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Intel Core i7 / LGA1366 CPU Cooler Roundup

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AkG

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Intel Core i7 / LGA1366 CPU Cooler Roundup


Featuring: CoGage, Kingwin, ProlimaTech, Spire, Tuniq, Zalman & ZeroTherm



After a small hiatus from our CPU cooling reviews, we are back with a vengeance and a brand new testing methodology to boot. In keeping with our new methodologies, we’ve decided to go for broke and do a roundup of no less than seven of the latest CPU coolers.

By now you should all know that the CPU heatsink market is as cut-throat as they come with new technologies or methods being few and far between. There are plenty of people out there who have claimed again and again that air cooling just can’t get any better. However, it seems that as every year passes, we see air coolers taking new strides towards thermal efficiency.

If anything, this roundup will be divided into two separate categories: the high end air coolers that cost more than a budget CPU and the products that don’t cost and arm and a testicle but nonetheless promise performance that is equal to or better than their big brothers.

First up in the heavy weight division and looking to take the crown away from ProlimaTech we have the ZALMAN CNPS10X Extreme cooler. Not to be outdone or be accused of sitting back on their laurels we have ANOTHER Prolimatech cooler with the Mega Shadow Deluxe Edition which looks to be even more impressive than its predecessor. If that isn’t interesting enough for you, the Tuniq Tower 120 Extreme is also looking for the crown. Rounding out the big boys is our dark horse contender: the ZeroTherm Nirvana 120.

With the top of the fight card filled with uncompromising behemoths, we are going to set our sights on the other crown (and the one that many people think is more interesting AND important): the best bang for your buck cooling. In this arena, we feel the Cooler Master 212+ already reigns supreme with its combination of a kick ass stock fan, awesome base finish and its amazing ability to cool hot systems. Challenging this cooler we have the Cogage TRUE Spirit, the Kingwin XT-1264, and the Spire TherMax 2. If you are a fan of mixed fighting styles this head to head should be right up your alley. We not only have a “lite” version of the venerable TRUE 120 (with its solid base design) but two HDT coolers both with their own unique take on what a HDT cooler should look like. As with the big boys we have questions about the noise of the fan each of these companies have selected and their cooling ability, but to us the really important question with these CPU cooling solution is: are they not only worth their asking price?

This is certainly going to be one heck of a ride. While this is a major undertaking, we promise that we will give you a clear and concise picture of these coolers and that this will NOT be the case of “too much of a good thing”. If all this is not enough of a challenge we will also be introducing noise measurements to the fan section so you can get an even more accurate idea of a given product’s true colours long before spending any of your hard earned money. So without further ado lets get things rolling by introducing in a bit more detail the seven coolers that comprise this round-up.


 
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AkG

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Meet the Coolers; The High End

Meet the Coolers; The High End





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ProlimaTech Mega Shadow Deluxe Edition


Manufacturer Page: Prolimatech.com
Part Number: Mega Shadow
TechWiki Info: Prolimatech Mega Shadow CPU Cooler Deluxe Edition - TechWiki
Price: MSRP $80 estimated


Ever since the release of the iconic Megahalems cooler, ProlimaTech has been thrust into the enthusiast spotlight. Even with the buzz of success surrounding their original Megahalems, they are still not what you would call a household name. As such, if you are reading this review and have never hear of ProlimaTech this quote from their website perfectly sums up the gestalt of ProlimaTech as company: Their website states that the name “Professionalism exceeding beyond all limits”. In any case, their website goes on to say "….We are here to challenge any limits that stand in our way to achieve what was thought to be impossible….(and) Our never-ending quest is to satisfy every computer overclocker's and every enthusiast's needs for high quality and performance oriented thermal solutions for their high-end computer components…".


In what can be considered either an interesting move…or cash grab, Prolimatech’s second generation cooler is not much more than a black chromed version of the Megahalems cooler. It will be interesting to see if this really is a more refined version or nothing but a collectors version marketed mainly at people who want an even more striking looking cooler than the original one could provide. Indeed, it seems like Prolimatech is once again following in the footsteps of Thermalright which released their TRUE Black not so long ago. For now we are going to give them some slack on this issue and consider it an upgrade as it DOES support i5 systems where the original was a 775/i7 only deal.

As with their first cooler and in keeping with the “Deluxe Edition” moniker, this cooler is on the pricey side with an MSRP of $80USD (about $84 Canadian). Of course, that assumes you can FIND it.




