by Sergey Lepilov
08/02/2010 | 02:20 PM
We are going to take a look at two new CPU coolers in this review: Alpenföhn Matterhorn and Deep Cool Gamer Storm. The heatsinks, fans, fastening mechanisms, and almost all of the accessories of these two models are virtually identical. They only differ in the packaging and two adapter cables that actually serve the same purpose. Thus, the Matterhorn and the Gamer Storm are in fact one and the same cooler selling under two different brands. So, we will see how effective it is and if there is any difference in performance between the two identical heatsinks.
The Alpenföhn Matterhorn comes in a medium-sized box with a small cutout in one edge and a picture of the cooler on the back:
A list of the product specs and compatible platforms can be found on one side of the box. The cooler is fixed inside with special inserts. A small box with accessories is at the bottom of the package.
The Deep Cool Gamer Storm comes in a flat box with a magnetic cover and two compartments inside.
The cooler’s specs are printed on the interior side of the cover in multiple languages. The heatsink, fan and a box with accessories are inserted into the pieces of foam rubber to protect them against any hazards during transportation.
Besides the fans, three back-plates, steel fasteners, four wire brackets for fans, thermal grease and a user manual are included with each heatsink. The only difference of the Gamer Storm version is in the 7 and 5V power adapters:
Both coolers are produced in China. They come at about $55 and have a warranty period of 3 years.
The tower-type heatsink of these coolers consists of aluminum fins, six copper 6mm heat pipes, and a copper base and has a small auxiliary heatsink above the base.
Save for the sole of the base, the heatsink and heat pipes are all nickel-plated, so the coolers look pretty enough.
Each cooler measures 138x99x158 millimeters. The heatsink is only 74 millimeters thick.
Alpenföhn and Deep Cool disagree in specifying the weight of these products. The former company says 1062 grams and the latter, 1189 grams. The heatsink feels heavy indeed. The Baram-2010 seems only half as heavy, for example.
The heatsink consists of 48 aluminum fins (one of which is for decoration only) press-fitted on the heat pipes at a distance of 2 millimeters from each other. The fins are 0.5 to 0.55 millimeters thick.
The heatsink seems to have two types of fins at first sight. However, they are actually identical, but wedge-shaped and alternating. As a result, the edges of the fins are shifted relative to each other, reducing the resistance to air flow and improving the cooler’s performance at low speeds of the fan(s). The heatsink is symmetrical. Its sides are covered in the middle part by the curved-in edges of the fins. These edges are kind of pressed into the heatsink, increasing the pressure inside and focusing the air flow on the heat pipes.
There is only one difference between the heatsinks from Alpenföhn and Deep Cool. It is the logo on the top fin.
We guess this fact cannot affect their performance, yet we will compare the two heatsinks anyway.
The six heat pipes are shifted relative to each other in the heatsink body:
The heat is distributed more uniformly in the fins as the result. Except for the top one, the fins are perforated in the center. There are four square holes in each fin and also four round openings with a diameter of 2.5-3 millimeters (these must have been used during the manufacturing process).
The copper base measures 40x50 millimeters and has a minimum thickness of 3 millimeters. It is ideally flat and perfectly finished:
The convex heat-spreader of our CPU left an irregular footprint on the cooler’s sole, just as expected.
Each cooler is equipped with a 9-blade Föhn120 Wing Boost fan. The original manufacturer of the fan is EKL AG (the DF1202512CL-007 model).
You can only tell the fans apart by the stickers. The sticker on the Gamer Storm offers but a minimum of information:
A distinguishing feature of the fan is its rubber frame. In fact, the impeller is secured on the four poles of the plastic ring, and a stiff rubber casing is press-fitted on it from above.
This is how the manufacturer solved the problem of suppressing vibrations from the fan to the heatsink. Judging by the fan specs, the Alpenföhn Matterhorn and Deep Cool Gamer Storm are targeted at users who appreciate silent computers. For example, the speed range of both fans is 500-1500 RPM at a noise level of 8 to 24.8 dBA (Alpenföhn) and 17.6 to 27.6 dBA (Deep Cool). The specified airflow differs somewhat: 63.6 and 66.3 CFM, respectively. Still, we have no doubts that this is one and the same fan model. The service life of its fluid dynamic bearing is 30 thousand hours. The peak power consumption is 1.56 watts. The impeller is 110 millimeters and the rotor is 40 millimeter in diameter. The cable is 420 millimeters long.
Four wire brackets are included with each cooler, so you can install a pair of fans on each heatsink. The brackets are inserted under the top fin of the heatsink.
Thus, the fans are somewhat below the top fin. It is easy to hook the brackets up as well as to undo them.
The Alpenföhn Matterhorn and Deep Cool Gamer Storm are compatible with all modern platforms. You use appropriate back-plates to install these coolers on LGA775/1156 and Socket AM2+/AM3 processors. And for the LGA1366 platform there are special threaded bushings that are screwed into the plastic nuts glued to the back side of the mainboard.
