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Appeared on: Thursday, June 26, 2008
CPU Coolers Roundup June 2008


1. Akasa AK-965BL

June is the perfect month to present another roundup with various cpu coolers. Today we will have in our hands the latest offering from from Akasa, Evercool, Nexus, Scythe an Titan. All products will be tested with exactly the same environmental conditions and of course same testing methodology.

In the first pages of this article you can read information about each cooler, as well as an evaluation of their design, quality of structure and retail package. Comparison and benchmark results follow in the last pages.

But first, let's meet the coolers.

- Akasa AK-965BL

Manufacturer
Akasa
Model
Price
$25
Category
Entry Level

We have already tested the Akasa AK-965BL that won a Best Buy Award. The new Akasa AK-965BL is essentially the same cpu cooler with different color (blue) for the rotating fan.

The AK-965BL utilizes the "U-shape heatpipe technology" for rapid and even heat transfer. A copper base is used for maximum heat absorption,  three embedded copper heatpipes ensure fast heat transfer and 45 aluminum fins contribute to better heat dissipation.

An Intel approved power management (PWM) 92mm round frame fan is available for efficient and quiet cooling. Intel's reference push-pin retention is used for safe and easy attachment. The specific fan positioning enhances the VRM cooling (VRM - CPU Voltage Regulator Modules located on the motherboard).

Thermal compound is pre-applied.

The AK-965BL can be assembled horizontally or vertically as the heatpipes work independently of installation direction.

- Features

- Full Specifications

  Socket type   Intel LGA 775
  Heatsink dimension   132 x 105 x 56.5mm
  Heatsink material   Aluminium fins, copper heatpipes and base
  Cooler dimension   139.5 x 111.6 x 89.5mm
  Fan dimension   92 x 25mm (on 80mm fan fitting)
  Fan speed   600 - 2500 R.P.M.
  Fan connector   4-pin (PWM enabled)
  Fan airflow   10.56 - 47.68 CFM 
  Fan air pressure   0.18 - 2.56 mm H20
  Fan life expectancy   45000/hrs
  Bearing type   Ball Bearing
  Voltage rating   12V
  Noise level   17 - 30 dB(A)
  Product code   AK-965BL

- Retail package

The retail package of Akasa AK-965BL includes just the basics.

 

The cooler is more or less the same as the akasa AK-965 we tested some time ago. The 92mm fan on the front keeps the aluminium fins cool, while the three U-shaped heatpipes that absorb the heat from the base. The middle-sized cooler has a height of just11cm. As you can see the thermal compound is pre-applied.

- Installation

The installation procedure is very simple, since the design follows Intel's standard procedure. No much to explain here, this cooler can be installed in less than 1 minute.

The motherboard's copper heatpipes around the CPU area did not obstruct the installation.

- Ratings (before benchmarks)

Retail package
Design
Motherboard compatibility
Installation time
Copper Base quality

2. Evercool HPH-9525CU
Manufacturer
Evercool
Model
Price
$26
Category
Power Users

Evercool presents a low budget solution for users who wish to improve their cooling efficiency with a product better than Intel's stock cpu cooler. The HPH-9525CU comes with a full copper body and a 95mm rotating fan on top, positioning itself as a cooler with a good price/performance ratio.

 

- Features

- Specifications

DC Fan Size : 95 x 95 x 25 mm
Base Material : Aluminum base + Copper Fin
(HPH-9525CU)
Bearing Type : Ever Lubricate Long Life Bearing
Speed : 1800±10% RPM
Noise Level : <20 dBA
Rated Voltage : 12 V
Weight : 480 g

- Retail package

The Evercool HPH-9525CU cooler is packed in a small hard coated plastic shell.

The design is rather simple, you will find a 95mm rotating fan on the top featuring a backlight blue light and a full copper body.

The base is a combination of copper and aluminum materials.

- Installation

Again you should not have problems with the installation of the cooler. It follows Intel's standard mounting method. In case you have no idea how that works, Evercool has prepared an installation guide for you.