Tuniq Tower 120 Extreme


Manufacturer Page: Tuniq.com.tw
Part Number: CR-T120-EX-BK
TechWiki Info: Tuniq Tower 120 Extreme CPU Cooler - TechWiki
Price: $60 US


As with ProlimTech, Tuniq is not that well known outside of the enthusiast community. INSIDE the enthusiast community however, they have a sterling reputation and have produced some top notch kit. For those less acquainted with the brand name Tuniq we can tell you that Tuniq is actually a division of Sunbeam Tech who are a very well known OEM manufacturer of darn near everything cooling related. To us this quote from Tuniq’s website sums them up best: “…We feel that product design should be Zen-like: simple, functional, harmonious and without frails. Each product from Tuniq aims to combine the virtues of high performance, elegant design, and extraordinary value…” What more could you ask for from an air cooler?


Out of all the coolers we have ever tested, used or even looked at, the original Tuniq Tower 120 still stands out among the competition. Its performance was only matched by some of the best coolers of its day and until the dawn of the i7, it was still considered among one of the best. Well, times change and even though the original Tower 120 may have been past its prime, Tuniq figured that they got enough right the first time around and have carried many of its design queues into their new Tower 120 Extreme.

Since this is a brand new cooler, it may be difficult to find at your favorite retailer or e-tailer here in Canada but this too shall change in the near future. When it DOES become available you can expect to pay about $65 for it.




Zalman CNPS10X Extreme


Manufacturer Page: Zalman.com
Part Number: CNPS10XEXTREME
TechWiki Info: Zalman CNPS10X Extreme - TechWiki
Price: Click Here to Check Prices


If there has been one company that has been conspicuous by their absence from our charts it has to be Zalman. Well their absence is now at an end with the Zalman CNPS10X Extreme cooler. Zalman really needs no introduction as they been designing low noise, high performance coolers for longer than many of us have been in this industry and have built an enviable reputation. While they are better known for their more unusual designs which made low noise yet unique looking coolers, this is their first foray into a more standard “tower” style CPU product. We imagine this may be the turning point for Zalman as this new heatsink has been designed from the ground up to be a serious contender for the top spot among air coolers while still appearing to try and stay true to their low noise roots (via a remote fan controller).


The 10X Extreme, as we are going to call it in this review, is available from e-tailers and retailers throughout the country and goes for about $75 CAD. That’s a lot of money in today’s economic climate but Zalman seems to be confident that they have what it takes to once again be among the best of the best.​




ZeroTherm Nirvana 120


Manufacturer Page: ZEROtherm.com
Part Number: NV120 PWM
TechWiki Info: ZEROTherm Nirvana NV120 CPU Cooler - TechWiki
Price: Click Here to Check Prices


While ZeroTherm has quickly made a name for themselves over the past 2 or so years, they are actually just the marketing division of APACK. APACK is a Korean OEM maker that has built solutions for the likes of Samsung, Dell, LG and a host of other industry big boys.

In the early days they were content to be shadowy men behind innovative creations and left the logo (and glory) to their customers. As with most geniuses, they have since grown restless of this and while still producing great kit for others, they have struck out directly into the end-user sector under the “ZeroTherm” brand and are in the process of taking the cooling world by storm…one cooler at a time.



When the ZeroTherm BTF90 “Butterfly” landed on the scene it made huge waves with its funky looks and great cooling potential and it seems APACK has learned from that cooler and made an even larger version of it called quite fittingly the Nirvana 120. Of course saying the Nirvana 120 is nothing more than a beefed up BTF90 is almost an insult since a lot of redesign has gone into the overall layout to take things to the next level. With its black motif and nude fan it looks like a million bucks and if rumors are to be believed cools like an SOB too.

To us the perfect cooler triple threat would be: Looks, Performance & Price; and while this cooler may look like the equivalent of a Royals Royce, it is priced more like a Volvo. The Nirvana 120 will soon be available at retailers and e-tailers throughout the country and should go for a shade under $60.
 
