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Cooler Master Seidon 240M CPU Cooler Review

AkG

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Sealed all in one units like Corsair’s Hydro series and NZXT’s Kraken can be considered a highly refined bridge solution between the temperatures offered by custom water cooling loops and the plug and play simplicity of air based solutions. Due to the integration of high performance cooling potential alongside low noise profiles and relatively inexpensive pricing, they’re also quite popular. Naturally, this has led to a large number of manufacturers jumping onto the bandwagon and Cooler Master is simply one of the latest with their new Seidon series.

While the likes of Corsair, Thermaltake and the now-merged CoolIT have hogged the majority of headlines, Cooler Master was actually one of the first to introduce closed loop liquid cooling to the world. All the way back in 2004 their Aquagate Mini R80 was considered groundbreaking and certainly well ahead of its time but it also came at a steep cost relative to the design’s actual capabilities. Since then Cooler Master has been fairly quiet on the water cooling side of things and rather have spent most of their efforts on air-based heatsinks like their ultra-popular V6 GT and Hyper 212 PLUS. That mentality is in the process of changing.

With their release of the Seidon series of All in One cooling devices Cooler Master has once again turned their engineering prowess back to this all important marketplace. Their high performance model is the Seidon 240M, a large scale unit which is supposed to compete against Corsair’s H100 and H100i while retailing for substantially less. That may be a tall order but its specifications do point towards excellent cooling potential.


In comparison to its immediate competition, the Seidon 240M offers up an enticing set of features like a 27mm thick radiator and support for up to four fans. It has the quickest-running fans of the bunch as well. However, in some areas, the Seidon is slightly behind the latest offerings from Corsair and NZXT. For example, Cooler Master saved some money by choosing to forego a USB-based fan controllers, its tubing remains at the standard 3/8” OD and the warranty is only 2 years or roughly 3 years less than what Corsair includes.

Within sea of CoolIT and Asetek designs, Cooler Master is banking on their proprietary in-house design to help distinguish their 240M model from that of the competition as well. Considering the number of years’ experience at their disposal, and the dual radiator design, we have very few concerns about performance.

With a reasonable asking price of 99.99 – or $10 less than a Corsair H80i or $20 less than a H100i – the Seidon 240M is sure to gain traction among those who put value first and foremost. However performance and price are only two of the three key areas required in this high competitive AIO marketplace. The other area is ease of use and in our eyes, this could potentially make or break Cooler Master’s flagship cooler.

 
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AkG

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Closer Look at the Seidon 240M

Closer look at the Seidon 240M



Much like any All In Once cooling device meant for the retail channel, the Seidon 240M’s shipping container is eye catching while still being very informative.

The exterior may be large and distinctive, but the internal protection scheme is very similar to that of the competition. A sturdy cardboard tray with foam topper is the de-facto standard for AIO’s and it is not surprising to see Cooler Master opt for this form of internal protection.


Cooler Master has a reputation for complete well thought out, high quality accessories and the Seidon does not disappoint in this area. It includes a well-documented installation pamphlet, a large bag containing mounting equipment for all current Intel and AMD systems, a small tube of TIM and even a rubber vibration dampening sheath to help reduce fan / radiator mount vibrations. The latter is something not usually found in AIO accessory lists but it still quite welcome.


Currently, most All In One water coolers use either CoolIT or Asetek as their OEMs, with very few external details to differentiate them from one another. That hasn’t happened here since Cooler Master decided to take the road less travelled and ended up designing their own custom solution. It is both unique and a departure from most other units we’ve looked at in the past.


Radiator designs have somewhat homogenized over the past few generations of AIO units and while the one on Cooler Master’s Seidon 240M uses a standard dual 120mm layout which is 27mm thick and uses 12 channels, this is where the similarity ends radiator’s ends. Unlike any AIO we have seen in a long time there is the standard inlet and outlet port but there is also a third ‘fill’ port.

The third port of is sealed and has a “warranty void” if broken sticker applied to it, but if in a few years –after the warranty expires – refilling or simply ‘burping’ it will be relatively easy. This certainly does give the Seidon an added level of flexibility, but we are not entirely sure of its merits on a Sealed unit. Future refilling ideas or not, this third empty port is simply going to be another point of failure for most consumers.


