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Appeared on: Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Tuniq Propeller 120 review


1. Features, specifications
Manufacturer
Tuniq
Model
Propeller 120
Price 

$50

Category
Power users

The Tuniq Propeller 120 CPU cooler took its visual inspiration from the mighty aircraft carriers. The four smooth-curving heatpipes are both aesthetically pleasing and hopefully functional. The 120mm MFDB fan blows downward. Tuniq claims with such a design, the Propeller 120 is able to achieve the same top level performance of competing designs with eight heatpipes. Tuniq has also included the top performing TX-3 thermal compound and a fan controller into product's retail package.

 

- Product features

- Specifications

Propeller 120 Specifications
Dimensions(mm) 128(L) × 127.5(W) × 125(H) mm
Weight: 590g (without fan)
Heatpipe Ø 8mm x 4
TX-3 Specifications:
Appearance Grey
Viscosity 83500 cP
Thermal conductivity 6.2 W/mK
Operating temperature -45°C ~ 200°C
Specific Gravity 3.011 @ 25
Volume 0.33ml (1g)
MFDB fan Specifications:
Bearing Type: Magnetic Fluid Dynamic Bearing
Rated Voltage: 12V DC
Rated Current: 0.16A (Max)
Air Flow: 90.65 CFM (Max)
Noise: 16~20 +/- 10% dBA
Speed: 1000~2000 RPM
Life: 50,000 hours
Thermal Resistance 0.092 ( / W)

2. A closer look, installation

The Tuniq Propeller 120 heatsink retails in a large package and will cost you about $50, which is a decent price although you may find some more affordable solutions out there.

The product is fully compatible with the Intel LGA1366, LGA1156, LGA775 & AMD AM2, AM2+ and the AM3 sockets.

The contents are carefully packaged into a smaller box. These are the following: A PCI speed fan adjuster, Tuniq TX-3 thermal compound and the essential mounting clips for the corresponding CPU sockets:

The Tuniq Propeller 120 uses a pre-installed 120mm fan placed on the top side of the heatsink. The main unit measures around 128x127.5x125 mm and weighs 590g, without the fan.

The following side-view picture of the heatsink will help you better realize its unique design. Four Ø 8mm full copper nickel-plated heatpipes are connecting the aluminum fins with the base, part of which is actually the heatpipes as we will see later on. A 120mm fan is mounted on the top side of the fins, in order to keep them cool. It is not the first time we see such a design for a heatsink. It had proved to be not very efficient but we hope that the Tuniq Propeller 120 will show a better performance.

The copper heatpipes are actually part of the heatsink's base, in what Tuniq calls "Core-contact" technology:

The included 120mm fan lights up to blue when it is powered up, giving a cool blue glowing effect inside your PC case.

Before Installing this cpu cooler, carefully remove your motherboard from your PC case. Place the universal backplate at the bottom side of your motherboard and right below the CPU area. Four long screws should be used in order to mount the heatsink on the motherboard, as you can see in the picture below:

Apply some thermal compound on your CPU and carefully place the heatsink on it. make sure the heatsink's base is firmly attached on the CPU's surface. Use the four sprint bolt screws to keep the heatsink in place and you are ready to go..

As you can see in the picture below, the low volume of the CPU cooler around its base makes it easily installed even in cases where there is not so much free space left around the CPU area. The memory banks are free and the presence of the extra heatsink and some mosfets on our test motherboard around the CPU area are not an issue:


3. How we test

We test the CPU coolers in the following test bed:

We produced the highest possible temperature using the OCCT v2.0.1 software with a custom 30mins (mixed) operation.

We left both CPU cores running at full load for 30 minutes. All temperatures were logged using the CoreTemp 0.99.3 and the software itself. We took the measurements with the CPU running both at at stock speeds and under overclocking:

For the noise tests we used a Precision Gold N09AQ Environment Meter. All measurements were made at 30cm distance from the cpu cooler running at full speed.


4. Results

Let's move on to the actual tests with the Tuniq Propeller 120. It's unique design heatsink with top fan placement makes it more interesting and we are eager to see how efficient this design is.

We start with our Intel Core i7-920 processor running at stock voltage and speed. The Tuniq Propeller 120 did it well here and kept the CPU's temperature at 46 degrees Celsius. That's a good score that matches the performance of some other heatsinks, such as the Prolimatech Megahalems (2-fan) and the Titan Fenrin. It seems that the small size and the aircraft carrier design of the heatsink is an efficient combination, at least with the CPU running at stock speed:

Let's make things a little bit harder for the heatsink. We overclocked the Intel Core-i7 920 to 3.60GHz. The Tuniq Propeller 120 kept the temperature of the CPU down to 66 degrees Celsius. We expected more from this heatsink but it seems that using a single fan on the top side of the heatsink offers a more compact footprint but makes things more difficult for the heatsink to handle excessive temperatures. Also have in mind that we use an open box test bed for testing the heatsinks. These temperatures would be even higher inside a closed PC box:

Spinning at full speed, the fan of the Tuniq Propeller 120 heatsink makes a lot of noise. We measured about 52dB of noise coming out from the Tuniq Propeller 120, which is really annoying. Tuniq is offering a PCI cpu fan controller with the heatsink to make things more quiet:

Below you can a price comparison among the heatsinks we have tested so far. The Tuniq Propeller 120 costs around $50. The price would be easily acceptable if we had seen a better performance from the specific cooler. However, there are many other solutions out there that would cost you less and offer probably the same or even more, at least in terms of cooling efficiency:


5. Final words

The Tuniq Propeller 120 is definitely a stylish heatink, promising specifications and comes in a great bundle with the Tuniq TX-3 thermal compound and a fan controller in the box. In terms of aesthetics though, the Tuniq retain its crown, delivering a nicely finished product that will be an attractive addition to anyone's computer. It's unique design with the fan installed on the top of the aluminum fins offers make it compact in size, with a small footprint that guarantees excellent compatibility with today's complicated motherboards. However, the specific design had a negative impact on its performance, especially under overclocking. The Tuniq Propeller 120 was efficient enough with our Intel Core i-7-920 running at stock speeds, but it fell short of its main competitors under demanding overclocking conditions. It is obvious that the surface area of each fin was too small for efficient heat dissipation and adding to the fact tower coolers generally make better use of the airflow in a case, the top down design had limited chances against some other 'heavyweights' of the category. The installed 120mm fan is spinning at very high speeds and as such, it produces much noise. Adjusting the RPM using the included PCI cpu fan controller would help here but this would have a serious impact to the cooling efficiency.

To sum up, the Tuniq Propeller 120 is not the best performer you can buy for $50, at least if you are an overclocker. Adding a second 1200 fan could help here but the heatsink's design would not help for such mods. For sure, the Tuniq Propeller 120 looks great at night installed into your PC and will lower the temperatures of your CPU. In a world without any competition from other solutions, the Tuniq Propeller 120 would be a great choice. But the competition is here and it is stiff. Tuniq engineers need to further improve the Propeller 120 before being able to compete with other tower designs.

Retail package
Design
Motherboard compatibility
Installation time
Copper Base quality

 

 

Pros:

+ Aesthetically pleasing
+ Complete retail package
+ Very good volume for fitting most PC cases
+ Decent performance at stock CPU speed
+ Installation procedure is very straight forward
+ Product includes separate PCI fan adjuster + Tuniq TX-3 thermal compound
+ Works with both AMD/Intel platforms

Cons:

- Noisy at full RPM
- Competition offers better performance at lower price (i.e. Scythe Mugen 2)
- Design does not allow installation of a second fan
- Unable to maintain an overclocked CPU



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