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Review Alpenfohn Black Ridge – A Low Profile Cooling MONSTER!


like we don’t know why we really don’t i mean this thing had made a lot of noise and we really don’t know why well hello again everybody mike here with hardware canucks again and i have a little bit of a confession to make every single time i do a roundup it doesn’t matter if it’s rounding up fans coolers whatever else it might be the one thing the one thing that i’m always waiting for the most is the thing that comes in right after the roundup is done and in this case it is the alpinfin blackridge right after that ultra low profile cooler roundup was done it ended up showing up but i’m actually happy that it ended up showing up a little bit late because just lumping it into a general roundup where a couple of things that it can do are glossed over well that would do this thing such a disservice so in this video what i wanted to do is i wanted to go in deep into everything about this cooler that includes general performance fan swaps a bunch of fitment issues a couple of mods you can do to it and so many other things but the first thing that i need to talk about is availability of this in north america because for whatever reason alpine finn has decided not to have any distribution whatsoever within north america so folks like me folks south of the border we have to import this from europe or somewhere else overseas and that imparts a bunch of other costs onto it so there’s foreign exchange costs there’s additional shipping costs customs charges all these other things and that makes nailing down the actual price for the blackridge a little bit tough over here in the new world i mean i’ve seen it go for

anywhere from 77 bucks all the way up to 120 canadian or from 60 to 100 bucks south of the border but for the rest of the world where you can actually find it from first party retailers locally you’re probably looking at around 40 british pounds or 70 australian dollars so it ain’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination but is the black ridge worth it well we’re going to see but i do know what’s worth your time and that’s watching this ad spot for the new nzxt h1 the new h1 from nzxt is the perfect hassle-free itx experience with lots of power pre-routed cables a capable 140 millimeter all-one cooler with its own fan controller and massively compact gpu chamber that is actively cooled for them good temps the h1 v2 check it out below anyways at this point in time i’m sure you’re wondering what is the hype all about when it comes to this guy the black ridge and a lot of that has to do with its heritage within the itx market basically this was originally conceived as a partnership between dan cases and alpenfin in order to create a cooler for the a4 case for people who just didn’t want an aio that means it’s 47 millimeters high which doesn’t make it the shortest heatsink around and it uses a single 92 millimeter by 15 millimeter fan to push air through the fin array instead of pushing it down while this layout isn’t the most optimal for raw processor temperatures it does do one important thing instead of blasting the cpu’s hot air into the case it gets exhausted straight

away provided of course there’s ventilation above the cooler that’s critical in the confined spaces found in itx cases where heat tends to build up so much but other than that the black ridge is exceedingly well built and installation that’s pretty straightforward too it goes down the process that pretty much all the other itx coolers do these days now i’m gonna have the cameraman come in just to talk about that very quickly so the first thing that you’re gonna have to do is pick the right brackets for your socket type then you’re going to apply the cooler balance it this is pretty nuts yes i know and then basically apply your four screws from the back now you are going to recognize something here very very quickly and that’s the fact it’s an expensive cooler it’s a higher end cooler but it does not come with a back plate all you get is the screws and little spacers that’s a huge shame here but other than that there are a couple of things that i want to talk about when it comes to compatibility with most motherboards on the market and to do that i use this b550i with the am4 socket first of all look you can’t install a gpu into the motherboard itself since the slot is blocked by the black ridge you’ll need to use a riser cable unless your layout allows you to flip the whole cooler in the other direction and even then a traditional riser cable gets really really close you also have to take into account that the heatsink overhangs the memory slots and the amount of space left is only about 33 millimeters so that means you have to use lower profile modules the other thing guys the fun doesn’t stop there especially if you have a motherboard like this that’s built up a little bit more vertically so here the

fan almost comes into contact with the vrm heatsinks and it smashed right into the m.2 heatsink between the pcie slot and the cpu socket the only way to install it was to remove the heatsink and run the ssd bearer but if you do run into one of those installation problems there are some ways around it and alpin finn has actually thought of those first of all they ship this cooler with two sets of 120 millimeter fan brackets that means that you can just slap on one of these things a standard 120 millimeter fan and avoid a lot of those problems that you might encounter during installation but those fan configurations are actually something i wanted to talk about a little bit deeper here other than the stock config you can place a thin 120 millimeter fan in the place of the original 92 millimeter one but you need to take this into account guys it makes compatibility even more challenging since you need to use vlp or very low profile memory that looks something like this so it’s not a great option unless you’re using the black ridge in a server or something that needs ecc another option is to take that thin 120 millimeter fan and just place it on top of the cooler pushing air downwards and removing the original fan altogether sure that increases the height to 62 millimeters but you get better clearance below and better performance too that i’m going to talk about in a bit there’s another option of simply adding a 120 millimeter fan alongside the 92 millimeter but alpin finn actually doesn’t recommend that at all supposedly dual configs with different size fans tend to cause turbulence within the heatsink which would then lead to a lot higher noise and no better temperatures the last option is probably

