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Cooler Master V8 CPU Cooler Review

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AkG

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Cooler Master V8 CPU Cooler Review




Manufacturer Product Page: V8 - Cooler Master
Part Number: RR-UV8-XBU1-GP
TechWiki Info: V8 - Features, Specs, Images, Videos, and Reviews - TechWiki
Availability: Now
Click Here to Check Prices: CM V8



Recently, we had the pleasure to test, torture…. and even kill a Cooler Master V10. To say we had more fun with with that cooler than we have had in a long while is really, really understating things. Today we get to continue to see yet another evolution of the Cooler Master "V" series and see if it can live up the the high expectations we now have.

In this review we are going to take a long hard look at the Cooler Master V8 air based cooling solution. This heatsink may lack the TEC cooling (and mystic aura which accompanies that tech) of its bigger brother but it promises to offer some amazing air cooling performance. The V8 is widely available at retailer and e-tailers throughout the country and unlike its “big brother” it doesn’t exactly cost an arm and a leg and is going for about $70.

To further add to the spice of this review, we have just recently updated our Crucible of Fire & Pain to version 2.0 and have dropped the low end dual e4600 from the tests while replacing it with an i7 920. We may not always agree with what you our readers have to say, but we do listen and we thought it was high time to change to the newer generation of CPUs. We will still be using our hot-running Q6600 so if you have decided to sit out Generation 1 of Intel’s latest and greatest we still have some love for you. You may notice that while this may be our first i7 Air Cooler review the charts will not be empty. We have gone back to Ye Olde Parts Bin and updated the mounting brackets on not only the V10…but also the Xigmatek S1283 and OCZ Vendetta 2. Needless to say the latter coolers will be set up with the optional i7 backplate and as such may outperform any stock i7 capable S1283/V2 (if such an OEM beast ever comes to fruition).

The V8 has awfully big shoes to fill and it will be interesting to see how it performs not only on the i7 test bed but the older 775 one as well. We believe that this one-two punch will give you our beloved readers a much clearer and precise understanding of where this bad boy falls in air cooling spectrum. Will it be an OCZ V2 killer and displace the champ as our favourite cooler? Only time and testing will tell; but if your are like us you must be itching to find out, so lets go get the i7 test bed broken in!


 
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AkG

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Specifications

SPECIFICATIONS




 
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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories



For anyone familiar with the V10 cooler we recently reviewed, you will instantly recognize the box the box the V8 came in. Sure it may be smaller than the V10's and have slightly different wording; but for all intents and purposes they are the same. This has been done on purpose, and is done to not only for brand recognition in relation to the Cooler Master “V” line but also to drive home that this model, the V8, is the little brother of the bigger V10. We assume that if CM ever does come out with the V12, it’s going to be in one freakin’ HUGE box.


In all seriousness, having the V lineup packaging look very similar to one another and making them a blatantly different size is a good thing. It really would have been a waste to stick this, albeit large cooler, into that massive V10 box; and it does do a good job of telling potential customers where the two coolers “fit” in the overall scheme of things. It may only be at the subliminal level but we think most people will get the idea that this is the little brother to V10. Of course all they have to do is look at the price differences but that usually occurs AFTER a customer has narrowed down his decision to a couple of coolers.


Please don’t get us wrong, this box is not just a pretty face; its size and durable construction (no paper thin cardboard here!), will easily shrug off everything but a full on postman “going postal” rage attack. This level of quality continues to the internal protection scheme as well.

As you can see this cooler (unlike the V10) is in a plastic clamshell pack. This may not afford the same level of protection as the medium density foam found around the V10, but as we have said in the past: if its good enough to protect a high end (and VERY delicate) motherboard, its overkill for something as durable as a CPU heatsink.


Moving onto the accessories list we find once again a veritable cornucopia of parts, which now that we think about it, is the exact same accessory kit which comes with the V10. In a nut shell you get three thick backplates, the necessary screws and assorted items for attaching said backplates to your motherboard and the V8, a very easy to understand, multi-language instruction pamphlet, user manual and a insert for i7 installation. Fortunately, CM listened on the TIM front and included a multi-application thermal compound syringe.
 
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Heatsink Construction & Design

Heatsink Construction & Design



When you first lay eyes on the Cooler Master V8, a few obvious design traits tend to jump out at you; the first of which is the fan placement. Unlike most coolers, the fan on the V8 is not on either end but instead sandwiched in the middle with cooling towers on either side of it. When you take a closer look, details like like the fact that there are more than two cooling towers come into focus as well. In fact, the two smaller towers (the two outer most) are not even in an up and down orientation; they are actually on their sides.


