iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Budget Coolers for AMD, Winter Models

Part 1. Newly tested products from GlacialTech, Speeze and Thermaltake

The last weeks of December are wonderful. These days are full of anticipation of a great holiday, in each house, each office, each shopping center, restaurant, fitness club, and so on and so forth, even in the Kremlin — you can feel the fresh air of the coming New Year. All people, be it a tired office manager, a thoughtful system administrator, respectable businessman, or an over-free showman, are "caught" by pleasant New Year's cares: it's a sin to leave your relatives, friends and colleagues without presents, so you have to hurry up! However, this season is interesting not only in its resuscitating atmosphere, but also in a special sacral component, which urges us to stop and think about past events of the year and prioritize our actions for the next year.

I'm sure this year brought a lot of good to our readers — you've fulfilled your aspirations, moved up another step in your career or business, found your love. The grands of cooler building industry have also had a good year — despite the severe competition on the market and profitability drops (by the way, it was typical not only of the cooler sector, but also of the entire IT industry), leading vendors of cooling systems were developing product lines, actively expanding the range of budget and High-End coolers, sometimes getting good profits. Most of them will definitely celebrate the holiday in high spirits!

We'll not be over-modest either: practically all interesting coolers (both budget and High-End models) were thoroughly tested and reviewed. We've done titanic job. Our objective to respond promptly to market peripeteia and provide objective analytical information to our readers is completed. But it's not the reason to rest on our oars. Even having obtained a charge of Xmas spirits, we should take into account that the industry is constantly moving on, no breaks, weekends, holidays, or vacations. So today we'll get back to our day-to-day life and focus on the latest budget products for AMD that appeared this winter — Igloo 7310 series from GlacialTech and Thermaltake TR2 R1. We'll not forget about the freshly reviewed Speeze CopperReef, which was not included into the previous shootout. This article will also include our updated ratings. OK, let's start the ball rolling!

GlacialTech Igloo 7310 Light, Igloo 7310, Igloo 7310 Pro and Igloo 7310 TC

We'll start with four new products from the budget series GlacialTech Igloo 7310 — Igloo 7310 Light, Igloo 7310, Igloo 7310 Pro, and Igloo 7310 TC. These coolers are based on the same aluminum heatsink - 85×83×47 mm (63×63 mm at the base). They are equipped with 80×80×25 mm fans (combined bearing — rolling bearing plus plain bearing) and rank by fan speed (2200, 2600 and 3200 rpm). The TC-suffixed model is additionally equipped with the rpm control circuit depending on the CPU temperature (rotational speed of the fan varies from 1800 to 3000 rpm within 25-40°C).

GlacailTech Igloo 7310 Light and Igloo 7310 Pro

Budget models Igloo 7310 borrowed much from their predecessors in technical terms. They are inspired by the successful Igloo 7300 series. In fact, they are a compilation of time-proven design elements adapted for the new socket AM2 and spiced up with additional improvements in dimension/weight parameters.

GlacailTech Igloo 7300 Pro and Igloo 7310 Pro

Following the Igloo ideology, Igloo 7310 heatsink design includes well-known catalysts of thermal efficiency — tapered section fins and fin height alternation (symbiosis of these devices is intended to increase thermal and hydraulic efficiency of finning), and inherits high-tech parameters (fins - 0.5 mm thick at the base and 0.2 mm thick at the tip, average fin step - 2 mm, 34 fins). Owing to the rational geometry of the fins, Igloo 7310 offers larger heat exchange surface area than its big predecessor - Igloo 7300 (1900 cm2 versus 1800 cm2 in Igloo 7300). Besides, it lost some weight (taking into account the fan) - about 50 g (365 g versus 415 g in Igloo 7300). We should pay special attention to the onboard fan — it has an excellent configuration of blades, optimized for performance (balance of static pressure and flow rate) and less noise.

Igloo 7310 models also look good in terms of usability: their modified proprietary retention system (similar to Igloo 7220) is now compatible with all AMD platforms — Socket 754/939/940 and Socket AM2. Installation is very user friendly (fast and easy), like in previous generations — Igloo 7200, Igloo 7300 and Igloo 7210. The traditional preinstalled thermal interface is here again — highly efficient thermal paste (filling agent — composition of aluminum oxide and nitride) spiced up with advanced thermophysical characteristics.

