Thermolab (Cooltek) LP53 review

Ej24

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In the interest of finding the optimal cooler for the much anticipated DR ZABER Sentry console sized case, I purchased a cooler that has seemingly been overlooked in the western world. The LP53 by Thermolab from Korea (branded as Cooltek in some European countries) caught my eye, and given the lack of information on it, I had to try it for myself.

Cooler specs:
Length 100 mm
Width 94 mm
Height 53 mm
Weight 410 g
Material 100% Copper
Rotation speed 1,000 - 2,100 rpm
Acoustical noise 16.0 - 27.1 dBa
Fan connector 4 Pin - PWM
Heatpipes 2 x 6 mm
Max. TDP 100 Watt
Compatibility: Intel LGA 115x (No AMD compatibility)

My particular LP53 was sourced, new, through eBay, shipped directly from Seoul, Korea. The price was ~$55USD. Delivery took about 3 weeks to the US. The manufacturer packaging was sufficient to keep it safe in transit.

Unboxing


No flashy coloring or marketing here. No frills, just cardboard.


Immediately upon opening the box, you're greeted by instructions that while in Korean are intelligible thanks to decent pictures. I assume if you're reading a CPU cooler review you already know a thing or two about installing a cooler so the instructions are superfluous.



The cooler is well wrapped and packaged.


Here it is freed from its packaging, ready to go head to head with the venerable Noctua NH-L9i, a favorite among SFF PC enthusiasts.



The LP53 does come with thermal paste already applied, however I'm sure most of you will opt for the thermal paste de rigueur. In the case of this review and comparison, I used Noctua's NT-H1 thermal paste which is generally well received by most PC builders.

Installation



The whole cooler is copper, through and through (except the mounting arms obviously). While it may not be too clear in the photo, the cold plate that makes contact with the CPU IHS is well machined on my unit. Not a mirror finish but easily on par with the Noctua.

Mounting the cooler involves a very similar process to the Noctua cooler. Carefully balance the motherboard and screw 4 screws in from the backside of the motherboard into the mounting arms on the cooler. Unfortunately, Thermolab does not include handy thumbscrews like Noctua, but rather simple, phillips head screws with plastic grommets to protect the motherboard. Additionally, the LP53 felt like it just wasn't quite engineered to as rigorous tolerances as the Noctua as one of the mounting arms refused to line up with the screw. After a little forceful convincing I managed to persuade the screw to meet the mounting arm.

I discovered during mounting there is no built in stop mechanism for the mounting screws designed into the LP53 like in the NH-L9i. I unwittingly over tightened the screws and had strange CPU/hardware failures after mounting. I noticed the CPU substrate (the PCB the CPU die is mounted to) was flexing significantly under the LP53. Perhaps I've stumbled upon a new method of delidding haha. Anyway, I loosened the mounting screws and the issues cleared up. I suppose the downward pressure on the CPU caused it to no longer line up with the correct pins. Needless to say, only tighten the screws about one turn after the threads begin to bite.

Overall it is a standard mounting process as long as you don't over tighten the screws.



I was initially worried the base of the cooler surrounding the cold plate (highlighted in blue above) would make contact with my CPU VRMs, but luckily I ended up having 1-1.5mm of clearance even with the cooler tightened down. This allowed me to mount the cooler with the fins running parallel to the RAM and rear I/O, which I find to be much better than perpendicular to the RAM. The latter configuration has half the exhaust trapped against the RAM, heating it up and the other half pointed at the I/O shield, which is not known for its ventilation capabilities.


For the purposes of these tests I used the Noctua NF-A9x14PWM fan that is on the NH-L9i cooler as the stock fan that comes with the LP53 renders it too tall to fit in the DR ZABER Sentry case. With the Noctua fan, the LP53, originally 53mm tall, is now more like an "LP42" at approximately 42mm high. At just 42mm, the LP53 in this configuration is well under the 47mm limit of the DR ZABER Sentry case. Check out their IndieGoGo campaign to learn more about the case, as well as their lengthy thread here on [H]. Back to the LP53, the stock cooler is a 92mm x 25mm fan that sports a unique round frame with narrow mounting holes that won't line up with many common fans on the market. It is mounted with pretty cool rubber, anti-vibration grommets that many Noctua fans come with, unfortunately they just didn't line up with the Noctua fan.

DSC_0105.jpg
I initially tried zip ties but they kept sliding around and just didn't feel secure. So naturally, I opted for an even less professional appearing solution, rubber bands. They work great! Perhaps someone more creative than myself, or someone with a 3D printer could come up with something more elegant but for the purpose of this review and comparison, the rubber bands are satisfactory.

