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GlacialTech UFO V51 CPU Cooler Review

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AkG

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GlacialTech UFO V51 CPU Cooler Review





Manufacturer Product Page: Global glacialtech
Part Number: UFO V51 silent
TechWiki Info: UFO V51 - TechWiki
Availability: Limited
Price: MSRP $59 USD (aprox $72.82 CND)



Today’s review really brought out some fond memories for this reviewer. It may have only been a little over a year ago that we took an in-depth look at GlacialTech’s last offering the Igloo 5750 but in the span of one short year we went from having almost no Air Cooler reviews to one heck of a good comparison chart. Heck, for me personally the Igloo review seems like an eternity ago as it was over 50 reviews ago for me.

It is with fond nostalgia we present the latest and greatest GlacialTech offering for your reading enjoyment: the UFO V51. If past memories are correct, the UFO should indeed make for one heck of an impressive cooler on the NOISE level front; but what is going to be very, very interesting is its level of performance on the COOLING performance side of things. For those who have not read our review, we would ask you to take a moment and skim through past cooling reviews as you will quickly see how far HWC has come in a “mere” year.

GlacialTech may not be as well known as the likes of Thermalright or Asus or other first rate, top notch manufacturers but lack of public awareness aside, GlacialTech does make some awfully good tech. After all, they are run by a bunch of PHDs and factory owners and offer everything from CPU coolers to LED lighting. To us this means they not only have abstract but practical experience in designing kick arse kit.

The UFO V51’s availability is severely limited right now, but if past GlacialTech's product distribution is any indication, you should be able to pick this little fella up fairly soon and at a reasonable price. Right now the MSRP is about $60USD but when it does hit you never can tell in advance what that will convert too.

The biggest question we have with this cooler is not the noise performance of it as we fully expect this little guy to excel in this area; rather what will be very interesting is how well it handles the hot running i7s. After all this particular cooler is labelled as a “Gaming Solution Cooling” unit so its level of expectations are already high. Is this a classic example of the PR department writing cheques the UFO V51 can’t cash? Let’s find out.

V51-1b.jpg

 
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AkG

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Specifications

Specifications


GlacialTech_UFO_V51_specs1.jpg


GlacialTech_UFO_V51_specs2.jpg

 
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AkG

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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories


GlacialTech_UFO_V51_box_front_sm.jpg
GlacialTech_UFO_V51_box_bac_sm.jpg

As you can see the box the UFO comes in is huge….not CM V10 or CoolIT huge, but still frickin huge none the less. In fact, these pictures don’t do it justice as it’s even bigger than you would think. While we are not a fan of windowed boxes (as it makes damage from life’s bumps and bruises way too prevalent), this is a very stylish box none the less. It has all the information you need to make an informed buying decision and it does have that window you can readily get a feel for the size of this cooler.

GlacialTech_UFO_V51_box_open_sm.jpg

When you open the box up you can easily see GlacialTech went with an all plastic clamshell packaging scheme. As we have said in the past, if its good enough to protect delicate electronics like a motherboard its good enough for a sturdy item like a cooler. Would we have like to have seen an extra layer of security between this clamshell, the big nasty world and the precious cargo inside? Yes, of course we would have; but this level of protection should provide more than adequate levels of protection for the UFO V51.

GlacialTech_UFO_V51_access_sm.jpg

The list of accessories which accompany this cooler is certainly on the impressive end of the scale. Not only is there mounting equipment for Intel 775 and i7 systems but also for AMD 939/ AM2 systems. While this unit does not rely on pushpin mounting pins for the Intel side of things it does not include a real backplate. Rather, it relies on the less secure, more stressful bolt through system to secure the cooler to the motherboard. In another interesting twist, albeit a good one this time, the accessory kit also came with a small container (with screw top lid!) of TIM and applicator, and not the more usual tube or one shot “ketchup” packet we usually see. Rounding out the accessory list is a decent installation pamphlet; compete with pictographs to go along with the written instructions.
 
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AkG

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Heatsink Construction & Design

Heatsink Construction & Design


GlacialTech_UFO_V51_front_on_sm.jpg
GlacialTech_UFO_V51_side_on_sm.jpg

For anyone who actually remembers the GlacialTech Igloo 5750 review I did way back when, you will instantly recognize this cooler. It really does appear to be a bigger brother of that design or at least a Revision of the Igloo rather than a brand new model. For everyone who either did not read that review or can’t remember it….don’t worry I had to look it up too.

GlacialTech_UFO_V51_back_on_sm.jpg

In a nutshell this cooler is your typical downdraft / C type unit. It has four large C-shaped heatpipes to suck the heat away from the CPU with a fairly large cooling fin array to then radiate that heat into the air. To even be more precise it is 130mm (L) × 157mm (W) × 138mm (H), weighs in at 780 grams and is cooled by not one but two 92mm fans (in a push / pull configuration) with one being on the top and the other on the bottom.

