Intel Core2 Quad Q6600 @ 3.0GHz
2x VisionTek Radeon HD3870 in Crossfire
OCZ Reaper 2x1GB PC3-10666 6-6-6-20
WD 74GB Raptor (10K), WD 500GB CaviarSE16 (7.2K)
PC Power & Cooling Silencer Quad 750W Crossfire Edition
Lite-On 20x DVD±R/W SATA
Lian-Li PC-A77 with NZXT Sentry LX
Windows Vista Ultimate x64
All testing of the NQ-3360A occurred at an ambient temperature of 23C, with all five case fans at high (3x120mm front intake, 2x120mm rear exhaust). Load situations for the processor consisted of one instance of Folding@Home SMP client, which puts each core at 100% load. Idle situations consisted of a blank Windows desktop measured 30 minutes after a load test. CPU temperatures were measured using CoreTemp, and only the highest core is shown (there is often a spread of up to 8C). Gelid Solutions GC-1 Thermal Compound was used for all testing. For comparison, results from the Thermaltake ProWater 850i liquid cooling kit are included (at low fan speeds), which performed in line with the OCZ Vendetta2, another HDT air cooler. The NQ-3360A fan speed was at 100% (~2k RPM) for all testing.
While the NQ-3360A doesn't perform best-in-class here, it certainly gets close. Now that we've seen what this cooler can do, let's wrap this review up with some conclusions.
The NorthQ NQ-3360A Max Tower Extreme has its fair share of pros and cons. As always, performance lies atop our list of concerns. On the cooling front, while the NQ-3360A isn't the best cooler we've seen at OCIA.net, it's certainly no disappointment. At just a few degrees worse than a nice water kit (and therefore just a few degrees worse than a high-end air cooler), the NQ-3360A definitely hangs with most of the competition out there. With dimpled cooling fins, and maybe the option to add another fan, the NQ-3360A could even be a leader in the cooling industry.
At a little over $30 USD, the NQ-3360A is also priced like a champ. Most high-end air coolers out there will knock you at least $10 more than the NQ-3360A, and only a few of them will perform better.
While the NQ-3360A performs well and is priced to please, it's not the greatest on the noise front. At high fan speeds (~2k RPM), it hits at least 30dBA, noticeably audible over five case fans even when the tower is under a desk more than a foot away.
My last note on the NQ-3360A is about installation. While I think that the installation mechanism for the NQ-3360A is among the best designed in concept, in practice it gave me a lot of trouble. The conflict with the mounting bracket was unavoidable on my motherboard, which uses a cooling system common among MSI motherboards, a popular motherboard brand (ie, this will affect many users). It's an easy problem to fix, and it's worth a second revision of the cooler. Furthermore, NorthQ should definitely look into making the mounting bracket removable.
All in all, the NQ-3360A is a fine cooler at a great price, earning the OCIA.net Seal of Approval.