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Xigmatek HDT-S1283 CPU Cooler Review

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AkG

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Xigmatek HDT-S1283 CPU Cooler Review




Manufacture Page: XIGMATEK
Product ID: HDT-S1283
Price: Click Here to Compare Prices
Warranty: 1 year (I THINK!)


It seems it was just yesterday that the last paradigm shift happened with CPU cooling solutions. Before heatpipes were on the scene the only way manufacturers could increase the thermal efficiency (and thus their thermal load potential) was by making the big hunk of aluminum or copper which was their heatsink.... BIGGER! Then heatpipes came along and they were made a household name by AMD using them in their higher end “stock CPU coolers”. Well as with all things, life is about change and today is seems were on the cusp of another paradigm shift. This one is not as blatant as the last one as it is more of a refinement on already known technology but its practical applications are literally staggering.

In a nut shell, a heatpipe is nothing more than a sealed tube that is filled with a fluid that easily vaporizes, the heated vapor rises and is then cooled further up the pipe where it condenses and flows back down in order to remove even more heat. In its infancy, heatpipe technology’s cooling potential was not fully understood, so to hedge their bets (so to speak) manufactures went with the older, yet more inefficient method of having a copper base suck the heat from the CPU and then have the heatpipes remove said heat from the copper base. This was eons better than what was available at the time but it still had loads of room for improvement. This is where our next paradigm shift comes into play.

Instead of having the heatpipes sandwiched between layers of metal (or at the very least having a layer of solid metal on the bottom of said CPU cooler) Heat-pipe Direct Touch technology (or H.D.T as Xigmatek calls it) removes this inefficient metal layer and has the heatpipes themselves directly in contact with the CPU’s integrated heat spreader. In order to pull this off, the normally round heatpipes are flattened on the bottom so as to present as wide a footprint as possible. This is cutting edge technology and has yet to hit the mainstream and is really only being offered by a few maverick companies.

Today we will be looking at a CPU cooling solution from one of these maverick companies. The Xigmatek HDT-S1283 is a CPU cooling solution that incorporates H.D.T and is readily available from many retailer and e-tailers throughout the country where it goes for a very reasonable $30 - $35. If you have never heard of the Xigmatek, that is understandable as they have only been in business since 2005! However young they may be, their corporate goal of I.C.E or Impressive, Creative & Essential does nicely sum up why they are starting to make quite the name for themselves in such a short period of time. After all, the company may be young but the as with most things in life it is the young who really change the world. While comparing Xigmatek to Alexander Graham Bell, Westinghouse, Edison, Pascal and other young geniuses who are now famous for changing the ways we go about our lives is questionable; maybe, just maybe it will be fitting to include Xigmatek in such esteemed peerage. Of course only time and lots of testing will tell.

While Xigmatek maybe a somewhat unknown factor to many people, and while the HDT-S1283 may have a very forgettable (and some may say down right confusing) name, this cooler is gaining quite the name for itself; and that name is King of the Coolers. Is this reputation deserved, and will it help cement Xigmatek as a leader in the cooling industry or is just marketing hyperbole? We don’t know but we intend to find out.


 
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Specifications

Specifications



 
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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories



The box that the Xigmatek came in is certainly not the most robust box we have seen, and while it is not the worst, it is down there. This is not due to an ugly color scheme or anything like along those lines; it has to do with the fact that the box material is an extremely lightweight cardboard. In point of fact, calling it cardboard may give the wrong connotations as it is not that thick, it is more like a very heavy card stock used for posters and whatnot. This means that there is very little protection afforded the somewhat fragile cooler.


As you can see this box has a nice and larger plastic view port / window and in most cases we don’t like to see this as it reduces the integrity of the box, and more importantly reduces the protective abilities of the box. However this is not most cases and in this particular instance it doesn’t make protecting the box's content any harder as the plastic is probably just as strong as the cardboard surrounding it. On the positive side, this window allows you a very good glimpse of what is inside and in the retail end of the market a picture may be worth a thousand words but an actual glimpse of the product is worth a thousand units sold!


Honestly, while the outside protective layers leave a lot to be desired, the internal packaging scheme is a different matter all together. When you do open the box your first glimpse of the Xigmatek is nothing but protective foam. Just as with more expensive units we have reviewed in the past, Xigmatek has taken the overkill route and gone for a protective scheme that is both light-weight and yet extremely protective of its contents. This foam will take a heck of a lot of trauma before allowing any of it to be passed on to the cooler. The only downside to this scheme is the front of the fan is not protected; however, it is safe to say that most people would rather lose a fan rather than have the actual unit damaged as fans are cheap and easy to replace. This certainly erased any negative first impressions we were forming of the HDT-S1283 and in fact was down right impressive given the low cost of this unit. At least now we know why we can see why the exterior packagin was a bit flimsy.


