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Cooler Master V6 GT CPU Cooler Review

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AkG

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It certainly has been awhile since we have turned out attention to Cooler Master’s CPU cooling solutions. Indeed, the last one we looked at was their huge V8 which was released more than a year ago. Well that is about to change as today we are looking at their latest beefy creation: the V6 GT.

The V6 GT is actually an impressive looking heatsink to say the least and we are not talking about the fact that it looks like a V6 engine block either. It follows in the footsteps of its larger siblings –the V8 and the gargantuan V10- but this time it looks to us like a lot of sensible engineering went into this product. Instead of relying on a brute force approach like the other V-series heatsinks, makes use of a sensible fin design and fan layout to deliver optimal cooling performance. To us what makes this cooler so interesting is also the fact that is it looks a heck of a lot like a certain Thermalright Frio we reviewed a while back. This resemblance may only in fact be skin deep or it may hint at a certain amount of “creative borrowing” at the OEM level. In either case, we have high expectations for V6 as it promises to not only look kick ass with its all new FDB-based fans, and integrated LEDs, but it should also be a monster in the performance category as well.

While the V6 GT is considered a limited edition, it is actually fairly easy to find at e-tailers in North America for about 57 USD. This is certainly is a nice chunk of change to drop down for a cooler, but by the standards of the enthusiast marketplace it is actually a fairly decent asking price. Seeing how it will stack up against the competition is another matter altogether though.

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AkG

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Specifications

Specifications


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AkG

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A Closer Look at the V6 GT

A Closer Look at the V6 GT



With its deep red and black colour scheme the box for the V6 GT exudes style and sophistication like a high end automobile. It looks, feels and even reads like a high-end product is wrapped within its protective confines.

Meanwhile, the internal protection scheme is also unique compared to most other coolers we have looked at. While most heatsinks are either protected by either high-density foam or plastic clamshell packaging, Cooler Master has opted for a hybrid approach of plastic AND foam.

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The list of accessories is extremely complete and of the typical high grade quality we have come to expect from Cooler Master. You not only get a decent installation pamphlet and mounting hardware for basically ALL the major consumer socket types (Intel 775/1156/1366 and AMD) but also get a small tube of TIM and a pair of high performance, Fluid Dynamic Bearing fans.

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The V6 GT is a moderately large heatsink that is decked out with two 120mm fans in a push / pull configuration.

Believe it or not our very first glimpse of it caused a bit of déjà vu since this really does look like a more refined version of the Thermaltake Frio we reviewed just a little while ago. Nonetheless, we understand that with all of the heatsinks out there, we are bound to find a few than are nearly identical to one another.


As with the Frio the V6 GT has a top plastic cladding that helps join and blend the two fans together into one cohesive looking whole. Unlike the Frio, the V6 GT’s has a heck of a lot more style and elegance to it. The overall appearance is of course that of a V6 engine block, right down to the oil cap which acts as a hidden controller for the built in light bar / racing stripe running down the center of the top fascia.

By pressing on this cap, you are able to change the LED lighting from red to blue to purple. If you are not into mood lighting all you need do is not plug in the separate four pin Molex connector as the fans run off their own power connectors.
 
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AkG

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A Closer Look at the V6 GT pg.2

A Closer Look at the V6 GT pg.2


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By removing the fans and top facia (which requires the removal of four screws) we can see that like the Frio, the V6 GT has a rather complex design to the fin in the fin array. These are not flat pieces of aluminum, but rather each and every fin has a wave-like appearance with the right side of the fins being lower on the heatpipe cluster than the left’s. There are also four deep grooves running the full length of the fin array on one side (the intake side) and two more on the other face (the exhaust side) which will further help reduce static pressure.

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Instead of going with a more mundane approach to its heatpipe layout Cooler Master has chose a rather innovative layout. Instead of the typical, C, box, X or even diamond layout Cooler Master has created a new class: the V. These pipes are literally laid out so that as the air is pushed into the fin array it is forced together in the center before being sucked out the other side. This means the air hangs around longer than it normally would (and thus absorb more heat) which also leads to less “leakage” out the side of the fin array.

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Cooler Master has opted for the six relatively small 6mm heatpipes which should be more than adequate for cooling off even the hottest-running of processors.

Meanwhile, the V6 GT’s base shines just like a new sports car on the show room floor. It may not be the absolute best we have ever seen, but the finish on this base is certainly above average with only a major swirl mark in the center marring the otherwise perfectly polished base.
 