The most obvious difference between the Seidon 240M and its immediate competition is the integrated waterblock and pump combination. Cooler Master states this is a completely in-house design. It also borrows heavily from the air cooling marketplace by using a tried and true mounting design with dual arms that mount directly on to the waterblock. This modular approach should make for a simple installation process and one that will be very reassuring to first time AIO users.

The block itself uses a distinct circular design which is extremely compact, possibly leading to some flow restrictions but that shouldn’t be an issue for a number of reasons. Cooler Master states the integrated pump is able to provide excellent flow values but is so quiet that an LED was added to reassure users it is indeed running. In testing the 240M’s pump easily puts CoolIT and Asetek designs to shame in the acoustics department but doesn’t incorporate an built-in fan controller. While fan controllers are still not the de-facto standard on these sealed water coolers, the lack of any hardware or software customization for the fans’ speed is rather unfortunate.


One of the reasons Cooler Master was able to opt for such a low noise pump is because of their proprietary UltraFine Micro-Channel design found inside the waterblock. It allows more copper to come into contact with the water flow and leads to a more efficient transfer of heat to the coolant. Unfortunately, one downside to using such a low noise pump is it can’t sustain sufficient water flow speed through larger diameter openings, hence the strict adherence to 3/8” OD tubing.

Connecting the block to the radiator is a pair of water lines which are attached to 90° connectors and are fabricated using rigid style tubing instead of the newer more malleable rubber compound used on some other units. The 90° connectors do however provide enough swiveling capability so the rigid tubing becomes a non-issue during installation.


The water block’s base finish is easily the best we have encountered to date on a sealed water cooling unit. It is simply in a different league than even Asetek units and this should help boost performance slightly. Interestingly, Cooler Master has not opted for pre-applied thermal compound, opting to include a small tube of TIM instead. While certainly a boon to enthusiasts, this does make the Seidon slightly less user-friendly for novices who may not be comfortable applying their own compound.


The Seidon 240M’s fans are very similar in appearance and design to Cooler Master’s ‘BladeMaster’ line. However, in this case they are rated for 600 – 2400 rpm with a maximum static pressure of a whopping 4.16mm. In other words, these 86.15 CFM fans will use high static pressure to power airflow through the radiator but won’t do so at low volumes. In addition, a Rifle Bearing design puts them at a distinct disadvantage against the Fluid Dynamic bearing fans used in Corsair, NZXT and numerous other competitors’ offerings. We are unsure why Cooler Master spent so much time and effort making the pump so quiet just too have it be easily overwhelmed by rather loud fans.
 
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AkG

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Seidon 240M Installation (Intel / AMD)

Seidon 240M Installation (Intel)


For anyone who has ever installed a Cooler Master heatsink, the Seidon 240M’s mounting process will seem very familiar. That is to say it is fairly straightforward, but a touch more complicated than the gold standard Corsair H55/H8i/100i coolers. On the positive side, while it is more complicated than CoolIT’s magnet based installation it is much, much easier than any Asetek based AIO. This does place the Seidon 240M in the upper middle end of the pack.


As with any serious CPU cooling solution, the first step is preparing the back plate. The corners of Cooler Master’s Intel backplate have a slider mechanism for each of the main Intel socketed types – including 775. You simply slide each corner post to the right length and place it on the back of the motherboard so each post goes through the appropriate corner. Once the backplate is installed, a quartet of metal standoffs is screwed into place keeping the backplate in place. This all happens with a minimum of fuss.


With the backplate and motherboard prepped, the next step is to set up the Seidon’s waterblock for installation. This is accomplished by selecting the two Intel universal top brackets and mounting them to the waterblock via small screws. These screws are the single weak link in this design as they are easy to lose and finicky to get into place. However, patience and perseverance will see anyone through this process.


With the block ready to go, the next step is to prep the CPU with a minor amount of the included thermal paste, place the waterblock in position and attach it to the metal standoffs via the four spring loaded screws on the two top brackets. These screws cannot be over tightened so even novice users will know when they are fully secured.

The last step is to install the fans and radiator into your case. As with any dual 120mm radiator, your case will need to have the appropriate dual 120mm top exhaust ports.


