to provide substantially better performance than dual bay 240mm AiO's in order to justify its cost and a lack of built-in fan speed control.

At just a cursory glance at the specifications the Nepton 280L appears to be nothing more than a slightly larger version of Cooler Masterís Seidon 240M. Like the Seidon, the Nepton uses a custom waterblock, older style FEP tubing and a unique 3 port radiator. However once you get beyond these superficial similarities and actually look at the Nepton the differences in designs become readily apparent.

The FEP tubing in particular is a key point of differentiation. It has been increased from the Seidonís 9.5mm to 15.5mm, is a lot more flexible and Cooler Master has included a full 15Ē of tubing, making installation all that much easier.

The largest difference between the Seidon and Nepton series is the aforementioned water block. The Seidonís was designed for pump noise reduction rather than raw, unadulterated performance and also came in a compact form factor. Cooler Masterís Nepton on the other hand uses a square and rather bulky waterblock that houses a more powerful (yet still quiet) pump yet still retains the same distinctive mounting design. It may look a bit utilitarian but the Nepton 280Lís focus is the lowest temperature possible rather than beautifying the inside of your case.

Internally the waterblock has also been upgraded and improved with better efficiency to take advantage of the large water pumpís increased flow rates. Like the Seidon before it Cooler Master includes a small tube of thermal compound rather than a single use pre-applied application, which will be great news to consumers who swap out their CPU on a semi-regular basis.

Cooler Masterís finishing process seems to have slipped a notch though. Not only does the copper surface lack fine-grain polishing, the base actually felt rough to the touch and had numerous machining marks visible to the naked eye.

The Neptonís radiator uses Cooler Masterís signature 3 port design, though with a thickness of 30mm (versus most other unitsí 27mm) for taking care of higher heat loads. It also uses 14 water channels instead of the usual 12 or 13.

What really sets this design apart addition of both 120mm and 140mm fan mounting holes, making it one of the most flexible All in Ones available today. Other 280mm-based coolers like Corsairís Hydro H110 limit case compatibility and fan selection for those who want to upgrade the two included fans. However, Cooler Master has both bases covered, opening up a world of possibilities. Unfortunately, the Nepton only uses the newer 15mm spacing for its 140mm fans while the 120mm fan spacing is completely unique.

Cooling potential is left in the hands of two JetFlo 140 fans which rated for some very impressive performance numbers. They are 4-pin PWM capable, rated for 800-2000RPM and can move upwards of 122.5 cubic feet of air per minute with 3.5mm of static pressure. Cooler Master has once again opted for a Rifle Bearing design instead of Hydro / Fluid Dynamic bearings but we doubt many end users would notice a difference.


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