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Cooler Master V10 CPU Cooler Review

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AkG

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Passive Cooling

Passive Cooling


In certain extreme cases you may have to deal with a dead fan; or alternatively you are interested in using a certain cooler as a passive cooler. While we are hesitant to recommend any Air cooler for passive cooling, unless the manufacturer has designed it to be one, we all know things break and there is a possibility of ending up with a passively cooled device even if you neither meant nor wanted it to be so! To this end we have devised the following torture test to see how a given cooler will perform in a worst case scenario.

The following test will be PASS/FAIL unless a manufacture specifically states a CPU cooling solution is designed for passive cooling as we feel that do to otherwise would be very disingenuous and down right unfair. If it is designed for passive use we will of course provide hard data on its performance. We believe this is a fair and reasonable compromise between providing you our reader the most information possible, while still being fair and unbiased to the manufacturers.

Any one can create a test which has no possibility of success but that would be a waste of any ones time; this test on the other hand is as tough as we can make it and still have to possibility of success. What makes this test so difficult, is the simple reason that we will be testing in an open bench which has absolutely no external air flow. Even in the most under-cooled cases there is always some air movement, even if the air movement is only coming from the PSU it is still a heck of a lot more than will be afforded a cooler on our open bench. As we stated earlier this is a worst case, scenario where the cooler will have to shed all the heat it can by simple passive radiation!

The first and main part of the test is 15 minutes of prime95 small fft being run at stock speed (2.4GHz) on our Quad Core Intel 775 Q6600. If at anytime the temperature of any of the four cores reaches and stays at 70° C for greater than 10 seconds we will consider this test a FAIL. If a given cooler fails this test a second set of tests will be run using out E4600 at stock speed (also 2.4GHz). We will then report our findings in the below chart.

Please note: Any Air based CPU cooler which passes the Q6600 test will automatically be given a PASS grade on the cooler running secondary test. To keep things easier to understand the only time we will publish the update E4600 subtest is when a given cooler has failed the main test.

CoolerMaster_V10_passive.jpg


There really is no surprises here. Even with everything unplugged this is still a big honking heatsink with thermal abilities to spare. To say this was a walk in the park, is really understating the matter. Heck, if you yanked the the cooling sheath and fans from the V10 you would probably have one kick ass Silent PC heatsink for many occasions!
 
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AkG

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Value

Value


The term “Value” is such an amorphous term that it truly has different meanings for different people. For some a CPU cooler is only as good as it overclocking potential, for others it is how quiet it does its job; for others still it’s how effective it is for its cost. We here at HWC try to provide as many answers as possible for the term “Value”. Hopefully by this point in the review people looking at OC potential or loudness levels will have a fairly good idea of what its Value is. For the “best bang for the buck” crowd we have included a chart below showing how much each 1*c less costs when compared to Intel’s FREE stock cooler. No consideration has been made for noise levels, “looks” or any other extraneous factors; this is just raw performance vs. monetary cost. For any cooler which performs worse than the Intel stock cooler a rating of “FAIL” will be given. For any cooler which has a “Value” of more than $10 per 1*C a rating of “FAIL” will be used in the graph but the chart will list its actual “value”.

All prices are based on either their MSRP (if no e-tailer prices were available at review time) or the online price they sold for at the time of their review. IF a CPU cooler does not include a fan the price of a Scythe F has been included ($12).

To make it as easy as possible for you to modify this ratio we have also included the various coolers temperature difference so if you do come across one of them on sale you can easily modify its “Value” rating. We here at HWC are in no way saying this is the definitive answer to “Value”, rather it should be considered another tool to help you make your final decision. After all something is only as “valuable” as what you consider it to be.

Q6600 Cooling Value

Please Note:
This chart has be calculated based upon the differences between Intel stock cooler’s average load at its highest OC on a Q6600 @3.0GHz versus various after market coolers average load temperatures (in their stock configuration with stock TIM) also on a Q6600 @ 3.0GHz.

cost_of_coolling_chart_text.jpg


cost_of_coolling_chart.jpg


As with the passive tests this value score really is not that surprising. This beast really is overkill for the older Q6600s and really does not shine until you have bucket loads of heat. When that happens, the value of this will get a heck of a lot better and can actually be considered a really good value when compared to more exotic choices.
 
