The Nirvana is packed in the usual ZEROtherm manner with the silvery cardboard box with a clear plastic window showing you the product before you open the container. Amusingly, the ‘Premium’ part of the name has been hastily added with a sticker on the front showing that there was possibly a couple of types of this cooler in the past that were scrapped and just this version made it to market.
Once opened you get a large array of bits and pieces that enables you to mount this cooler on your favoured socket: the cooler itself, an AMD bracket, an Intel bracket with backing plate, the manual, a fan controller and mounting system with a tube of ZEROtherm heatpaste. The cooler is usefully rated at being able to dissipate over 150W which makes it more than able to sit on top of the latest quad core CPU, although the documentation and website fail to mention anything about Phenom compatibility.
The cooler sees the use of another spindle mounted fan that ZEROtherm have used in the past on their other coolers. This design of fan removes the usual shroud that you see on most case fans. The fin shape seems to have taken inspiration from the butterfly coolers released earlier this year, which have the same two arms on either side of the fan. Fortunately this heatsink isn’t as feminine and nothing to be ashamed of when mounted in your case.
The heatsink itself is finished entirely with chrome and nickel giving the whole product a glossy, dark grey shine making for a striking appearance. The base of the heatsink is fashioned from copper, and so are the heatpipes while the fins themselves are made of aluminium but the nickel/chrome plating covers this fact. The fins are much thicker than most and are difficult to move let alone bend making this feel like a much more quality product than others which feature thinner, bendy fins. The fins have a section that bends down in the middle for a reason that I can’t fathom. This means that the top fin gets a small portion of the airflow from the lower fins which gives the cooler the ‘honeycomb’ design moniker.
Speaking of heatpipes, looking at the base, you’ll see that there are four separate heatpipes that are bent into a U-shape that effectively means that there are eight effective heatpipes which shuttle the heat from the core around to all of the fins. Heatpipes transfer heat much faster than a solid metal alternative making them perfect for this application. These terminate at the top of the cooler and are, again, finished well and it looks like these are an aesthetic feature rather than functional. The top of the heatsink is another aluminium plate like the rest, but it has an indented ZEROtherm logo which prevents the cooler looking OEM.
The cooler comes with a rather large fan controller, that’ll allow you to limit the speed the fan rotates at, from 1000 to 2500 RPM. Like any rheostat controller, you lose some power even at max, reducing it by 0.5v which means without the controller it’ll go even faster. At full pelt it pumps 84.7 CFM and the manual doesn’t give figures for the lowest setting; but does say that at max you’ll be hearing 39 dBA of noise. You get some sticky pads to permanently mount the controller somewhere in your case which is nice, but overall it doesn’t seem necessary. Most motherboards will have RPM limiting options, especially for the CPU fan header, which will automatically vary the fan speed making a manual controller obsolete. Considering as you’ll have to pop open your case to access it, its more of a set and forget function meaning that it would have been better to have it much smaller and possibly integrated on the heatsink itself, rather than adding considerable bulk to the whole package. Of course you don’t have to use it and providing it with the cooler gives you some flexibility, but there are better alternatives. The fan connector is the usual 3 pin style, rather than the 4 pin PWM type.
The fan itself can be removed from the cooler altogether, which leads me to believe that ZEROtherm are going to release an updated version with a different coloured fan, or even a passive model. As the fan doesn’t have a grill on it, you’ll easily end up with cables wraped around it or a bleeding finger; and there is nothing more annoying than hearing a quiet ticking sound as a wire slowly extends out of position onto the fan blades.