GlacialTech_UFO_V51_top_down_sm.jpg

We admit that we do have a soft spot for downdraft coolers as they are the perennial underdog in the air cooling world. Regardless, these types of coolers do have one redeeming factor: increased cooling for the motherboard. In today’s world of motherboard chipsets which are only passively cooled, any extra air flow over those heat sinks will not only help cool them down but may actually allow you to push you overclock higher (as the board will not hit a thermal wall as fast). The downside is they can be harder to install, they are not as efficient as the best tower cooler designs and are not to everyone’s liking.

GlacialTech_UFO_V51_apart_sm.jpg

When you take a close look at the UFO the very first thing which becomes abundantly clear is that it is literally covered in plastic. While they do add a bit of “Bling” to the unit, this is not the main reason they are included. These plastic pieces fit together over the fin array and help act as an air dam / funnel. Without them in place, air could escape to the sides and not go over all the fins. This in turn would reduce its effectiveness…so while they do make the UFO look pretty they do have an awfully good excuse for being there.

GlacialTech_UFO_V51_fins_sm.jpg
GlacialTech_UFO_V51_face_sm.jpg

With these plastic pieces removed you can easily get a much better look at this cooler's setup which has numerous aluminum fins that are formed into a multi-faceted “face”. All these grooves will certainly help reduce static pressure and allow the fans to work more efficiently…not harder.

GlacialTech_UFO_V51_base_sm.jpg
GlacialTech_UFO_V51_base_heatpipes_sm.jpg

The base of the UFO is perfectly flat, polished to such a bright shine we had to have NO light shinning on it or it would wash out the shots (thus the black looking base in the photos!), which certainly makes it above average. All in all, there is not much to complain about except the sticker GlacialTech stuck on the base to keep it from scratching. As with all of these dreaded stickers we recommend a good alcohol cleaning before use to make sure none of the glue residue is left.

GlacialTech_UFO_V51_bottom_up_sm.jpg

It’s funny but when you strip away all the glitz and goo-gaws (which admittedly do serve a purpose) this the UFO looks a lot like many other C type coolers out there. Where it “only” uses 92mm fans we think that this is going to be the weak spot of this unit's capabilities, they may be an upgrade from the Igloo’s single 80mm but this cooler really should have been designed with 120mm fans in mind….especially since it is labeled as a “silent cooler”.
 
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AkG

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Fan Design

Fan Design


GlacialTech_UFO_V51_fans_sm.jpg

The fans which accompany the V51 are Power Logic PLA09225S12L, 7 bladed fan 92mm units which are rated for a maximum 29.56 CFM at a top speed of 1600rpm. In a very interesting twist both of these fans are the exact same model even though one rotates clockwise and the other counter-clockwise. However, the most interesting thing about these fans is they use Enter Bearings. This is a technology tweak of the Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB) by EverFlow which best known for being a Thermaltake OEM partner.

GlacialTech_UFO_V51_fans2_sm.jpg

Whatever you want to call these fans, one thing is certain: they are QUIET. They display very little shaft or off axis blade slop and are generally a very, very tight fan. When running at full speed, we did not notice much in the way of vibrations or noise at all for that matter. Of course these fans are not exactly moving that fast either and we would have been very disappointed with anything less.

GlacialTech_UFO_V51_wires_sm.jpg

Another interesting thing about these fans is the fact that they only use a single old style 3 pin header. This means that your motherboard controls both fans at the same time. Also on the positive side, the fans wires were not only nice and long, they were also fully sheathed and combined seamlessly into one plug up close to the cooler. This may not seem like a big deal but this little tweak does make for a cleaner install and helps keep air flow restrictions to a minimum.

All in all these are great, well behaved fans. Even though there are two of them we do have to wonder if their mediocre static pressure performance will be enough to cool our i7 system. It really is a juggling act when it comes to noise versus performance and while we like to see dual fans come standard we do have to wonder if maybe, just maybe, GlacialTech erred too much on the side of low noise / low performance. Let’s find out how good a job they did and put our worries to the test!
 
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Installation

Installation


install_sm.jpg

As the old saying goes: “Up until this point everything was going along very smoothly, and then the wheels fell off”. Honestly, over the past two decades I have come across some good, some bad and even a few terrible installation processes. The V51 is not as bad as some but it is far, far from a good process. The biggest problem is the fact that this beast is too tall for some cases yet is not tall enough to get your hands in underneath its fin array to attach the bolts. This wouldn’t be a big deal except that the Intel setup (both 775 and i7) is for all intents and purposes a modified AMD installation.

install2_sm.jpg

Anyone who has installed an AMD CPU in the past decade knows that you have two main contact points at about the midpoint of the CPU. The 775 has four corner points. Of the two Intel is usually easier, not always but it usually is. The UFO V51 takes this four corner point mounting system and turns it into a two point setup which is not necessarily a bad thing as we saw with the Prolimatech Megahalems. In fact, converting to a two point setup does have some positive points and there are some good arguments for it. Unfortunately, the Prolimatech cooler is a tall and narrow U type heatsink whereas the UFO is wide and “short” downdraft cooler. Getting you fingers underneath it’s fin array is darn near impossible and if your motherboard is like ours and uses heatsinks for the motherboard Mosfets, chips, etc…it is not only difficult but curse worthy difficult.

