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Asus Triton 77 CPU Cooler Review

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AkG

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Asus Triton 77 CPU Cooler Review




Manufacturer Product Page: ASUSTeK Computer Inc.
Availability: Soon
Price: Approx. $50 (Projected Canadian MSRP)
Warranty Length: 1 year



Asus is probably one of the best know brand name computer component manufacturers in the world and even people who have never even thought about building their own computer have heard of ASUS. ASUS is easily one of the largest component manufacturers and are even big enough to be listed on the Fortune 500 list. In fact there is a better than 1 in 3 chance that your personal computer is powered by an ASUS motherboard. While people know ASUS mainly for their motherboards, graphic cards and to a lesser extent laptops, what they are not readily known for is CPU cooling solutions.

Brand recognition is all well and good but in today’s ultra competitive marketplace, it is results that matter and just because a customer uses one of your motherboards does not mean they will automatically use your CPU cooling solution. While ASUS may not be well known for the coolers (yet), this does not mean that they are not serious about breaking into this highly lucrative (if heavily stratified) market. ASUS knows that one cooler to rule them all will not work and has rather gone for a more subtle approach at market dominance. They don’t want to have one cooler as top dog, they want a pack of them all equally good, all equally attractive, but all equally focused on different niche’s of the marketplace. This is a bold move as most companies like to make a cooler that has a broad an appeal as possible.

Today we will be looking at ASUS' latest foray into the Silent CPU Cooler marketplace: named the Triton 77, this cooler has a unique upwards cooling philosophy and is one of the many new CPU cooling products annunced by ASUS in the last few months. ASUS claims that this cooler (with its bottom mounted fan that blows air up from the motherboard rather than down) can help keep passively cooled motherboard parts cooled by up to "10 - 15°C". Maybe it is just us, but if this cooler sucks 15 or even 10°C from the hot VRM's on a motherboard than that must mean that the air used to cool the CPU heatsink (i.e. its actual job) will be 10 to 15°c hotter than ambient. This does raise an interesting question, namely: If it cools the motherboard by that much does that mean that its CPU cooling potential has been lowered by the same amount?


TRITON77_lg.jpg
 
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SKYMTL

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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories


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The box of the Triton 77 is done in a very bold and aggressive black and white colour scheme that is sure to appeal to the “Tim the Toolman Taylor” in all of us. It is grunt worthy machismo distilled down into a potent brew by the psychology masters at ASUS. While it is completely different in font style and colour scheme there is something about this box that makes you think of ASUS’s Republic of Gamers brand or even a limited edition Black Pearl motherboard. You look at this box and you just instinctively know that there is power waiting inside.

When one does a closer look at the box the very first thing that jumps out is the lack of information provided by the box. Yes the basics are all there, CPU sockets supported, fan noise, parts included. However, it is down right stark when compared to some other box’s we have reviewed and is even out of character for ASUS.

The only real and tangible annoyance we have with the box’s exterior is the amount of non English text that is included on this box. Including multiple languages is one thing but this smacks of filler, as if the design department just didn’t know what to put on the side of the box so they took their three short lines of content and made it stretch to fill up the whole side.


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When you open the box you are greeted to a classic ASUS packaging scheme. On the top nestled in between the two side flaps (that are rolled up to look like small cardboard boxes) is where the accessories are located.

When you remove the accessories and lift up the secondary cardboard flap you get your first glimpse of the Triton 77. Not only has ASUS gone for a classic two piece protective clamshell container (sans heat seal) but they also use a cardboard stiffener that helps keep the clamshell from bumping the side of the container, further increasing its already high protective abilities. This setup makes removing the Triton 77 a snap (err…..make that four snaps) to remove. Overall this offers a good balance between protection and ease of use that very few other companies seem to mange to get right.


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The accessories that accompany the Triton are all high quality. However, ASUS is known as the king of the "goodie bundle" and this sparse collection of accessories while complete is very limited in its scope.


