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OCZ Vendetta 2 CPU Cooler Review

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AkG

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OCZ Vendetta 2 CPU Cooler Review




Manufacturer Product Page: OCZ Technology
Part Number: OCZTVEND2
Availability: NOW
Price: Click Here to Compare Prices
Warranty: 2 years



Just recently we reviewed our first Direct Touch Heatpipe CPU cooling solution and after a little bit of teething issues (see the addendum page for more information) we found that particular Xigmatek cooler to be a Dam Good Value cooler. Today we will be looking at another cooler which uses its heatpipes as the base, but this time by a better known company which has taken the Xigmatek HDT-S1283 design and tweaked it a fair bit.

The company which I am alluding too is none other than OCZ Technologies. OCZ is known as an industry leader and innovator which has time and time again produced some great prducts. Even better than their reputation for quality and innovation is their well deserved reputation for customer service. In today’s cut throat business environment where “right sizing” and “value orientated customer solutions” are nothing more than code words for “cheaper” and “outsourcing to India, China or whoever is cheapest this month” OCZ has never stinted on customer service.

Just recently OCZ released a new and improved version of their award winning Vendetta CPU cooling solution aptly named the Vendetta 2. While this name is not what you would call imaginative, we certainly understand why they would want to keep such a distinguished brand name alive. Unlike the original model which also had an exposed heatpipe base but was only sized for a 92mm fan, the Vendetta 2 is a full size 120mm design but it has kept the unique double V look and feel of the original. This cooler is widely available at retailer and e-tailers across the county and goes for about $38. As with any “clone” one certainly has to wonder what makes this one special and more importantly is this model worth the extra money when compared to the original, or are you just buying a brand name? We are certainly curious to find out.

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Specifications

Specifications


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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories


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When OCZ told us they were sending us a Vendetta 2 to review I must admit to a certain level of anticipation; for if anyone would be able to do a direct touch heatpipe cooler justice it would be OCZ. Needless to say when it arrived the box was ripped open post haste to see what OCZ had in store for us.

When it comes to the packaging of this extra special cooler we were quite disappointed as it appears that not only is the Vendetta 2 based off the Xigmatek reference design (and probably made in the same factory as the Xigmatek) it also appears the box was made by the same subcontractor as well. In all honesty we can cut Xigmatek a bit of slack as they are relative newcomer to the market and thus are allowed the occasional stumble; however, OCZ should know better. This package is made from the same flimsy recycled material as the Xigmatek and it feels cheap in your hands.

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Maybe its just us, but a grey silver colour scheme just gives off the right connotations and the box has a palatable aura about it. It is almost as if it bypasses the ID and speaks directly to your subconscious saying: “here is something which is freezing cold so be careful or it will give you frostbite”. This of course is perfect for a CPU cooling solution and I’m sure the marketing wizards over at OCZ spent a lot of time and money coming up with it; its too bad they didn’t spend some of their budget on beefing up the thin cardboard so it wouldn’t be “all sizzle and no steak” so to speak.

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When you open the box, (once again no knife is needed, just a simple finger will split the top open nicely) you are greeted to the exact same internal packaging scheme as the Xigmatek, further reinforcing our subcontractor theory. Of course, this is a darn good packaging scheme which can take a good beating before passing on trauma to the contents. Once again though it does have the same flaw as the fan is not as well protected (at all); but then again this is not which big a deal as the Adda fan is no Noctua NF-P12 so if it gets destroyed its not a big deal.

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The list of accessories which come with the Vendetta 2 is quite complete with mounting equipment for both AMD 939/AM2 and Intel 775 systems (though in the later case it is still the pushpin style mounting system), a ketchup style packet of TIM, Molex power adapter, instruction pamphlet and four anti-vibration mounting brackets.
 
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AkG

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Heatsink Construction & Design

Heatsink Construction & Design


Unlike most reviews where we start off with general impressions and work our way to the bottom, lets buck the trend and start at the base; after all, the base of this unit is one of its two main claims to fame (the other being the cooling fin assembly which we will get to shortly).