This is how your PC case should look like after installation of the cooler.

If you like working late at nights, you may like the blue light coming out of the cooler..

- Ratings (before benchmarks)

Retail package
Design
Motherboard compatibility
Installation time
Bottom Base quality

3. Nexus HOC-9000
Manufacturer
Nexus
Model
Price 
$58
Category
Overclockers

The Nexus HOC-9000 comes with an eye-catching design, at least. Nexus' "HOC technology" puts the 8mm diameter heatpipes directly on the CPU. So the heat of the processor is directly transferred onto the heatpipes. And as heatpipes have a greater heat dissipation power then plain aluminum or copper the heat is transferred with great efficiency.

Together with the improved surface area of the aluminum fins, the v-shape area underneath the fan, and the airflow focus, the performance of this cooler reaches an amazing 0.15°C/W. And all this at an ultra low fan speed from 600 RPM (PWM controlled to a max of 1500 RPM). In order to get familiar with the full features of the product please visit Nexus HOC-9000 product page.

- Full Specifications

       
Cooler Specifications    
Dimensions:                       149.3x151x123mm / 5.88x5.95x4.85inch    
Fins:                                               Surface 2.0 Aluminum Alloy with v-shape    
Heat Pipe:                                        4 copper, nickel plated, heat pipes of 8mm    
Base Material:                                   HOC technology (HEATPIPE-ON-CPU)    
Weight: 737 gram*    
       
Fan Specifications      
Fan size:                            120x120x25mm    
Speed:                                          PWM controlled, 600~1500 RPM    
Noise level:   17 dB(A) ~ 21.6 dB(A)    
Bearing:                                            Hypro bearing    
Rated voltage:                              12V                                           
Rated current:                                   0.13A    
Power consumption:      1.56W    
Warranty:   3 years    

- Retail package

 

The Nexus HOC-9000 supports all Intel Socket 775 CPU and all AMD Socket AM2 / 754 / 939 / 940 processors, using the various bundled clips. Inside the package you will also find a printed manual, a 4-pin power supply connection for 3-pin motherboard connection and of course thermal paste. After installation, you can "decorate" the Nexus HOC-9000 with several label stickers included for that purpose.

A sticker protects the base of the cooler.

The device has an 120mm rotating fan with PWM abilities (600~1500 RPM). The fan is securely fastened with four soft rubber fan fixings to eliminate resonance and vibrations.

There are also several mini holes at the main body. As Nexus comments "... The aluminum fins of the HOC-9000 have an improved surface area with strategically positioned 'dimples'. The bulgings in the aluminum improve the efficiency of the cooler as the airflow more intensively touches the aluminum.." The airflow of the HOC-9000 is guided to target the CPU core directly.

The bottom base is a made of mixture of aluminum and copper materials. The surface of the heatpipes is in direct contact with the CPU with perfect fit.

In the picture below you can see how exactly the Intel standard clips are secured to the base with the two included screws.

- Installation

Since the Nexus HOC-9000 uses Intel's standard mounting method, things should be simple. Well, yes and no. Due to the size and the design of the heatpipes you might need to rotate the cooler before installing it in order to find the appropriate alignment for it. You might be also troubled to push down all clips in case there are many motherboard heatsinks around the CPU area.

After installing the cooler inside our Thermaltake Soprano case, we saw that there is enough free space left around the cpu area and its height should not cause any problems.

- Ratings

Retail package
Design
Motherboard compatibility
Installation time
Copper Base quality

4. Nexus XiR-3500
Manufacturer
Nexus
Model
Price 
$65
Category
Overclockers

The Nexus XiR coolers combine some of the most advanced technologies used for CPU coolers. Heat pipes, SkiveTek and ultra-thin fins combined with a real silent  temperature controlled fan promise to deliver the ultimate performance which has never been this quiet before.

XiR coolers are crafted out of pure aluminum and copper materials. The heat sink covering the heat pipes and the copper base is made using the SkiveTek technology.