Test System

Tests Parameters

Tests conducted include:
  • Cinebench R15
  • PassMark CPU Mark
  • AIDA64
  • 3D Mark Firestrike @1080 ~120fps
  • GTA V built in benchmark @1080 Ultra
Each test was carried out in triplicate. Average peak core temp from the 4 cores were recorded after each pass. After three test passes the average of each pass was calculated to give a single average peak temp for each of the tests.

Remember this is an open air test bench, so your results may vary depending on what case you may be using. Ambient air temperature was 17-18C.




 

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Ej24

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Results

Synthetics
upload_2017-1-29_1-33-21.png


upload_2017-1-29_1-33-32.png



upload_2017-1-29_1-34-56.png

I originally planned to conduct the typical AIDA64 stress test for 90 seconds on each cooler. Unfortunately the NH-L9i began hitting 95C after just 45 seconds at which point I terminated the test using the Noctua, it's just not worth heating my CPU to 100C. The LP53 survived a full 90 seconds without passing 90C. Not bad for a tiny cooler. I'm sure some hardcore power users and OC enthusiasts would demands a 24 hour AIDA stress test but with coolers of this caliber that's just not reasonable. Especially considering AIDA is far more taxing than 99.9% of real world use.

Gaming tests

upload_2017-1-29_1-36-1.png



upload_2017-1-29_1-36-19.png


Conclusion

The LP53 handily beats the reigning favorite of the SFF crowd, while using the Noctua cooler's own fan no less. Given the same fan was used for both it really demonstrates the difference full copper makes over the nickle plated copper base and aluminum fins on the noctua. This much copper does come at a premium though. As I mentioned previously the LP53 costs $50-60USD depending on vendor, while the NH-L9i is readily available on Amazon and Newegg for a mere $39.99USD. However, for those of us that insist on using high end CPUs above 65W TDP there are few options in the SFF arena. Every degree C counts when cooling a powerful CPU in a SFF scenario. In typical gaming usage such as Firestrike and GTA V you can clearly see a 6C advantage in favor of the Thermolab cooler. In the synthetics such as Cinebench the gap was as large as 11C! It is important to note that these results may appear even more striking if the stock 92x25mm fan is used with the LP53. However for the purposes of finding the ultimate low profile cooler, for the ultimate console sized PC case, the noctua fan had to be used. So if you're willing to wait a few weeks for delivery, and you're ok with homemade fan mounting, the Thermolab LP53 appears to be the new low profile CPU champ.
 
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RosaJ

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Awesome results! I like the rubber band approach as it was well worth it in this test.
 

SaperPL

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Can you check out how would NH-L9i work with 25mm cooler? It would be interesting to compare those two because such config might just barely fit inside sentry being ~48mm and touching the cover.

It would be also interesting to compare whether bigger radiator is better or the bigger fan is worth more.
 
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Ej24

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Can you check out how would NH-L9i work with 25mm cooler? It would be interesting to compare those two because such config might just barely fit inside sentry being ~48mm and touching the cover.

It would be also interesting to compare whether bigger radiator is better or the bigger fan is worth more.
I was thinking about trying that too. I do have a 92x25mm noctua fan sitting around. It moves about 50% more air at the same rpm. I lost the rubber grommets from the corners of the 92x25mm. This might be a good thing as it may be more likely to fit in sentry without them. I might try that today if I have enough thermal paste haha. I don't usually change cpu coolers this much. I'm not sure simply moving 50% more air is enough to catch up with 100% copper but it is worth trying.

I'm still waiting on the Thermolab itx30 which is even shorter than the lp53. Maybe I can somehow attach a 25mm thick fan to it as its so short.
 

Ej24

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How did the acoustics compare between the two coolers?
It's the same fan so very similar. It's more of a difference in timbre than volume. I don't have any fancy audio equipment to measure the exact db levels unfortunately.
 

Rysen

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Hi question from the sentry thread:

The only thing I would be worried about is that rubber bands dry up and become brittle when exposed to heat for a long time. What about thermal tape? or heat resistant rubberbands? Anyways I guess you tried what was handy for you. Thank you very much for the test I will go ahead and buy the lp53 thanks to you.

One last question. Do you think that a bracket like the one below will help installing a 120mm fan on the lp53?

Link:
https://www.amazon.com/Akust-Bracke...5722153&sr=8-3&keywords=92mm+to+120mm+adapter

EDIT: I changed my mind about buying an 120mm fan. I'm going for the 92mm fan.
 