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As you can see in the above photo, the Vendetta 2 has a very similar base to the reference design Xigmatek S1283, however this one is finished a lot better with the copper heatpipes not only being perfectly flat (as they are on the Xigmatek…if one ignores the fact this base is not a homogeneous chunk of metal) but they are also polished to a lot better. Of course, there are still some minor marks on the heatpipes but any way you slice it, this cooler’s base it well above average and certainly goes a long way to justifying the additional expense of it over the Xigmatek unit we have been discussing until now.

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As mentioned before this CPU cooling solution is in a lot of ways a clone of the Xigmatek S1283 and this is idea is reinforced by the mounting “wings” for the 775 pushpins and the double cut in the top of the base for the AM2 mounting bracket. This is not a bad thing per say, as pushpin installations are usually faster and easier than backplate based systems.

That being said, it is too bad that OCZ didn’t take the time and effort to upgrade this design to a back plate system; we say this because while the backplate installation may be more time consuming it does provide a stabler mounting platform and one which delivers a more even mounting pressure (as plastic is malleable and may deform at slightly different rates from corner to corner). Hopefully, this will be addressed in a future revision (like a Vendetta 3 for example, which we are sure OCZ will come out with at some point in the future).

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For anyone who has never seen the iconic looking Vendetta series of CPU cooling solutions a little bit of an overview is in order. The Vendetta 2 is a tower style cooler which has three large 8mm heatpipes, two of which start at the top left and go down to the base, are flattened to act as a majority of said base and then zoom back up to terminate at the top right side. In between the flattened heatpipes are metal strips which add stability and support to the unit, and in point of fact it is more accurate to say the three channels for the heatpipes have been carved out the solid metal base rather than to say the metal strips have been added in afterwords.

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All in all, it is fairly typical setup with the exception of the unique Direct Touch heatsink base. As for its dimensions, it all is fairly typical for a medium size tower cooler; all in all, the Vendetta 2 weight about 600grams and is 159mm high by 120mm wide by 50mm deep. To put it another way it is technically has the dimensions of the reference Xigmatek yet is a bit deeper because of those peaks (or tips of the double V) are not taken into the depth measurement.

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While the heatpipes may be considered a refinement on an already existing technology (as heatpipes have been around for a while, and it is just them acting as the base which is new), OCZ has taken a unique approach when it comes to the cooling fin assembly. In total you have 50 of those closely spaced aluminum fins arranged on top of one another; and while this is down from the 53 the Xigmatek has, the OCZ fins are not only deeper (with a unique peaked design) they also have numerous indentations in them. These small bumps act much like boulders in a stream act on a flowing river. To understand this analogy you must first understand that air can be considered a very thin fluid medium and thus fluid dynamics does play a large role in effective thermal dissipation.

What these small bumps do is slightly change the direction of the air moving through the fins and by changing their direction they also slightly change the velocity of the air (as the air slows down when it meets this added resistance and then again changes direction to flow around the obstructions). Going back to our analogy think of a fast moving river, the water molecules are under pressure from the water molecules behind them and in effect are pushing them along by pressure (lets ignore gravity and effects of the moon for this simplified analogy). As those fast moving water molecules slam into the fully submerged boulders some of the water will go around the left, some the right and some over the top. While this happens those molecules slow down as they have to push other molecules out of their way to get back into the “fast lane”. This movement causes small eddies to spontaneously occur. In these eddies, the fluid spins much like a small whirlpool before being pushed along by the force of the water. If you were to precisely measure the water temperature in the eddies it would be slightly different than the rest of the river.

