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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

Today, we are testing the Xigmatek Dark Knight “Night Hawk Edition” CPU cooler. It has a conservative design (with tower heatsink, three 8 mm direct-touch heatpipes, and one 120 mm fan) except for the matte black ceramic coating on the heatsink and heatpipes.

The Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition (let’s just call it “Night Hawk” from now on) is not a matte black version of the Dark Knight, which we already reviewed. Although they both have a tower design with three 8 mm heatpipes, those two coolers are very different, not sharing even the mounting system.

A matte black coating is, theoretically, a good idea, since the more reflexive a surface is, the worse it is to irradiate heat. However, on active (i.e., fan equipped) coolers, heat conduction from the fins to the flowing air is the main heat transmitting occurrence, and irradiation is almost irrelevant.

The box of the Night Hawk has a front window that allows you to see the fan (but not the heatsink) as shown in Figure 1.

Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk EditionFigure 1: Package

Figure 2 shows the contents of the box: heatsink, fan, a small bag of thermal compound, manuals, and installation hardware. The Night Hawk comes with only one fan, but it supports two, coming with the rubber bolts for installing two fans.

Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk EditionFigure 2: Accessories

Figure 3 displays the heatsink of the Night Hawk.

Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk EditionFigure 3: The Night Hawk

This cooler is discussed in detail in the following pages.

[nextpage title=”The Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition”]

Figure 4 illustrates the front of the heatsink. Notice that all parts of the heatsink, including fins, base and heatpipes, are covered by the matte black coating.

Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk EditionFigure 4: Front view

Figure 5 reveals the side of the cooler. The fins are folded at the side, creating a partially closed surface.

Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk EditionFigure 5: Side view

In Figure 6, you can see the top of the cooler. The fins have recesses at the four sides, creating concave areas on the heatsink.

Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk EditionFigure 6: Top view

[nextpage title=”The Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition (Cont’d)”]

Figure 7 illustrates the base of the cooler. This is the only part that is not covered by the matte black coating. The three 8 mm heatpipes keep direct contact to the CPU.

Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk EditionFigure 7: Base

Figure 8 reveals the 120 mm fan which has four white LEDs. It has a four-pin connector, which means it supports PWM speed control.

Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk EditionFigure 8: Fan

Figure 9 shows the Night Hawk with the fan in place.

Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk EditionFigure 9: Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition

[nextpage title=”Installation”]

Figures 10 and 11 show the installation of the holder frame on the motherboard. You must put the backplate on the solder side of the motherboard, and then attach the four thumbscrews from the component side. Afterwards, put the metal bars (each one has a screw at the center) in place, securing them with thumbnuts.

Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk EditionFigure 10: Thumbscrews

Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk EditionFigure 11: Metal bars

Then, put the cooler in place, holding it with a transversal bar.

Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk EditionFigure 12: Heatsink installed

The last step is to install the fan, as shown in Figure 13.

Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk EditionFigure 13: Installation finished

[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]

We tested the cooler with a Core i5-2500K CPU (quad-core, 3.3 GHz), which is a socket LGA1155 processor with a 95 W TDP (Thermal Design Power). In order to get higher thermal dissipation, we overclocked it to 4.0 GHz (100 MHz base clock and x40 multiplier), with 1.3 V core voltage (Vcore). This CPU was able to reach 4.8 GHz with its default core voltage, but at this setting, the processor enters thermal throttling when using mainstream coolers, reducing the clock and thus the thermal dissipation. This could interfere with the temperature readings, so we chose to maintain a moderate overclocking.

We measured noise and temperature with the CPU under full load. In order to get 100% CPU usage in al
l cores, we ran Prime 95 25.11 with the “In-place Large FFTs” option. (In this version, the software uses all available threads.)

We compared the tested cooler to other coolers we already tested, and to the stock cooler that comes with the Core i5-2500K CPU. Note that the results cannot be compared to measures taken on a different hardware configuration, so we retested some “old” coolers with this new methodology. This means you can find different values in older reviews than the values you will read on the next page. Every cooler was tested with the thermal compound that comes with it.

Room temperature measurements were taken with a digital thermometer. The core temperature was read with the SpeedFan program (available from the CPU thermal sensors), using an arithmetic average of the core temperature readings.

During the tests, the panels of the computer case were closed. The front and rear case fans were spinning at minimum speed in order to simulate the “normal” cooler use on a well-ventilated case. We assume that is the common setup used by a cooling enthusiast or overclocker.