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Ej24

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Hi question from the sentry thread:

The only thing I would be worried about is that rubber bands dry up and become brittle when exposed to heat for a long time. What about thermal tape? or heat resistant rubberbands? Anyways I guess you tried what was handy for you. Thank you very much for the test I will go ahead and buy the lp53 thanks to you.

One last question. Do you think that a bracket like the one below will help installing a 120mm fan on the lp53?



Link:
https://www.amazon.com/Akust-Bracke...5722153&sr=8-3&keywords=92mm+to+120mm+adapter
I've been thinking of more permanent solutions than rubber bands. Haven't settled on anything yet. Maybe just zip ties to supplement the rubber bands in case they fail.

As for your question, the original thermolab fan is a 92mm, but it has the hole spacing of an 80mm fan. The holes are approximately 72mm square which, from what I can tell, is the same as my 80mm nf-a8 fan.
20170129_151800.jpg

However the only caveat you may run in to is the fan mounting on the LP53 which uses rubber push pins, similar to many other anti-vibration mounts.
20170129_153058.jpg
20170129_153033.jpg
These however slot in to the fins from the side of the cooler and then up through the mounting holes on the cooler.
20170129_153007.jpg

So as long as the brackets support 80mm fans, and the rubber push pins hold it tight enough then it should be fine.
 

Ej24

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Can you check out how would NH-L9i work with 25mm cooler? It would be interesting to compare those two because such config might just barely fit inside sentry being ~48mm and touching the cover.

It would be also interesting to compare whether bigger radiator is better or the bigger fan is worth more.
I am low on thermal paste so shuffling coolers around isn't ideal at this moment. So I made an anecdotal observation using the 25mm thick fan. It's not a proper comparison but, I had the NH-L9i with the 92x25mm fan on my girlfriends pc with an i7-4790S (65w tdp). Unfortunately it has no OS as I'm waiting for a new ssd for it so it's just sitting in bios. In bios the cpu sits at 1.2v and 4ghz on the 4790s, and 1.2v and 4.4ghz on the 4790k.

After 20 minutes sitting in bios with the nh-l9i and 92x25mm the 65W i7-4790S is sitting at 48C.

At the same time I had my 88W i7-4790K with the LP53 and 92x14mm also sitting in bios. The cpu is at 40C.

So the noctua with thick fan can hold a 65w tdp cpu at 48C and the Thermolab with the thin fan can hold an 88w tdp cpu at 40C under similar conditions of 1.2v on two haswell i7's. It's not a proper empirical comparison but I think it suggests that 100% copper makes a bigger difference than shoving more air through a nickel/aluminum cooler.
 

Rysen

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I've been thinking of more permanent solutions than rubber bands. Haven't settled on anything yet. Maybe just zip ties to supplement the rubber bands in case they fail.

As for your question, the original thermolab fan is a 92mm, but it has the hole spacing of an 80mm fan. The holes are approximately 72mm square which, from what I can tell, is the same as my 80mm nf-a8 fan.
View attachment 15771

However the only caveat you may run in to is the fan mounting on the LP53 which uses rubber push pins, similar to many other anti-vibration mounts.
View attachment 15773
View attachment 15774
These however slot in to the fins from the side of the cooler and then up through the mounting holes on the cooler.
View attachment 15772

So as long as the brackets support 80mm fans, and the rubber push pins hold it tight enough then it should be fine.
Thanks! I had a better idea. I'll attach it with some copper wire.
 

Ej24

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Thanks! I had a better idea. I'll attach it with some copper wire.
Haha can't have enough copper. Again it may be difficult as there are no holes to wrap the wire through on the heatsink. The slots the rubber pins slide in to are U-shaped. You'd have to go around the heatpipes with it.

Also, you'll need some really low profile ram to fit under the fan if you go for the 120mm. So keep that in mind. My ram is some of the lowest I've ever found. Barely taller than the dimm slot clips with only a few millimeters clearance with the fan.
 
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Rysen

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Haha can't have enough copper. Again it may be difficult as there are no holes to wrap the wire through on the heatsink. The slots the rubber pins slide in to are U-shaped. You'd have to go around the heatpipes with it.

Also, you'll need some really low profile ram to fit under the fan if you go for the 120mm. So keep that in mind. My ram is some of the lowest I've ever found. Barely taller than the dimm slot clips with only a few millimeters clearance with the fan.
Yeah I'm getting the http://www.gskill.com/en/product/f4-2400c15d-32gis

Hopefully my full build will be this: https://pcpartpicker.com/user/fieldmarshall/saved/RxnGXL
 

Rysen

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Haha can't have enough copper. Again it may be difficult as there are no holes to wrap the wire through on the heatsink. The slots the rubber pins slide in to are U-shaped. You'd have to go around the heatpipes with it.

