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Coolink Corator DS CPU Cooler Review

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AkG

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Coolink Corator DS CPU Cooler Review




Manufacturer’s Product Page: Click Here
Part Number: Corator DS
Tekwiki: Click Here
Price: MSRP $58.99 USD



In the past we have seen many different takes on what a good CPU heatsink should look like. We have seen solid base, heatpipe direct touch, down draft, tower, and even dual tower designs all of which met with various levels of success. While we still have a fondness for downdraft coolers, the dual tower designs are the ones which have always intrigued us the most. On the one hand we have seen some less than optimal designs from companies with a proven track record but we have also seen some of the best of the best dual tower designs come from some surprising corners.

Coolink may not be all that well known in North America but their parent company Rascom is one half of the brains that makes up the Noctua brand name (the other being the Austrian Institute for Heat-Transmission and Fan Technology). In many ways you can consider the Noctua branded line of coolers the “Cadillac” arm of Rascom as their coolers are designed, marketed and priced with enthusiast niches in mind. Coolink on the other hand can be considered the Chevrolet of Rascom and their coolers usually feature good performance at very reasonable prices.

Trying to repeat their praise-worthy performance from tests past, Coolink has released their take on the dual tower CPU cooling solution which they call the Corator DS. Of all the dual tower designs out there, we have yet to see on that also implements a heatpipe direct touch base. This is where the Corator DS comes into the equation as it is not only equipped with an HDT base (or "Gapless Direct Touch" as Coolink calls it) but also features a simply awe-inspiring design.

Unfortunately, at this time Coolink’s distributor network isn’t as large as many other companies’ and as such their products are a bit of a rarity at most retailers. Nonetheless, the Corator DS has an MSRP of 58.99 USD which is about $60 Canadian. This is certainly a lot more reasonable sum than the comparable Noctua D14 which is priced at a staggering $110. So let’s call this a D14 “Lite” for the time being and get on with this review.


 
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AkG

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Specifications

Specifications



<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Corator_DS/specs.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Corator_DS/specs2.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Corator_DS/specs3.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Corator_DS/specs4.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Corator_DS/specs5.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
 
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AkG

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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories



Much like the Coolink Silentator we reviewed many moons ago, the Corator DS comes in a large, robust white box with numerous pictures and just a subdued splash of colour.

As with any good shipping container, the box’s secondary job is to inform you the customer of exactly what is residing inside. Here too the Corator DS box excels as it not only has one full side deducted to the specifications of the unit but a second side dedicated to explaining in great detail the main features the Corator has. This one-two punch combined with the numerous pictures of the Corator DS will certainly give you a crystal clear idea on whether or not this is the right cooler for you.


Moving on to the internal protection scheme we can see that Coolink went in for what can easily be described as “over kill”. This cooler not only resides in a thick, multilayer cardboard inner box, but this inner box resides within ANOTHER two part cardboard box (we removed the top half of the outer box for the photo). This is easily one of the best protection setups we have seen.


The list of accessories, which this unit ships with is quite decent. As with the Nocuta D14, the Coolink Corator DS uses the SecuFirm 2 mounting setup so the quality is top notch to say the least.

In total you get two instruction pamphlets (one for Intel and another for AMD), two wire brackets, a large syringe of TIM and mounting equipment for not only Intel 1366, 1156 and 775 systems but also the necessary equipment for AMD systems. Just remember that you have to use your motherboard’s OEM AMD backplate as Coolink does not include one. The only minor quibble we have with this setup is the fact that Coolink does not include mounting hardware for mounting a second fan.
 
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AkG

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A Closer Look at the Corator DS

A Closer Look at the Corator DS



Even just by looking at the pictures one thing is for certain, the Corator DS is as big and wide as a NFL defensive lineman. It’s almost as heavy as one too. This is not some lightweight cooler that has been built with low heat loads in mind; rather it has been built from the ground up to suck copious amounts of heat up and away from your overclocked CPU. The other thing which does pop out is the Corator DS really does bear a striking resemblance to the Noctua D14 which we reviewed just a little while ago. However, Coolink has done several things to make this heatsink their “own”. One of these things is to cut down the size of the Corator when compared to the D14.


