The following system was used to test the cooler:
– Processor: Intel i9 9900K @ 5GHz
– Motherboard: ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming X
– RAM: Ballistix Tactical Tracer 16GB DDR4 @ 2666MHz
– GPU: MSI GeForce RTX 2070 Super Gaming X Trio
– SSD: Crucial MX500
– HDD: WD 1 TB Blue
– PSU: Seasonic Snow Silent 750W Platinum
– Case: Phanteks Enthoo Luxe White
– Thermal compound: Noctua NT-H2
Software used for testing the cooler:
– AIDA64 Extreme Version: 6.25.5400
– Intel Burn Test v2.54
– Prime95 29.1
The cooler was tested with the CPU at the default turbo frequency of 4.9 GHz and overclocked to 5 GHz with a core voltage of 1.261 V.
Also, the included fans have been used at their maximum speed.
The room temperature was approximately 26°C (78°F), with 2°C margin of error.
The idle test consists of the CPU sitting idle at the desktop for 30 minutes, the temperature was measured at the end of the test.
The settings of the software used are the following:
Intel Burn Test v2.54 – Stress level: Maximum
Prime95 29.1- small FFT
AIDA64 Extreme Version – FPU Benchmark & Temperature monitoring.
Each test was conducted for 40 minutes.
Full Load – IntelBurnTestV2
Full Load – AIDA64 CPU, FPU & Cache
For the next test, again, the Intel Burn Test V2 software was used for the CPU load, however, an additional 120mm fan was installed on the upper side of the heatsink. This test is done to see the cooling improvement if an additional fan is included. The used 120mm fan is the NoiseBlocker eLoop B12-PS, which has a maximum speed of 1500RPM, and is designed for optimal static pressure. In addition, the small 92mm fan is left installed and the NoiseBlocker fan is installed with the same orientation as the original fan, this way, creating a push-pull configuration.
Full Load with two fans – IntelBurnTestV2
The noise level was measured at three different distances from the fans (10cm, 20cm, 30cm.) the noise was measured with a margin of error of ± 2 db.
The Alpenföhn Black Ridge is designed to work with specific ITX motherboards, in simple terms: the shorter the VRM heatsinks are, the better the CPU cooler will fit. In the case of this review, installing the cooler on the Z390 Phantom Gaming X proved to be a challenge, as the cooler had to be installed with the heatpipes facing downwards to clear the VRM heatsinks.
The PCIe expansion slot is covered by the endings of the heatpipes, this is avoided by many users by using a PCIe riser cable, a common thing to do within the SFF community.
The Alpenföhn Black Ridge is a good CPU cooler, that is designed from the start, to work with small motherboards and enclosures, such as the DAN cases.
The performance is good when taken into consideration the side of the heatsink and the fan used from the factory. However, the Black Ridge has the same limitation as other small CPU coolers, there is not enough cooling surface area to dissipate all the heat. This means that high TDP CPUs such as the Intel i9 9900K are not suitable for overclocking with the Black Ridge.
Installing an additional 120mm fan can increase the overall cooling performance, in this review, the NoiseBlocker eLoop 120mm fan lowered the temperature by 3 degrees Celsius.
The build quality is great, the dark coating is evenly applied on all components, and the cooling fins have smooth edges. The baseplate surface is smooth and will have optimal spread for the thermal compound.
The mounting system is simple and solid, however, a backplate would have been better. It would not only provide a better weight distribution, but also hold the mounting screws attached at the back of the motherboard, while installing the heatsink.
In terms of noise, the 92mm fan will peak at 47 decibels. This is not surprising, as in order for the required volume of air to be moved through the heatsink, the fan has to spin faster than a larger fan.
In conclusion, the Alpenföhn Black Ridge is a good cooler for a small form factor gaming system. However, it needs particular components to achieve the best performance and clearance possible. The performance is good and the build quality is great, with a simple and robust mounting system.
The average price of the Black Ridge is 45 USD or 40 EUR depending on the retailer.