EVGA CLC 120 Review: A Much Harder Sell than the CLC 280

By Published February 07, 2017 at 1:52 pm


EVGA CLC 120 Temperatures

As with last time, let’s first start with just EVGA’s CLC coolers for temperatures, then add the others. We’re seeing the EVGA 280mm CLC at 1050RPM outperform the EVGA 120mm CLC at its maximum fan RPM of 2500, with about a 1.2C difference between them. Keep in mind that our variance is about 0.5C.

Dropping down to a more reasonable fan speed, the EVGA 120 CLC at 1500RPM posts a load temperature of 50.92C delta T, now about 10C warmer than the 39.5C delta T 280mm temperatures when at a 1050RPM fan speed. Finally, the 1050RPM EVGA 120mm unit operates with an idle temperature of 11.4C delta T and a load of about 57C delta T, or somewhere nearing 80C if we were to add ambient back in.

evga-clc-120-evga-only 1

If you’re curious, we also tested the cowling depth with the 280mm cooler to see if the fan casing made any real difference, and the short answer was that it didn’t. Performance is about equal with the extra cowling depth as without it.


(Above test with CLC 280)

EVGA CLC vs. NZXT Kraken Coolers (X42, X52, X62)

evga-clc-with-nzxt-temperatures 1

And just like last time, let’s now add NZXT back into the results. NZXT’s closest competition is the Kraken X42 ($130), but the price is so much higher that they’re not really head-to-head in terms of target market. The X42 at 1050RPM outperforms EVGA’s CLC 120 at 1500RPM by about 4C, showing a clear advantage in noise to performance from the extra radiator size and different fan design. The X52 uses 120mm fans, but two of them on its 240mm radiator. We’re able to run the X52 at 800RPM and achieve a slightly better performance-to-noise profile than the EVGA CLC 120 at 1050RPM, but again, you’re dealing with a major price hike to the X52.

EVGA CLC 120 Benchmark [All Coolers]


The EVGA CLC 280 is still at the top, and is still exceptionally loud. It’s not until way down the list that we get to the smaller 120mm radiator, which first makes an appearance right around the 1700RPM X42 NZXT cooler at 40.78C delta T. The more reasonable 1500RPM version of our test places the EVGA 120 CLC at 50.92C delta T, only marginally better than the one air cooler presently on our bench. We’ll have to add more of those soon.

EVGA CLC 120 Noise Levels


Finally looking to the noise table, we see the EVGA CLC 120 landing between the X42 at 1050RPM and the H100i at 1050RPM when running with an equivalent fan speed. This makes sense, since the H100i has similar 120mm fans. Strictly from a noise perspective, the performance to volume is better with the larger radiators, but your cost also increases substantially.

Moving to the EVGA CLC 120 at 1500RPM, which is where it’s most likely to be used, we’re resting right at 40.7dBA – comparable to the Dark Rock 3 at 2000RPM and EK Predator 280 at 1400RPM.

The 2500RPM EVGA CLC 120 is unbearably loud with a 53.9dBA output, just like its neighboring 50+ dBA coolers.

Conclusion: Skip the EVGA CLC 120


Where the EVGA CLC 280 ($130) makes a lot of sense in its price and performance category, the EVGA CLC 120 is a much tougher sell. The price, compared to 140mm options from Corsair and NZXT, is competitive – but that’s not enough. You could match performance with the CLC 120 with a decent air cooler – something for which we’ll soon publish data – and the noise profile isn’t that much better.

If you can fit a larger 240mm radiator, Corsair’s H100iV2 ($100) makes infinitely more sense than EVGA’s CLC 120 and is priced $10 more, the only differences being form factor and LEDs. If the 240mm H100iV2 won’t fit, and if you really want those RGB LEDs that EVGA has, then maybe the EVGA CLC 120 is a worthwhile consideration. More likely, though, you’re better off either going with a high-end air cooler, the 140mm X42, or (we think) the Corsair H100iV2 at $100. The EVGA CLC 280 was an exceptionally strong entrance to the AIO market for EVGA. The 120 doesn’t help that image quite as much, and it’s probably best ignored.

Editorial: Steve Burke
Video: Andrew Coleman

« Prev Next

Last modified on February 07, 2017 at 1:52 pm
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

We moderate comments on a ~24~48 hour cycle. There will be some delay after submitting a comment.

  VigLink badge