Articles: Cooling

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Cooler manufacturers are in a panic, now that CPU developers have finally put a stress on such a characteristic of their products as heat dissipation. Pure performance is not the main argument in favor or against a particular CPU model anymore. It is the ratio of heat dissipation to performance that’s important. As a result, the next generation of CPUs from AMD and Intel won’t need as sophisticated cooling solutions as are employed in today’s top-end computers and a number of companies on the cooler market are going to lose some clients. It’s not quite clear what they will do next considering the changing market realities. Perhaps they will switch to cooling graphics cards, especially since it is the graphics card that seems to be ready to become the hottest component of the computer of the future.

But today we don’t want to talk about what will be as much as about what has already come to be. Not so long ago AMD transferred its Athlon 64 CPU series to the new Socket AM2 platform which, strangely enough, differs from the earlier one in having higher limits of power consumption and heat dissipation. Meanwhile, Intel is already touting the new revision of its 65nm core for processors with the NetBurst architecture which has improved electric and thermal characteristics (and yet another, even more economical, revision is coming up soon). There’s also little time left till the release of Intel’s new processor codenamed Conroe which will probably become one of the most economical CPUs of the last half-decade.

So, it looks like Intel is ahead of its competitor in optimizing the thermal and electric parameters of its products, although AMD also have plans to improve its CPU architecture accordingly. As we saw in our tests of the new Socket AM2 processors (for details see our article called Socket AM2 Platform: DDR2 SDRAM Support from AMD), the senior model Athlon 64 FX-62 has the highest heat dissipation of all present-day CPUs from both AMD and Intel. And unlike the Pentium XE series, this processor will remain on the market for some time because AMD cannot yet replace it with a more economical model that would have the same performance. So, the Athlon 64 FX-62, and other top-end processors for the Socket AM2 platform, may be the last object of interest for companies that offer advanced cooling solutions like monstrous coolers on heat pipes, liquid cooling systems or even phase-change coolers.

So, those manufacturers who are the quickest to adapt their solutions to Socket AM2 have the biggest chance to win. The new platform from AMD uses a new cooler fastening mechanism. There are now not two but four screw-holes around the socket, so cooler developers have to adjust their products accordingly. Some of the old cooling solutions don’t need any adaptation, though. It is those systems that used to be fastened on Socket 939 mainboards not with screws but with mechanisms that hitched to the standard retention frame. The position of the fastening tabs on Socket 939 and Socket AM2 is identical, so an update may not be necessary at all.

One such cooling system will be discussed in this review. It is Stingray STG-100 from Vantec. Although this system was released over a year ago, its smartly designed retention mechanism is fully compatible not only with LGA775 and Socket 939 platforms, but also with Socket AM2.

We are curious to see how this rather aged solution is going to do in new systems with AMD processors, especially since the Athlon 64 FX-62 is the hottest processor for today. Mainboard for this processor are based on the Nvidia nForce 590 SLI, which is currently the hottest of chipsets. These two factors just call for a test of a liquid-cooling system. So, you are reading a report of our using a Vantec Stingray STG-100 in a Socket AM2 system with an Athlon 64 FX-62 processor.

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