The temperature sensor on the fan makes sure the fan speed is always at an optimal lowest speed. The speed can vary between 1500 and 2500 RPM creating a noise-output of an inaudible 15 dB(A) up till a still quiet 24 dB(A).

 

Nexus has also put two orange LED in the fans center core...just for fun.

- Features

- Full specifications
Cooler specifications  
   
Universal application Intel 775, AMD AM2 754 939 940
Dimensions 106x122x111 mm
   [LxWxH] 4.17x4.80x4.37 inch
Materials Pure copper base
  Pure copper heat pipe
  Pure aluminum heat sink
  Pure copper fins
Weight 736 gr / 25.96 oz
Heat pipe 4 heat pipes of 6 mm / 0.236 inch
  diameter
Fan specifications  
   
Fan size 92 x 25 mm / 3.6 x 0.9 inch
Fan voltage 12V
Fan function temperature controlled by fan sensor
Fan speed 1200 to 2500 RPM (+/- 10%)
Fan connector 4-pin
LED's 2 x orange LED in fan center core
  Pure copper fins
Noise level 15 ~ 24 dB(A)

- Retail package

The retail package of the Nexus XiR-3500 is rather big.

The package includes all the essential parts in order to install the XiR-3500 in either Socket 775 or AMD platforms. A printed manual is also included.

The XiR-3500 is made out of full copper with a small fan on the top.

 

The bottom base is impressive with a mirror finish...

More pictures...

- Installation

The installation process requires you to remove all the four screws that secure the bottom surface, place the two holders at each side of the base and tight them up again. Then you have to place the backplate on the motherboard and flip it in order to secure the whole structure.

After some minutes, everything is placed and secured on our test board.

 

- Ratings

Retail package
Design
Motherboard compatibility
Installation time
Copper Base quality

5. Scythe Orochi
Manufacturer
Scythe
Model
Price 

$59

Category
Overclockers

The Scythe Orochi is a CPU cooler designed to fulfil the overclocker's needs. It has massive dimensions of 120 x 194 x 155 mm and a more than 1.25kg of weight. As a result, due to the large dimension of this CPU Cooler, this product may not fit into all PC cases.  Before buying it, check the dimension of your PC case and surrounding components to make sure this CPU cooler can fit into your system.

- Features

- Full specifications
Model Name: OROCHI CPU Cooler
Model Number: SCORC-1000
Manufacturer: Scythe Co., Ltd. Japan
   
Overall  
Dimensions: 120 x 194 x 155 mm
4.7 x 7.6 x 6.1 inch
Weight: 1,285 g
2.84 lb
   
Fan  
Dimensions: 140 x 140 x 25 mm
5.5 x 5.5 x 1.0 inch
Weight: 130 g
0.29 lb
Speed: 500 rpm (±10%)
Air Flow: 29.39 CFM
Noise Level: 10.8 dBA

- Retail package

Inside the retail box there is a printed manual, two cpu brackets for Intel/AMD platforms, a mobo backplate, two fan clips, thermal paste and of course mounting hardware.

We knew that the Scythe Orochi would be big, but we didn't expect to be that big! Looking at the cpu cooler, we can see the massive 10 heatpipes coming from the base up to the aluminum fins.

The included 140mm rotating fan @ 500rpm is virtually silent...

The bottom is almost perfect with a mirror finish...

- Installation

The installation process requires much attention and patience. Due to the cooler's massive volume and height, first you need to make sure that it will fit your case. Then you need to use the backplate and secure the two plates on the motherboard as shown below:

You need to attach the corresponding clip for your CPU and then try to secure the whole structure on the installed plates. We had to let the motherboard's plates lose in order to install the cooler properly.

 

The included 140mm rotating fan can be also easily installed.

Well, we had not realized the volume of this cpu cooler until we placed it on a middle sized case. However, with the rotating fan installed, the side panel of the PC case is very close to the fan, making us feel that this may affect the cooler's performance.