The accessories that come with the Xigmatek were all of very good quality. This was actually a little bit surprising as most companies cut corners with the accessories so as to help keep the cost of the unit low. This really does show that Xigmatek cares about its reputation (and more importantly about is customers), and wants to produce the best cooler possible at the lowest price possible. This is a truly laudable goal and definitely leaves us with a good first impression. The full list of accessories was mounting equipment for both AMD 939/AM2 and Intel 775 systems (though in the later case it is the pushpin style mounting system), a ketchup style packet of TIM, Molex power adapter, instruction pamphlet, anti-vibration mounting brackets and even a very nice wind spoiler that helps direct some of the exhaust air down and over the motherboard. This last item is very intriguing to see since if it works as advertised, it will eliminate one of the biggest problems associated with tower coolers: reduced air movement over the motherboard. A lot of modern, high end motherboard use passive heatsinks that capture the exhaust air from the stock Intel/ AMD downdraft cooler and use this to keep the various chipset and Mosfets, etc from overheating.

In the end we were expecting to see a lower level of quality than most coolers as the HDT-S1283 is a value oriented product, and most manufacturers use “value oriented” to mean cheap. While the external packaging did live up to (or down to depending on your point of view) our lowered expectations, the quality of the internal protection scheme and the cooler’s accessories really were impressive; and this would have so even if this was a $75 limited edition cooler. Considering the fact that this cooler is less than half of this we were bloody well impressed to say the least. Overall, we walked away with very optimistic first impression of this cooler; and more importantly, we started to have a sneaking suspicion that if any company could make a giant killer cooler at such an attractive price it would be Xigmatek.
 
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AkG

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Heatsink Construction & Design

Heatsink Construction & Design



On first impression this looks like your average run of the mill 3 heatpipe tower style cooler which everyone and their dog makes nowadays. As with most others the three pipes line up in a row and start at the top right corner, go down the base, across the base and then back up to the top left side. Also, just like other coolers we have seen in the past, two heatpipes go one way (left to right) and the odd man out so to speak goes the opposite way (right to left); or at least this is the way a normal 3 heatpipe tower cooler goes. With this one things seem normal until those heatpipes hit the base since they go through the base but with this bad boy they are the base of the unit. While calling it the base of the unit is a little bit over melodramatic and technically incorrect the flattened heatpipes do make up a good portion of said base. In between the heatpipes you have small aluminum strips that keep the heatpipes straight and give the base some much needed strength. An easier way to imagine this setup is to imagine a normal base and then cut three deep gouges into it and fill these new valleys with heatpipes.


The beauty of this design is in the fact that heatpipes transfer thermal energy from their “hot” end (or in this case middle) to the cool end(s) via boiling a liquid contained inside them which then condense back to a liquid when it cools at the “cool end(s)”. By placing the all copper heatpipes directly over the CPU there is no need to first heat a copper (or aluminum) base which in turn would heat the heatpipes. This dramatically decreases the thermal resistance the Xigmatek cooler has.

A really easy way to imagine how this setup improves cooling is to imagine a hot stove. Now on that stove place a big aluminum frying pan, and then place a pot of water into that pan to boil the water. Now, imagine that hot burner but this time put your pot of water directly on it instead of on the frying pan. Needless to say your water will boil an awful lot quicker in scenario 2 than 1 and the same holds true for CPU cooling solutions where your “water” is the low boiling fluid inside the heatpipes.


Besides its obviously different design there was another thing about the base which stands out and this was the base itself is not what you call polished to a mirror shine. It is perfectly flat (if you take the fact that it is not a homogenous surface out of the equation) but there are a lot of major and minor tooling marks present. When compared to a comparably priced standard base this level of finishing is a below average but as this is a totally new and different design you can’t really call it “below average” as it is the only one in its class we have tested to date.


Besides this amazingly innovative base the unit really is a normal tower cooler. It weighs 600 grams just like many moderate size tower coolers and is 120mm wide, 159mm high with a svelte 50mm deep. It even has an average amount of aluminum fins (54 to be precise) that give a nice large surface area to distribute the heat from the heatpipes. As with many tower coolers these fins are very thin and tightly packed. This of course allows Xigmatek to cram more cooling surface area into a relatively small package, but of course this increases the static pressure of the cooler and this in turn demands a high performance fan be used. This is par for the course as they say and hopefully Xigmatek didn’t make a rookie mistake to stick a cheesy fan on this unit.
 
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Heatsink Construction & Design pg.2

Heatsink Construction & Design cont.