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AkG

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Meet The Coolers; Priced to Move

Meet The Coolers; Priced to Move



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Cogage TRUE Spirit


Manufacturer Page: COGAGE.com
TechWiki Info: Cogage True Spirit CPU Cooler - TechWiki
Price: approximately $39


As we stated in the introduction, Cogage may not be a name you are familiar with but anyone reading this should recognize the name Thermalright. In the most basic of terms we can liken the relationship between Thermaright and Cogage to that of Audi and Volkswagen in the automotive industry. Basically, Thermalright created the “Cogage” brand with the most likely intended purpose of bringing more value orientated coolers to market and taking a slice of that pie WITHOUT devaluing Thermalright’s main product brands or IP. That is not to say that Cogage coolers are any lower quality than their brethren; they just don’t have the exclusivity that comes with Thermalright branding and will be focusing on mass market appeal rather than delivering extreme performance at break-neck prices

The name “Cogage” stands for COmputer and GAming GEar and as the name hints at, Thermalright seems to have big plans for this brand. Will this work when Cogage comes out and names their first cooler the TRUE Spirit? We don’t know as this does make it very clear where Cogage’s expertise comes from and maybe, just maybe, they would have been better off calling this the “Spirit” and leaving it at that. On the flip side of the coin, if this heatsink does stay the course and embody the spirit of the Thermalright Ultra Extreme that it is named after, we may be witnessing the Second Coming in the high performance, low cost market segment.


The TRUE Spirit is available in limited quantities from a few e-tailers and retailers throughout the country and goes for about $39. This is certainly less than what an honest-to-goodness TRUE goes for and it will be interesting to see how much bang you get for this fairly modest buck. Of course it is going to have a tough time of it as the budget cooling sector is dominated by HDT coolers and we already know that the Cooler Master 212+ is going to give this Cogage product some awfully stiff competition.



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

Kingwin XT-1264 CPU Cooler Review


Manufacturer Page: Kingwin.com
Part Number: XT-1264
TechWiki Info: Kingwin XT-1264 - TechWiki
Price: Click Here to Check Prices


Kingwin is a newcomer to HWC but that doesn’t mean they are new kids on the block. Kingwin was founded in 1992 and as since then produced some very good kit under not only its own name but as an OEM for some of the big boys. To us what sums Kingwin and their philosophy best is this quote taken from their about us page of their website: “Kingwin is dedicated to producing innovative products and provide unparalleled customer service. As we look to the future, we will continue to innovate, advance and stand behind our products 100%”.

This isn’t a company one would normally look to for a CPU cooler but they have been making some huge inroads in this field as well as others as of late. Their new XT-1264 is just one of a series of Heatpipe Touch Chip (HTC) products they have available but it represents the pinnacle of their current lineup. While Kingwin may call this technology “HTC” it is probably better known by its Xigmatek moniker: HDT or Heat-pipe Direct Touch. Basically, over the last year or so, we have seen a number of HDT coolers go through our labs and let’s just say that Kingwin’s XT-1264 has a lot to live up to in our eyes.


The XT-1264 is widely available from e-tailers and retailers throughout the country and goes for about $37. Needless to say this killer price combined with its 6mm, four heatpipe base buys you a lot of cooling power. Let’s just hope that it can compete with the many other coolers we have seen in this price segment.




Spire TherMax 2


Manufacturer Page: SP679S1-PCI-TherMax II™
Part Number: SP679S1-PCI
TechWiki Info: Spire TherMax II - TechWiki
Price: Approximately $40 US


Spire may not be a well known company but they are a multinational corporation that has offices around the globe. They are also a well respected ODM / OEM which has been supplying numerous companies for the past decade and more. To best sum them up this quote from their website does it best: “Our objective is to provide top quality products for national distributors as well as for ODM and OEM clients. Our focus is to build on the current success of the Spire brand so that our brand is recognized world wide as a provider of top quality computing solutions. We will continue to work to maintain the satisfaction of our customers and share the knowledge of our experts: Spire - Powered by Innovation.


The Spire TherMax 2 we will be looking at today is the big brother of the TherMax Pro and as such is one of Spire’s high end coolers….with a price tag to match. At around $40USD it may have the highest tag of Spire’s current lineup but when compared to some of the other coolers in this roundup, it is actually inexpensive. Since this is the first Spire product we are testing, we have a ton of questions regarding built quality and components before we even get to the testing itself. What will be most interesting to see is whether the included 2200rpm fan on the TherMax 2 will sacrifice too much in the acoustics department in order to deliver the performance enthusiasts crave.

The Spire TherMax 2 is not readily available in Canada but you can find it online in some US stores where it goes for about $40 US.
 
