[SOLVED] CPU cooler recommendation for limited vertical space situation ?

Jul 4, 2021
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Hello Everyone:

Problem:
Following the apparent death of my liquid cooler, I am in the market for a quality replacement. However, the major hurdle (for an air cooler at least) is the "vertical" space I have for installation (the space between the first PCI-E card and the top of the case).

While manufacturers specifications exist (and I will certainly look at them), I find sometimes unseen installation problems can creep in (esp. when you are working with small tolerances). So I thought I would ask for recommendations here.

Specs:
Cooling (liquid): Corsair H100i v1 (Not Working)
CPU: Intel i7-4770K
MoBo: Asus Maximus VI Formula
PSU: Corsair HX1000
Case: Corsair Carbide Air 540
RAM: Corsair Vengence Pro 2,400MHz DDR3

Measurements:
Since I am not sure how to describe the dimensions involved, I will be measuring them in centimetres (with approximate inch conversions) as taken from the centre or edge of the CPU (pictures included).

A) Asus Maximus VI Formula Layout



B) Setup side view (with H100i CPU heat sink intact):



C) Setup side view close up (with H100i CPU heat sink removed but radiator/fans intact):



D) Close up of CPU and RAM



E) Measurements (apologies for the potato photo quality: best I could do with an old phone)

a. Distance between first PCI-E card and the centre of the CPU: 6 cm (2.4 inches)



Since I believe most air coolers are symmetrical around the CPU centre line, I assume this will be the major limiting measurement. Any CPU air cooler with a "width" of more than 12 cm (4.7 inches) might be out.

b. Height of RAM: 4.5 cm (1.8 inches) and distance of RAM from edge of CPU, (3.5 cm or 1.4 inches).





I assume this would be the second major limiting factor as my RAM components are tall.

c. Separation between the CPU and the case's wall (not pictured) is 19 cm (7.5 inches)

Requirements:


The only requirement is that the cooler fit the space.

Nice-To-Have (but not essential):

a. Air cooler preferred (since for a water cooler, space is not an issue).
b. More metal and less plastic involved the better.
c. No or minimal RGB and bright colours.

Price:
Since prices vary between countries, I would set the max price (for the air cooler) as equivalent to how much ever a Noctua NH-D15 sells for where you are.

Notes:
I really liked the Noctua NH-D15 and the DEEPCOOL Assassin III but both are (just!) too large and would require the removal of the first PCI-E card. If an air cooler is really not an option then please recommend any AIO water-cooler setups.

If you would need any extra details, please mention them and I will do my best to provide.

Thanks for reading!
 

Eximo

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Noctua has extensive tests or motherboard compatibility.
Here is the one for your Asus Maximus VI Formula:
https://ncc.noctua.at/motherboards/model/ASUS-ROG-Maximus-VI-Formula-2558
Both the NH-D15 and NH-D15s are compatible with your motherboard.
Of the two, I would pick the NH-D15s. It is a bit offset to add clearance from the pcie slot as well as allowing the use of tall ram.
Price and performance are comparable.
Normally I would agree, but that card in his top slot is substantial in 'height' I worry the heatsink fins on the regular NH-D15 might get in the way. Hard to say.

Here's an example with a Formula VII:

https://pcpartpicker.com/b/kHPscf

Plenty of others that show the top slot with the D15 are more or less blocked.
 

Eximo

Titan
Ambassador
I used to have very similar hardware, and even a sound card in the top slot. Most 120mm coolers will fit just fine. Just depends on what you want to spend.

NH-D15 original is known to have issues with top mounted GPUs as was a common problem with top slot GPUs. NH-D15S is offset and should offer better compatibility, but probably to be avoided in your situation along with other 140mm/150mm based coolers.

Venerable Evo 212 series will work:

https://pcpartpicker.com/product/hmtCmG/cooler-master-cpu-cooler-rr212e20pkr2

Scythe Kotetsu II
https://pcpartpicker.com/product/sM66Mp/scythe-kotetsu-mark-ii-512-cfm-cpu-cooler-scktt-2000

Arctic Freezer E34 Duo
https://pcpartpicker.com/product/dmXnTW/arctic-freezer-34-esports-duo-cpu-cooler-acfre00060a

Scythe Mugen 5
https://pcpartpicker.com/product/8GBrxr/scythe-mugen-5-rev-b-5117-cfm-cpu-cooler-scmg-5100

Dark Rock 4
https://pcpartpicker.com/product/FRYLrH/be-quiet-dark-rock-4-cpu-cooler-bk021

Noctua products:
https://pcpartpicker.com/product/wjmLrH/noctua-cpu-cooler-nhu12s
 
Noctua has extensive tests or motherboard compatibility.
Here is the one for your Asus Maximus VI Formula:
https://ncc.noctua.at/motherboards/model/ASUS-ROG-Maximus-VI-Formula-2558
Both the NH-D15 and NH-D15s are compatible with your motherboard.
Of the two, I would pick the NH-D15s. It is a bit offset to add clearance from the pcie slot as well as allowing the use of tall ram.
Price and performance are comparable.
 

Eximo

Titan
Ambassador
Noctua has extensive tests or motherboard compatibility.
Here is the one for your Asus Maximus VI Formula:
https://ncc.noctua.at/motherboards/model/ASUS-ROG-Maximus-VI-Formula-2558
Both the NH-D15 and NH-D15s are compatible with your motherboard.
Of the two, I would pick the NH-D15s. It is a bit offset to add clearance from the pcie slot as well as allowing the use of tall ram.
Price and performance are comparable.
Normally I would agree, but that card in his top slot is substantial in 'height' I worry the heatsink fins on the regular NH-D15 might get in the way. Hard to say.

Here's an example with a Formula VII:

https://pcpartpicker.com/b/kHPscf

Plenty of others that show the top slot with the D15 are more or less blocked.
 
Normally I would agree, but that card in his top slot is substantial in 'height' I worry the heatsink fins on the regular NH-D15 might get in the way. Hard to say.

Here's an example with a Formula VII:

https://pcpartpicker.com/b/kHPscf

Plenty of others that show the top slot with the D15 are more or less blocked.
No reason not to use a NH-D15s instead.
More compatible, same performance and same cost.
 
Jul 4, 2021
8
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geofelt & Eximo: Thanks for taking the time to provide a) such a detailed list of potential choices and b) the links to the Noctua & PCPartPicker websites. Between the two of them, you've pretty much solved the problem!

I had used PCPartPicker.com in the past but hadn't realised (till you posted the links) that you could use the pictures in the "completed builds" database to see how the coolers would sit. I was able to cross reference your list of coolers with my motherboard and case to see if they would overlap the first PCI-E slot.

The overwhelming favourites turned out to be the NH-D15S and the Hyper EVO 212. While I really liked the Noctua, it's only available after several weeks from websites with uncertain reputations. So, decided to go with Amazon and the Hyper EVO 212 Black Edition (since it virtually identical to the standard EVO 212 but has a better mounting system).

I will report back here once the part comes and I try to install it (probably on Sunday).

Regardless of how that turns out, thanks for all the attention till now.

P.S. Apologies for the delay in replying. Work intervened.
 
Jul 4, 2021
8
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Went through all your recommendations and based on them, product availability and what PCPartsPicker.com was able to show me about their positioning, finally settled on the Hyper 212 RGB Black Edition.

Installed and working great!




Marking this thread solved, repping and closing (if possible and allowed).

Thank you all for reading and esp. geofelt & Eximo for your help. You made a complex issue, straightforward.
 
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