When you remove the fan and the filler which goes with it, the basic design concept does become a lot clearer. In a nutshell this cooler is all about being a modular and relatively cutting edge design. While it may not exactly be ideal to have a centrally based tower, the design of the V8 is certainly unique and may work quite well. The 4 large main heatpipes each have a cooling tower per side of the main U with four more smaller half height (aka half U…etc) heatpipes outside and with their own tower is unique to the V line.


For those not familiar with this cooler or its larger V10 brother, you have four large heatpipes with two of these located in the center of the base and then one on each end. In between the large outer heatpipes, are four short heapipes (two on the “left side” of the center large heatpipes and then two on the right side of the center heatpipes). These smaller heatpipes are staggered with one going to the left external cooling tower and the other going to the right for each pair (and thus side of the center U pipes). Rinse and repeat for the other side of the main pair of U heatpipes and you end up with one busy yet oh so full base, with TONS of cooling potential.


If you are keeping track, this gives us the grand total of 8 pipes where the name comes from….but in reality there is only the equivalent of 6 (and spare change) U heatpipes OR if you count heatpipes sprouting from each side of the base there is 6 per side for a total of 12 pipes.

As for the specifications of this cooler it is a multi-tower affair which weighs in at 1.91 pounds (866.3 grams), and is 120mm x 120mm x 158mm in size. In other words this is not a small cooler in any direction, nor is it exactly on the light end of the weight spectrum. Though to be fair, you can easily tell this is the little brother of the monstrously huge V10. We guess they both ate a lot of ‘roids with their milk and Wheaties as kids.


We are not sure why Cooler Master chose to have each cooling tower only have two heatpipes. It certainly would have been more efficient to have had all four per side sticking up and into one larger cooling fin array per side. As it stands, the two outer (smaller heatpipes towers) are centered directly over the dead zone (i.e. directly in front of its HUB) and the added bulk and depth of field of all these fins only increase the static pressure of the air moving in and out of the V8. Heck, the outer tower fins not only make the sides twice as wide as they need to be but they are also are pointed in a completely different orientation. This will cause the air moving over them to swirl and thus not want to flow in and out in a direct path in a efficient, low static pressure movement.


To us, sticking a fan in the center of the heatsinks would be a great idea….IF they had allowed mounting fans on either end of the cooler. This would have been a great setup, as the center fan could help reduce the static pressure load of the two end fans and further increase the thermal efficiency of the cooling towers. As it stands, terms like “sucking mud through a straw” come to mind, so this better be one heck of a good fan as it not only has to work to push the air out through all those fins but also suck in air through densely packed fins as well. We highly doubt any 25mm thick fan will excel in this situation and this is one area where the specs should have called for a 38mm thick fan….say a Panaflo.


Further worsening things is the main towers' fin design. We don’t want to belabour the fact that the “modular” setup has for all intents and purposes cross thatched the fin arrays making a bad situation potentially worse; so let’s ignore that for the moment and concentrate on the face of the fins them sleeves. As with the outer side of the fins the inner face (the side facing the fan) is not multi-faceted; rather it has a slight curve to it but not by much. This too will add to the static pressure of the air which has to force its way past two cooling tower fin arrays and then slam head on into what is for all intents and purposes an aluminum wall. If Cooler Master did not want to stipple, or shape the faces of this cooler better than they have, they could have easily made the towers further apart and added in a small fan shroud to each side of the fan (say 10-15mm each side). This would have not only helped eliminate the dead zone caused by the fan hub but would also help the air to more easily enter the flat face of the exhaust towers. This is a classic water cooling trick which really is perfectly suited for this situation.


On the positive side and moving onto the base of this cooler, we come to what is easily one of the best polished bases we have seen in awhile. Terms like: “mirror bright” come to mind when we look at how well polished it is. Needless to say, not only is this base perfectly flat, it lacks any large tooling marks and only has small polishing marks. It is certainly above average, and was a true shining example of what can and should be done! Now if only they wouldn’t stick those awful glue labels on the bottom and we would have been truly happy.

All in all this is a big cooler, and all that mass will help it in keeping your CPU happy, we would be a huge supporter of it. However, we do have some major reservations about the basic design of the V8. We have been wrong before, but it doesn’t look or feel like we are going to be this time. Lets just hope Cooler Master went with one seriously kick ass heavy duty fan. Did they? Let's find out on the next page.
 