Also, you'll need some really low profile ram to fit under the fan if you go for the 120mm. So keep that in mind. My ram is some of the lowest I've ever found. Barely taller than the dimm slot clips with only a few millimeters clearance with the fan.
Actually, do you think 31.2mm won't fit? I read the ballistic memory is like 25.6mm the smallest out there but it looks like there is a bit of space between the top of the heatsink and your memory so I'd figure that should be about 6mm.
 

Ej24

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Nice ram. Should fit under the fan, I think. Corsair also has their LPX low profile Ddr4 dimms which are available up to 3000mhz or more if you want faster low profile memory.

Definitely keep an eye out for deals on 1080FE's from other manufacturers if you haven't already purchased it. I've seen them go for $599 with rebates periodically. I got mine for $550 but I had to use some amazon gift cards to get down to that price. Do you already have another ssd or hdd? 240gb will fill up quick unless you only play 3 or 4 games regularly.
 

danger

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Are there any stores in europe that have the cooltek and ship to USA? I couldn't find any.
 

Ej24

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Actually, do you think 31.2mm won't fit? I read the ballistic memory is like 25.6mm the smallest out there but it looks like there is a bit of space between the top of the heatsink and your memory so I'd figure that should be about 6mm.
Hmm when installed, my memory is the exact same height as the noctua nh-l9i without the fan. The lp53 is about 4mm taller. So it will be close. Very close.
 

Ej24

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Are there any stores in europe that have the cooltek and ship to USA? I couldn't find any.
Not sure. I looked briefly just now and didn't see any that ship to the US either. I got mine on ebay and it worked out well. Just make sure it's a seller with many many reviews and you should be fine.
 

Rysen

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Nice ram. Should fit under the fan, I think. Corsair also has their LPX low profile Ddr4 dimms which are available up to 3000mhz or more if you want faster low profile memory.

Definitely keep an eye out for deals on 1080FE's from other manufacturers if you haven't already purchased it. I've seen them go for $599 with rebates periodically. I got mine for $550 but I had to use some amazon gift cards to get down to that price. Do you already have another ssd or hdd? 240gb will fill up quick unless you only play 3 or 4 games regularly.
I already own a 2tb SSD and a 960GB SSD I am getting that SSD for the laptop I am using now. Also thanks for the memory suggestion, I'll look into it. I have not spent a lot of time looking at GPU prices but the day I did that FE card was the cheapest I found.
 

Ej24

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I already own a 2tb SSD and a 960GB SSD I am getting that SSD for the laptop I am using now. Also thanks for the memory suggestion, I'll look into it. I have not spent a lot of time looking at GPU prices but the day I did that FE card was the cheapest I found.
Haha ok you definitely have the ssd covered then. Keep looking around for deals on the 1080. Maybe when the ti is released the 1080 will drop a little in price? Maybe. Definitely set up some price alerts using camelcamelcamel if you intend to buy from Amazon.com.
 

Rysen

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Haha ok you definitely have the ssd covered then. Keep looking around for deals on the 1080. Maybe when the ti is released the 1080 will drop a little in price? Maybe. Definitely set up some price alerts using camelcamelcamel if you intend to buy from Amazon.com.
I mean will it really be that big of a deal if there is a little bit of space between the fan and the heatsink?

...worst case I will maybe wrap some copper wire between the fan and the heatsink somehow. Anyways if it doesn't work out I'll return the Xtraflo fan and get the noctua fan.
 

danger

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I ordered one from ebay, but they are so much cheaper from europe if someone can find a reasonable shipper. I'm going to need to order another one.
 

Rysen

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I mean will it really be that big of a deal if there is a little bit of space between the fan and the heatsink?

...worst case I will maybe wrap some copper wire between the fan and the heatsink somehow. Anyways if it doesn't work out I'll return the Xtraflo fan and get the noctua fan.
I decided I'm just going to get the noctua fan or another 92mm fan.
 

Ej24

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I mean will it really be that big of a deal if there is a little bit of space between the fan and the heatsink?

...worst case I will maybe wrap some copper wire between the fan and the heatsink somehow. Anyways if it doesn't work out I'll return the Xtraflo fan and get the noctua fan.
Probably not a big deal. You can always mount it off center too to make room for the ram.

Never mind. I decided instead I am going to get these 2 fans and see which one performs best. I know they are loud but I don't think that will bother me. Got them from this handy list.

ID-COOLING NO-9215 Slim Low Profile Cooling Fan

DC Fans 92x92x15mm 12V DC Fan w/ Speed Sensor
Haha, I've said this before too, and I always come back to noctua for some reason. If you don't mind noise there's plenty of fans out there that move a ton of air and are usually quite cheap.
 