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AkG

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The V6 GT’s Fans

The V6 GT’s Fans


CM_V6GT_fan_sm.jpg

The two fans which accompany the V6 are brand new Cooler Master S4 Dynaloop units which are rated for 800 – 2200rpms and push an impressive 34.02 - 93.74 CFM with static pressure ranging from 0.43mm to 3.30mm.

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Cooler Master calls this their "DynaLoop™" bearing, which is based on similar technology as fluid dynamic bearings, and boy are they smooth. It is kind of amazing how good these fans are as they produce very little felt vibrations even at their max 2200 rpm speed. To be honest they remind us of faster versions of Noctua NF-P12-1300 fans. The "Dynaloop" bearings have the benefit of being suspended in a liquefied cushion, thereby eliminating friction, which results in not only the smooth, silent operation, but a much longer lifespan of the fan.

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Since there are two of these fans included, Cooler Master has thoughtfully included a two to one adapter. This is extremely important as it allows both fans to be precisely controlled by the motherboard at the same time. As you can see in the above photo, Cooler Master has opted for a flat four wire approach similar to how some high end PSU’s do their cables.
 
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AkG

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Installation

Installation


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Installation of the Cooler Master V6 GT can be considered a four-step process. The first things you need to do is prep and then install the backplate and top brackets. Since the two Intel top brackets came already set up for 1366 systems we did not have to adjust them. If your system is a 775, or 1156 you will indeed have to change these three way adapters to fit your motherboard’s socket type.

Up next is the installation of two bolts (one per side) per top bracket as these bolts secure not only the brackets to the motherboard, but also keep the backplate in position. When done properly, the screws you just installed will go through the motherboard’s CPU mounting holes, then through the backplate. You then grab a nut and secure it to each of the bolts.

CM_V6GT_bracket_sm.jpg

The next step is to remove the fans from the cooler as you will need unobstructed access to the lower half of the V6 GT. Line up the two notches of the retaining arm with the two holes and gently lay the whole affair into position. Then all you need do is tighten each of the spring loaded retaining bolts.

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When it comes to mounting issues there likely won’t be any unless your motherboard’s heatsinks are overly tall. This is impressive considering the size of the V6 GT. Memory conflicts should also be nonexistent due to the proximity of the heatsink of the slots.

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AMD Installation

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The AMD installation process is basically the same with the exception being the hardware used. Unlike other heatsinks, Cooler Master has decided to forgo reusing the AMD included retention ring and backplate.

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Sadly not all is wine and roses when it comes to the Cooler Master V6 GT and AMD systems. Unlike on our Intel based motherboard, the AMD setup proved to be a slightly more challenging proposition when it came to installation conflicts. As you can see, if after we moved the RAM to their alternate slots, it was a tight fit. Luckily, Cooler Master includes a second top “alternate mounting orientation” bracket which allows you to install the V6 GT in a North / South orientation instead of the typical -and much more preferred- East/West orientation.

CM_V6GT_amd_inst_sm.jpg
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AkG

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Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology


To ensure that the results from one review to another are not only reproducible but actually pertinent to this review, the Testing Methodology will be the same throughout all reviews used. If something does change we will be sure to make a special note of it and explain why this change was done and more importantly why things had to be changed or altered.


Thermal Paste and Application Methods:

Arctic Cooling MX-2 thermal paste was used for all coolers during these tests unless otherwise noted.

For all non HDT coolers, application of thermal paste was in accordance with the TIM manufacturer’s instructions; and while not necessary, the TIM was allowed to cure for 24 hours under moderate to high loads (with periods of low loads) prior to testing.

For all 3 pipe HDT coolers two lines of TIM is applied to the two centre metal posts and for all 4 pipe HDTS three (smaller) lines of TIM are applied to the metal posts. This method has been found to provide significantly better coverage than the more typical methods.


Fans Used

120mm:
For all CPU Cooling Solutions which do not come with their own fan, a Noctua NF-P12-1300 and a Scythe S-Flex “G” 1900RPM fan will be used if it accepts 120mm fans. With these two fans we are able to simulate different fan speed conditions as indicated below.


Low Speed:

900RPM with a Noctua NF-P12-1300 with ULNA adapter. To be more precise our specific fan runs at 930RPMs. Any stock fan which comes with the ability of being controlled by means other than the motherboard (e.g. remote fan speed controller, potentiometer, rheostat, etc) will be set to this speed during the low speed test and BOTH sets of performance results will be included.