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Fan Design

Fan Design



With a lot rid riding on the abilities of this fan, we were absolutely unimpressed with the unit Cooler Master went with. Don’t get us wrong; this is very decent fan, one which is both fairly quiet and fairly well mannered. Unfortunately, it is completely inadequate for the situation it has been placed into.

In a nut shell it is a 9 bladed, 120mm fan made by Xinchangfeng Electronics Co., Ltd. who are better known as Martech. In this instance it is the DF1202512RFHN model fan. In a very nice move, Cooler Master has released some much need specifications for this fan. These are Rifle Bearing fans capable of 800- 1800RPMs and at its max speed of 1800rpms it moves 69.69CFM at an impressive 2.94mmH20.


Why did Cooler Master go with a slow fan for the V8 when they had a faster model already in the V10s model? We are not sure but it most likely a cost cutting measure and not one related to a lower noise envelope. We are less inclined to be forgiving and call it overly aggressive noise reduction (i.e. “who knows maybe the 2400RPM model was too loud…etc etc”) as Cooler Master includes a potentiometer with the V8 to tweak its speed and thus its noise envelope…and further reduce its cooling ability. The last bit is a nice touch and one we wish was included on their V10s TEC, but on a fan which needs every bit of power it can get? Phrases like “less than optimal solution” come to mind.

Further compounding the issues is the fact this fan is glued into position and we mean GLUED into position. You really would have to take your time and slowly pry the plastic cowl off it, lest you break it. If you do break it, your cooler would be a fancy and expensive paper weight as this plastic cowling is what keeps the fan in place. If you are lucky and patient enough to do this you would then have to hot glue the replacement fan back in place. All in all, this would be a time consuming and stressful endeavor to say the least. We tried to pry our unit off so we could further test out our theory on it being the wrong fan for the job but we stopped when it the plastic started flexing in a impressively scary way. So for all intents and purposes, the majority of users are not ever going to use that potentiometer and there is no way to easily remove it or even replace the fan.

On the positive side this fan displayed very little shaft or off axis blade slop as is consistent with good quality, well contrasted rifle bearing fans. When running at full speed, we did notice this fan was even better mannered than the faster versions found on the big brother V10, though this was to be expected as it is running 600rpm slower.


Also on the positive side was the inclusion of the already-mentioned potentiometer and a PCI bracket for easy access to it. Why anyone would feel the need to further reduce the speed (and thus noise) of this fan is not the point; the main point is the Cooler Master felt someone would want to do it and thus in a move classic of this company, they included everything their customers could want.

All in all this is a very good, very mild mannered fan; one which most people in most situations would love to see come standard with their new Cooler Master product. Unfortunately, this is not most cases and the V8 really needs a fire breathing, obnoxious SOB of fan to excel. We wouldn’t be totally surprised if that is what was originally spec’ed as this would make the inclusion of the potentiometer make a lot more sense. In the end, only time and testing will tell if we are on the right track or not…so lets put away the theories and get down to real world practical experience.
 
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Installation

Installation


It seems that Cooler Master has streamlined their installation procedure and equipment for the entire V line as the V8 has the exact same installation procedure as the V10. As with the V10, we recommend you remove the motherboard from your case, even if you have a case which has a backplate cut-out.


To start the installation procedure you first have to prep the V8 and install the proper brackets for the right system. If you are using a 775 system: use the 775 brackets, if you have an i7….you guess it: use the i7 brackets. After you have selected the proper brackets you then install the double threaded screws. As with the V10, the part which attached the screws to the bracket is a Bastard Thread and thus screws in backwards. In other words you tighten it down just like you would to remove a normal thread.

When this task is completed, you then mount the brackets to the base of the V8. Each bracket uses two small screws to hold it in place and it should only take a second or two per screw to tighten the lil’ fellers into place. When this is accomplished and all four screws are tightened down and the mounting brackets are secure, you then peel the paper off four of the rubber bumper pads included and stick one per screw unto the V8. These bumpers slip over the shaft of each screw and stick to the bracket itself. It may take a little coaxing to get them properly positioned as the ends of the bracket are properly sized to help keep the pads in place via friction as well as the glue.