- Ratings

Retail package
Design
Motherboard compatibility
Installation time
Copper Base quality

6. Scythe Shuriken
Manufacturer
Scythe
Model
Price 

$27

Category
HTPC users

Scythe' Shuriken cpu cooler features just a 64mm height and will definitely fit in your PC case. It is designed for Home Theatre PCs.

- Features

Extreme Low Height – 64mm
64mm “Extreme Low Height” feature makes this product to be compatible to most cases in the market. 

Original Designed Super Slim 100mm/12mm Thin PWM Fan
Slim 100mm x 12mm thickness “Super Slim PWM Fan” which is originally designed by the Scythe engineer to make this product as low height as possible. 

Tool Free Easy Installation
Newly developed & "patent pending" mounting mechanism "VTMS (Versatile Toll-Free Multiplatform System) allows user to install the Shuriken CPU Cooler without any tool and hassle. Shuriken CPU Cooler is compatible for socket 478/754/939/940/AM2 & LGA775.

3 x Heatpipe yet Ultra Light Weight
Ultra light weight as 355g, which is nearly the same as the CPU cooler that comes with intel or AMD CPU.

Optional Fan Mounting
Optional 92mm fan attachment is possible by using the included fan clip for more performance.

- Specifications

Model Name: Shuriken CPU Cooler

Model Number: SCSK-1000

Compatibility:
Intel:
Socket 478 All Speeds
Socket T/(LGA)775 All Speeds

AMD:
Socket 754 All Speeds
Socket 939 All Speeds
Socket AM2 All Speeds
Socket 940 All Speeds

Dimension:
105x116x64mm (Overall Dimension)
100x100x12mm (Fan Dimension)

Fan Speed: 650±200rpm ~ 2200rpm (±10%)

Fan Noise: 10.5dBA ~ 31.67dBA

Air Flow: 11.81CFM ~ 31.91CFM

Weight: 355g

- Retail package

The retail package of the Scythe Shuriken is really small.

Inside the package you will find an installation guide and mounting mechanism for Socket 775 and AMD compatible motherboards. The installation clip for the Socket 775 is really easy to mount/un-mount.

A 100mm low profile fan with PWM function (650±200rpm ~ 2200rpm) is placed on the top side of the cooler. The Scythe Shuriken weighs just 355 grams and features three 6mm diameter copper heatpipes.

The base has been stamped from a polished sheet of 2mm thick copper and nickel.

- Installation

No problems here, since the included clips just sit on the motherboard's surface. Just apply some pressure and when you hear the "click", everything is fastened and ready to use.

The cpu cooler is really small and should work with most of the currently sold motherboards.

 

 

- Ratings

Retail package
Design
Motherboard compatibility
Installation time
Copper Base quality

7. Scythe Zipang
Manufacturer
Scythe
Model
Price 

$45

Category
HTPC users

The Scythe Zipang is another CPU cooler for HTPCs, that promises to eliminate noise and further cool down your main processor, at least compared with the default cooler. Equipped with a 138mm fan that rotates at 1000RPM, we can say it's the big brother of Scythe Shukerin. The smart design allows the product to be used with all current Intel and AMD processors (775,478,939/AM2).

- Features

Newest Technology – UPHC
Newest UPHC (Uneven Parallel Heatpipe Construction) is equipped to maximize the heat dissipation from heatpipe, which eliminates the heat dissipation loss during the heat transfer process. 

Large Sized Silent 140mm Fan
Large sized 140mm fan to provide big airflow yet optimization for silent operation

Total 6 Heatpipe for Top Performance
With total 6 x 6mm diameter heatpipe to provide the top cooling performance

Wide Range Cooling
Optimized to get its performance from low-rpm to high-rpm to meet the demand from silent users to heavy-core overclockers.  All in one solution for your PC system.

Optional 120mm Fan
An optional 120mm fan can be attached to the Zipang CPU Cooler using the Scythe 12cm Fan Clips.