What all this means for the OCZ Vendetta 2, not only is some of the air slowing down and picking up more waste heat from the cooling fins, this air is also sticking around longer and thus picking up even more of the heat before being ejected out the back of the cooler. Heck, because of these little bumps more air is probably being directed out the back of the cooler and dissuaded from spilling out the sides (as I am sure OCZ’s engineers designed it properly to do this, and why wouldn’t they as they were obviously smart enough to figure all this out in the first place!). The only potential downside to this ingenious use of fluid dynamics is it may increase the static pressure of the air inside the fins if not done properly, but it would take a super computer and bunch of PHD’s to figure out (and that’s way above my pay grade). Potentially higher pressure or no, this design is a very nice tweak and it will be interesting to see if it translates into decreased CPU temperatures!
 
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Heatsink Construction & Design pg.2

Heatsink Construction & Design, cont.


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If there is one area where we were disappointed by the Vendetta 2, it would be the front face of the unit. The side of the cooler the fan rests against is of course called the front face and its job is to get as much air through those fins with as little hassle as possible. To do this companies have taken to either making the side of the heatsink multi-faceted so as to cut the air up making it more likely to flow through the fins at a lower static pressure; or to even angle the face so it is concave and thus the air being pushed by the fan “wants” to flow to the center and thus be pushed into the heatsink (this also as an added benefit removes to a certain extent the dead zone cause by the fan hub). Thermalright on their T.R.U.E. not only makes the face concave but even angles the fins so the air flow is encouraged to enter the heatsink instead of flowing around it. Unfortunately, OCZ went with the reference design as seen as the S1283 and while it is slightly concave it is not exactly an extreme curve, and the face is not multi-faceted in the least.

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While this design is a very outdated and while it may not be as effective as newer designs, it still would be reasonably effective if not for the fact OCZ also went for that darn fan mounting system which leaves a good gap between the fan and the heatsink. You can have the fanciest designed fins in the world but if the air does not go over them it is makes not a darn bit of good. We have to wonder how much more effective this cooler would be if they had went with a more standard friction-based fan mounting system which removes this relatively large gap.

Overall, the OCZ Vendetta is certainly an improvement over the reference design and to us has easily justified its added cost. Of course, this can all change if the performance numbers don’t back it up but so far if it quacks like duck and looks like a duck we are going to give it the benefit of the doubt and call it a duck…and stick it in the oven to cook for awhile.
 
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Fan Design

FAN DESIGN



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The fan which comes with this CPU cooling solution is the exact same one that accompanies the Xigmatek S1283. This 7 bladed 120x120x25mm rifle bearing / Hypro bearing fan is made by Adda; or to be more specific this is the ADDA AD1212DX-A7BGL 120mm low noise fan. This PWM capable fan is designed to run between 800 and 1500rpm and at its maximum nominal speed of 1500rpms it is rated to move 56.3CFM with a lowly 1.57mm H20 of static pressure. As mentioned before, this fan is the same one as the Xigmatek fan and as such should be relatively quiet, of course time and testing will tell if OCZ has tweaked the specifications ADDA used. Yet, one thing is for certain: it is a tight fan which displays very little slop and creates only a moderate amount of vibrations when running full speed.

One interesting thing about it though is the HYPRO bearing (as ADDA calls it) or the “Rifle bearing” as OCZ calls it, is a unique hybrid sleeve bearing design in which a normal sleeve bearing has been modified so there is a continuous groove (when looked at 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 a field to prevent friction between the bearing and fan hub, further increasing the life of the bearing. This special bearing design coupled with those rubber anti-vibration mounting plugs should for all intents and purposes stop any damaging vibrations from reaching the CPU and motherboard.

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Another interesting thing about this fan is it uses the newer 4 pin PWM header. This means you can control it either by voltage or PWM. This is great if your motherboard supports it and if it doesn’t, and uses the older 3 pin header style, you can simply let the extra pin out hang over the edge of the motherboard fan header without worry.

