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Titan Fenrir and Skalli CPU Coolers Review

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AkG

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Titan Skalli LGA 1366 Installation

Titan Skalli LGA 1366 Installation



As with any push-pin based mounting setup, installing the Skalli does not require you to first remove your motherboard. However, you may have to prep the Skalli a bit more than usual depending on your system’s CPU socket type. The Skalli comes prepped and ready to be installed on either 1156 or 1366 systems but if you have an older 775 you will first have to remove the two brackets from the base of the unit and install the second set which is designed to fit said 775 systems.

Titan_Skalli_pushpini5_sm.jpg
Titan_Skalli_pushpini7_sm.jpg

The only minor gripe we have with these particular push-pins is that they slide back and forth from 1156 to 1366 freely which can add an extra level of nuisance to the installation. We really wish Titan had some sort of retention mechanism to keep them in either 1156 or 1366 position as at least one (usually the last one to be secured) did have an annoying tendency to be in the wrong position, irregardless of which corner we secured last.

Titan_Skalli_install_sm.jpg

Other than this minor gripe it is an easy and quick install which should go without any major issues. Simply prep the CPU, add TIM, position the Skalli in place and press down on all four corners.

Titan_Skalli_install2_sm.jpg
Titan_Skalli_install5_sm.jpg

Also on the positive side you do not have to uninstall the fan before mounting this cooler to your motherboard since this really is a case where the fan is not a hindrance to installation. With that being said, you may have to remove the fan if you are using the smaller 775 arms as they are closer to the cooler. If this is the case two wire brackets are all that hold the fan to the fin array and are very easy to “open” which allows the fan to come free.

Titan_Skalli_install3_sm.jpg
Titan_Skalli_install4_sm.jpg

Since this is a narrow cooler with a fairly small footprint we highly doubt any properly laid out motherboard will have an issues with it. It really is about as easy and worry free as you can get. If this is the case, you may have to change the orientation of this cooler, but we truly doubt there is a motherboard out there (in either 775, 1156 or 1366) onto which you will not be able to mount this cooler in some direction.
 
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AkG

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Skalli AMD Installation

Titan Skalli AMD Installation


Titan_Skalli_AMD_install_sm.jpg

On the AMD side of things, things are even easier as this unit takes advantage of the standard AMD backplate setup and thus is very easy to install; albeit there is an extra step that has to be done before you can install the Skalli. As we mentioned earlier in this review that the Skalli comes with the Intel 1156 / 1366 arms already pre-installed. To install it on any AMD system you first have to unscrew two small screws (one per side) and yank these retention arms off the base of the cooler. Once this is done, you can then install the Skalli onto your AMD system.

Titan_Skalli_AMD_install3_sm.jpg
Titan_Skalli_AMD_install5_sm.jpg

The accessory bag there should contain an extra screw and small clear piece of tubing even though our sample did not have and the installation instructions clearly state it should have been there. This screw can be installed into the top of the base to add extra robustness to the setup and keep the unit from moving out of place. Honestly though, the included AMD retention arm does provide enough downward force that it really is not needed.

Titan_Skalli_AMD_install2_sm.jpg

Considering the size of the Skalli, here should be very few if any motherboards it is not compatible with and we highly doubt that the fin array (or any part of the Skalli for that matter) will touch or interfere with the passive heatsinks found on modern motherboards. However, if by some chance you do have a motherboard that will not accept this cooler in the North / South orientation, then you may not be able to install it at all due to the fact that it can’t be placed in the more typical East / West direction. Actually, this N/S orientation can be considered a negative as well since we believe all manufacturers should take the time to develop a proper AMD installation setup which allows for a more typical East / West orientation. Treating AMD customers as second class citizens is a pet peeve of ours, but to be fair where this is a budget friendly cooler we are not going to hold this against it….too much.

Titan_Skalli_AMD_install4_sm.jpg

The only potential issue we ran into with this cooler and AMD systems is with regards to its proximity to the memory slots. As you can see there is plenty of room between our ram and the fin array, but if you are using ram with esoteric heat spreaders you may run into compatibility issues and end up using different slots.
 
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AkG

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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 center 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 heatsink 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:

tech_station_sm.jpg

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 the top two “budget oriented” coolers and the top two performance orientated coolers, helping round out the charts we will also be including a 5th cooler which we feel is more well rounded with dual fan capabilities. For the time being this 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.