Since there is no software included there is nothing else to be done but plug in the fans and 3 pin power cable for the pump. Overall it may not be the absolute easiest installation available, but the Seidon’s robust components coupled with good engineering do make for a fairly straightforward installation, regardless of which Intel socket type your motherboard is equipped with. More importantly its ability to be mounted on to 775 systems does put the Seidon 240M at a distinct advantage over both CoolIT and Asetek’s latest generation which usually lacks Socket 775 support.


AMD System Installation


Unlike any other AIO cooler we have looked at recently the Cooler Master Seidon uses the exact same installation procedure for AMD as it does for Intel, the only difference being the hardware components you use.


To start the installation you once again prep the motherboard by removing the stock AMD backplate and replacing it with the included Cooler Master AMD backplate. You then secure it in position via the use of four included standoffs.


You then prep the waterblock and this time instead of Intel retention arms you use the two AMD arms. Like their Intel counterparts the AMD retention arms are secured via two small screws per arm. With this done, prep the CPU with TIM, mount the radiator and fans to your top exhaust ports and are done once you plug in the various cables.
 
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AkG

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Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology


To ensure that the results from one review to another are not only reproducible but actually pertinent to this review, the Testing Methodology will be the same throughout all water cooling review. If something does change we will be sure to make a special note of it and explain why this change was done and more importantly why things had to be changed or altered.


Thermal Paste and Application Methods:

Arctic Cooling MX-2 thermal paste was used for all water based CPU cooling solutions during these tests unless otherwise noted. Application of thermal paste was in accordance with the TIM manufacturer’s instructions; and while not necessary, the TIM was allowed to cure for 24 hours under moderate to high loads (with periods of low loads) prior to testing.


Fans Used:

120mm:

For all water based CPU Cooling Solutions which do not come standard with a fan, a pair of Noctua NF-P12-1300s and a Scythe S-Flex “G” 1900RPM fan will be used if it accepts 120mm fans. With these two fans we are able to simulate different fan speed conditions as indicated below.


High Speed:

1900RPM Scythe S-Flex “G”. To be more precise our specific fan runs at 1860RPMs. Any stock fan which comes with the ability of being controlled by means other than the motherboard (e.g. remote fan speed controller, potentiometer, rheostat, etc) will be set to this speed during the High speed test and BOTH sets of performance results will be included.


Dual Fans:

Dual NF-P12-1300s

*Dual fans only used if the cooler comes with the necessary mounting hardware.


92mm Fan:

If the cooler being tested only accepts 92mm fans, a Noctua NF-B9-1600 will be used.

If the given CPU cooling solution comes with a stock fan we will also include its numbers in the closest of the main tests BUT we will also include our standard fan results in that particular tests.


Fan Notes:

- If a water cooling solution cannot mount an aftermarket fan, we will be only including the stock fan results. However, if the stock fan speed can be precisely controlled by means other than the motherboard BIOS (an included remote fan speed controller, potentiometer, rheostat, etc), the cooler will be tested at different fan speeds.

- For dual fan results ALL water coolers capable of mounting two fans (and come with the necessary hardware) will be tested with two NF-P12s and the Dual Fan graph will contain data for other such dual capable fan coolers.

We feel that the combination of multiple speeds and multiple fans will allow us to give you our readers clear and precise idea of the capabilities of a given unit, in an accurate comparison. It will also help eliminate the occasional “zinger” such as when a manufacturer includes an extremely high-speed fan in order to possibly offset poor thermal performance.


Environment:

Except where noted all comparison testing was done inside a closed case with a room ambient temperature of 24c. If at any time the room temperature increased or decreased by more than 1°C, testing was halted until the temperature constant was re-established.


Testbed:

The case chosen for this test bed is a Cooler Master HAF-X. We chose the HAF-X as it a highly adaptable case with not only multiple fan ports but is capable of handling even the largest of AIO coolers. To populate these fan ports we chose Scythe E 120mm units with Sony Fluid Dynamic Bearings. Unless otherwise noted, only one of the top two exhaust fan ports, the rear exhaust port and front fan intake port will be populated. The front fan port will use the stock CM 230mm fan. The rear exhaust port will be populated by the review item's fan and radiator where possible, for the air based cooling alternative used in the review as a counter example another Scythe E will be used.