Ej24

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I ordered one from ebay, but they are so much cheaper from europe if someone can find a reasonable shipper. I'm going to need to order another one.
I think msrp is around $39. I haven't seen one offered at that price in the US though. Be sure to let us know if you find one.
 

Ej24

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Never mind. I decided instead I am going to get these 2 fans and see which one performs best. I know they are loud but I don't think that will bother me. Got them from this handy list.

ID-COOLING NO-9215 Slim Low Profile Cooling Fan

DC Fans 92x92x15mm 12V DC Fan w/ Speed Sensor
If you want to slap a larger fan on the LP53 there's a 140x15mm prolimatech fan with a 120mm hole pattern, it provides 150m3/hour flow rate which is triple the 92mm noctua, plus it'll cool the whole damn motherboard. You could possibly mount it with the cool brackets you posted earlier. As an added bonus your pc could also fly with this thing attached lol it's huge! It'll also be super quiet thanks to the 140mm diameter.

Also found a 140x13mm by cryorig. Supposedly has 120mm holes.
 

0rca

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u could use an angle grinder to make slots at 2 opposite sides of teh heat sink and then using fan clips to attach the fan?
 
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Ej24

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u could use an angle grinder to make slots at 2 opposite sides of teh heat sink and then using fan clips to attach the fan?
The fins are quite thin and bendable. They'd probably just bend under the force of the grinder. If you're willing, I suppose you could figure something out but I'm fine with the way it is for now.
 

Rysen

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That's like 40 dollars more for the grinder alone. I really rather attach it with wrap around copper wire, the same way you would with a zip tie. Then hopefully I'll have space for some RGB memory sticks.

As for the bigger fan, prolimatech is a great fan with a lot of airflow but horrible static pressure would perform horribly in tight space. the ID-Cooling fan actually has a better static pressure rating than the XtraFlow fan, that's why I decided to get that one instead. And as a backup for fun when I don't really care at all about the noise I'll have the delta afb that is an industrial grade fan and is about as much power as you can get from a fan that size (3300 rpms).
 
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danger

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Most people own a grinder, but the risk is too high without having experience, knowing how deep to go, knowing what height to go, etc.
 

Ej24

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Most people own a grinder, but the risk is too high without having experience, knowing how deep to go, knowing what height to go, etc.
Again, the fins are very soft. Copper is not a very hard metal. So if you decide to do so you'll want to do something to keep the fins from simply bending under the force of the grinder.
 

pendragon1

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I would just make a little retention wire for each corner out of some thin but stiff metal wire. hook it through the screw holes, then go down and hook up under the fins or heat pipes.
 

Jspr

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Have you tried the same setup but with the ITX30 edition? For what I can read, the copper is 8mm lower in height, but where I live it is actually purchasable and ok cheap. :)
 

Rysen

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So I just watched this video

and he shows that on the same heatsink the noctua fan performed better which is odd given that the specs for the ID-COOLING fan are much better... so I guess I'll just get the Noctua then. It sucks that there are only like 2 decent 92mm fans out there to compare.
 

Ej24

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Have you tried the same setup but with the ITX30 edition? For what I can read, the copper is 8mm lower in height, but where I live it is actually purchasable and ok cheap. :)
I'm still waiting to receive it. I think it will barely perform as well as the nh-l9i, and definitely won't match the lp53. It simply weighs less. There's just less copper to absorb and dissipate heat, even with a thicker fan I don't think it'll be as good. I'll try it anyway with my 4790k. In the long term I think I'll actually use it with a 45W Xeon e3-1275l v3
 
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Jspr

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I'm still waiting to receive it. I think it will barely perform as well as the nh-l9i, and definitely won't match the lp53. It simply weighs less. There's just less copper to absorb and dissipate heat, even with a thicker fan I don't think it'll be as good. I'll try it anyway with my 4790k. In the long term I think I'll actually use it with a 45W Xeon e3-1275l v3
Okay, I'm looking forward to it! Thank you very much for trying out a bunch of coolers!
 

Rysen

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I'm still waiting to receive it. I think it will barely perform as well as the nh-l9i, and definitely won't match the lp53. It simply weighs less. There's just less copper to absorb and dissipate heat, even with a thicker fan I don't think it'll be as good. I'll try it anyway with my 4790k. In the long term I think I'll actually use it with a 45W Xeon e3-1275l v3
If it is not too much to ask, can you run one more test? Compare the LP53 with the noctuna 92mmX14mm fan vs the LP53 with its default fan.
 
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