We will also include the Intel OEM stock cooler results. 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 6 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 6 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


26_stock.jpg


At stock heat loads (even on this hot running 920) the Fenrir comes out swinging and posts some down right great temperatures. To be honest we were expecting this as past experience has shown that this is where HDT coolers are at their best. It will be interesting to see how it does when the heat loads really start to climb.

Unlike the expected posting of the Fenrir, the Skalli with its very decent numbers DID surprise us. We really did not think two heatpipes would be able to hold their own against the best of the best. Heck, not only did it hold its own but it actually BEAT (by a narrow margin) the venerable OCZ Vendetta 2. What makes this even more impressive is the fact that the Vendetta 2 is using its aftermarket “crossbow” backplate setup and the Skalli is “only” using a push-pin one. This easily could account for another degree or more of performance advantage to the Vendetta 2.


3.42GHz


34_stock.jpg


While the gap between the Fenrir and the Cooler Master Hyper 212+ is about the same as when running at a lower CPU speed, the Hyper 212+ is still is not even close to matching Titan's flagship. The Titan Fenrir is not showing any signs of slowing and could be real competition for the Prolimatech once we get to the aftermarket fan results. It is too bad that Prolimatech does not include a fan with their coolers and as such we will have to wait a little while before it enters the fray.

On the Skalli side of things its dual heatpipes, less than optimal mounting setup and smaller fan are starting to show the strain. It is still neck and neck with the Vendetta 2, but their positions have been swapped. As we said earlier, it is a shame that this cooler does not come with a backplate mounting setup as the difference between the two is close enough that this very well could be the reason for the shift in positions.


3.8GHz


38_stock.jpg


When we cranked the heat WAY up, the Fenrir’s lead over the competition actually increased. The reason for this sudden increase is that it appears that we have actually started to surpass the thermal load limits of the Cooler Master Hyper 212+, where as the larger (and much more efficient) 8mm heatpipes of the Fenrir still have efficiency to burn. At high heat loads like this, any defect (no matter how small) in fin array or base design will start showing and to be honest these Fenrir numbers are very impressive.

The Titan Skalli is still going strong and is still giving the Vendetta 2 a run for its money. It may be at the bottom of these new charts but this is only because we have removed all the flotsam and jetsam from them. Being able to not only compete against the best of the best in its price range but actually give them a right and proper horse race really does show how superbly designed this small and low noise cooler has been. It really is a crying shame that we cannot mount a standard 120mm fan to this cooler as with a proper high performance fan.
 
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AkG

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High Speed Fan Performance Results

High Speed Fan Performance Results



2.6GHz


26_scytheg.jpg


As we thought it would, the top of this chart belongs to the Fenrir. This is to be expected as the standard base coolers really only start to shine at high heat loads. With that being said the Fenrir is firmly in first place and while the difference between it and its closest competitor the Cooler Master Hyper 212+ is closer than it was during stock fan testing, that is not the same as saying the Hyper 212+ is in the same league as the Fenrir.

These charts should also make it apparent that the stock fan on the Fenrir moves a hell of a lot of air and allows it to post some impressive numbers.

3.42GHz


34_scytheg.jpg


Now that the heat has been turned up, most of the HDT coolers have decided to call it a night and have fallen to the back of the charts. To put it another way: the real stars of the charts have come out to play and yet the Fenrir is still right up trading blows with the best of the best.


3.8GHz


38_scytheg.jpg


When it comes to High Performance fans and insane heat loads the Fenrir is very hard to beat. Heck, with such a small difference between it and the Prolimatech it’s just to close to call. However, we can see more and more that the high RPM fan on the Fenrir accounts for much of its lead and equalized fan results show the difference.
 
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AkG

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Mid-Speed Fan Performance Results

Mid-Speed Fan Performance Results


Please Note: The low speed adapter supplied with the Fenrir actually resulted in a slightly slower fan than the Noctua NF-P12. The difference was enough that its numbers are included for informational purposes.

2.6GHz


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Titan/26_nf1300.jpg" border="0" alt="" />​

Once again the HDT based coolers are in their element at this heat load. It is reasons like this that they simply represent very high value in terms of coolers available today. Also as expected, the Fenrir is walking all over the competition while the Cooler Master Hyper has dropped back a position or two as it only seems to shine when paired with a high speed fan. Considering the difference in speed between the stock chromed fan with the adaptor and the Noctua NF-P12, we are coming to be very impressed with that stock fan.