Warm Up:

Before testing commenced 15 minutes of running Prime95 “small fft” followed by 45 minutes of idling was done. This warm up period was done at stock CPU core frequencies. This additional pretest was done to ensure that the fluid in the liquid CPU cooling solutions were at ambient room temperature and thus the test results would be more indicative of real world scenarios. For all air based cooling solutions the same 15 minutes of heavy load followed by 45 minutes of idle was also done.


Temperature Recording:

Recorded temps were as reported via the Real Temp plug-in for the RivaTuner monitor program.

Max and Average load temps are based on 15 minutes of running Prime95 “small fft” and are taken directly from RivaTuner’s built in capabilities.

The maximum temperatures will be the highest recorded temp displayed for any of the cores during the 15 minute test. While RivaTuner will display each core's average temperature it does not easily show the average of ALL the cores. To this end we will be simply taking the average of all the cores adding them together and then dividing by the number of cores.

If during any test temperatures of 95°C or more are displayed in RivaTuner (for any core) for more than 10 consecutive seconds the testing will be halted and that test run will be considered a "fail".

Idle temperatures are the lowest recorded temperature during idle period as recorded by the RealTemp Rivatuner monitoring program.

All CPU throttling technology was disabled in the BIOS; as was all CPU fan speed control. In addition, Turbo Mode was disabled and Hyperthreading was enabled. All power connectors for the review item are connected directly to Molex connectors to ensure they were running at full speed.

All tests are run a minimum of three times and only the best results are represented.


Charts & Graphs:

Each chart will include the Maximum or “peak” temperature we recorded, the average temperature and the idle temperature.

No passive results will be shown UNLESS manufacturer claims the ability to passively cool a processor. If a manufacturer claims passive capabilities we will include the performance numbers in the charts. The only exception to this is if the review is a “review roundup” and to keep the charts from becoming confusing we may not do so.

All water cooling reviews will also include a air based CPU cooling which best approximates the price range of the water cooling solution being reviewed. This way you will not only know how it compares to other water cooling units but also an Air based CPU cooling solution which is in the same approximate price range.


Sound Pressure Testing:

To give a more accurate and less of a personal opinion on the noise level of the stock fan which accompanies the heatsink, we have included a new section for sound pressure testing. These tests are done in our open case setup outlined above with the meter positioned 30 inches away from the cooler and mounted on a tripod. To ensure the background noise does not skew the results all tests will start by recording the ambient noise of the room. Only when it meets our standards will the testing commence.

To ensure that no external noise unduly skews the results, the GPU used will be a passively cooled unit and the only active fan will be the one on the cooler while the PSU and HDD are isolated away from the immediate area.

These tests are run late at night when no other people or animals are awake and thus unable to influence the results.

All fans are run at their maximum speed with no voltage or PWM control being used during the sound pressure tests.

The sound pressure meter used is a DT-805 which has been professionally calibrated and NIST certified. We will record the highest levels obtained with said meter and record it as our result. The test will be 15 minutes long and will be run while the fan is running full speed via a Molex connector and the CPU cores are under a full load via Prime 95 Small FFT.


Please note: The Scythe S-Flex G and Noctua NF-P12-1300 (at 1300 and 900rpms) numbers are taken when mounted to a Cooler Master Hyper 212+. We feel that it would be extremely unfair and unrealistic to include noise rating for these after market fans if they were NOT mounted onto a cooler. They are included to help give some sense of proportion to the charts and allow you to more easily compare a stock fan against a known quantity.


Complete Test System:

Case: Cooler Master HAF-X
Processor: Intel i7 920(Intel) AMD Phenom 2 1090T(AMD)
Motherboard: Gigabyte X58-UD3R (Intel) Gigabyte 890FXA-UD7(AMD)
Memory: 6GB Mushkin Silverline Stiletto DDR3-1600
Graphics card: EVGA GeForce GT 240
Hard Drive: 1x 240GB Intel 520 SSD
Power Supply: Topower Powerbird 900W

Special thanks to Gigabyte for their support and supplying the i7 motherboard.
 
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AkG

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Stock Fan Performance Results

Stock Fan Performance Results





Considering this is the first dual 120 bay radiator that we have seen to –barely- come in under the magic $100 mark, the Cooler Master Seidon 240M does post some extremely good numbers. Once the heat is turned way, way up that the performance difference between it and a Corsair H100i becomes noticeable but even then, the difference likely won’t impact overall system performance. A slight decrease in performance for a 16-20% reduction in cost may just be too persuasive for many consumers to ignore.
 