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AkG

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Cogage TRUE Spirit

Cogage TRUE Spirit



Let’s not even get started on the window this box sports and move straight unto the look and design of the box. Hmmm, we really have to wonder if something was lost in translation. “Turn up the voltage on your OC soul” does sound pretty good and we understand that this product is geared towards “gamers” but we think this box design could have done without that little tidbit. It just feels gimmicky.

Other than that, this cooler is well protected even though the window tends to decrease the overall strength of the cardboard box.


As you can see, the TRUE Spirit really does look like a mini Thermalright Ultra 120 eXtreme….albeit one with a lot less heatpipes. Indeed, even the mini Ultima 90 has more and THAT cooler has been out for a long while. In grand total the TRUE Spirit has four 6mm heatpipes and is 133mm by 38mm by 158mm in size while weighing in at a respectable 670 grams. On the positive side, it has the same angled fin design as its predecessors which is one of the main reasons the original TRUE always did so well in tests.


The base of this unit is decently finished and considering its price range the Spirit has been designed for, it is not too bad. Polishing a solid surface like this base should be easy and relatively inexpensive so there isn’t much excuse for the lack of absolute perfection. The excess soldering flash where the heatpipes join the base is also a bit of a concern from a QA standpoint considering the original Thermalright Ultra 120 had the same issues ages ago.

Its overall design has its roots firmly planted in the soil of Thermalright’s legendary heatsinks of days gone by but considering the talent Cogage has to draw upon, we were hoping a bit more attention to detail would have been paid to the Spirit. Price point be damned.


The 120x25mm fan which accompanies the TRUE Spirit is labeled as a CGG-1212PSL and is a study in contradictions. Cogage states it runs between 1000-1500RPMs yet at the specifications on the fan itself states 1000-1800RPMs. While an additional 300RPMs isn’t a huge deal on paper, it can translate into huge acoustical differences. The reason for this could be one of two things: either Cogage has limited the voltage in some way we can’t see or the 1800RPMs is within the usual 10% margin of error when it comes to fan RPMs and Cogage wanted to err on the side of marketing lower speeds. As the specifications are so suspect it is hard to state with any certainty what the CFM ratings of this fan is but Cogage states 35 – 66.5CFM.

The fan is itself exhibits the same moderate ticking which we have come to associate with ball bearing designs and it does exhibit an annoying amount off-axis slop. This can result in a lower lifespan for the fan itself but the more likely thing is that you will be done with this cooler long before the fan kicks the bucket.


The fan on the Spirit has a 4 pin PWM connector and as such is a PWM capable fan. Unfortunately, the wire is not sleeved nor are the wires even bonded together which makes the whole setup look a bit messy when installed into an otherwise clean case.
 
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SKYMTL

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Cogage TRUE Spirit Installation

Cogage TRUE Spirit Installation



Considering the installation issues we had with some other coolers in this roundup, it was with some apprehension that we began the process of installing the Spirit. To begin this installation you really don’t need to remove your motherboard which will be a positive thing for many people. In fact, this installation is a very quick and relatively painless procedure which is definitely something we needed.

To begin the setup, take the TRUE Spirit in one hand and with the other fish the X bracketed retention clip through the space between the top of the base and the bottom of the fin array. As with all TRUEs this unit folds together enough to do this and when it is through you simply open the bracket back up to its full width.


Once the bracket is in place you simply lay the now ready TRUE Spirit over your CPU, line up the four pushpins with their respective holes and secure the whole shebang together, just like you would an Intel stock cooler. As we said this makes for a very easy and fast install.

Unfortunately, the fact that this is a push-pin installation means that less than the optimal amount of pressure will be applied to the CPU. Pushpin retention systems are a pet peeve of ours as they may be fast, but they are malleable and do flex


We understand that the Spirit is a budget-friendly cooler but we really wish it would have shipped with the brackets necessary for AMD system installation. On the positive side, on an i7 system its find stand fairly tall off the board and as you can see you should have no issues with it rubbing, touching or bumping into any of your motherboard’s passive heat sinks.

The fan installation on the other hand is the exact same one as found on the TRUE with two rubber anti-vibration strips and two wire brackets. The ends of the wire brackets fit into small holes in the fin array and via tension keep the fan in place. All in all, it is a tried and true method; albeit one you either like or dislike.
 