3.42GHz


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Titan/34_nf1300.jpg" border="0" alt="" />​

Also as expected, all the HDT coolers except the mighty Fenrir were unable to keep up their commanding lead and have been thoroughly trounced by the Prolimatech. Honestly, even at this temperature and fan speed these two coolers are a dead heat, with the Prolimatech still in the lead by a nose.


3.8GHz


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Titan/38_nf1300.jpg" border="0" alt="" />​

At this temperature load the Fenrir finally shows some weakness and has fallen back enough off the lead for us to finally see that its not going to be the new king of air coolers. It still kicks major arse, but it is “only” second best as it has finally reached its thermal limit.
 
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AkG

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Low Speed Fan Performance Results

Low Speed Fan Performance Results


2.6GHz


26_nf900.jpg


Once again the HDT coolers are in the lead at stock speeds, BUT the big boys have certainly closed the gap and are showing why they are so good. Out of all the tests we have done, these three low speed tests are what separate the best from the merely good and once again the Fenrir is at the top of the charts. If you are not interested in overclocking but want an ultra quiet CPU cooling solution, the Fenrir really is the best choice out there right now.


3.42GHz


34_nf900.jpg


When you add in moderate overclocking into the low speed fan mix the Fenrir once again steps down from first place and succeeds the crown in favour of the larger and more robust Prolimatech.


3.8GHz


38_nf900.jpg


Unfortunately, and unlike the previous two tests results, the Fenrir really is far enough behind the Prolimatech Megahalem that it becomes a distant second. It is still a great cooler, but sadly does fail to follow through on its regicide plans and while it may have come close to matching Prolimatech’s monster, in the end it failed to deliver the coup de grace.
 
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Sound Level Testing

Sound Level Testing


While everyone "hears" noise differently, there is one easy way to remove all subjections and easily compare different fans: use a sound level meter. This way you can easily compare the various fans noise envelopes without us colouring the results and see what fans fit within your personal comfort level. Of course, we will endeavour to try and explain the various results (which are taken at a 30 inch distance) to help you our readers get an even better understanding of how loud a cooler's stock fan is, but even if you discount our personal opinions, the fact remains numbers don't lie. All fans are tested with both voltage regulation / PWM turned off.

noise.jpg


It may not even be in the same league as the loudest of the loud but there is no getting around the fact that the Fenrir’s stock fan makes quite a bit of noise. The only saving grace is the fan’s ability to adequately cool when rotating at much slower speeds and we have to remember that it is PWM. If it does get too loud for you all you need to do is use the included low noise adaptor and run it at 1300RPM. It really is up to you what noise envelope you want with this cooler but be aware that increased noise means increased cooling potential.

When it comes to the Skalli, all we can say is: impressive. This fan is a 1500RPM unit and is only 100mm in diameter yet it blows away every other fan we have tested except for the Noctua NF-P12 it is running at a mere 900rpm via its ULTRA Low Noise Adapter. It really is a marvel of engineering and we wish… REALLY wish that it had been 120mm as that would have made one awesome combination. As it is, our impression of the Skalli just went up a notch or three.
 
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AkG

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Value

Value


The term “Value” is such an amorphous term that it truly has different meanings for different people. For some a CPU cooler is only as good as it over-clocking potential, for others it is how quiet it does its job; for others still it’s how effective it is for its cost. We here at HWC try to provide as many answers as possible for the term “Value”. Hopefully by this point in the review people looking at OC potential or loudness levels will have a fairly good idea of what its Value is. For the “best bang for the buck” crowd we have included a chart below showing how much each 1°C less costs when compared to Intel’s FREE stock cooler. No consideration has been made for noise levels, “looks” or any other extraneous factors; this is just raw performance vs. monetary cost. For any cooler which performs worse than the Intel stock cooler a rating of “FAIL” will be given. For any cooler which has a “Value” of more than $10 per 1°C a rating of “FAIL” will be used in the graph but the chart will list its actual “Value”.

All prices are based on either their MSRP (if no e-tailer prices were available at review time) or the online price they sold for at the time of their review. If a CPU cooler does not include a fan the price of a Scythe S-Flex 1200RPM has been included ($12).

