Reviewed: Cooler Master Nepton 120XL


If there is one area that stands out above the rest after working with the Nepton 120XL it’s assembly and installation. The design is logical, highly convenient and we really appreciated it.

First of all we started with the backplate – the same backplate is used for AMD or Intel and Cooler Master has used clear labelling to make sure that you don’t get confused. The plate/bracket has notches in it to suit your exact socket and it only took about 5 minutes to configure it for Intel 1150 and fit it to our Maximus VI Gene motherboard. The backplate is the type that has posts that sit around the CPU socket. This means that when you fit the water block / pump unit you don’t have to worry about the backplate moving around, you just need to line up the screws and tighten them up in the criss-cross pattern. I really like the implementation of the universal backplate and mounting system Cooler Master used here.

Now on to the radiator. One of the things that I have accepted with AIO coolers is that if you are running in dual fan (push/pull) mode, you will need to bolt through the case fan mounting holes, the fan frame and into the radiator itself when fitting the unit. This is not the case with the Nepton 120XL – you build the whole radiator unit first, then fit it to the case thanks to the threads in the heads of the fan thumb screws. 

There are a pair of rubber gaskets to dampen noise and assist air pressure that fit over the fan frame. The fans attach to the radiator on either side with thumb screws, sandwiching the gaskets between the fans and the radiator in the middle. We took care to have the fan cables on either side of the radiator aligned so that the cable lengths would be the same which makes routing the cables to the CPU fan header easier and neater.

Fitting the radiator to the case was as simple as lining up the 4 thumbscrew heads with the 120mm mounting holes and securing it from the outside. After the radiator was where it needed to be, with the case on its back, we went about applying the Cooler Master thermal compound using the pea method, removed the protective film from the underside of the copper contact plate and attached the pump unit to the CPU socket tightening the screws in the standard criss-cross method. We didn’t feel worried at any point about over tightening and everything lined up as we expected it to. When fitting the pump, we ran the braided pump cable out through the bracket in the top left corner to try and help keep it neat.

The fans were then connected to the CPU motherboard header and the pump lead was connected to the CHASSIS_FAN_3 header. We powered up the build and it all just seemed too easy.


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