- Specifications

Model Name:
Zipang CPU Cooler

Model Number:
SCZP-1000

Compatibility:
Intel:
Socket 478 All Speeds
Socket T/(LGA)775 All Speeds

AMD:
Socket 754 All Speeds
Socket 939 All Speeds
Socket AM2 All Speeds
Socket 940 All Speeds

Dimension:
145x148x112mm (Overall Dimension)
139x139x25mm (Fan Dimension)

Fan Speed:
1000rpm (±10%)

Fan Noise:
21.00dBA

Air Flow:
51.82CFM

Weight:
815g

- Retail package

 

Inside the package you will find an installation guide, thermal paste and mounting mechanisms for Socket 775 and AMD compatible motherboards. The installation clips need to be mounted on the base with the provided four screws.

The Scythe Zipang weighs in at 815 grams and features six 6mm diameter copper heatpipes threading through, and under its fins.

 

The base of the Scythe Zipang heatsink is made from a machined block of copper which has a heavy chrome plating.

- Installation

The installation process is easy, provided that you have a screwdriver near you. Below are the two available clips for Socket 775 and AM2 motherboards.

The cpu cooler is big enough but hopefully it fits to your motherboard.

You might need to rotate the cpu cooler until you find the perfect position

 

- Ratings

Retail package
Design
Motherboard compatibility
Installation time
Copper Base quality

8. Titan TTC-NK35TZPW
Manufacturer
Titan
Model
Price 

$30

Category
Power users

Titan introduces a new affordable cpu cooler for Intel/AMD socket that can be easily installed. The Titan TTC-NK35TZ/PW comes with a 90mm fan and of course PWM function for quiet operation.

- Features

- Specifications

Outline Dimension
90x90x130 mm
Fan Dimension
95x95x25 mm
Rated Voltage
12V DC
Rated Current
0.32 A
Power Consumption
3.84 W
Rated Speed
900~2800 ± 10%RPM
Airflow
49.37 CFM
Static Pressure
0.1 inch H2O
Noise Level
<22.2dBA
Rotation Direction
Counter-Clockwise
No. of Pole
4 Pole
Bearing Type
Z-AXIS BEARING
Life Time
60,000 Hours

- Retail package

 

The package includes thermal paste, a 3-to-4pin adapter and mounting mechanism for AMD sockets. The installation clips for Intel processors are already pre-installed

The cooler follows a high height design with a 90mm rotating fan.

Three full copper heatpipes are conducting heat from the base.

- Installation

Intel's standard mounting mechanism combined with the high height of the cooler make installation very easy.

The cpu cooler will fit perfectly in a middle-sized PC case. It can be installed either in vertical or horizontal position.

- Ratings

Retail package
Design
Motherboard compatibility
Installation time
Copper Base quality

9. Methodology - testbed

All coolers are tested inside a computer case in order to have a better idea of their performance under real life use. This is a controversial subject and most of  the coolers manufacturers ask us to do so. Then we try to choose the best motherboard to test all these coolers. This would be the motherboard with many copper heatpipes in order to test the compatibility of the coolers, especially those who have a massive volume. The selected Asus Blitz Extreme was just fine for the situation.

The testbed configuration is as follows:

In order to produce the highest possible temperature we used Intel's Thermal Analysis Tool (TAT) that offers higher thermal production compared to Prime95 (3-4 Celcius more!).

We left both cores running at full load for 30 minutes. All temperatures were logged via CoreTemp 0.95.4. We set various voltages in order to have the same conditions for all tested CPU coolers:

We measured the produced noise with Precision Gold N09AQ Environment Meter. Our PC case had already two 120mm system fans (by Thermaltake) installed so their noise is included in the measurements, as well as the noise produced by the power supply unit.

All measurements were made just outside the PC case, mostly near the side panel and on the front, so we had an overall view of the produced noise. Remember that higher rpm means more noise, so we lowered the rpm either via the BIOS smartfan or via the 3pin controller. By doing this we tested all the coolers either at full rpm speed or at low rpm speed.

For all the coolers we used the same thermal compound from Arctic Cooling, the TX-2. We tried to apply the same amount of thermal paste in the same way. All in all we tried to have the exactly same environment conditions in all the tested coolers. It's possible to have differences of 1-2 degrees C from system to system, due to Vdroop (Vcore variations).