OK let’s back this train wreck up and start at the beginning. To start this installation process you first thread two screws through each of the two main retaining brackets. You then thread these retaining screws through the four corner mounting holes and spin a small nut unto them. There is a small rubber washer applied to one side of the nut so there are no worries about shorting out your motherboard; snapping a corner hole or the motherboard is another thing all together (albeit a very unlikely worry). While we would have preferred some sort of backplate, this cooler's weight isn't enough to necessitate one.

install3_sm.jpg

Once these two retaining brackets are in place you then add some thermalcompound to the CPU, mount the V51 and using the crossbar retaining screw said cross bar into place with very, very small screws. You know you are in for a rough ride when there is a 90° Allen wrench included for the screws. While these screws are technically knurled they are still too slippery to finger into place underneath the V51…even if you could easily reach them. The easiest way to get them into place is use either a magnetic screwdriver to align them and then with your other hand use the Allen key to push them into place and tighten them down. As we said earlier; if your motherboard is like many it will not matter which direction you mount the V51 as one side is going to be a real pain to get tightened down.

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About the only good thing about this whole installation is the fact you shouldn't have to worry about the UFO V51 interfering, touching or even coming close to your ram or motherboard heatsinks. Even in its "worst case scenario" mounting orientation there should be no worries for most people. We can comfortably say this cooler should fit in at least one orientation as even though it is not tall enough to be comfortable to work with, but tall enough to be safe for most boards and ram configurations out there. As with all our cooler reviews, your configuration may differ enough from ours as to limit your installation options, but in that case you already know your system limitations.

installn2_sm.jpg

This installation IS going to take you a nice long time to do and you can forget about trying it inside your case. You will have a tough go of it even if you remove the motherboard and the amount of frustration and hassle is great enough that if it wasn’t for the fact that I HAD to do it (and multiple times at that…and NO it did not get easier with practice), I wouldn't have continued. You have been forewarned: I would have packed this abomination back up and simply told both my editor and GlacialTech: “NO. I refuse to waste my time on this….this thing”…or an uncensored less polite version to that effect. Unless this cooler turns out to be the most amazing thing since sliced bread….it is going to be interesting trying to find “Pros” to add to the conclusion.
 
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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, the CM fan’s built in fan speed control was set to full speed.

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 that 3.8 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 is 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 10seconds in CoreTemp all testing was stopped and that test run was considered a fail.

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

Overclocking was accomplished by increasing FSB/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 DDR2-800
6GB Aneon Xtune DDR3-1600

Graphics card:
Asus 8800GT TOP
Hard Drive: 1x OCZ Apex 120GB
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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Q6600 Performance Results

Q6600 Performance Results


q6600_24.jpg


q6600_30.jpg


q6600_34.jpg


Well this really does not come as any surprise; this cooler really hasn't been robustly designed at all. It starts out towards the bottom of the pack, gets worse in the standings and then fails the quad core max OC since it just can't take the thermal load. Maybe GlacialTech considers DUAL core only systems to be gamer systems? If this is any indication of what is to come on the i7 system, the time and effort it takes to install the UFO will be a heck of a lot longer than the time it takes for it to fail.
 
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i7 920 Performance Results

i7 920 Performance Results


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/UF0_V51/i7_266.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/UF0_V51/i7_342.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/UF0_V51/i7_38.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

Looking back on the Q6600 numbers and then looking at these numbers the best thing we can say is….nothing. There really is no redeeming value or hidden nugget covered in this mound of sub optimal results. In all honesty, the older quad numbers were bad enough but saying this is a i7 ready cooler smacks of the SNAFU Intel and MS ran into with their “Vista ready” monikers on embedded graphics. We cannot in good conscience consider the UFO V51 an i7 cooler, nor even a very good last gen 775 cooler. Whatever definition of “gaming system” GlacialTech uses is certainly at the best out of date and at the worst an out and out PR fabrication.
 
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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 (2.66GHz) 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.

q6600_passive.jpg


i7_passive.jpg


With “active cooling” numbers as bad as the UFO posts is it really any surprise that it fails at passive cooling? All we can say is if you actually plan on using this and its two fans somehow do fail (which is thankfully very unlikely) at least you can rest assured that modern day CPUs will self throttle when dangerous temperatures are reached.
 
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