Moderate Speed:

1300RPM Noctua NF-P12-1300 with NO adapters used. To be more precise our specific fan runs at 1326RPMs. Any stock fan which comes with the ability of being controlled by means other than the motherboard (e.g. remote fan speed controller, potentiometer, rheostat, etc) will be set to this speed during the moderate speed test and BOTH sets of performance results will be included.


High Speed:

1900RPM Scythe S-Flex “G”. To be more precise our specific fan runs at 1860RPMs. Any stock fan which comes with the ability of being controlled by means other than the motherboard (e.g. remote fan speed controller, potentiometer, rheostat, etc) will be set to this speed during the High speed test and BOTH sets of performance results will be included.


Dual Fans*:

Dual NF-P12-1300s

*Dual fans only used if the cooler comes with the necessary mounting hardware.


92mm Fan:

If the cooler being tested only accepts 92mm fans, a Noctua NF-B9-1600 will be used.

If the given CPU cooling solution comes with a stock fan we will also include its numbers in the closest of the main tests BUT we will also include our standard fan results in that particular tests.


Fan Notes:

- If a heatsink cannot mount an aftermarket fan, we will be only including the stock fan results. However, if the stock fan speed can be precisely controlled by means other than the motherboard BIOS (an included remote fan speed controller, potentiometer, rheostat, etc), the cooler will be tested at different fan speeds.

- For dual fan results ALL coolers capable of mounting two fans (and come with the necessary hardware) will be tested with two NF-P12s and the Dual Fan graph will contain data for other such dual capable fan coolers.


We feel that the combination of multiple speeds and multiple fans will allow us to give you our readers clear and precise idea of the capabilities of a given unit, in an accurate comparison. It will also help eliminate the occasional “zinger” such as when a manufacturer includes an extremely high-speed fan in order to possibly offset poor heat sink thermal performance.


Environment:

All comparison testing was done on an open bench with a constant ambient temperature of 24°C. If at any time the room temperature increased or decreased by more than 1°C, testing was halted until the temperature constant was re-established.


Testbed:

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Unlike our previous methodology which used an open bench setup with a horizontally orientated motherboard, our new open bench is a modified Tech Station with a twist.

It has been modified so that the motherboard is in a more typical vertical orientation as it would be when installed in a case.

This has been done by the simple expedient of drilling out the bumper pads and threading long bolts (typically used for mounting fans to water cooling radiators) up through the top base of the tech station. Then by simply threading the bolts up through the motherboard we can then secure said motherboard to the tech station. Rubber mounts followed by a nut ensures that nothing moves. When the motherboard has been secured we simply tip the tech station on its side and using weights on the lower “legs” to keep it from tipping over we end up with a vertical orientated motherboard which is safe and secure yet still an open, controlled benching environment.


Mounting Orientation:

Only the typical East / West (aka forward / back) orientation will be used.


Temperature Recording:

Recorded temps were as reported via the Real Temp plug-in for the RivaTuner monitor program.

Max and Average load temps are based on 15 minutes of running Prime95 “small fft” and are taken directly from RivaTuner’s built in capabilities.

The maximum temperatures will be the highest recorded temp displayed for any of the cores during the 15 minute test. While RivaTuner will display each core's average temperature it does not easily show the average of ALL the cores. To this end we will be simply taking the average of all the cores adding them together and then dividing by the number of cores.

If during any test temperatures of 90°C or more are displayed in RivaTuner (for any core) for more than 10 consecutive seconds the testing will be halted and that test run will be considered a "fail".

Idle temperatures are the lowest recorded temperature during idle period as recorded by the RealTemp Rivatuner monitoring program.

All CPU throttling technology was disabled in the BIOS; as was all CPU fan speed control. In addition, Turbo Mode was disabled and Hyperthreading was enabled.

All tests are run a minimum of three times and only the best results are represented.


Charts & Graphs:

Due to clutter and confusion we now will only be including the best of the best. We understand that “best” does mean different things to different people, to this end we will only be including what we feel are the best representatives of the main price ranges. These main prices ranges approximately are Intel OEM (free), $30, $40, $50, $60, and unlimited. Please keep in mind that prices are variable and while we have done our best to pick what we feel best represents a given price range there can and will be some overlap as these price ranges are not set in stone (with the exception being the Intel OEM cooler). To further help clarify a given cooler’s performance we will also be including a seventh CPU cooling solution, a cooling solution which irregardless of price best exemplifies what a good “all round” dual fan capable cooler should be. For the time being this last will be the TRUE Black. After each published cooler review we will re-evaluate the coolers being included in the charts and based on the value or performance may swap out a cooler for a cooler that was just reviewed.