The only noticeable difference we found with this OCZ branded fan and the Xigmatek fan was the wires were not only nice and long, they were also fully sheathed. To us this is a perfect example of the difference between a product produced by a relative newcomer and one which has been in the business of customer service for a long time. This may not seem like a big deal but this little tweak does make for a both a cleaner/neater install but also helps keep air flow restrictions to a minimum. To us this attention to detail goes along way to justifying the nominal increase in price the Vendetta 2 has over the reference Xigmatek S1283.

Rather than rely on MTBF numbers, an easier and better way to get a “feel” for what the manufacturer thinks is the real length of time a product should last is to simply look at the length of warranty provided. The length of warranty has been calculated to be long enough so which customers feel secure in purchasing it BUT still short enough it will be “out of warranty” when most fail. Taken for what it's worth, the Vendetta 2 comes with a 2 year warranty (which is 1 yr longer than the Xigmatek S1283). In all honesty, this is very disappointing as OCZ is known as a customer oriented company with great warranty service and for them to only have this level of confidence in their product is not what you would classify as reassuring. OCZ really needs to step up and show us this new technology is reliable with a warranty which reflects their true confidence in it.

With all this being said, OCZ has once again proven experience does matter and which they know how to tweak a design to get the absolute most from it. The only nagging doubt we have about OCZ sticking with the reference fan is it may be fast and quiet but it is lacking in the static pressure department. Hopefully, the OCZ engineers who designed the enhanced heatsink (and those interesting bumps on the fins) were able to take this into account and make a decent value oriented fan into a real winner!
 
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AkG

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Installation

Installation


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Because this is for all intents and purposes a heavily tweaked version of the Xigmatek S1283, the installation of the Vendetta 2 is very similar. As with the Xigmatek you need to remove the motherboard as the fan installation really does require a bit more “elbow room” than is usually available inside a typical computer case. It is a shame as a pushpin coolers' biggest advantage is its ease of use, but any speed advantages afforded by those relatively easy plungers is negated by the tedious fan installation.

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If you follow the included instructions, what OCZ will have you do is first mount the two 775 mounting brackets to the bottom of the heatsink. This is easy and straight forward and we once again we had no issue with this step. What they then have you do is apply a small amount of TIM on the CPU (which we are going to ignore and instead place a small amount of TIM on each of the two inner most metal posts) and then install the heatsink by pushing down on the four pushpins (alternate corners, two at a time). Once again this is no big deal but hopefully OCZ will update their installation process to reflect the work which BmR did in their Best Thermal Paste Application Method article.

It is the next step which takes this from an easy, user-friendly installation and makes it a tedious, hassle filled installation. For all you who have read the Xigmatek review you already know the next step we are referring too is the fan installation. In most cases this should be a cake walk and not a walk over a bed of nails.

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OCZ fully expects you to first install the four anti-vibration mounts to the fan (by threading them through the hole and then pulling it tight, they have little pyramid shaped parts which when pulled through keep the rubber mount tight to the fan) and then install the whole shebang onto the heatsink. This is when the “fun” begins; as this is one royal pain to do. It may sound easy on paper but in real world application it is a down right painful experience where you may even get cut by the heatsink while following OCZ’s instructions.

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It is for this reason we strongly recommend you either first remove the motherboard from the case and follow these “interesting” instructions or do what we did: install those little pieces of rubber onto the heatsink first, install the heatsink and then thread the four ends through the fan and use a pair pliers to seat the fan on them.

By doing it our way you can install the Vendetta 2 without first removing the motherboard and have it all done in under five minutes. Doing it their way, well lets just say it will be a lot longer and leave it at that.

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Before we continue a few of our forum members (e.g. Cptn_Vortex) requested shots of the base with TIM on it to show how much of the base is touching when it sits on top of a Intel socket 775 CPU. As you can see it only touches the center one fully and hits about ¾’s of the other two. In the above picture I purposely used WAY, WAY to much TIM so as to make it abundantly clear what was being covered. You can consider the thick outer edges to be the outside lines of the contact area.
 
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Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology



To ensure which 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.