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As mentioned the accessory list is short but of good quality. You get the necessary mounting hardware for both Intel 775 socket and AMD 939/AM2 systems plus a small tube of unknown ASUS branded TIM. You also get a fold up instruction pamphlet that like the outside of the box feels a bit "padded" since it is in numerous languages and basically each small page is one instruction (with picture) in length. While the instructions were a little on the incomplete side, both sets of mounting hardware felt very sturdy and you can tell ASUS paid extra to go with this level of quality.

In the end the Triton 77 packaging and accessories is very well done, and you cannot fault ASUS for the quality of components. That being said it just did not have that ASUS look and feel to it.
 

SKYMTL

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First Impressions

First Impressions


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When you first see the Triton 77 you could easily be forgiven for thinking that this is a normal down draft cooler, if a little on the fancy side. It is only when you takes a closer look that you realize that there is only one fan on the bottom and it is not sucking air in from above. It is actually pushing the air upwards! However, an upward draft cooler, now that is unique!

Once you get over its strange and exotic nature you can start to pick out details that make this unique cooler not so unique. In many ways this cooler is nothing more than a normal downdraft cooler; it just has a different fan mounting system. When you remove the fan it looks a lot like a normal tower heatsink that has been bent 90 degrees. This of course is to be expected as that is exactly what a down draft cooler is, and while this may blow its air up instead of down it is nothing more than a unique take on a tried and true method of cooling.


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The recent trend in down-draft coolers is to have only the heatpipes supporting all the weight of the radiator fin assembly and the ASUS Triton is no different. The only difference that ASUS engineers made was to have the bend in the heatpipes happen more gracefully over a larger arc. This allows the radiator fin assembly to be much further away from the base and also allows easy access to all four 775 mounting pins. We will go into more detail on the ease of installation but suffice to say that ASUS did not miss a trick when designing this cooler. Of course it goes without saying that the this larger arc without any secondary support does make the Triton 77 seem very unstable and it also has a tendency to flex a lot when tapped with a finger from above.


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The Triton 77 is not only unique but it is also a great looking cooler that has a very high “bling” factor while not needing to use any fancy LEDs or other trickery. The majority of the Triton’s striking good looks come from the graceful arch of the top of the fins and the unique Triton and stylized wing or wave logo that has been inserted into the front of the fan mounting assembly. It is too bad most of these good looks will go unnoticed when installed in most computer cases (excluding fully clear ones like Danger Den’s UFO line) but it sure will help sell many of these units.


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Also on the positive side, the base of this cooler is perfectly flat but does show some major tooling and minor polishing marks. For its price range it is fairly good and is about average.

Overall, ASUS has taken a fairly standard idea and made it their own. It will certainly be interesting to see if its stylish good looks and unique profile translate into real world gains. However, before we get to the testing phase lets take a closer and more in depth look at the heatsink and the fan that ASUS has paired it with.
 

SKYMTL

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Heatsink Construction & Design

Heatsink Construction & Design

Looking quickly at this cooler, you could make the argument that this cooler is nothing more than a revised and revamped ASUS Triton 75. Both are down draft style coolers (even if this one blows its air upwards instead of down), both use heatpipes with a aluminum radiator fin assembly to remove heat from the CPU and both have a very stylistic and slick design to them. Of course this is overlooking many key differences and if ASUS actually considers the Triton 77 be nothing more that a Triton 75 Rev 2.0 I would be very surprised. Unlike the 75 model this newer model is not a passive cooler and comes with its own 92mm fan. In fact the fan size that it accepts is even different that the 75 model. Also, the number of heatpipes has been increased from 4 to 5 and even the fins themselves are different. With the Triton 75 the fins went straight across from left to right and are similar in design to many tower style coolers (in that the top edge has indents to help reduce static air pressure). Contrast that very standard and relatively boring design against the 77 curved fin assembly that not only curve up and down (to give it that unique Seashell shape), but also left and right in a zigzag formation.