Now not everything is average about this cooler, as instead of the more standard 6mm heatpipes Xigmatek has opted for the relatively massive 8mm pipes. These three 8mm pipes can handle a lot higher thermal load than three 6mm heatpipes can and it was very nice to see these high quality all copper monsters.


One thing that sticks out is the fact that Xigmatek did make one rookie mistake with this cooler, and this mistake has to do with the face of the HDT-S1283. Over the past few years manufacturers have proven time and time again that a multifaceted “face” will decrease static pressure and encourage more air to go through, rather than around, the aluminum fins (the face of the cooler is the side of the cooler that the fan is placed against). Unfortunately, Xigmatek did not do this; instead of this tried, tested and true approach Xigmatek just made the face of the cooler concave. Don’t get us wrong, this is an OK way of doing things as more air will want to go to the center of the cooler rather than go around the front. However, it is an outdated approach, and since the back face (or other side of the cooler) has numerous ridges built into it, it is obvious that Xigmatek did this on purpose.


On the positive side, that back face has all those ridges for a good reason; and this reason is to allow the "spoiler" to be attached to the cooler without the need for screws or even tools. To install the spoiler, all you have to do is push it in between two fins but while this sounds like a flimsy way of mounting it, it is a surprisingly secure. If you try to force the issue, this spoiler will laugh at you and not work; but if you take your time and line things up it will slide in as easy as you please.


As mentioned earlier in this review, this particular cooler uses the generic push pin style mounting system. There are many pros and many cons to using this system but in the end the pros all come down to ease of installation and low production costs (as the manufacturer does not need to include a backplate or other expensive metal based materials). The cons on the other hand can be summed up by “durability” and “inconsistency”.

Plastic pushpins are not what you call a great long term installation method when you are dealing with a cooler which is above their maximum specified weights. When Intel engineers designed this system, they specified 550 grams as the nominal maximum weight it would be able to support. Unfortunately, even at 550 grams these little pushpins tend to flex a lot (as any malleable plastic material will) which means that you will get inconsistent mounting pressure on the CPU as time goes on. Even though we say this, you should remember that uneven pressure shouldn’t break your chip or anything drastic like that (far from it in fact) but it does mean that part of the CPU will not have great contact with its CPU cooling solution. This in turn will lead to increased heat as the cooler will be unable to remove the entire thermal load away from the CPU. With lower TDP (Thermal Design Power) chips like our e4600, this should not be an issue as this particular cooler is designed to be ultra efficient, however it will be interesting to see how it fares on the hotter q6600.

On the positive side, these pushpins should make for a very easy installation that shouldn’t require you to remove your motherboard during installation. As with all things in life it is all about trade offs, and we will see after the installation and testing phase if Xigmatek got it right.


Overall this heatsink is very, very good and while it may be outdated in some areas that exposed base should more than make up for any shortcomings. While this tweak seems like a “why didn’t I thing of that!” kind of improvement it is reality an amazing piece of engineering, which should have a major positive impact on cooling performance. It should be noted that while Xigmatek may be one of the first to capitalize on this engineering feat, it was in fact another company called Zaward which came up with it, though only in a 92mm fan size. We don’t want to steal Xigmateks thunder as they were smart enough to have seen a winner before most others, lease that technology and upsize said technology so that a 120mm fan could be mounted. Our hats are off to you Xigmatek as this was one brilliant move.
 
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AkG

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Fan Design

FAN DESIGN



The fan that comes with this CPU cooling solution is a 7 bladed 120x120x25mm rifle bearing / Hypro bearing fan made by Adda; to be more specific this is the AD1212DX-A7BGL 120 mm low noise fan. This PWM capable fan is designed to run between 800 and 1500rpm. At its maximum nominal speed of 1500rpms it rated to move 56.3CFM with a moderate 1.57mm H20 of static pressure. As mentioned before this fan is made by Adda and as such should be relatively quiet, of course time and testing will tell on this but one thing is for certain it is a tight fan that 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 Xigmatek calls it, is a unique hybrid sleeve bearing design in which a normal sleeve bearing has been modified so that there is a continuous groove (that 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 magnetic a field to prevent friction between the bearing and fan hub, further increasing the life of the bearing.


Another interesting thing about this fan is that fact that it uses the newer 4 pin PWM header. This means that 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 big annoyance we had with this fan was while the wires were nice and long, they were not sheathed. This does take away from an otherwise clean sharp looks of the unit. Hopefully future models will be sleeved as it is conspicuous by its absence. Honestly though, sleeving a short wire like this is not that difficult so if one is so inclined it would not be that hard or expensive to sleeve it.

Rather that 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 that customers feel secure in purchasing it BUT still short enough that it will be “out of warranty” when most fail. Taken for what it's worth, the HDT-S1283 comes with a 1 year warranty.