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AkG

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V10 Modding

V10 Modding


Since the V10 uses a built-in TEC unit, the thought crossed our minds that maybe, just maybe we would be able to mod the thermistor to run the TEC at 100% to improve cooling efficiency. However, please remember that this WILL void you warranty and as you will see, while it works it also isn't reversible and has a very good chance of destroying the TEC through overheating.

Hold on folks, this is about to get technical...

preMod_sm.jpg

As you can see the thermistor Cooler Master uses is connected to the PCB via a standard 2 pin connector. This in theory should make modding this beast as easy as replacing it with a two pin connector with cable soldered together to complete the circuit. We will get back to this theory in a moment, but let’s first look over the PCB and get a good feel for it before we start modding anything.

pcb_sm.jpg

As you can see we have a lone capacitor, and a single phase MOSFET with a itty bitty SONIX (aka Shenzhen Yingdan Electronics Co.) SN8P2711 8 bit controller chip. All this was nice to see, though we would have preferred a solid state cap...but that is nit picking. Up in the corner you can also make out what is in fact a buzzer; or as we came to refer it the Noise Maker Of Doom...or NoMOD for short. This little noise maker's job is to start making a racket if the current's resistance from the thermistor goes below a certain level. How do we know this? Simple! We yanked the Thermistor and did a very sweet mod to another 2 pin connector we salvaged from a dead 40mm fan in our Ye Olde Parts Bin. We cackled with glee thinking how easy this mod was....just to be shot down when the NoMOD started cackling back!

modeOne_2sm.jpg

In a nut shell our first idea of doing a simple, elegant and undoable (and untraceable mod) came crashing down as soon as we plugged the PCB back into a live circuit. We were smart enough to not have put everything back together first so we didn't lose to much time on this endeavor. Our first thought is "boy that is annoying" but then with the help of a voltmeter we realized that little SONIX controller and NoMOD were colluding to keep any juice from reaching the large 2 pin TEC power cable connector! Yup, when there is no resistance at all in the circuit the system SCRAMs and the NoMOD goes into action. We could have yanked the NoMOD but that wouldn't have done anything besides making us feel good about killing the little SOB; but it wouldn't have helped further our cause one iota.

modOne_sm.jpg

The upside to our first failure is that you won't have to go through it and you can replace the Thermistor with a more sensitive one. One which would feed more power at lower heat levels, yet still turn off the TEC when it is not needed (during idle periods for example). That would be an elegant, long term mod which would prevent sweating, prevent nullifying you warranty (if you keep the original Thermistor connector in a safe place and swap it back before RMAing it...and if you are a wanker that is) and make the V10 a real 100% Kick Arse Cooler.... Food for thought at least.

mod2pointOH_sm.jpg

We decided to go back to the drawing board and take another look at our new nemesis and the PCB layout in general. After just a few seconds something which we had overlooked now became crystal clear and we got that sinking feeling. We think, this controller doesn't JUST control the voltage to the TEC but also keeps its max output well below 12 volts. This would explain the MOSFET and Capacitor, SONIX controller and even that buzzer. Of course, it could also be pumping the voltage above 12 volts as that too would need a controller, capacitor and voltage smoothing MOSFET.

We could have gotten the old soldering iron out and jumped the 12 volt line, but why bother? Instead of that, we simply cut the whole PCB free, cut the large 2pin connector off the TEC cables, and installed banana plugs unto there ends. When this was done we simply stuck the banana plugs into the appropriate holes of a MOLEX connector and called it a day.

Needless to say this is a PERMANENT mod, and one that lacks the elegance and style of the first idea. On the plus side, it may be ugly but unlike the first mod it WORKS. The only down side is we do not know what these TECs are supposed to be fed. IF we knew that we could solder in the appropriate resistor (if it needs less) or done a power mod to feed it more (if needs more than 12V); since we don't we can't call this a good long term mod and as you will see, it didn't really last anyways.

If it does need less than 12V, we don't know how long it will last so we are going to cut to the chase and redo our max OC on the Q6600. This way we will at least get some good solid numbers to compare to the Freezone Elite and CoolIT BMC. On the next page, you will see the results.
 
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AkG

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100% Tec Peformance

100% Tec Peformance


After we completed the mod, we reran the tests and here are the results of what this cooler COULD have been.

suicide_run_numbers.jpg

Well, that certainly makes a difference! With the fans running flat out and the TECs doing the same the true cooling potential of this piece of kit is realized. While we would have liked to have seen the load temperatures even lower they certainly are the best we have seen for any air cooling based solution! For anyone curious, the TEC is still working...kind of, sort of. Instead of sucking 70 watts it is now only sucking 20'ish watts of power. Luckily, we got our 15 minutes of full power before we got an ozone smell. Why is it only sucking 20watts now? We are not sure, but either this bad boy needs ultra smooth power and it got a small ripple which damaged it, or it needs less and we over feed it.