what’s going to be easiest for a lot of you guys it’s to mount a standard height fan on the top in a push config alpin fin calls this an overclock layout but you need to remember this pushes the height of the cooler to 72 millimeters and that’s in my opinion outside of the low profile market and that’s pretty much your high level overview about what the black ridge offers but a lot of the talk about this thing centers around how well it performs against other similar coolers and we just did that ultra low profile roundup so we have more than enough data to see if this is worth it now i know that a lot of you guys have been asking for this so here’s fan speed percentages with their respective decibel readings that you’re going to see throughout all of the testing and let’s get on to that testing starting with 65 watts right away and this thing puts out some ridiculously good numbers right out of the gate it beats the knock to a l9a and even the super expensive cryorig c7 the only thing that matches it is the thermalright axp90r that’s about the same height and is typically priced quite a bit lower too if you’re living in north america so you need to take that into account as we go through these charts and narrowing that down to a quiet 38 decibels it’s pretty clear that at least some of the black ridge’s height is completely justified it’s just a really really good cooler for lower wattage processors but what happens when we pump things up to 95 watts and you have to remember in the last roundup a lot of these low profile coolers completely failed from front to back at 95 watts and the black ridge yeah it struggles to hear a bit by failing at 36 37 and 38 decibels but above that its thermal

mass and a higher fan speed start dropping temperatures super fast until it’s beating some of the very best coolers out there i mean this thing matches the axp90r and the l9 series at 39 decibels now i know everybody’s looking at these charts and saying look mike i do not pound my system like a lazy donkey all day every day with a high core workload what you guys are probably doing on it is either light workloads or gaming so what i wanted to do is include a couple of gaming temperature results here where the gpu is basically doing what it does it’s pumping hot air into the case so all of these coolers actually have to deal with that additional heat load and this is where updraft coolers tend to struggle a bit since preheated air is being passed through the cooler instead of fresh air that leads to the black ridge falling behind in comparison to some of the more traditional downdraft style coolers like the thermal rate and noctua it even struggles to beat the much much cheaper is40x here you can really see how that affects things around the 38 decibel level here the blackridge is a solid middle of the pack performer that still gets good results but it does struggle to overcome the higher ambient case temperatures when gaming but is there a way using your stock configuration in order to overcome that i was wondering what would happen if you simply flip over that 92 millimeter fan so it’s actually potentially in taking cool air from above the cooler instead of chewing down on all that hot air while gaming within the case that it ended up being a really really interesting little test because listen to this at 50 and 100 fan speed well it’s always nice to add a couple of little

tests into these reviews but sometimes they fail sometimes they pass this was definitely a fail but speaking of configurations one of them that might be worthwhile is replacing the stock fan with this little guy noctua’s famous nf a9 by 14 fan let’s check out what the results are with this thing installed in the stock configuration and right away we’re seeing a good two to three degree drop in temperatures and that puts the blackridge at a point that’s way better than pretty much anything else the competition has to offer things get even better at higher wattages where the additional airflow provided by that knock to a fan is put to amazing use i mean sure it doesn’t have as much top end performance but there’s now a much better balance between temperatures and noise even in gaming this simple change has made the black ridge into a whole other cooler it’s suddenly the best low profile heatsink i’ve ever tested period now the fun no it does not end there i wanted to hit this thing with a little bit more testing turn the dial to 11 a little bit and yeah sure the knock to it it performed very very well but what happens when we hit this thing with 120 millimeter fans so for that i chose two of them one of them is this guy this is the knee deck gentle typhoon the other one is a little bit thinner this is a standard 15 millimeter high scythe case flex and the story here is pretty straight forward adding a 120

millimeter fan on top of the 92 millimeter stock one doesn’t do all that much at all but take away that stock fan and the results actually become even more impressive i mean sure you give away some of the black ridges super compact height but you do get some crazy good performance by just adding a thin low speed fan like the scythe flex the interesting thing here is that stepping up to a regular fan actually doesn’t do that much to further increase cooling performance and i guess this brings us to the end of the journey and i set out with one simple question is the black ridge worthy of its hype and i would say absolutely positively it’s not even the fact that it offers good performance out of the box it’s the fact that it’s so adaptable with all sorts of different fan configurations so you can customize it for your own system if you’re willing to pay the additional cost and that cost is really what’s going to put a damper on this cooler for a lot of people specifically here within the north american market if you’re looking at paying 70 80 a hundred dollars in some cases for this thing there are a lot better options out there like the l9 series or the axp 90 series from thermalright if you’re willing to pay the price for it then this should be your go-to ultra low profile cooler but anyways other than that i am so happy i got this thing in i’m mike with hardware canucks and i will see you in the next one robert but what happens if we step it up even more what has just turned off cut

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