Our contenders also perform very well in purely practical terms, outscoring the old budget champions — Igloo 7300: although they are on a par in thermal efficiency, the new Igloo 7310 models demonstrate much more ergonomic results in terms of noise. For example, Igloo 7310 manages to lose 3 dBA (versus Igloo 7300) and enters the line of low-noise coolers. Igloo 7310 Light repays its obligations as well, it seriously improves record-breaking results of its predecessor — Igloo 7300 Light. Even Igloo 7310 Pro drops its noise to an acceptable level. Bottom line: with its decent technical solutions and attractive results, Igloo 7310 takes avant-garde positions in our rating, and the quiet Igloo 7310 Light is certainly one of the best budget coolers — it leads in usability and feasibility ratings.

Speeze CopperReef

The next model in our list is a representative of Speeze products for Socket 754/939 — CopperReef (EE782B3). It used to belong to Middle-End, but it's moved to the sale category now. The cooler is based on a copper-aluminum heatsink (80×80×45 mm, 76×68 mm at the base). It's equipped with an "inverted" fan, 80×80×25 mm, nominal fan speed - 2400 rpm (combined bearing — rolling bearing plus plain bearing), a reference retention module, and bundled with additional installation accessories — a mounting frame for Socket 754/939 and the standard support plate.

Although CopperReef is an old-timer, it's too early to write it off — the cooler demonstrates a good design with some technical frills. The main attraction of this model is its advanced heatsink - bonded-fin technology, a copper base (75×60×6 mm) and a section of 48 aluminum fins (0.3 mm thick, at 1 mm steps).

Fins are soldered to the base. Together with the developed heat exchange surface area (about 1800 cm2) it seriously dopes this cooler in terms of thermal characteristics. CopperReef has another technical trick — its fins have wave-like notches, which should theoretically reduce the pressure loss in the heatsink making it easier to blow it through.

Usability of this cooler is also good — although the retention module of CopperReef, designed after AMD references, is more difficult to use than in models from other companies, it copes well with its direct responsibilities and firmly secures the heatsink in the socket. We are slightly disappointed with the lack of preinstalled thermal interface — it's mauvais ton these days. Plus the absurd bundle of additional installation accessories for Socket 754/939 — it's excessive for a budget cooler, especially considering popularity of Socket AM2, and might have been removed from the bundle to make the product cheaper.

CopperReef looks good from the practical point of view — the cooler demonstrates good thermal results and keeps its noise level strictly within ergonomic boundaries. So this model demonstrates a balanced efficiency/noise ratio. As a result, having accumulated a decent combination of characteristics, it attains a respectable position in our usability rating and outscores Thermaltake TR2 M14 SE, which is similar in technical terms. But CopperReef is not doing well in our economic ratings — its price is still too high despite its sale status.

Thermaltake TR2 R1

The new product from TR2 (produced by Thermaltake) - a robust model with a minimalist name R1 - concludes out shootout. This cooler is based on a large aluminum heatsink (95×92×46 mm, 77×67 mm at the base). It's equipped with an "inverted" fan, 92×92×38 mm, nominal fan speed - 1300 rpm (plain bearing), and a proprietary toolless 2-pin retention module.

Together with impressive dimensions, R1 possesses a no less imposing design — its heatsink demonstrates developed finning (the total surface area of heat exchange is about 1850 cm2), spiced up with advanced parameters (tapered section fins, 0.6 mm thick at the base and 0.2 mm thick at the tip, average fin step - 1.8 mm, 32 effective fins.) R1 fan is also quite good - together with the frameless structure, it has optimized blades that provide a balanced combination of performance and generated noise.

Usability of the cooler is good as well — despite the large body, its outlines are neatly shaped according to AMD requirements. So the heatsink easily sits on the installation frame, you'll have no problems installing it. And the modified retention clip, similar to the retention module of the previous series (TR2 M6 SE, M17SE, M19 SE), but adapted for Socket AM2, quickly fixes it in the socket. Preinstalled thermal interface in the R1 will also help you with the installation - typical organo-silicon thermal paste of good quality.

What concerns pure practice, R1 deftly copes with its direct responsibilities. The cooler demonstrates good thermal results, successfully combines them with a truly ergonomic noise level, and achieves a really attractive efficiency/noise ratio (this model is only slightly outperformed here by GlacialTech Igloo 7310 Light). As a result, having demonstrated a decent combination of technical characteristics, R1 outperforms such serious competitors as Arctic Cooling Alpine 64 and Cooler Master X Dream K640. It significantly outperforms TR2 models and enters the group of leaders in usability and technical-and-economical ratings.

So, we've examined our contenders. This part of the shootout is finished. Let's proceed to test results!

Part 2. Test results, summary table

Budget coolers for AMD - Ratings of 38 Winter Models

Procedural appendix. Integrated Assessment of Usability of Cooling Systems


Vitali Crinitsin (vit@ixbt.com)
February 8, 2007

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