Except where noted all comparison testing was done on an open bench with an ambient temperature of 20c (if it went +/- .1°C testing was stopped until the temperature was back inside testing range). Recorded temps were as reported via CoreTemp's "Temp Log". Average load temps were taken after 15 minutes of running Prime95 v25.4 “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 but due to the fact which the Adda fan is a PWM complaint fan all CPU fan speed control was not disabled, rather it was set to Auto.

Arctic Cooling MX-2 thermal paste was used for all coolers during these tests unless otherwise noted. Application of all thermal paste was NOT in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions as two small lines half the length of the processor (each approximately .03cc +/- .005cc of MX2) was spread on each of the two innermost metal strips (or as Olin Coles who discovered this ingenious method calls them “the two center mounting base partitions”). In addition to using this innovative method for all heatpipe direct touch coolers, and while not necessary, the TIM was allowed to cure for 48 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:
When viewing the results of the Q6600 and the e4600 please understand which in this instance the quad @ 1.45 volts actually is a cooler running chip than the relatively bad overclocker chip e4600 used. This is usually not the way it works but due to the variable nature of overclocking we happened to get a "good" quad and a bad "dual"; in which the quad is a good cool running chip when extra voltage is applied where as the dual heats up very quickly as extra voltage is applied. It would not surprise us if 1.4 volts is significantly shortening the life of the dual e4600 and which it will die a lot earlier than the quad q6600.

Please Note: To keep the motherboard chipsets from overheating a single 40mm Scythe Ultra Kaze was used, but they were 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 which I would seriously consider for a moderate-to-long term overclock.

For e4600’s I consider 1.4 volts to be the most which I would seriously consider for a moderate-to-long term overclock.

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 as this is also what I consider the safest, maximum long term overclocking temp. For the purposes of these tests I was willing to overlook temperatures as long as they averaged below 70c and did not peak over 75c. If 75c was displayed for more than 10seconds in CoreTemp all testing was stopped and which 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 speed and then Vcore (only if necessary).

Before testing for idle and max temperatures Orthos was run for 1 hour to make sure which 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, the RAM was set to run at or as close to as possible PC-6400 speeds by running various CPU : memory dividers. 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 & E4600
Motherboard: Gigabyte p35 DS4
Memory: 4GB G.Skill PC2-6400
Graphics card: XFX 7200gt 128mb
Hard Drives: 1x Western Digital Se16 320GB (single platter)
Power Supply: Seasonic S12 600W
 
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AkG

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E4600 Performance Results

E4600 Performance Results


Idle Temperatures

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e4600_idle32.jpg


e4600_idle35.jpg

As you can see the Vendetta 2 breezes through the dual core idle phase with some impressively low numbers. Of course, idle numbers are not overly important in the grand scheme of things as its average load numbers which usually determine how far you can push your overclock. Lets check them out next and see if these idle numbers translate into great load performance numbers!


Average Load Temperatures

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For all intents and purposes this unit runs a full degree cooler than the (now) second place Xigmatek at loads which have brought more expensive units to their knees. If this CPU cooling solution can keep up this level of performance during the quad core phase it will have bested its Xigmatek brethren to take the number one spot!
 
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Q6600 Performance Results

Q6600 Temperature Testing


Idle Temperatures

q6600_idle24.jpg


q6600_idle30.jpg


q6600_idle34.jpg

At lower speeds the faster moving, higher static pressure fan found on the Big Typhoon keeps the Vendetta 2 from the number one spot; but when the heat load rises the OCZ's improved cooling characteristics start to shine and the Vendetta really starts to bring it’s A game.


Average Load Temperatures

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Wow. This cooler posts even more impressive results than it did during the Dual core phase and increases the enhanced performance from 1°C to 1.1°C over its reference design Xigmatek. This to us proves that the dual results were not just a “fluke” and this cooler really is better than the Xigmatek it is based on; more importantly we now have a new top cooler which sets the performance bar awfully high. If I was OCZ's competition I would be awfully worried!
 
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