This way you will not only know how it compares to the Intel stock unit and the best Damn Good Value coolers but also the best of the best Damn Good coolers out there. In grand total there will only be 8 coolers represented in a graph. However, if the review is a “round up” review this limitation will be extended to include all coolers in that review plus the above 7 cooling solutions. We will endeavour to keep the number as low as possible while still giving an accurate picture of the performance of all coolers being reviewed.

Each chart will include the Maximum or “peak” temperature we recorded, the average temperature and the idle temperature.

No passive results will be shown UNLESS manufacturer claims the ability to passively cool a processor. If a manufacturer claims passive capabilities we will include the performance numbers in the charts. The only exception to this is if the review is a “review roundup” and to keep the charts from becoming confusing we may not do so.


Sound Pressure Testing:

To give a more accurate and less of a personal opinion on the noise level of the stock fan which accompanies the heatsink, we have included a new section for sound pressure testing. These tests are done in our open case setup outlined above with the meter positioned 30 inches away from the cooler and mounted on a tripod. To ensure the background noise does not skew the results all tests will start by recording the ambient noise of the room. Only when it meets our standards will the testing commence.

To ensure that no external noise unduly skews the results, the GPU used will be a passively cooled unit and the only active fan will be the one on the cooler while the PSU and HDD are isolated away from the immediate area.

These tests are run late at night when no other people or animals are awake and thus unable to influence the results.

All fans are run at their maximum speed with no voltage or PWM control being used during the sound pressure tests.

The sound pressure meter used is a DT-805 which has been professionally calibrated and NIST certified. We will record the highest levels obtained with said meter and record it as our result. The test will be 15 minutes long and will be run while the fan is running full speed via a Molex connector and the CPU cores are under a full load via Prime 95 Small FFT.

Please note: The Scythe S-Flex G and Noctua NF-P12-1300 (at 1300 and 900rpms) numbers are taken when mounted to a Cooler Master Hyper 212+. We feel that it would be extremely unfair and unrealistic to include noise rating for these after market fans if they were NOT mounted onto a cooler. They are included to help give some sense of proportion to the charts and allow you to more easily compare a stock fan against a known quantity.


Complete Test System:


Processor: Intel i7 920

Motherboard: Gigabyte X58-UD3R

Memory: 6GB Aneon Xtune DDR3-1600

Graphics card: EVGA 7300GT passive

Hard Drive: 1x WD 320GB single platter

Power Supply: Topower Powerbird 900W


Special thanks to Direct Canada for their support and supplying the i7 920 CPU.

Special thanks to Gigabyte for their support and supplying the i7 motherboard.
 
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AkG

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Stock Fan Performance Results

Stock Fan Performance Results


Note: All dual fan coolers have a SINGLE fan installed in these results. For dual fan results, please proceed to the appropriate section.

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/v6gt/266_stock.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/v6gt/342_stock.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/v6gt/38_stock.jpg" border="0" alt="" />​

Even just with one of its fan attached (as is the Frio in these charts) one thing is clear: this cooler really is a high performance product. At low heat loads and high heat loads alike it simply blows the doors off most CPU cooling solutions out there. Let’s yank the stock fan off these coolers and compare them in a more fair, “apples to apples” setup.
 
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AkG

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High Speed Fan Performance Results

High Speed Fan Performance Results


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/v6gt/266_scythe.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/v6gt/342_scythe.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/v6gt/38_scythe.jpg" border="0" alt="" />​

Since the V6 cooler and the Thermaltake Frio come with high speed fans these results don’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know. They both like high speed fans and do a marvellous job at keeping a CPU running fairly cool. It is interesting to note that the V6 GT does in many ways act like an HDT cooler in that it is efficient at mild heat loads. This is something very few solid based design coolers can claim.
 
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AkG

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Mid-Speed Fan Performance Results

Mid-Speed Fan Performance Results


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/v6gt/266_1300.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/v6gt/342_1300.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/v6gt/38_1300.jpg" border="0" alt="" />​

Once again we are seeing some awfully impressive results as the V6 GT can at the very least tie the Thermalright Venomous X. That really sums things up nicely and helps put this heatsink in its proper perceptive: it can play with some of the best coolers out there. Unfortunately, at all but stock loads it is unable to really match the might of Prolimatech’s beast.
 
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