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AkG

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Kingwin XT-1264

Kingwin XT-1264



Well one thing is for certain: the Kingwin XT-1264 sports one flashy full color box. The box itself is made of moderately thick cardboard and is covered in a riot of colors but it still provides decent protection for its contents. In a nut shell this box has all you could ask for information and detail wise to make a fairly informed decision.

We do take umbrage to the fact they only show the AMD mounting setup on the box and not the pushpin based Intel 775 / i7 setup. This is a bit misleading but we have a sneaking suspicion that this product was designed mainly as an AMD cooler and the Intel attachments are more of an afterthought. Let’s call it a hunch for now, shall we?


Let’s start with explaining the nomenclature Kingwin uses in their naming scheme and then move onto the dimensions of this curious cooler before we really start exploring in depth the design of this cooler. Basically, Kingwin’s naming scheme is the same as Xigmatek’s as you start with the fan size (12cm), then state the size of the heatpipes (6mm) and then the number of them used. In fact, Xigmatek makes the HDT-S1264 cooler that uses the exact same technology as this unit.


Even though it may look big in the pictures, the Kingwin XT-1264 weighs in at a relatively light 467 grams….with a fan attached. This does put it at a distinct size disadvantage when compared to other HDT coolers we have reviewed; and in fact, it is one of the lightest weight coolers we have reviewed in a long while.

Making things slightly worse is the fact that this cooler can only mount a single fan and it uses the less than optimal (in an aftermarket cooler) push pin style mounting setup found on stock Intel coolers. Sure, a second fan can be mounted but not without extensive modifications to the lower portion of the fin array.


The top of the base has nine mini-sized heatpipes added to it, much like the OCZ Gladiator Max, Xigmatek Thor’s Hammer and a host of other HDT coolers out there. The theory behind these mini heatpipes they help dissipate the heat that builds up in the aluminum sections between the heatpipes which in effect should add to the thermal efficiency of this cooler. The fatal flaw in this theory is that they are below the fan and are thus passively cooled but Kingwin has added smaller fins to increase the surface area of these mini cooling towers.

The heatpipes themselves have been slightly bent inwards to form the base of this cooler, and the base itself has a decidedly poor finish even for an HDT-based unit. Also on the positive side, the gaps between the aluminum pillars and the flattened HDTs are relatively small so they shouldn’t suck up as much thermal compound other HDT heatsinks.


When it comes to the 120mm fan which ships with this unit, things are little bit murkier as the label shows a product number of AD0912HX-A7BGL. When you decode this label it tells you that this is a 92*92*25mm fan….which is obviously incorrect. Most likely this label was supposed to be AD1212HX-A7BGL, which would make this a higher speed version of the ADDA fan which graces the Ximgatek S1283. Basically, this is a 7 bladed 120x25mm hypro bearing fan made by ADDA which is PWM capable and designed to run between 1000 and 2200RPMs. At its maximum nominal speed of 2200RPMs it is rated to move about 99.6CFM.

The above specs are based on the assumption that this is an AD1212HX-A7BGL, and there is some evidence that we may be incorrect. According Kingwin THEIR version of this fan is rated for 700 – 2300RPMs, moves 82.0 – 101.2 CFM and has between 3.28 – 3.97mm of static pressure. We are inclined to believe most of their specifications as it is fairly close to the ones listed above. The only part of their specifications we have issues with is we are not sure how ANY 120x25mm fan can move that much air at 700rpms, nor have so much static pressure at such low speeds.

Unfortunately, this fan also displays a lot of shaft slop but no off axis slop which we are more worried about. Forward and backward motion or shaft slop is not an issues and it really is only when you have a lot of off axis slop that it becomes an issue. Honestly, we have no doubts about this fan lasting a long while.

The hypro bearing (as ADDA’s patented tweak on the design is called) or the “Rifle bearing” as it is usually called, is a unique hybrid sleeve bearing design in which a normal sleeve bearing has been modified so that there is a continuous groove (that looks a lot like lands and groves of a “rifled” gun barrel) on the bearing shaft which keeps a constant flow of oil moving between the shaft and the bearing. While they may not be as quiet as normal sleeve bearings, they do have a longer life expectancy. To make things even more interesting, ADDA has added a magnetic field to prevent friction between the bearing and fan hub, further increasing the life of the bearing. On the positive side, this fan is PWM capable.
 
