It seems like every day we turn around and another RGB product is on the market. That’s great news for unabashed addicts like me and an annoyance for people who want the craze to die, but that doesn’t mean that RGB products can’t have specs and results under that shiny hood to be a practical purchase. Enter the Cougar Helor 240. While it may seem like a RGB cash in testing quickly revealed that not only does it have the looks but the practicality to back them up. Read on to see our whole review.
- MSRP: $155 (Newegg)
- Intel Socket 2066/2011/2011-3/1366/1156/1155/1151/1150/755
- AMd Socket AM4/AM3+/AM3/AM2+/AM2/FM2+/FM2/FM1 (No TR4 Support)
- TDP of CPU up to 180W
Water Block & Pump
- Dimensions: 81.8 x 94.8 x 78.3 mm
- Cold Plate Material: Copper w/ Nickel Plating
- Pump Speed: 2700 +/- 10% RPM
- Cable Length: Pump power 300mm / LED power 600mm
- Connector: 3-pin fixed speed
- Lights: 12 ARGB LEDs (5v)
- Dimensions: 277 x 120 x 27 mm
- Material: Aluminum
- Material: Durable Rubber w/ Sleeves
- Length: 260 & 400 mm
- Model: Vortex Omega 120
- Quantity: 2
- Dimensions: 120 x 120 x 25 mm
- Bearing Type: Hydro-Dynamic Bearing
- Fan Speed: 600-1800 +/- 200RPM
- Flow: 78.4 CFM (MAX)
- Pressure: 2.4 mm-H2O (MAX)
- Noise: 37.1 dBA (MAX)
- Voltage: 12 VDC
- Power Consumption: 3.84W
- Cable Length (Fan & LED): 600mm
- Connector: 4 Pin PWM
- Lights: 10 ARGB LEDs (5V)
- Mounting Kit
- Core Box v2 & Power Connector
- Wireless Controller
- 1 to 3 Fan Splitter
- 100 mL Coolant & 1g Thermal Paste
As is standard with my cooler reviews I want to take a moment to talk about the test setup and methodology. In the past I used Prime 95 and Aida 64 to stress test the CPU but found that Aida64 typically yielded lower overall temperatures compared to Prime 95. When it comes to AIO temperatures I believe testing should present the absolute max temperatures you should see, and, realistically, be a situation you’ll like never come across in normal gaming or usage on your rig. Temperatures in the testing room are kept at a steady 24c (75f) via central air and are monitored on two thermostats to ensure equal distribution of temperature in the room. Some reviewers like to test coolers on open air test benches but this is not a methodology that I employ because it yields lower temperatures and doesn’t represent the setup of the average consumer so the cooler is placed in a closed chassis for the testing. The testing was completed on the following setup:
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 2600x 4.3Ghz @ 1.41v (all cores)
- RAM: HyperX Predator RGB 3200Mhz
- GPU: MSI Gaming RTX 2080 Duke
- Case: Cougar Gemini X
- SSD: HyperX Fury RGB SSD
- Stress Program: Prime95 (small FFTs)
- Ambient Temp: 24c (75f for us yanks)
Unboxing and Installation
Honest when it comes to unboxing if you’ve seen one AIO getting unboxed, you’ve seen them all. There were a few surprises, however. The first being the 100 mL bottle of coolant. I usually go into my reviews blind and I was really surprised to see the coolant since it meant that I wasn’t looking at a true closed loop cooler. Sure enough, upon inspection, there was a place to top up the coolant in the loop if I needed to. Inspection of the directions (yes I actually looked at them like terrible human being) revealed that the flow meter on the pump would reveal that fluid was low and need to be topped up.
My second unboxing surprise was that my thermal paste was in a small foil packet that came with a little spatula applicator. I was pretty underwhelmed by this to be completely honest. I give props to Cougar for not pre-applying it to the cold-plate but thermal paste is pretty cheap and I see no reason not to give people a little syringe and make application much easier. Second I don’t actually know anyone that uses the ‘smush the thermal paste around evenly’ technique and have to admit that the plastic spatula saw no use in my house.
Installation was quite different than the other AIOs I’ve reviewed in that it was slightly more involved. On previous coolers for my Ryzen systems, they’ve either take advantage of the plastic brackets on the top side (like Cooler Master’s ML series) or the backside mounting plate that comes on AM4 motherboard, like EVGA’s or Corsair’s coolers. The Cougar does neither and instead opts to have you install a ‘one-size-fits-all’ mounting plate on the backside of your board. There’s nothing wrong with this - I want to make that clear - it just makes installation a little more involved but it’s also nice to have one bracket that will work across multiple system types.
The screws screw right into the back mounting plate without a problem and the gigantic cooler/pump combo fits snugly on top. The block is considerably larger than anything I’ve worked with before but I owe a large part of that to the flow indicator that’s been added on the top. While the size may be a turn off for some just wait until it shows it’s true colors (heh, see what I did there?)
As I said before I opted to use solely Prime 95 with small FFts because it yields the highest temperature and demonstrates the worst case scenario for what you might get out of a cooler. While metal has a low specific heat capacity - meaning it heats up pretty fast - water doesn’t share that same property and will take a while to reach its maximum thermal load. For this reason temperature readings are taken 20 minutes after the test was started to ensure it’s reached a consistent temperature readout. NZXT CAM software and Ryzen’s Master Software were used to read CPU temperatures and ensure accurate readouts. Now, onto the results!
It’s easy to look at the results and just say “Okay, so it’s in line with the other 240 AIOs” - which is completely accurate statement. But don’t lose sight of the fact that that’s not a bad thing - at all. The Corsair H100i V2 is one of the most popular AIOs on the market - for good reason - and holding your own against that cooler is feat on its own. The fact that Cougar does this while both a) looking better and b) staying in the same price range is a great look for Cougar. The unashamed child in me would also like to note that watching a rainbow flowmeter spin around while testing easily made the Cougar Helor the most entertaining AIO to test as well, ha!
The Cougar Helor 240 holds its own against the best of the 240mm closed-loop-coolers on the market. In my opinion it does so in a much better looking package with those few perks that set it apart from the competition. The on pump flow meter is a nice touch - especially since it doubles as a way to check your refillable fluid levels - and the entire top of the block lighting up is bold statement on a AIO block. The wireless controller for switching RGB modes (should you choose not to connect it to your motherboard) is a great addition as well and blows the solutions we saw from Cooler Master out of the water (If you remember there was a button to push on the controller or you could rewire your chassis reset button). If you’re turned off by all the rainbows, remember that I’m just showcasing the fact that they’re addressable RGB lights. You can fit it to your theme, dim the lights, change the style… virtually anything you can imagine and it will look good on this cooler. I don’t see any reason to get a dull piece of plastic for a block when an AIO like the Cougar Helor can sit in your shopping cart for the same price.
- Cooler/Pump block has a flowmeter on it
- Can connect to included RGB controller or motherboard
- Coolant can be refilled
- Pump/Cooler block is quite large
- Still has a bit of an RGB tax
- Some may not like all the RGB lighting
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.