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Speaking of the aluminum fin assembly, these fins have been nickel platted to give them an extra shiny appearance that greatly enhances the looks of this cooler. In total there are 37 of these .4mm fins which are stacked very close together (approximately 2mm apart). This doesn’t give the Triton much surface area to work with and is in fact a lot less that the Triton 75 (the 75 has 55 fins). For modern CPUs this decrease in surface area usually corresponds to an increase in temperature. It would not surprise us in the least if ASUS engineers were forced to rework the design of the fins to keep the static air pressure low and this would also help explain the practicality of the unique pattern of the fins. Hopefully, the design of the fins allows air to move quicker over the fins and thus make up for it lack of size with increased efficiency. Only time and testing will give us the answer.


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Before we move on I would also like to mention that not only are the fins soldered to the heatpipes; the fins are also stamped/pressed together on each side so as to keep them from moving. This leaves two large ugly looking "scars" running down the left and right side of the fins assembly, and to a certain extent this ruins the striking good looks of this unit. However this reduction in good looks is more than made up in the stiffness of the Triton. While the heatpipes exhibit a lot of flexing, the fin assembly does not.

There is a potential negative to this design and it is a big one: every degree celcius that it absorbs from the hot MOSFETs is a degree that it can’t easily absorb from the CPU. By cooling the hot motherboard MOSFET’s first you are in effect preheating the air that will be used for cooling the CPU. Or to put it bluntly this cooler is its own worse enemy in that the ambient temperature entering the heatsink will be (if ASUS’ claims are correct) 10 -15*C hotter. This means a room temperature that is 30*C will result in an ambient temp reaching the heatsink of 40 – 45*C! Due to the laws of physics air can only absorb a certain amount of heat in a certain amount of time; however, this amount of thermal energy is fairly high so increasing the temperature by a few degrees is not a deal breaker, rather it is an engineering obstacle that needs to be overcome. To help alleviate this potential negative impact, ASUS engineer’s availed themselves of a few of the tricks used in regular down draft coolers.


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The first of these tricks is actual the opposite of what one would like to see on a typical down draft cooler. In a normal down draft cooler you want to recycle the air and let it cool a heatsink attached to the baseplate. By recycling this air you are in effect helping to reduce the amount of thermal energy dispersed by the heatsink. However, if ASUS had placed a large heatsink with large fins on the base they would have actually compounded the preheating problem and made the Triton 77’s job that much harder. Rather than a larger heatsink, ASUS instead opted for a small, streamlined heatsink that is big enough to support the weight of the unit but has as small a surface area as possible. It is outside the box thinking like this that has made ASUS the 800lb gorilla of the motherboard industry.


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While reducing the amount of heat is all well and fine it doesn't address the real issue of dealing with the increase in ambient air temperature around the heatsink. The easiest way to increase the efficiency of any cooler is by simply adding more heatpipes. The more heatpipes the more potential heat can be dumped into the air. This helps explain why this cooler has 5 heatpipes vs. the 4 that the (normal down draft cooler / passive) Triton 75 uses. By increasing the heatpipes by 25% the Triton should in theory be able to handle a higher ambient temperature than the previous model.

The last but not least solution to the ambient temperature issue is to give the cooler a big enough fan, thus enabling enough air movement to make the issue a moot point. After all, when finesse fails brute force usually doesn’t and in the real world there really is no such thing as “overkill” when it comes to cooling today’s CPU’s. In the case of the Triton 77, the fan used is a low noise 92x92x25 mm fan. However, even though 92mm is not a small fan, this particular fan model is not exactly designed to push as much air as possible, as low noise is synonymous with low CFM. While it would have made the Triton 77 bigger and probably cost it some of its looks, if ASUS had left this model as big as the 75 a more practical 120mm fan would have more than likely fit. As it stands, one has to wonder if this fan can handle the static air pressure that all those closely mounted aluminum fins must surely create.