Lastly, all tests were performed with the front panel closed, which is the worst case scenario in terms of internal air flow.


10. Results - Price range $0~$30

Since it is rather rather difficult to make a direct comparison of all 50 different coolers we have tested until now, we decided to split the result into three categories according to the retail price. After all, we all want to know which is the most affordable product with the highest performance.

The first category represents the budget cpu coolers, which include low priced products that aim to offer better cooling compared to Intel's stock coolers.

At full fan speeds without any overclocking, the Akasa AK-965BL gave a very good performance, with its twin brother AK-965 to follow closely. The Titan TTC-NK35TZ/PW and the Scythe Shukerin gave exactly the same temperature with 62 degrees Celcious, while the Evercool HPH-9525CU did not offer that much, at least compared to the Intel's stock cpu cooler.

At lower fan speeds, the Titan TTC-NK35TZ/PW performed better than the Akasa AK-965BL. The Scythe Shukerin was also more quiet than Intel's stock cooler, while we have several products that actually performed even worse, like the Evercool HPH-9525CU.

In the next test we made things a little harder for the coolers by overclocking the CPU. Both Akasa AK-965BL and Titan TTC-NK35TZ/PW performed equally, while the Evercool HPH-9525CU has the worst thermal dispass with the measurement to show 95 degrees Celcious. The Scythe Shukerin showed a very good performance, for its size, keeping the CPU 5 degrees cooler than the Intel's stock solution.

In the next test we measured the noise levels of each CPU cooler, with their fans spinning at both full and minimum speeds.

The majority of the tested products could not compete with Intel's s stock solution here:

Lowering the rotation speeds of the fan reduces the noise. Both new coolers in this chart, the Evercool HPH-9525CU and the Akasa AK-965BL performed very well.

Last but not least, the retail price of each tested product is presented below. We feel that the Akasa AK-965BL is probably the best choice priced at just $25.


11. Results - Price range $30+

In the second part of the results we present the measurements of higher priced cpu coolers aimed at power/overclockers and promise to offer the best possible cooling performance. In each chart we have also added the results of Intel's stock cooling solution.

The new competitors here are the Scythe Orochi, the Nexus HOC-9000, the Scythe Zipang and the Nexus XiR-3500.

At full fan speed without any overclocking, the Scythe Orochi showed very good performance with 53 degrees Celsius. The Nexus HOC-9000 follows closely with 54 degrees Celsius, while the Scythe Zipang kept the temperature down to 56 degrees Celsius A rather unexpected result came from the Nexus XiR-3500.

Below you can find the results with the fan speed set to low RPM. Note that not all products support this feature.

Overclocking is for sure the most interesting comparison among the high-priced cpu coolers. As it was expected, the Scythe Orochi performs really well provided that it is equipped with a single fan. It gave a result of 69 degrees Celsius under full load at 3.60Ghz. The Nexus HOC-9000 was less efficient with 74 degrees Celsius, while Scythe Zipang followed with 78 degrees Celsius The Nexus XiR-3500 followed with 80 degrees Celsius

We proceed to the noise level tests under full and low fan speeds. It is rather hard for most products to compete with Intel's stock option. The Nexus XiR-3500 performed very well while the Scythe Zipang and Orochi were also quiet. The Nexus HOC-9000 got an average rank on this test with a noise level of was at the 55dB.

 

The Scythe Orochi is "normally" priced at $59, while the Nexus XiR-3500 would cost you $6 more.


12. Conclusion

In this second cpu cooler roundup we are had the chance to test several new models that offers very good performance while they were affordably priced. Let's summarize which cpu coolers we tested in this roundup:

From our point of view, the Scythe Orochi with a retail price of $59 is an Editor's Choice product, while the Akasa AK-965BL gets our Best Buy Award.

Top CPU Coolers June 2008
Award
Scythe Orochi
Akasa AK-965BL

We would like to thank the following companies for their support and help in order to complete this roundup:



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