To make it as easy as possible for you to modify this ratio we have also included the various coolers temperature difference so if you do come across one of them on sale you can easily modify its “Value” rating. We here at HWC are in no way saying this is the definitive answer to “Value”, rather it should be considered another tool to help you make your final decision. After all something is only as “valuable” as what you consider it to be.


Please Note: This chart has be calculated based upon the differences between Intel stock cooler’s average load at its highest OC on a 920 @ 3.42GHz versus various after market coolers average load temperatures (in their stock configuration with MX-2 TIM) also on a 920 @ 3.42GHz.


cost_numbers.jpg


cost.jpg


There is no getting around the fact that the Titan Fenrir is one hell of a great value…if you can find it. Heck, it maybe priced like an expensive “budget orientated” cooler but it looks and performs like a much higher priced “performance” cooler. Is it the “best” value we have ever seen? No, it still is a $50+ cooler but its blend of value, good looks and performance are an awfully tempting combination. Honestly, if you are looking for an even better cooler than the Cooler Master Hyper 212+ yet can not justify the added expense of a Prolimatech, this is the product you want.

The Titan Skalli is also a very good choice in the value department but we feel that is slightly overpriced. If this cooler was in a lower price range its combination of cooling prowess, super low noise characteristics and interesting looks would be of much greater value. As it stands, it is a very good bang for your buck and if you are looking for a quiet air based cooling solution and are not planning on major overclocking, the Skalli makes a good case for itself.
 
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Conclusion: Titan Fenrir

Conclusion: Titan Fenrir


Honestly, it seems that no matter what we threw at it, the Fenrir just kept smiling and asking for more. Unlike many (if not most) HDT coolers we have looked at, Titan’s flagship model does not need a high speed fan to get simply stunning results. As with all air based coolers, it does do quite a bit better with higher performance fans, but that is just the nature of the beast and is not a issue in any way, shape or form. The fact of the matter is the more air which can be passed over the cooling fins the better the cooler is going to do. The crux of the matter is that most heatsinks need a lot of air to be effective at cooling an overclocked CPU whereas the Fenrir excels in every airflow situation. Honestly, it was only at anaemically low speeds (900rpm) with high over-clocks on a hot running Intel 920 CPU that this cooler was not the best of the best.

This really is the first Heatpipe Direct Touch cooler which not only performed well but actually gave the "best of the best of the best" a real run for their money. At every fan speed other than ultra low this cooler was right up there breathing down the Prolimatech Megahalems’ neck. The fact that any mid priced cooler can cause a high priced unit to look overpriced is simply stunning in our books. Indeed, as we saw in the Value section the Fenrir is a down right excellent deal. Its price point is such that if you only plan on mild overclocking you will get significantly better results than the previously best “budget” cooler: the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus. With numbers like it showed, the Fenrir makes it very easy to justify paying a small premium rather than going with an OCZ Vendetta 2, Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus or any cooler for that matter. At almost every temperature load this cooler simply dominates all comers.

Is Titan’s wunderkind perfect? No, it is awfully darn good at a broad range of thermal loads but to truly compete at the high end it needs to be tweaked and allowed to mount a second fan. The only other weakness the Fenrir has is the fact that its single fan does get loud when running at maximum speeds. For the majority of its performance envelope it is very mild mannered but at maximum speed it turns from a nice respectable Dr. Jekyll in to a loud, crude and fairly obnoxious Mr Hyde. Fortunately, it is quite evident that the Fenrir isn’t using this high RPM fan as a crutch to disguise poor thermal performance.

Because of its amazing versatility and great performance results at an extremely broad range of scenarios we are proud to present the Titan Fenrir with our highest accolade: the Damn Good Award. Meanwhile, for its great performance at a very reasonable price we also feel very justified in awarding this amazing heatsink the Damn Good Value award. With the exception of a customer looking for a dual fan cooling solution, you really can not go wrong choosing the Fenrir over other more readily available options.


Pros:

- GREAT performance results
- Good looks
- High performance fan which is very versatile (800 – 2150 rpm)
- Very adaptable to numerous situations and noise levels
- Very good price to performance ratio


Cons:

- Availability
- Capable of mounting only a single fan
- Fan may be versatile but does get loud at high RPM


dam_good.jpg
DGV.gif

 
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