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Alpenföhn Broken Ridge Review

Introduction

Ultra Small Form Factor Coolers are usually nothing more than a 92mm fan and a similarly-sized heatsink beneath it. Well, that was not Alpenföhns's approach. Mee the Black Ridge, the probably biggest heatsink in the SFF Cooler world.

 

 

Positive

  • Best-in-Class performance !when upgraded with an NF-A12x15!
  • Excellent Build Quality
  • Excellent Installation Method

Neutral

- 42

Negative

  • Terrible out-of-the-box Peformance
  • 33mm Ram limitation

 

What's in the Box?

alpenfohn-blac-ridge-box

 

Alpenföhn's Black Ridge comes in an accordingly small package as we expected considering how the average SFF cooler is.
Once the box is opened up, we will find the Black Ridge with the Fan already pre-assembled as well as a bunch of mounting gear and goodies.


After laying everything out, we will find the following items:

  • Alpenföhn Black Ridge
  • Thermal Paste
  • AMD/Intel Mounting Gear
  • Fan Clips

Below, we summarized the most important Specs:

Name Alpenföhn Black Ridge
Dimensions 140x120x47mm (LxWxH)
Fan Alpenföhn Black Ridge Fan
Fan Connection PWM
Fan Airflow 47CFM
Fan Speed 2800RPM
Fan Noise Up to 37.6db
Fan Air Pressure Not Specified

Compatibility

alpenfohn-blac-ridge-unboxed

 

The Alpenföhn Black Ridge was not created to be an average all-rounder SFF cooler.
Instead of being designed to fit every scenario, the Black Ridge was designed and developed in collaboration with Dan the Case company in order to perfectly fit one of their cases.

That being said, due to the already case-focused design process, the amount of supported sockets is also limited to what was considered "consumer-friendly" at the time of creation.

 

* For the Ram Compatibility, please refer to the "Fan" section down below.

 

Down below we attached a full compatibility list.

Intel AMD
LGA 1200 AM4
LGA 115x  

Individual Components

Fan & Heatsink

alpenfohn-blac-ridge-fan-heatsinkl

 

The Fan used on top of the Black Ridge is a Fan specifically created in order to be solely used on top of this exact cooler.

While being 92x92mm wide and long and only 15mm thick the Fan is pre-installed underneath the heatsink and is oriented to be blowing air through the heatsink, away from the CPU.

The Fan is able to spin at 2800RPM while pushing around 47CFM at an unnamed amount of Static Pressure.

 

alpenfohn-blac-ridge-heatsink

 

The Heatsink used on top of the Black Ridge is a big 120x140mm wide black colored fin stack connected to the big copper nickel-plated base with 6 heat pipes in a C-styled bend.

Due to the enormous size of the heatsink, it is partially protruding over the Ram slots. Therefore, the Black Ridge does come with a significant Ram limitation of 33mm, which corresponds to about a bare stick of ram.

 

alpenfohn-blac-ridge-120mm

 

One of the most interesting features of the Black Ridge is the vast Fan upgrade support.
By using the Fan Clips provided inside the box, we can remove the pre-installed 92mm Fan underneath the heatsink and install a 120mm 15mm thick fan either below, or on top of the heatsink.

Although both installation methods do not come with any significant performance changes, they do limit the cooler's compatibility in different ways.

 

alpenfohn-blac-ridge-120top

 

While installing the Fan on top, it enlarges the cooler's height to 62mm.

Although installing the Fan beneath the heatsink does not make the cooler any higher, it severely limits the Ram compatibility to VLP (Very Low Profile).
Additionally, we found that the VRM heatsink of all of our motherboards was too big to allow the 120mm fan to be installed below the heatsink, an issue that needs to be checked for each individual motherboard.

 

alpenfohn-blac-ridge-big-fan

 

 In case the performance gain of adding a 120mm fan wasn't enough, there are additional fan clips inside the box that allow a standard-sized 120x120x25mm fan to be installed. This would end up with a 72mm high cooler.

Appearance

alpenfohn-blac-ridge-design3

 

Due to how the Black Ridge is originally designed, this will be the shortest Appearance section ever.
All you see is a big black heatsink. Although we appreciate those kinds of things, you will need to decide for yourself if monochrome blackness is what you want to go for.

 

Please note that the all-heatsink design is open to change if you decide to use the included fan clips and install a fan on top of the heatsink.

Benchmark

In order to benchmark the Alpenföhn Black Ridge, we needed to create an SFF specific benchmark as our usual 3900x was just too hot to be handled by coolers this size.

By using a 10700k at 1.2v 4700-AC, we benchmarked the Alpenföhn Black Ridge in both full blast and noise-to-performance.

 

alpenfohn-blac-ridge-benchmark1

 

While letting the Fans spin at 100% of their speed, the Black Ridge managed to keep the 10700k at 61°C above ambient, matching the Noctua NH-U9i.

This is a terrible result. Although it matched the U9i, the Black Ridge consists of a significantly bigger heatsink which should have been able to outperform the U9i severely.

 

alpenfohn-blac-ridge-benchmak2

 

Noise normalizing our numbers reveals the reason for this result.

While the Black Ridge was able to 1-1 Match the U9i's performance chart, it did it while being significantly louder at every step of the way.

Due to this, we assumed that the Fan used on top of the Black Ridge was simply not good enough for this type of job.

 

alpenfohn-blac-ridge-benchmark2

 

To verify this, we removed the pre-installed fan and installed a 15mm thick Noctua NF-A12x15 on top of the heatsink.

While letting the new fan spin at 100% of its speed, it managed to outperform the original state by 16°C, letting the 10700k cool down to 45°C above ambient.

 

Noise normalizing these numbers showed the absolute superiority of this setup. While outperforming every other cooler or setup in absolute cooling performance, the upgraded Black Ridge managed to do all of this while also being significantly quieter.

Conclusion

alpenfohn-blac-ridge-design2

 

Looking back at the benchmark section, we have very mixed feelings about the Alpenföhn Black Ridge.

To be very clear, we are absolute fans of its quality, installation method, overall design, and how everything is being taken care of- absolutely nothing to nag on those points.

 

alpenfohn-blac-ridge-design2

 

However, the delivered performance is laughable at best. Being matched by a significantly smaller, yet a lot quieter cooler is nothing to be proud of. Especially because the Black Ridge comes with a severe Ram height limitation.

Therefore, we are absolutely not recommending the Alpenföhn Black Ridge as an out-of-the-box cooler.

 

alpenfohn-blac-ridge-design4

 

That being said, if you can spare 62mm in height, and you are willing to add another 15€ to the price tag by getting an additional Noctua NF-A12x15, the upgraded Alpenföhn managed to absolutely crush the competition and land first place in our benchmark charts with quite the lead.

 

alpenfohn-blac-ridge-design4

 

Although we are usually against considering "upgradability" as a base opinion about the product due to the added cost, the benefit gained from adding a new fan was so substantial that we couldn't ignore it.

Therefore, as an end result, we are absolutely recommending the Alpenföhn Black Ridge, but only under the condition that it is being used in a combination with a Noctua NF-A12x15.

strumace
Introduction
What's in the Box?
Compatibility
Individual Components
Appearance
Benchmark
Conclusion
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