As with the D14, the Corator DS is a dual tower design, with each side of the heatpipes getting its own separate cooling fin array. However, unlike the D14 which has two identical fin arrays, Coolink has implemented an asymmetrical fin design. In a nutshell, Coolink has gone for widely spaced fins on one side in order to make the SWiF2 fan’s job easier when it comes to pulling in cool air. The other side meanwhile goes for a tightly packed array. This in theory should help alleviate the problems we have seen with previous single fan, dual tower designs (for example the Tuniq Tower 120 Extreme) as in those designs the fan had to fight hard to suck the air in and then had issues pushing it out again.

The four heatpipes on the Corator are not arranged in the typical North / South orientation but rather run in an East / West direction. Interestingly, this heatsink doesn’t make use of the typical 6x 6mm heatpipe layout as found on the Noctua D14 but uses four larger 8mm units. As such, its cooling potential shouldn’t be diminished when compared to the D14.


In our opinion, in dual tower designs such as the D14 and Corator DS, the face of the fin arrays is even more important than usual. Instead of having a multifaceted face, Coolink has opted for a more mundane face which relies on the more typical concave pattern (with a small notches in the center where the fan hub resides) to help break up the air and thus reduce static pressure.


Coolink calls their unique base design “GDT” or Gapless Direct Touch which basically translates into a hybrid between a regular Heatpipe Direct Touch base and a solid base design. Instead of having a thick or even thin base material between the heatpipes and your CPU (i.e. a “solid” design), or flattening the heatpipes and using aluminum pillars placed between the flattened heatpipes, Coolink has poured a copper layer over and between the flattened heatpipes. The heatpipes themselves also have a thin layer of copper over them. We can’t stress enough the fact that this design really seems to exhibit (on paper) the best properties of HDT and solid base designs.

As for the quality of the finish, it is hard to call it good. While it is fairly smooth to the touch, Coolink has not polished the base very well. In addition, it appears Coolink has not poured the copper in one long and wide swath, but has laid down strips that go length ways along and over the copper heatpipes. These small strips are nearly perfectly joined but you can still feel and see the joints. This isn’t exactly the best base we have seen but it is far from the worst.


Unfortunately, the Corator can only mount one fan and not two or three like other large coolers with centrally mounted fans. Even if you find a way to install an additional fan, the way the fin array has been designed means optimal airflow is hard to come by.
 
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AkG

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The Corator DS SWiF2 Fan

Corator DS SWiF2 Fan



The fan which accompanies the Corator DS is a SWiF2-120P. This 120mm, eleven bladed Hydro Dynamic Bearing fan is rated to spin from 800 to 1700 rpm. At its slowest speed it can move a little over 34.4CFM, while at its top rated speed it can move about 75 cubic feet of air per minute. Coolink does not list the static pressure specifications of these fans but based on its design we have a feeling that it will be very, very good.

Unlike the original seven bladed SWiF line (SWiF stands for "Silent Whisper Fan") which used a double ball bearing, Coolink has opted for a Hydro Dynamic Bearing (also called Fluid Dynamic Bearing ) for the second generation SWiF line.


This fan exhibits only minor off axis blade slop and no shaft slop worth mentioning. It is a tight, quiet fan that exhibits almost no vibrations and will last a long long, long time. Also on the positive side that it comes with a 4 pin PWM capable header and cable has been sheathed in a rubber-like material. The only potential negative we can see is the funky colour scheme Coolink opted for.

***If for whatever reason you just cannot live with a colour combination of black and neon green in your system, the mounting system consisting of two wire brackets makes the fan extremely easy to replace for one that is more suitable to your tastes. Just make sure that the replacement fan uses the normal “flange” style mounting bracket holes and not the “tunnel” style. Otherwise, you will not be able to mount your replacement fan on this cooler.
 
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Intel Installation

Intel Installation


Since the Corator DS uses the same SecuFirm 2 setup as the D14 the Intel installation is quite simple and straightforward. However, you will need all the elbow room you can get and we strongly recommend removing the motherboard from you case before begging.

The first step is to grab the the 3 in 1 Intel backplate and roughly align it with the four mounting holes in the motherboard. Remember, since we have a 1366 system we did not have to worry about aligning notches like a 1156 system, nor worrying about installing the 775 rubber inlay. You can then install the four long retaining bolts through those holes in the motherboard. The heads of these bolts are hexagonal shaped and fit snugly between the raised edges of the backplate that has been designed specifically to hold them in place.