One way or another, the cooler still works but it took one for the team so to speak.
 
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AkG

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Conclusion

Conclusion


Well one thing is for certain, this is a beast of a cooler and we don’t just mean size wise. However, you have to remember that it only really, really shines when a massive amount of heat is present and even then it does its job without making a heck of a lot of noise. The funny thing is we have a sneaking suspicion that even our fireball breathing Phenom didn’t push this to its limit as the temperature readings looked almost like razor sharp flat line. It would hit a temperature it liked early in and stay there. The only other coolers which exhibited this kind of behavior were the CoolIT Boreas and Freezone Elite. Even with those coolers, the temperature bounced around somewhat. The only thing which would fluctuate on the V10 was the amount of power being used, and even then it hit nowhere near 70watts above our normal power usage. This means there was still room for it to expand its cooling envelope.

When all is said and done this really is the cooler to beat if you want to go for massive overclocks yet don’t want to use exotic cooling (like Dry Ice) and you don’t want to get your feet wet with water cooling (or WC based hybrids). It is too bad the V10 is autonomous as we really whish we could have fined tuned its TEC so they would kick in a bit sooner. We are sure we had been able to tweak things a bit, Cooler Master's new brainchild would have easily outperformed any HDT air cooler out there at ALL speeds and temperatures. Cooler Master really needs to spend time tweaking its settings more to allow for greater cooling potential across a wider temperature spectrum as right now a HDT costing less than 25% of the V10 beats it on older 775 quad core systems. This should not be possible and this lack of control really makes it ideal for the more inexperienced crowd who will set it and forget it. If you have used other hybrids and/or water based cooling or any non air-based cooling you will quickly wish you could get under the hood and tweak the V10 to properly fit your system. Honestly, it feels a lot like a car with only two gears…forward and reverse.

All in all there really are only three things which you could complain about with the V10. We have already mentioned the lack of control and total lack of refinement the built-in controller has. The second issue is its size and its weight. This cooler is a beast, which may not even fit in a lot of standard ATX cases which has to be the biggest weakness this cooler has. After all, this cooler can be the best thing since sliced bread but if it won’t fit in your case it doesn’t do you much good at all. The weight of the V10 is more of a perception issue as it’s not that big a deal but it does eliminate the LAN party customer from the V10's market niche. This cooler would make a great conversation piece at a LAN party, but as it stands it may indeed break your motherboard if it got knocked around too much in transit. This is a shame and is certainly a big weakness which a lot of other hybrids solved by relocating the weight to the chassis and off the motherboard.

The last issue is more of a morale issue than anything. To be the absolute best, bar none, air based CPU cooling solution out there Cooler Master did have to “cheat” somewhat. To us this controversy is foolish as there are two mottos which perfectly sum up why this should be a non issue. The first is: "In a gun fight the only thing which matters is if you are the one standing at the end or not. How you do it is of no consequence." The second motto is: "If you ain’t cheating you ain’t trying." To me it really doesn’t matter how or why Cooler Master built the V10 the way they did, or if it’s a true air cooler or not, we will leave all that drama up to the anal retentive / toilet trained with a shotgun type folks who keep track of air cooling based overclocking “world records” and enjoy the V10 for what it is: an arse kicker of the Nth degree!

To us the V10 is simply the best there is, provided you have the heat to properly activate the TEC unit that is. If Cooler Master can ever tweak this unit to allow it to reach its full potential on lesser TDP systems (like an overclocked Q6600 for example) then this really would become the King of Air Coolers…even if has to “cheat” with a TEC to do it. As it stands and for its interesting first take in Hybrid Cooling we are proud to present the Cooler Master V10 with our Dam Innovative award.

Pros

- Great cooling potential
- Very quite under normal loads
- Red LEDs
- TEC Cooling!
- Price (when compared to more exotic options)


Cons

- Price (when compared to more mundane Air coolers)
- Cooling potential is only reached w/ insane levels of heat and OC’ing
- Size and Weight
- Not everyone likes Red glows emanating from their system
- 1st Gen quirks



 
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