What we recommend (and as the pamphlet describes) is to lay the V8 on its head and for all intents and purposes mount the motherboard to it. That means right before you remove the motherboard from the loving embrace of the case you will need to prep the CPU area and then apply a small amount of TIM to it. When it is in place and all four screws are sticking up through their proper holes, you quickly place the appropriate bracket over them and spin the four little nuts into place. When they are all hand tightened you then dig out the small socket which Cooler Master includes and crank all the nuts down.


While this may be a large cooler it has been designed in such a way as to minimize interference with your motherboard parts. On both our i7 and 775 systems nothing came into contact (or even that close to coming into contact for that matter) with the V8. While we would not say there was an over abundance of room, neither the ram nor heatsinks were in any danger.


All in all this is a quirky, yet fairly easy installation. Overall, it will take you longer than it would to install a pushpin cooler, but we think the extra effort is worth it, as it does make for a very secure mount. It will be interesting to see how effective the proper mounting pressure will help during the performance phase….and whether it can overcome the limitations of this cooler’s design and underpowered fan.
 
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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 it had to be changed or altered.

Any all CPU Cooling Solutions which do not come with their own fan, a Noctua NF-P12-1300 will be used if it accepts 120mm fans, if it only accepts 92mm a Noctua NF-B9-1600 will be used.

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 “small fft” and are taken directly from CoreTemp’s 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; as was all CPU fan speed control. More importantly, any manufacturer-supplied fan speed controller is set to Full.

Arctic Cooling MX-2 thermal paste was used for all coolers during these tests unless otherwise noted. Application of thermal paste was in accordance with 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.

All tests were run a minimum of 4 times and only best results are represented.


Please Note: To keep the motherboard chipsets from overheating a single 40mm Scythe Ultra Kaze was used, but was orientated in such a way as to not interfere with nor help the CPU cooler (i.e. it was basically on top of the South Bridge and pointed down). The 120mm Scythe E on the side of the open test bench was unplugged during temperature testing.


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 i7’s I consider 1.45 VCore and VTT to be the most that I would seriously consider for a moderate-to-long term overclock. As luck would have it this particular 920 would not overclock any better than 3.8Ghz irregardless of how much voltage we pushed (we literally maxed out the Vcore and VTT/PLL available in the BIOS options and it still wouldn’t be stable).

Yes you can go much higher but the longevity of the CPU as well as the associated temperatures for air cooling are then called into question. Just as importantly the CPU should average out at LESS than 65c for the Q6600 and 75° C for the i7 as this is also what I consider the safest, maximum long term overclocking temp for each of those CPUs. For the purposes of these tests I was willing to overlook higher temperatures as long as they averaged below 65c/80c (775 and i7 respectively) and did not peak over 75/80c. If 75/80c was displayed for more than 10 seconds 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/Bclk speed and then Vcore/VTT (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. 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
Intel i7 920

Motherboard:
Gigabyte P35 DS4
Gigabyte X58-UD3R

Memory:
4GB Mushkin PC6400
6GB Aneon Xtune DDR3-1600

Graphics card: Asus 8800GT TOP
Hard Drive: 1x OCZ Apex 120GB
Power Supply: Topower Powerbird 900W


All testing is done on an OPEN test bench


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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Q6600 Performance Results

Q6600 Performance Results







It seems that this cooler’s Q6600 sweet spot is 3.0GHZ. To put this another way, its own mass gets in the way at lower temp ranges (such as stock speed and voltage) BUT the fan cannot properly cool it when the heat is truly on. In a nut shell the design of this cooler really is meant for heavy OC’ing BUT the fan just can’t keep up. Crying shame as the potential is there.
 
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i7 920 Performance Results

i7 920 Performance Results








On the positive side, the V8 is better than the stock Intel cooler; unfortunately, the lack of mid-level coolers in this chart does make its true performance unclear. What is clear is the other coolers tested do outclass the V8 and we assume as time goes on the V8 will stay in the mid point end of the spectrum. Not exactly bad, but not exactly in the same league as the V10 or even the much less expensive Vendetta 2.
 
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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 (2.66GHz) on our Quad Core Intel i7 920. If at anytime the temperature of any of the four cores reaches and stays at 75° 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 Q6600 at stock speed (2.4GHz). We will then report our findings in the below chart.

Please note: Any Air based CPU cooler which passes the i7 920 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 Q6600 subtest is when a given cooler has failed the main test.



While it may have struggled at passive cooling, it did in the end pull of a win on the i7 system. This cooler really does have thermal mass to spare…to bad the fan wastes all that potential efficiency.
 
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