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SKYMTL

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Kingwin XT-1264 Installation

Kingwin XT-1264 Installation


For all intents and purposes this cooler has the exact same installation process as that of any push pin based CPU heatsink; albeit one with a twist usually not seen on the Intel side of things. Unlike most after market coolers it is up to you and your comfort level whether or not you need first removed the motherboard from your case.


Interestingly enough, the installation process seems to indicate that the XT01264 is primarily designed as an AMD cooler. As such the very first thing you need to do is remove two small screws located on one side and yank off the AMD mounting bracket if you are installing it one an Intel chip. You then install two i7 brackets (or 775 depending on your setup) onto the based and you are off to the races.

When CPU is properly prepped (thermal compound application and all) you simply place the Kingwin cooler in place and push the four corner pins into place to secure it to the motherboard just like you would for the Intel stock cooler. While this is a much faster installation process it does have one potential down side: performance robbing stretching and / or other negative movement happening because the plastic pins become malleable in high heat situations. This can mean decreased pressure between the CPU and the cooler which would in turn cause lower performance than if Kingwin had used a backplate.


The next step is to install the 120mm fan which is held in place by a simple wire retention mechanism. This is a tried and true method which has its own set of pros and cons. The upside is it a very fast and easy way to install the fan and this is in keeping with the underlying philosophy of this installation: speed over performance. The main issue here is the fact that the wire mounts to the outside face of the fan thus limiting your choices to 25mm thick fans.


Intel i7 Installation​

On the positive side, we did not have many issues with clearance of the fin array and our motherboard heatsinks. If your motherboard has overly tall heatsinks your installation options may be limited but we doubt many people will have issues installing this particular cooler. As for the ram, there were no issues with clearance as the neither the fins nor fan extend over the slots.


AMD Installation​

When it comes to AMD systems the installation is even faster than what we saw with an i7 setup. As you can see the XT-1264 uses the standard AMD retention mounting setup and does not block or hinder any of our DFI’s passively cooled heatsinks.

All in all both AMD and Intel based systems will have the same basic issue with this Kingwin cooler: plastic flexes when pressure is constantly applied over time and plastic is what lies at the heart of both mounting setups. However, if this is not a concern this particular product has one of the easiest and fool-proof installations we have come across in a long time.
 
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AkG

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ProlimaTech Mega Shadow Deluxe Edition

ProlimaTech Mega Shadow Deluxe Edition



Unlike the bland yet colorful box the original ProlimaTech ships in the Mega Shadow Deluxe comes in a rather striking white box with silver highlights and a wide ribbon….much like a birthday gift. Needless to say we like minimalist view of the box but it does have a distinct lack of information on it.

While the packaging may not follow in the footsteps of its predecessor the Mega Shadow does continue the ProlimaTech tradition of not including a fan. As with any air based cooler which costs as much as this one does, we really wish that they had included a fan. We do not accept the idea that this gives the customer “more freedom to pick the proper fan for their needs” or other such empty platitudes. The fact of the matter is it is offloading the cost of a fan onto the end user with no real gain given in return.

]

If there is one thing we are certain of at this point it is that this product is down right beautiful. We have a soft spot in our hearts for black chromed coolers and this is easily one of the most striking ones we have seen in a while. Other than the difference in finish between the Shadow and the Megahalems, if you are having trouble picking out any differences between the two coolers….don’t feel bad because we couldn’t find any either. As we said earlier and for all intents and purposes, this IS a Megahalems in a prettier package.

For those of you not familiar with Megahalems / Mega Shadow, it is a six heat-pipe dual cooling tower heatsink which weighs in at a beefy 790 grams. Also like most of the truly award worthy coolers in this price range it is a dual fan capable beast that has a massive amount of cooling potential.


As you can see, the base of this cooler is a solid surface base which has also has been blackened and sports one of the best polishing jobs we have seen…ever.
 
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SKYMTL

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ProlimaTech Mega Shadow Deluxe Installation

ProlimaTech Mega Shadow Deluxe Installation


Before we begin we would like to state that unlike the original Megahalems, we had absolutely no problems with the mounting brackets. Everything was of the absolute best, highest quality we have seen in a long while and everything was perfectly executed.


Once you have removed your motherboard from the case, simply place the backplate in position and using the short end of the thumb screw's bolts, screw through the motherboard and into the backplate. When all four are done you can lay the motherboard back down.

