$90 MSRP makes it a little more expensive than other air coolers
Today we’ll be looking at an air cooler from German company Cougar, their newest dual tower offering called the Forza 135. It features sturdy construction and solid black fans, which may appeal to those who don’t like lighting on their coolers.
Cougar was founded in 2007, and used to be known for having an orange flair on many of its products. They also make other computer peripherals such as keyboards, power supplies, computer cases, and even streaming equipment like microphones and video capture equipment.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been exploring different levels of cooling with AMD’s Ryzen 7 7700X CPU. When I tested EKWB’s AIO Elite 280, it surprised me by able to keeping the CPU under TJmax in intensive workloads – I had been under the impression that it was “impossible” to keep Ryzen 7000 CPUs under TJMax in intense workloads. On the opposite end, I tested BeQuiet’s Pure Rock LP SFF cooler – which was only able to cool 66W.
In the past I’ve mentioned how my past testing of coolers had focused on Intel CPUs because they were the most challenging to cool and also consumed the most power. When Alder Lake was released, I noticed that the thermal difficulty of cooling the 12900K was more difficult compared to prior generation products – only a few coolers were able to keep it under TJMax.
Intel’s i9-13900K and AMD’s Ryzen 7 7700X CPUs can be even more difficult to cool in heat intensive workloads – and this trend is likely to continue with future generations of CPUs. As CPUs continue to shrink in size, thermal density rises, increasing the difficulty of cooling. Indeed, it is no longer worrying to run a desktop CPU at it’s peak temperature – it is to be expected in intense workloads without power restrictions or undervolting.
I have been interested to see how different levels of cooling performance effect both AMD and Intel platforms for some time. Thanks to our partner ASRock this is now possible – they sent a sample of their B650E Taichi for testing purposes. I will be taking a closer look at this motherboard in the future – but in the meantime check out reviews of this pristine motherboard on Funkykit & Tom’s Hardware.
Introducing Cougar’s Forza 135, a high performance dual tower air cooler
Packaging and included contents
The Forza 135 comes in a fairly large box (for an air cooler), and uses cardboard, plastic coverings, and molded foam for the protection of the inner contents.
Included with the package are
Dual Tower Radiator
1x 120mm fan
1x 140mm fan
Mounting for modern Intel & AMD platforms
PWM Fan Splitter
Fan clips for up to three fans
Included long screwdriver
AM4 & AM5 Cooler Installation
The installation of the Forza 135 is extremely simple. Once the default retention module has been removed, attach the standoffs to the motherboard. Then place the mounting bars on top of the standoffs and secure them with the included screws.
Secure the cooler to the motherboard by using the long screwdriver.
Finally, secure the fans to the cooler with the included clips. Plug the fans into the fan splitter, and then connect the fan splitter to your motherboard’s PWM connection.
Features of Cougar’s Forza 135 Dual Tower Air Cooler
The Forza 135 is 160mm, and should fit most mid-tower and larger sized cases.
Nickel Plated Copper base with 7x 6mm heatpipes
1x 120mm fan and 1x 140mm fans
There’s more to a cooler than just it’s heat sink, the fans paired with a cooler have a huge impact both total cooling potential and noise levels. The Forza 135 includes fans of two different sizes – one 120mm fan in the rear and one 140mm fan in the center to create a “wind tunnel effect”.
Cougar advertises the following with these fans:
Forza 135 is equipped with COUGAR MHP140-A and MHP120 high-performance fans. Both fans have durable metallic-reinforced motor hub & metal bearing shell design, providing high airflow & high static pressure to achieve an optimum balance between ultra-silent operation and extremely cooling. They are perfect partners for Forza 135 that deliver outstanding performance.
120 x 120 x 25 mm/140 x 140 x 25mm
600-2000 RPM/500-1500 RPM
Up to 82.48/72.93 CFM
Up to 4.24/2.11 mm H20
Rated Noise Level
HDB Hydro Dynamic Bearing
Additional clips for an optional third fan
Cougar includes additional fan clips for enthusiasts who want to add another fan for maximum cooling performance.
I’ve been testing quite a few more coolers since I posted my last review, so there will be a wide variety of air cooling results for this review. There are still a limited number of liquid cooling results here, but I’ll work on expanding that soon.
For thermal results, I’ve tested the CPU in three configurations
At the default power limits
With a 95W PPT enforced
With a 75W PPT enforced.
Noise Normalized Results
Performance only scales by a limited amount with improved cooling capacity with Ryzen 7000. This also means that there is less of a benefit to running fans at higher performance levels. As such, it can be useful to see how coolers compared when noise normalized for quiet operation.
In this noise normalized scenario for silent performance, Cougar’s Forza 135 offers the second best results of any air cooler I’ve tested with Ryzen 7700X.
Default Power Limits
At the default power limits, the most intensive loads can be difficult to cool and result in the CPU running at TJMax. As such, we’ll be looking at two metrics in this situation where the CPU temperatures reach TJMax: Noise levels and watts cooled.
Cougar’s Forza 135 does well here, on par with Iceberg Thermal’s IceSLEET X7 and Thermalright’s Peerless Assassin. While technically it pulls ahead of these coolers by a fraction of a watt, I would consider this difference to be within “margin of error.”
It achieves this level of performance with a noise level of 48.7 dBA,. This is a moderate noise level, on the louder end for air coolers I’ve tested .
Some of y’all might notice that the graph starts at 36 instead of zero – this is because my sound meter cannot measure noise levels lower than 36 dBA. Since that is the noise floor of this meter’s recording capabilities, 36 dBA is the “zero” for our testing purposes. For those concerned that this might distort results – there’s no worry. If anything, the graphs above will minimize the differences in noise levels because dBA measurements are logarithmic.
For a more detailed explanation of how decibel levels correspond to perceived noise levels, please check out the video below from BeQuiet! which makes it easy to visualize and understand the true impact of of increasing dBA levels.
Imposing even a minor power consumption limit on AMD’s Ryzen 7700X reduces cooling difficulty dramatically resulting in the ability to easily to cool the CPU under TJMax (95c), as such in these situations the total noise levels are more important. It’s also important to test in these TDP restricted situations, because most “real life” workloads will not push the CPU to it’s limits.
The results above show that most air coolers will perform similarly, but there will be a 6C+ delta between low end and higher end air coolers. Forza’s Cougar 135 was the strongest performing air cooler I’ve tested with Forza’s Cougar 135 in this scenario.
Lowering the PPT to 75W further reduces the cooling difficulty, bringing CPU temperatures down to 41C over a 23C ambient temperature. This is the 2nd best result from any air cooler I’ve tested thus far. At only 40.0 dBA when running at the default fan curve of ASRock’s b650E Taichi, the noise levels here are very low.
It’s important to remember that if you prefer fully silent operation, the noise normalized results shown earlier demonstrate that you won’t lose any performance in these power limited scenarios if you set fan speeds to run silently.
Cougar’s Forza 135 features quality German engineering and a sturdy build with solid black fans without flashy lighting. It’s one of the best air coolers I’ve tested with AMD’s Ryzen 7 7700X and should do well with any modern CPU.
Liked it? Take a second to support Albert Thomas on Patreon!