This cooler fits ideally into Thermaltake Armor:
The heatsink is right against the exhaust fan – an ideal situation for a passive cooler. The airflow from the system case’s two 120mm fans is strong enough for the cooler to work normally without its own fan. If you want more efficiency, use an additional fan:
This seems to be the most efficient scheme: the air from the intake fan goes through the heatsink and is immediately exhausted. This solution will hardly compete with the Big Typhoon, but the developers don’t seem to have set such a competition as their goal.
I’ll give you numbers for two modes: with and without the additional fan.
The performance of this cooler is impressive: only 72°C in the passive mode! With the installed fan this cooler performs just like the Big Typhoon (this is quite natural since both coolers are similar in design but differ a little in the heat dissipation area).
Of course, the ability of this cooler to work without a fan is its trump, and it just doesn’t have alternatives in its price category. However, the advantages of the Sonic Tower may be negated unless you have a high-quality system case with good ventilation in the CPU area.
I wouldn’t regard this cooler as a real alternative to the Big Typhoon. With or without the additional fan, the chipset’s heatsink, the MOSFETs of the CPU voltage regulator and the memory modules remain without air cooling. I didn’t notice these elements to become dangerously hot during my experiments, thanks to the excellent ventilation the system case provided, but I won’t vouch for other configurations.
It’s simple with the noise factor: there’s no noise at all in the passive mode, and with the additional fan the cooler was as loud as the Big Typhoon from which I had borrowed that fan. And I think it doesn’t make sense to use the Sonic Tower with a fan – you’d better purchase a Big Typhoon in this case that offers much better functionality.
So, Thermaltake successfully proves that passive cooling systems can be used on modern processors. But even if you’ve got a good system case, an air conditioner in your room would be desirable when you’re using this passive cooler with a top-end dual-core processor.
Our Verdict: Thermaltake Sonic Tower
Highs: Passive heatsink, good fasteners, rather low price, permits to install a fan
Lows: A number of installation-related problems due to the big dimensions of the heatsink
Conclusion: One of the best passive cooling systems available on the market
Average price - $30