On the positive side, the heatpipe ends were not just pinched off as on some units but actually capped as well. These caps also help to increase the rigidity of the fin assembly. As a bonus these caps help perpetuate the Triton's good clean looks that would have completely ruined by a poorly done heatpipe seal job. Their shiny clean copper tops really contrast nicely against not only the bright nickel plating but even against the black plastic fan mount as well.

Overall this unit emphasizes finesse over brute force, yet form does not suffer from following function at al. This heatsink doesn't look like a German engineered car, rather it looks like a sleek and stylish Bentley. Yes it can get down a bogie but it also exudes an air of class and elegance that only Apple and (now) ASUS seem to be able to get right. This cooler looks like an ASUS product and while it is a bit more flexible than we prefer to see it does seem well designed and superbly constructed. In the end ASUS didn’t cut many corners in making this unit and it is truly a marvel of user friendly engineering.
 

SKYMTL

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Fan Design

Fan Design


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For the Triton 77's fan ASUS went for a Sunon KDE1209PTV3 92x92x25mm 7 bladed, variable speed Magnetic levitation VAPO bearing fan. This fan is a variable speed fan that at is rated for a peak output of 39 CFM @ 2300rpm (though ASUS takes the more conservative approach and rates this unit for only a little over 36CFM, most likely due to increase static pressure of the heatsink vs open bench testing). Even more impressive is that this 39CFM is produced at whisper quiet hum.

The fan exhibited very little shaft “slop” or forwards and backwards motion to the fan blade assembly and felt very tight. More importantly the fan displayed no angular slop what so ever when pushed/tapped on only one side of the fan. The Sunon was also very quiet and didn’t create much felt vibrations especially when one considers that it is running at 23000rpms. When installed in a CoolerMaster CM 690 case this fan was not audible over any of the Scythe E’s and sounded and acted more like a 120mm fan than any other 92mm fan that we have seen in awhile.

What is most interesting about this fan, and the reason it can spin so fast yet be so quiet, is that it bearing is based on a proprietary SUNON design. In a nutshell this design is a modified sleeve bearing that uses magnetic fields to help keep the impeller rotating in a perfectly circular orbit that does not touch the bearing anywhere. Since the there is no contact there needs to be nothing but air between the shaft and bearing. This decreases friction which in turn significantly reduces noise. As an added bonus because no real lubrication is needed the life of the bearing is markedly increased.

Now when many enthusiasts think of maglev fans the first thing that pops into mind is those little buzz-saw 40mm fans that used to adorn many a beloved DFI board. In the past maglev fans died early, died nosily and above all else died often. I'm happy to report that this Maglev fan is nothing like the old one; this fan is a very tight fan that is as whisper quiet as one could want, especially considering the speed at which it rotates.

For more detailed specs on how it works you should visit: SUNON's"]http://www.sunon.com.tw/english/wealth/tech/tech-05.htm"]SUNON's website[/url] as it is an interesting tech brief on the maglev technology.


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Another interesting thing about this fan is that fact that it uses the newer 4 pin PWM header. This means that you can control this fan either by voltage or PWM. This is great if your motherboard supports this and if it doesn’t, and uses the older 3 pin header style you can simply let the extra pin out hang over the edge of the motherboard fan header without worry. The only annoyance was that this fan is not sheathed, and these unkempt and very non-sleek looking wires stand out on an otherwise great looking unit.

Rather that rely on MTBF numbers, an easier and better way to get a “feel” for what the manufacturer thinks is the real length of time a product should last is too simply look at the length of warranty provided. The length of warranty has been calculated to be long enough so that customers feel secure in purchasing it BUT still short enough that it will be “out of warranty” when most fail. Taken for what its worth, (and is common ASUS practice) the Triton comes with a 1 year warranty.

Overall the Triton fan is a classic example of ASUS’s high quality products. These fans are very quiet and it is not done at the cost of RPMs; this unique combination makes the Sunon Maglev the perfect fan the Triton models. It is quiet, efficient and looks nice while doing it, what more could you ask for? Well, later in the review we will test ASUS claims of and see if it can cool the motherboard better than a stock heatsink. If it can do all this then it really is a wunderkind!
 