Overall this is a very nice fan that is everything you would want in a value oriented CPU cooling solution; as it was quiet, efficient and gets the job done without adding to the overall cost of the unit. However, there is one area in which this fan is lacking, and this was its low static pressure. This tower cooler has closely stacked fins and this shortcoming may have major negative effects on the HDT-S1283’s overall performance.
 
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AkG

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Installation

Installation


In theory, the pushpin installation should allow you the luxury of not first removing your motherboard; however, in practice it probably will be a lot less frustrating if you do remove it first. This is not due to the heatsink installation as those pushpin makes mounting it a snap, what was a real tedious process was mounting the fan. In most cases mounting the fan should be the easy part of the installation and not the hard part.


If you follow the included instructions, what Xigmatek 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 have no issue with this step. What they then have you do in place a small amount of TIM on the CPU and then install the heatsink by pushing down on the four pushpins (alternate corners, two at a time); once again no big deal.

However, you are then expected to install those four anti-vibration mounts to the fan (by threading them through the hole and then pulling it tight, they have little pyramid shaped parts that when pulled through keep the rubber mount tight to the fan) and then install the whole shebang onto the heatsink. This is where the wheels fall off and the whole thing becomes a bit of a train wreck.


I am sure in the engineers' minds who wrote these instructions (and we are sure that only an engineer could come up with such a convoluted process) this makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, mounting those little suckers means sticking them between two fins and then pushing them into place. Yes, these mounts are split in the middle and you are expected to thread all four of them through the fins before they can be full seated, this is probably possible except for the fact that your motherboard is still in your case and you don’t have a heck of a lot of room to work with. So, unless you are a professional contortionist this will be a major pain in the butt.


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, then install the heatsink and then thread the four ends through the fan and using a pair pliers seat the fan on them.

by doing it our way you can easily install the Xigmatek HDT-S1283 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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Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology



To ensure that the results from one review to another are not only reproducible but actually pertinent to this review, the Testing Methodology will be the same throughout all reviews used. If something does change we will be sure to make a special note of it and explain why this change was done and more importantly why it had to be changed or altered.

Except where noted all comparison testing was done on an open bench with an ambient temperature of 20c. Recorded temps were as reported via CoreTemp's "Temp Log". Average load temps were taken after 15 minutes of running Prime95 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 that 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 according to the manufacturer’s instructions and while not necessary it 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 that 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 that 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 that it will die a lot earlier than the quad q6600.

Please Note: (NEW) 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 that I would seriously consider for a moderate-to-long term overclock.

For e4600’s I consider 1.4 volts to be the most that 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 that test run was considered a fail.

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

Overclocking was accomplished by increasing FSB speed and then Vcore (only if necessary).

Before testing for idle and max temperatures Orthos was run for 1 hour to make sure that it was stable at a given overclock and voltage. If both finished with no errors SuperPi set to 32m was run twice. After the stability testing was accomplished the given system was allowed to sit idle for 30minutes before starting the official tests. IF both of the above stated guidelines were not broken then testing continued with an increased overclock. These steps were then repeated until 1 or both of the general guidelines were broken.

As they have no bearing on these tests the RAM’s voltage and timings are not recorded, 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






These are very decent results, and when you take into consideration how frickin’ cheap this cooler is in comparison to the other coolers it goes from merely good to down right amazing!


Average Load Temperatures







At stock speeds this CPU cooling solution turns in some very good results, but it really starts to shine as the heat loads increase. Less than one degree Celsius separates this from the Noctua we recently reviewed, and quiet honestly this is so close as to be within our error ratio. While we strive to keep things as similar as possible, we don’t have a million dollar environmental room to use so slight variances in humidity and even air pressure could cause this difference. In the end you might as well say that a cooler that costs less than most is tied for first place in our charts. That is simply astounding and we are eager to see what this bad boy can to when the heat really is turned up!
 
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Q6600 Performance Results

Q6600 Temperature Testing



Idle Temperatures

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Xigmatek_S1283/q6600_idle24.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Xigmatek_S1283/q6600_idle30.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Xigmatek_S1283/q6600_idle34.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

As we saw with the dual core results, as the thermal loads go up so does the efficiency of this unit. This is great to see as it is the mark of a great cooler that can handle both low thermal loads and high thermal loads with aplomb.


Average Load Temperatures

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Xigmatek_S1283/q6600_load24.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Xigmatek_S1283/q6600_load30.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Air_Cooling/Xigmatek_S1283/q6600_load34.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

Wow, in the end and after all the dust settled this cooler is basically just as good as a some of the best coolers we have tested in the past. This alone is very impressive, but when you realize that this Xigmatek unit costs less than half of some of the competition it gets down right amazing.
 
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