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Appeared on: Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Thermaltake Beetle


1. Introduction

Thermaltake is one of the most recognized brands when it comes to cases, cooling solutions and generally modding accessories. Their products feature great design, efficiency and innovation.

In this review we'll be taking a look at the Thermaltake Beetle, another Tt 4-in-1 air cooler for AMD x64, XP, Sempron and Intel P4 478 and 775.

How it works :

This cooler works just like the previous Thermaltake product we've seen. The copper base plate at the bottom of the cooler is attached to your CPU. As the processor gets hot, it heats up the base plate which in turn heats up a special liquid contained inside the 6 copper heat pipes. This liquid flows through the pipes towards the cooler end near the fan which dissipates the heat across the 142 aluminium fins. There, the 12cm fan takes over with its sole purpose being to keep the fins cool.

Again the secret behind this design of the Big Typhoon is located at the heat pipes. The continuous flow of the hotter liquid towards the fan and colder liquid towards the copper base attached to the processor is what keeps the temperature down.

Here are the detailed specifications as provided by ThermalTake:

Product name Beetle
Heatsink Dimension 80 x 75 x 127 mm
Heatsink Material Copper Base & Aluminum Fin (39Fin)
Fan Dimension 90 x 25 mm
Fan Speed 1600rpm~4300rpm
Compatibility Intel P4 LGA775
Intel P4 478 Prescott FMB1.5
AMD Athlon 64 / Athlon 64 FX
AMD Athlon XP up to 3400+
AMD Sempron up to 3400+
Heatpipe Copper Tube ( 6 mm) x 6pcs
Noise 20dB~44.5dB
Weight 581 g (20.51 oz)

Inside the package along with the Beetle, you will find 2 fan control panels. The first one is a front panel that fits on a floppy drive slot and the other you can plug in an unused PCI slot. To install them you have to connect their cables to a special connector on the Beetle cooler. As there is only one such connector, that means you can only use one panel at a time.

One more thing to note is that although you can rotate the control knob all the way around from Min to Max, it doesn't actually work like a trimmer and there are only a few scales for fan speed.

The panels control the Beetle's fan speed and can set it from 1600rpm up to 4300rpm. At the lowest fan speed, the 20dB noise generated is almost undistinguishable. Even more, the lowest fan speed works great with motherboard noise reduction features such as the Asus Q-Fan. With Q-Fan, the Beetle gets as good as a silent cooler.

When you start to increase the speed further, the more you move towards the maximum level, the more intolerable the noise becomes. At the highest level where the Beetle supposedly generates 44.5dB, there is no room for both you and the Beetle in the same room. Unless of course you're deaf or work in the mines.

The Beetle's 8cm fan is highlighted by a small led located behind the Tt logo at the center of the fan.

As the Beetle is working, cooling your processor, the light rotates through a series of six colors as seen above.


2. Installation

In order to install the Beetle on a K8 motherboard, you normally have to remove the retention module surrounding the CPU socket. However, as there are two kinds of back plates supporting the retention module, metal and plastic ones, the installation varies for each type.

As Thermaltake recently included on the Beetle product page, installing the Beetle on a plastic back plate board does not require removal of the retention module, as the back plate is shorter and would give you a hard time or even damage your processor when you try to screw the I-bar on the board.

That way you don't have to remove the motherboard from the case. Just remove the screws from the retention module, cover your processor with a thin layer of thermal conductive paste and place the Beetle on top of it.

The Beetle has to be placed so that it blows air towards the case fan that might be located at the rear of your box. After doing this, get the appropriate K8 I-bar found amongst the Beetle's accessories and place it on the copper base of the Beetle as shown above.

Next, for plastic plated boards, get the two large K8 screws along with their springs and washers and screw the I-bar onto the PCB.

For metal plated boards, the two large K8 screws are just not long enough to tighten the I-bar. For this reason, use the screws that originally held the retention module and also remove the springs.

Connect the Beetle's 3-pin power supply cable onto your motherboard's CPU fan socket and the Beetle is ready for use. The final result should look something like the picture above.


3. Performance/Overclocking

To measure the CPU's temperature, we used SpeedFan v4.21 which provided us with real time monitoring and created a graph of the temperature over time. After letting the processor cool down in idle mode we fired up Prime95 and ran the In-place large FFT test to heat it up to its maximum level. This is the graph of the temperature with the AMD stock fansink:

As you can see the CPU starts off at 37C and goes all the way up to 52.5C.

Here's the chart for temperature over time using the Beetle cooler at the minimum fan speed:

The idle temperature now dropped down to 34.5C. When we ran it through the paces, the temperature only rose up to 46.5C.

Although unbearable, we wanted to try out and see how cool the CPU would get with the maximum speed selected using the control panel. Amazingly, temperature dropped down to 31 degrees celsius in idle mode and rose to only 39.5C after some time of running the in place FFT prime95 torture test.

Overclocking

The default setting for our AMD 3500+ (Newcastle) was 11x200 = 2.2GHz. Trying out different Multiplier, FSB and CPU Voltage settings, we concentrated on finding the highest yet most stable frequency for our processor.

Through the BIOS, we left the Multiplier to 11 but increased the FSB to 240MHz. To support this higher frequency, we increased the CPU Voltage to 1.65V which will heat up the processor a little bit.

Using Prime95's torture test we verified that at that speed, the system was still able to perform correct calculations and fired up Speedfan once again to measure the temperature.

The idle temperature now starts from 38C and stabilizes at 55C which is only a little higher than the stock cooler temperatures, but now the processor is running at 450MHz.


4. Conclusion

The Beetle is surely a performance cooler. Running at the highest fan speed, the highest temperature from our CPU was barely 39.5° celsius and in idle mode, just 31°C. If you don't care about the extra noise the Beetle produces while keeping the processor cool, undoubtedly you'll love it.

The different pulsating colour leds, the UV sensitive material it's made of and the manual fan control panels, are all part of its feature set. However, the noise from the fan when running at full speed is a major drawback and if you decide to keep it at the lowest speed, then you lose all this great performance potential and the control panels become unnecessary. In which case, all you get is a huge, fancy but quite silent cooler, which is still great compared to the stock AMD cooler.

Installing the Beetle is quite tricky. If you decide to follow the steps presented in the leaflet included inside the package, you'll catch yourself wondering "How did they do that?". It seems the variety of motherboards on the market makes it too hard for a 4-in-1 solution to be installed as originally intended by TT, so you'll have to improvise a bit to make it work with your computer.

The Beetle costs around US$50. With the installation problems aside, the price is satisfactory for the given features and performance.

Pros:
-
Great heat reduction
- Front & Rear manual fan speed controls

Cons:
- Huge size
- Questionable universal CPU application

Performance:
Features/Design:
Installation:
Value for money:



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