SKYMTL

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Installation

Installation


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ASUS products have always been known not only for there top quality, but also for there ease of use. With expectations high we removed the Triton 77 from its protective packaging and began the installation process. The first thing that you must do is install the proper mounting hardware for your motherboard (whether that is 775 or AM2). For example the 775 mounting brackets requires you to simply screw in a few screws to each side of the base of the cooler and then you are ready to install the cooler.


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For Intel 775 system the mounting brackets are nothing more than two brackets that hold the standard Intel 775 plunger mounting pins in place. While not exactly unique, the fact that this cooler did not need a backplate for extra support does lend itself to not only a fast but easy installation. If you are a first time DIY’er or even a veteran of a thousand installs, this cooler will be super easy to install.


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Even though many other coolers also use the standard 775 mounting system very few actually get it right and this is where the Triton 77 really shines. With many aftermarket coolers that use plunger mounts, at least one of the four corner plungers is a real nuisance to manipulate. In fact it is safe to say that many coolers that don’t technically require you to remove the motherboard from the case usually should recommend it since they are much easier to install if you have the extra room to maneuver. Even though the fan is mounted on the bottom, all 4 corners are not only accessible but it is down-right roomy which makes removal just as easy as installation was. The secret to all this room is in that gentle heatpipe arch that we mentioned earlier. This gentle arch means that the fin assembly way up in the air away from the base so even when you subtract 25mm for the fan you are left with loads of room for your fingers.

The only downside side to this installation process is the lack of mounting options. While ASUS’ installation instructions do not come out and explicitly state there is only two approved mounting orientations it is inferred with the included pictograms which state that you should not have the heatpipes pointing towards the top of the case “in order to occur ineffectiveness of pipes”. This is a minor quibble and since we don’t want to “occur ineffectiveness of the pipes”…which certainly does not sound like a good thing. All in all you can only have the cooler mounted in one direction at a time so this is not a deal breaker for us.

In fact the only annoying part of this installation was the installation manual itself. As we mentioned before it has been heavily padded by being in a dozen or more languages; this by itself would be annoying but not overly so. What is really annoying is that the instructions are written in “Engrish” and are bloody well full of “what the fu…..err….heck does THAT mean?!” sentences like the one about ineffective pipes. We would expect this on some low budget Chinese knock off, but on a product that has the ASUS name on it….it really was disappointing. Hopefully, on future models this will corrected. Please do not get us wrong, the instructions are fairly straightforward and the included pictographs do make the sentences below them a bit redundant, but if you are going to have them there please ASUS, get one of your English speaking manual writers to write the instructions next time!

Overall it is one of the easiest installations it has been our pleasure to accomplish. Total installation time, including removal of old heatsink TIM was about 5 minutes.
 

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Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology

Except where noted all comparison testing was done on an open bench with an ambient temperature of 20c. Recorded temps were as reported via CoreTemp's "Temp Log". Average load temps were taken after 15 minutes of running Prime95 v25.4 “small fft” and are taken directly from CoreTemps temperature text file. Excel was used to average the results of all cores. Idle temps were taken 15 minutes after Load testing ceased. Motherboard temperatures were recorded using SpeedFan. All CPU throttling technology was disabled in the BIOS but due to the fact that the Triton 77 is a PWM fan all CPU fan speed control was not disabled and rather was set to PWM.

Arctic Cooling MX-2 thermal paste was used for all coolers during these tests unless otherwise noted. Application of all thermal paste was according to the manufacturer’s instructions and while not necessary it was allowed to cure for 48 hours under moderate to high loads (with periods of low loads) prior to testing. All tests were run 4 times and only best results are represented.

Please note: Because the Ultima 90 does not come with its own it was paired with a single Scythe F 120mm fan for the results listed in this review.