Then you grab the two large 775 / i5 / i7 combo brackets and gently lay them across the double sided screws before tightening the two larger cross braces into place. With the brackets in place and secured, we then applied our thermal compound and inserted the third bracket through the top of the cooler’s base.

As with the Megahalems, this bracket has two “fingers” which line up with two small indents in the top of the Mega Shadow’s base, allowing the bracket to freeze the cooler in place. The fact it has two of these fingers instead of the usual one also means this heatsnk won’t twist on you like the TRUE has been known to do. With the bracket in place we simply lowered the cooler into position and used the two spring loaded screws to lock the whole thing together.


With the cooler secured you can then easily mount either one or two fans to it with the 4 included wire mounting brackets.


When it comes to clearance issues we can say things were tight all around when it came to dual fan setups, but installation with a single fan shouldn’t yield any issues on most Intel motherboards. However, it’s a damn shame that ProlimaTech makes you spend even more money if you want to install this monster on an AMD rig. Considering the recent popularity of AMD’s Phenom II chips, this is totally acceptable for what is supposed to be a flagship model.

Honestly, we were expecting good things from the installation of this cooler and we weren’t disappointed. It seems that while the Mega Shadow itself got nothing more than a hot dip in a black bath, the backplate was improved upon and so was the whole mounting setup when compared to the Megahalems. It also supports 775, i7 and i5 right out of the box and it does it all without cutting corners or undermining the robustness which so impressed us with the first “mega” cooler from ProlimaTech. Unfortunately, the exclusion of an AMD mounting option is a blemish on an otherwise spotless installation process.
 
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AkG

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Spire TherMax 2

Spire TherMax 2



The box that the TherMax 2 came in really did get a good going over by Mr. Shipping Agent and it does show; however, the contents of the box were perfectly fine. To us this is the best accolade you can give a package: “it did its job”.

On three of the four sides the TherMax 2 is more than adequately protected, but on the front side a good sharp blow in the wrong place could have caused this story to have a much different ending. As you know,plastic film “windows” are a pet peeve of ours and this may not be the biggest windowed box we have seen. However, we can’t complain since the box did take a lickin’ and keep on ticking.


The TherMax 2 is a very interesting looking cooler, as you can tell this cooler’ fin design forms a big X. This may be very ascetically pleasing to the eye (or not depending on your personal tastes) but it does have the unintended consequence of significantly reducing the surface area of the fin array….you know the array of fins which cools the heatpipes. Basically, this is definitely not a good thing since the heatpipes need to have the maximum amount of fin surface area in order to dissipate heat.

The other faux pas of this X design is that a good portion of the air from the fan is going to be lost out the sides and will not force its way back to the other side of the X. In theory, this could leave half the cooler outside of the fan’s airflow. The first thing that crossed our minds was: what were they thinking?

On the positive side, this cooler has an HDT base which could help it in high thermal circumstances. However, this could also work as a double-edged sword since an increase of heat being transferred to cooling fins that aren’t being actively cooled by the fan’s airflow can lead to high CPU temperatures.


Taking a closer look at the base of the TherMax 2, we instantly knew the design wasn’t the only thing that it has going against it. The polishing and quality of finish is about what the original Xigmatek S1283 sported, which means not good at all. It may not be terrible, but it certainly is not anywhere near best in class. All in all, we don’t expect much from this heatsink but we have been known to be surprised in the past, so anything is possible.


The fan which accompanies the TherMax 2 is a sleeve bearing 120mm, 2200RPM unit and in what seems to be a reoccurring theme in this review, no model number is listed on the fan nor is there a 3rd party manufacturer’s logo or name anywhere to be seen. To us this means it’s either made by Spire or they just wanted their sticker to cover up any trace of the actual manufacturer. On the positive side this fan at its rated speed of 2200RPMs moves an impressive 93.3 cubic feet per minute. Unlike many we are going to look at today this fan is not PWM complaint and thus the only way to change the speed of the fan is via voltage adjustment. On the plus side, the power cable of the fan is a decent length and while it is not sheathed it is a flat wire style with all four cables stuck together.

As with many sleeve bearing fans this fan exhibits a bit of shaft slop, which is nothing to worry about. What is worrisome is a fan moving at the speed this one does also exhibits a lot of off axis slop. At best this combination will result in a fan which is noisier than it should be and at worst will have a shorter lifespan.
 
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