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We've been publishing large cooler shootouts with detailed analysis of their properties for a long time already. This approach proved itself well in practice and won the recognition of our readers: it's certainly convenient and handy to have a detailed analysis of a great many coolers, be it budget or top models. But our massive shootouts also have one not very good nuance - it's not always possible to include new products into the test procedure. So we have to choose trade-off solutions, sticking to the most popular models. This is irrelevant for budget coolers - the market of low-end cooling systems is quite slow (product lines are not updated very often). But it becomes a serious problem for the High-End sector, where new coolers come in showers almost every day.
We comply with the wishes of our inquisitive readers and understand the exigence to review interesting new products from Mid- and High-End sectors. So we start a series of brief reviews of pioneering coolers worthy of our attention. We'll start with a new product from Thermaltake with a suitable marketing name - V1.
The main feature of the V1 is its garish, or even bizarre design: the field of heat pipes seems to be explored through and through, a lot of designs are engineered - from traditional tower-like heatsinks to cunning radial solutions. So it's practically impossible to invent something really innovative. But Thermaltake engineers brushed aside stereotypes, plucked up courage, and came up with a very interesting device!
Fortunately, this fancy design of the V1 also has good technical properties (problems with the Beetle taught Thermaltake people a good lesson): the working medium is formed by an imposing combination of two copper fin sections, four copper heat pipes, and a copper 36x36x5 mm base. Both sections look like fans (V-shaped profile). Each section contains 51 fins (0.2mm thick). By the way, they also have a V-shaped configuration - the fins are 8 mm wide at the base and 28 mm wide at the top. Despite its compact finning (138x70x115 mm), the total heat exchange surface area is about 4300 cm2. This value would do credit even to High-End coolers. The V1 almost catches up with the Scythe Ninja, it outperforms the Zalman CNPS9500 LED and CNPS9500 AM2.
Disposition of the on-board fan also looks interesting - it's situated in the center of finning between the two sections. This is not a new idea - this fan location is used in some coolers from ASUS and Scythe. Even Thermaltake offers the Sonic Tower cooler, which allows to install a fan in the middle. But the implementation of this idea in the V1 is much better in technical terms. Owing to this very fan-like configuration and the V-shaped fin profile, the central fan does an excellent job of blowing at the fins: the fin step in the bottom part of the heatsink is very small (1 mm), but fins are narrow there (hence the minimized hydraulic resistance); the fins are wider on top, but they are installed at the 4 mm step (resistance to the air flow is again minimal). Thus, we get a decent heat exchange ratio with a relatively weak open-frame fan owing to the geometrically balanced finning.
The only flaw in the V1 design is the way its heat pipes are connected to the finning: instead of being soldered (it's a perfect copper-to-copper solution), the heat pipes are simply glued to the fins, which is not very good. However, pipe-fin joints are pressed tightly. Besides, critical contacts between the pipes and the base are soldered. So we can actually ignore this little flaw. Besides, judging by the V1 efficiency, it does not have a noticeable negative effect on thermal resistance of the cooler.
So, we have examined the design of our cooler under review. Now let's see what the V1 can offer to its users.
Many High-End coolers from Thermaltake used to come with non-user-friendly multi-platform retention modules. We've criticized them many times. We had actually no gripes with the technical quality of this module. But its usability was sometimes very poor. It's a miracle that the V1 with its significantly improved retention module is finally easy to install!
Indeed, the V1 is much easier to install than the Silent Tower or Big Typhoon. Now you don't have to remove a motherboard from a PC case, fiddle about with mounting crossbars, and screw eight nuts with a screwdriver, in order to install this cooler on the Intel LGA775 platform. You should just screw two mounting plates with standard push-pin clips to the base and snap them into mounting holes of the socket - that's all, the V1 is all set to go! The installation process for the AMD systems is even easier. You won't even have to use a screwdriver - there is a standard mounting frame for Socket 754/939/AM2. It has a lever to fix the cooler with two notches on the socket mounting frame. That's what I call progress!
We can also mention good quality of the on-board fan - although it has a simple design (sleeve bearing), electrical part of the fan is quite good (its control circuit has smoothing capacitors). So it pops quietly, which is even unusual for Everflow models. Modders will certainly like three bright blue LEDs.
You can also connect an adjusting potentiometer to control the rotational speed from 1300 rpm to 2000 rpm. But by a strange train of events, it has become a drawback: the power cable is very short (less than 10 cm), and there are no extension cords in the bundle. So the real benefit from this controller is illusory (you cannot place it outside a PC case).
OK, now we know more or less everything about usability of the V1. It's time to proceed to the most important part of today's article - performance results of this cooler!
In order to examine thermal efficiency of our coolers under review, we put the same methods into service as in testing cooling systems for Socket 478 as well as AMD Socket 754/939/AM2. The primary data used for the consequent calculation of thermal resistance are temperature readings of the thermal diode built into a processor. Only the thermal source (Pentium 4 550), the base platform (ASUS P5AD2-E Premium motherboard), and a set of applications are different.
We are also measuring the temperatures of the inductance coils in the CPU voltage regulator. To be specific, we are measuring the temperatures of the PL24, PL25 and PL26 inductance coils near the socket. This provides additional data that helps us evaluate the cooling efficiency. CPU voltage is also raised to 1.525 V in order to generate more heat in the testbed. The resulting heat power is 150 W.
We use the S&M utility to create maximum thermal load on the processor and Speedfan to monitor temperatures. The Thermal Monitor is disabled in all the tests.
Each cooler is tested with Stars 420 thermal paste
The diagram contains complex results
Thermal resistance θja is defined as the relation
θja = (Tj - Ta)/Ph, where Tj is the temperature of a CPU core, Ta is the environment temperature (it's 25°C in this case), Ph is the thermal capacity of a processor (in this case it's 150 Watts).
Finally, at the end of this article we publish the noise measurement results (the procedure is described in the article Noise characteristics of coolers and the noise measurement method) as well as the efficiency/noise rating of the coolers.
Note: Background noise level
The efficiency/noise ratio (ENR) is calculated as:
ENR = DM*(Rt/PóC)/(NL/Rn), where
Rt - reference temperature (the reference thermal resistance θja of the cooling system - 0.25°C/W), TC - the core temperature with the operating cooling system, Rn - reference noise (the reference noise level is 20 dBA), NL - noise level, generated by the cooling system, DM - denominate multiplier (10).
Our today's cooler under review, the V1, is definitely a success! The new product from Thermaltake demonstrates a decent balance of thermal efficiency and noise characteristics, worthy of a High-End model. It's notable for individual thermal design and a user-friendly retention module. There are some technical flaws, of course - simplified coupling between the heat pipes and the finning, as well as mediocre quality of the on-board fan. But considering good overall functionality of the V1, we can shut our eyes to them. Summing up all pros and cons, if this cooler has an adequate price (below 35-40 USD), it will be a good choice for top Intel LGA775 and AMD Socket AM2 processors.
Thermaltake V1 gets our Original Design award for its interesting heatsink design and improved ergonomics of the retention module.
We wish Thermaltake every success in designing new attractive and interesting products! Let's hope this company won't disappoint us. And we shall keep tabs on the situation in the High-End sector of cooling systems.