Please note: To keep the motherboard chipsets from overheating two 120mm Scythe E models were used, but they were orientated in such a way as to not interfere with nor help the CPU cooler (i.e they were basically pointed down and angled away from the CPU socket).

Notes about Overclocking:

For q6600’s I consider 1.45 volts to be the most that I would seriously consider for a moderate-to-long term overclock.
For e4600’s I consider 1.4 volts to be the most that I would seriously consider for a moderate-to-long term overclock.
Yes you can go much higher but the longevity of the CPU is then called into question. Just as importantly the CPU should average out at LESS than 65c as this is also what I consider the safest, maximum long term overclocking temp. For the purposes of these tests I was willing to overlook temperatures as long as they averaged below 70c and did not peak over 75c. If 75c was displayed for more than 10seconds in CoreTemp all testing was stopped and that test run was considered a fail.

With these two general guidelines I overclocked both systems until either one (or both) of these "rules" was needed to be broken to continue.

Overclocking was accomplished by increasing FSB speed and then Vcore (only if necessary).

Before testing for idle and max temperatures Orthos was run for 1 hour to make sure that it was stable at a given overclock and voltage. If both finished with no errors SuperPi set to 32m was run twice. After the stability testing was accomplished the given system was allowed to sit idle for 30minutes before starting the official tests. IF both of the above stated guidelines were not broken then testing continued with an increased overclock. These steps were then repeated until 1 or both of the general guidelines were broken.

As they have no bearing on these tests the RAM’s voltage and timings are not recorded, the RAM was set to run at or as close to as possible PC-6400 speeds by running various cpu : memory dividers. Please do not consider this a full “how to” review on overclocking or “safe guidelines” for overclocking nor even an indicator on how well a given CPU will overclock. IF you are interested in OC’ing your system, and use these guidelines we at HWC take no responsibility for the results. Bad Things can happen if you are not careful.


Complete Test System:

Processor: Q6600 & E4600
Motherboard: Gigabyte p35 DS4
Memory: 4GB G.Skill PC2-6400
Graphics card: XFX 7200gt 128mb
Hard Drives: 1x Western Digital Se16 320GB (single platter)
Power Supply: Seasonic S12 600W
 

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E8400 Temperature Testing

E8400 Temperature Testing

Idle Temperatures

e4600_idle.jpg

With a cool running chip like the E4600 the Triton 77 is decent overclocker and it puts up some very impressive numbers for a cooler that operates so quietly. Hopefully, this foreshadows what this cooler is capable of under full loads.


Average Load Temperatures

e4600_load.jpg

As you can see the idle results are not anomolies and were in fact on the conservative side when compared to these load temperatures. While the Scythe E on the Ultima was not exactly running at full speed it is still impressive to see this cooler pull out a near tie with it. Of course the ASUS fan was working at full speed to do this and if the chip had been capable of 4.0GHz it probably would not have been able to keep this performance up but that is just an educated guess. As it stand the Triton 77 is a good performer when it comes to dual core CPU cooling. The big question is whether it can sustain this kind of performance level when the the thermal loads are much higher. Lets check out the hot running Kenstfield quad results and see!
 

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Q6600 Temperature Testing

Q6600 Temperature Testing


Idle Temperatures

q6600_idle.jpg

This where the truth of the coolers' real overclocking potential starts to come out. While its numbers are decent they are certainly not in the same category as the other high end coolers. The best thing you can say about these idle temperatures is that they are better than the OEM cooler.


Average Load Temperatures

q6600_load.jpg

Even at stock speeds this cooler is simply overwhelmed by the quad's thermal load; heck, even the Intel Stock cooler is better than this guy when it comes to cooling potential. However, this only tells half the story as the Triton 77 is whisper quiet even when giving its all as it was clearly doing. If this CPU cooling solution had a bigger fan or a higher CFM fan it would have probably performed much better, but it would have to sacrifice a lot of its low noise characteristics to do it. It should also be noted that these results were carried through almost verbatim after multiple mounts.
 
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