The sound pressure level (SPL) was measured with a digital noise meter, with its sensor placed near the top opening of the case. This measurement is only for comparison purposes, because a precise SPL measurement needs to be made inside an acoustically insulated room with no other noise sources, which is not the case here.

Hardware Configuration

Operating System Configuration

  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit SP1

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 2°C error margin, meaning temperature differences below 2°C are considered irrelevant.

[nextpage title=”Our Tests”]

The table below presents the results of our measurements. We repeated the same test on all coolers listed below. Each measurement was taken with the CPU at full load. In the models with a fan supporting PWM, the motherboard controlled the fan speed according to core load and temperature. On coolers with an integrated fan controller, the fan was set at the full speed.

< tr>

Cooler Room Temp. Noise Speed Core Temp. Temp. Diff.
Cooler Master Hyper TX3 18 °C 50 dBA 2850 rpm 69 °C 51 °C
Corsair A70 23 °C 51 dBA 2000 rpm 66 °C 43 °C
Corsair H100 26 °C 62 dBA 2000 rpm 64 °C 38 °C
EVGA Superclock 26 °C 57 dBA 2550 rpm 67 °C 41 °C
NZXT HAVIK 140 20 °C 46 dBA 1250 rpm 65 °C 45 °C
Thermalright True Spirit 120 26 °C 42 dBA 1500 rpm 82 °C 56 °C
Zalman CNPS12X 26 °C 43 dBA 1200 rpm 71 °C 45 °C
Zalman CNPS9900 Max 20 °C 51 dBA 1700 rpm 62 °C 42 °C
Titan Fenrir Siberia Edition 22 °C 50 dBA 2400 rpm 65 °C 43 °C
SilenX EFZ-120HA5 18 °C 44 dBA 1500 rpm 70 °C 52 °C
Noctua NH-L12 20 °C 44 dBA 1450 rpm 70 °C 50 °C
Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme 21 °C 53 dBA 2550 rpm 71 °C 50 °C
Gamer Storm Assassin 15 °C 48 dBA 1450 rpm 58 °C 43 °C
Deepcool Gammaxx 400 15 °C 44 dBA 1500 rpm 60 °C 45 °C
Cooler Master TPC 812 23 °C 51 dBA 2350 rpm 66 °C 43 °C
Deepcool Gammaxx 300 18 °C 43 dBA 1650 rpm 74 °C 56 °C
Intel stock cooler 18 °C 41 dBA 2000 rpm 97 °C 79 °C
Xigmatek Praeton 19 °C 52 dBA 2900 rpm 83 °C 64 °C
Noctua NH-U12P SE2 18 °C 42 dBA 1300 rpm 69 °C 51 °C
Deepcool Frostwin 24 °C 46 dBA 1650 rpm 78 °C 54 °C
Thermaltake Frio Advanced 13 °C 56 dBA 2000 rpm 62 °C 49 °C
Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition 9 °C 48 dBA 2100 rpm 53 °C 44 °C

In the graph below, you can see how many degrees Celsius hotter the CPU core is than the air outside the case. The lower this difference, the better is the performance of the cooler.

Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition

In the graph below, you can see how many decibels of noise each cooler makes.

Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition

[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]

The main specifications for the Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition CPU cooler include:

  • Application: Sockets 775, 1155, 1156, 1366, 2011, AM2, AM2+, AM3, AM3+, and FM1 processors
  • Heatsink dimensions: 4.7 x 2.0 x 6.2 inches (120 x 50 x 159 mm) (W x L x H)
  • Fins: Aluminum
  • Base: Aluminum, with heatpipes directly touching the CPU
  • Heat-pipes: Three 8-mm copper heatpipes
  • Fan: 120 mm
  • Nominal fan speed: 2,200 rpm
  • Fan air flow: 89.45 cfm
  • Maximum power consumption: Not informed
  • Nominal noise level: 30.1 dBA
  • Weight: 14.32 oz (406 g)
  • More information: https://www.xigmatek.com
  • Average prince in the U.S.*: USD 50.00

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

The Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition has an excellent cooling performance, especially when taking into account that it is a medium-size cooler with only one 120 mm fan. In our system, it doesn’t interfere with any memory socket, allowing us to install memory modules with tall heatsinks in any socket if that is what we want.

The noise level is reasonable for a high-performance CPU cooler, and the Night Hawk looks really cool inside the case, with its “stealth-like” coating and the semi-transparent fan with white LEDs. The price tag is very attractive, too.

In short, the Xigmatek Dark Knight Night Hawk Edition has great performance, good noise level, great look, and an excellent price/performance ratio, deserving our Golden Award.