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AkG

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Dual and Quad Fan Performance Results

Dual and Quad Fan Performance Results





As expected, swapping out the two stock fans for a pair of Noctua NF-P12-1300s certainly does impact performance. However, the massive reduction in noise may actually make this a worthwhile endeavor.

Conversely, opting for a quad fan configuration really won’t gain you all that much. The Seidon’s radiator is rather thin and the pair of stock fans are more than capable of effectively pushing air through it. Even lower static pressure NF-P12-1300 fans do not really have a hard time of it, and it’s more a case of the 1300’s lower airflow rather than lower static pressure that causes the performance drop.
 
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AkG

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Sound Level Testing

Sound Level Testing


While everyone "hears" noise differently there is one easy way to remove all subjectivness and easily compare different fans: use a sound level meter. This way you can easily compare the various fans noise envelopes without us colouring the results and see what fans fit within your personal comfort level. Of course, we will endeavour to try and explain the various results (which are taken at a 30 inch distance) to help you our readers get an even better understanding of how loud a cooler's stock fan is, but even if you discount our personal opinions, the fact remains numbers don't lie. All fans are tested with both voltage regulation / PWM turned off.




While the performance of the Seidon 240M is certainly impressive, the noise it creates while doing so puts it behind offerings from Corsair and NZXT. This certainly isn’t the quietest solution around, a fact which is aggravated by the two fans’ acoustical profile which is quite high pitched rather than a low basso hum.

Normally this wouldn’t be an issue since many recent additions to the All In One market feature integrated fan controllers. As such, they can be easily dialed down to more reasonable decibel levels based upon the cooling performance you want to achieve. The Seidon 240M on the other hand requires its fans be mounted directly to the motherboard’s fan headers, relying upon BIOS modifications or the sometimes-clunky software solutions board vendors include in order to modify its fan speeds. We understand the need to cut costs in order to meet a certain price point but Cooler Master’s latest water cooler is sorely lacking in this respect.
 
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AkG

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Conclusion

Conclusion


After being absent for years, Cooler Master may have been late to the current all in one water cooling game but the Seidon 240M is nonetheless a bona fide competitor which provides excellent all-round capabilities without costing an absolute fortune. Everything from its robust installation, to heavy duty fans, to that excellent waterblock screams design excellence and performance. We would expect nothing less from one of the granddaddies of the closed loop water cooling marketplace.

Although its actual performance is not quite up to the standards set by the NZXT X60 and Corsair H100i, the Seidon 240M is still an device which demands respect. We doubt many will find its performance potential to be anything but impressive as minor differences at high heat loads are of limited importance when margin of error is taken into account. In addition, finding this level of cooling capabilities is literally impossible without spending substantially more on a competing solution.

As mentioned in the introduction, we had very little doubts about the Seidon 240M’s performance or overall value. Rather, ease of use was the all-important determining factor between success and failure. In this regard, Cooler Master has succeeded in engineering a straightforward installation process which may not be as user-friendly as certain designs but novices shouldn’t have any issues following the well documented instructions. We’ve seen many an AIO fall into the installation trap but this one emerged relatively unscathed.

In some ways, it appears Cooler Master’s design goals for this model were created –and executed – before the latest generation Asetek and CoolIT offerings came about. Take included fans for example. They may be quite powerful but at full speed the amount of noise produced is a bit excessive compared to the latest products from Corsair and NZXT. The operative words here are “full speed” since that’s how fast Cooler Master’s fans will be running unless a user is willing to drill down into their motherboard’s BIOS to modify rotational values. Buying a stand-alone fan controller is a quick work-around for this limitation but with the added expense, you could anyways upgrade to a Corsair H100i with its integrated software stack and a longer five year warranty.

Cooler Master’s Seidon 240M may not be without a few minor limitations, but overall it is still one of the best closed loop water cooling solutions currently available. If budget constraints place a Corsair H100i – let alone NZXT’s X60 - outside of your grasp, then the Seidon 240M would make an excellent price-conscious alternative.


 
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