The next thing you have to do is thread a plastic spacer over the bolts (on the top side of the motherboard). This step is essential as it ensures proper mounting pressure can be applied, yet limits over tightening which can damage the CPU or motherboard. The two mounting bars allowing for mounting on Intel 775, 1156 and 1366 socket types are then placed over the bolts.



The next step is to actually install the Corator itself. All you have to do is remove the centrally located SWiF2 fan from the cooler (as it comes pre-installed) and then gently lower the Corator DS into place. Those two mounting arms have threaded holes in the center which when aligned with the spring loaded bolts allow for proper positioning of the Corator DS. With the cooler in place, all that is left is to screw down those spring-loaded bolts and you are pretty much done other than having to reinstall the fan.As with the majority of CPU coolers on the market today, the Corator DS uses wire clips to friction mount its fan.
.


When it comes to clearance issues, there is no getting around the fact that this is a huge cooler. However, unlike the Noctua D14, fan selection is not going to play any role in the amount of mounting issues you run into. The reason for this is simple: you will only be mounting one centrally located fan and as such, it will not factor into any problems you do run into. That being said, you shouldn’t run into any issues on even motherboards with relatively large heatsinks. The same thing can be said about memory clearance since the Corator DS isn’t large enough to overhang the memory slots in a typical orientation.

 
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AkG

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AMD Installation

Corator DS AMD Installation



On our AMD motherboard, installation of the Coolink Corator DS was once again extremely easy. To begin with, you need to remove the standard AMD plastic retention ring but keep the AMD backplate. This added step allows for installation in the more typical East / West orientation and to us is well worth the added effort.

To modify the standard backplate to be able to accept the Corator DS you simply thread the white plastic tube-like washers over the bolts on the top side and down into the backplate. You then install the two AMD SecuFirm1 retaining brackets on top of it all. Basically, the rest of the steps are nearly identical to the Intel installation process.


Unlike with some other products, the pre-installed metal tabs with spring loaded screws on the base of this cooler do not have to be removed and replaced with AMD ones. The different size brackets we just installed a moment ago take care of any nonsense like that for you.


On the AMD side of things we can honestly say that ram height is going to be a concern, but only a concern to those running exotically cooled or overly tall ram. The gap between the bottom of the fin array and the top of our Mushkin ram was significant but it still did loom menacingly over the ram slot. As we said in the Intel side of things, we doubt many people are going to have compatibility issues with the Corator DS as it may be a large cooler but it has been properly designed to minimize the most common issues.

 
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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:



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


2.6GHz


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Corator_DS/stock_266.jpg" border="0" alt="" />​

As expected, the Corator does a damn fine job at stock loads. It may not be as good as the D14 with its stock dual fans, but it does come awfully darn close.


3.42GHz


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Corator_DS/stock_34.jpg" border="0" alt="" />​

Once again we are seeing a pretty good showing of the Corator DS and its stock fan. It seems this heatsink has a firm grip on third place, and considering the level of competition it us up against, that is impressive to say the least.


3.8GHz


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Corator_DS/stock_38.jpg" border="0" alt="" />​

As expected, as the heat gets turned up, the Corator does start to falter a bit. The Gelid Tranquillo with its much better finished base is within striking distance now of this much heavier cooler.

Let us remove the various fans from the equation, swap in a our normal “known quantity” fans and see how the Corator does in a more controlled test.
 
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High Speed Fan Performance Results

High Speed Fan Performance Results


2.6GHz


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Corator_DS/scythe_266.jpg" border="0" alt="" />​

With the other big boys entering the fray, things on first glance are not quiet as rosy as they were when we were looking at stock fan performance results. However, if you take a close look, not only is the Corator basically in the middle of the pack still, it beats a D14. Of course, the D14 only has the one fan on it but it is still impressive to say the least.


3.42GHz


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Corator_DS/scythe_34.jpg" border="0" alt="" />​

As expected, once the heat was turned up a notch the Corator does again start to falter and the D14 passes it in the standings.


3.8GHz


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Corator_DS/scythe_38.jpg" border="0" alt="" />​

All in all, you can consider the innovative design techniques combined with a down right massive amount of metal the only things keeping this cooler from last place. There is no way any air based CPU cooling solution can bring anything but it’s A game to this table and expect to win, as the competition is just to fierce and the margins are just to slim to “phone it in”.
 
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