In every case you attach the steel fasteners with spring-loaded screws to the cooler’s base:
Then you just apply a thin layer of thermal grease, install the cooler on your CPU and fasten the screws tightly.
The distance from the bottom fin of the cooler to the sole of its base is 39 millimeters. When we installed the cooler on an LGA1366 processor, the distance to the surface of our ASUS P6T Deluxe mainboard was 45 millimeters, so these coolers are not going to conflict with any near-socket heatsinks.
The installation guide doesn’t tell anything about how to orient the cooler on the CPU and inside the system case. In our tests, we achieved the highest efficiency when we oriented the cooler with its heat pipes across the CPU’s heat-spreader and the airflow was directed towards the top panel of the system case.
We tested our Alpenföhn Matterhorn and Deep Cool Gamer Storm in this position.
We are going to test the cooling efficiency of our today’s testing participants in the following closed testbed:
Keeping in mind very high ambient temperature, processor overclocking was limited by the least efficient cooler of our today’s testing participants in its quiet mode. As a result, we managed to overclock our six-core processor (with protuberant heat-spreader) with the multiplier set at 25x and “Load-Line Calibration” enabled to 4.2 GHz. The nominal processor Vcore was increased to 1.34375 V in the mainboard BIOS:
Turbo Boost and Hyper-Threading technologies were disabled during our test session. The memory voltage was at 1.64 V and its frequency was 1.68 GHz (8-8-8-16_1T timings). All other parameters available in the mainboard BIOS and related to CPU or memory overclocking remained unchanged.
All tests were performed under Windows 7 Ultimate x64 operating system. We used the following software during our test session:
So, the complete screenshot during the test session looks as follows:
The CPU was loaded with two consecutive Linpack test runs with the settings as indicated above. The stabilization period for the CPU temperature between the two test cycles was about 8-10 minutes. We took the maximum temperature of the hottest CPU core for the results charts. Moreover, we will also provide a table with the temperature readings for all cores including their average values. The ambient temperature was checked next to the system case with an electronic thermometer with 0.1 °C precision that allows monitoring the temperature changes over the past 6 hours. The room temperature during our test session varied between the annoying 30.2-30.6 °C.
The noise level of each cooler was measured between 1:00 and 3:00 AM in a closed room about 20 m2 big using CENTER-321 electronic noise meter. The noise level for each cooler was tested outside the system case when the only noise sources in the lab were the cooler and its fan. The noise meter was installed on a tripod and was always at a 150 mm distance from the cooler fan rotor. The tested cooling systems were placed at the edge of the desk on a sheet of polyurethane foam. The lowest noise reading our noise meter device can register is 29.8 dBA and the subjectively comfortable noise level in these testing conditions was around 35 dBA (do not mix it up with low noise level). The fan(s) rotation speed was adjusted in the entire supported range using the new controller revision by changing the voltage with 0.5 V increment.
We are going to compare our newcomers against ThermoLab Baram-2010, because this is a cooler of the same type and structure and with the today’s best cooling efficiency. Besides the default fans, Alpenföhn Matterhorn and Deep Cool Gamer Storm coolers were also tested with two Thermalright TR-FDB fans at different rotation speeds.
Before we compare the coolers, let’s check out how the performance of the Deep Cool Gamer Storm (it turned to be a little bit better than the Alpenföhn Matterhorn) depends on the speed, number and type of the fan(s).
The speed of the cooler’s native fans (the red and green graphs) is selected by the manufacturer properly. This heatsink doesn’t need them to rotate at speeds higher than 1600 RPM. The maximum performance growth occurs in a speed range of 600 to 1200 RPM with one fan and 600 to 1000 RPM with two fans (one for intake and another for exhaust). By the way, the second fan helps lower the peak CPU temperature by 4-7°C throughout the entire speed range of the native fans. Thus, despite the optimizations of the heatsink in order to lower its resistance to air flow, the dependence of its performance on the speed of the fan(s) is still rather high.
We also tried the heatsink with alternative fans (Thermalright TR-FDB, the blue and violet graphs). As you can see from the diagram, replacing the native fans with the Thermalright ones lowers the peak CPU temperature by 4-5°C with one fan and by 3-6°C with two fans throughout the entire speed range. Developing a higher pressure, the Thermalright TR-FDB fans prove to be more effective than the native fans of the Deep Cool Gamer Storm and Alpenföhn Matterhorn. By the way, increasing the fan speed from 1600 to 2000 RPM lowers the peak CPU temperature by 2-3°C.
Now let’s compare the two coolers. You can view their results in in the following table and diagram:
So, we can see that the two identical heatsinks with identical fans and fastenings perform somewhat differently. The Alpenföhn Matterhorn is worse than the Deep Cool Gamer Storm by 2°C when cooled by one or two fans at 810 RPM. It is hard to explain this difference because the heatsinks are absolutely identical and were tested under the same conditions at the same room temperature. There must be some variation in performance between different samples of the same heatsink. Interestingly, the two heatsinks are equals at the maximum speed of their native fans.
The Alpenföhn Matterhorn and Deep Cool Gamer Storm also differ when we install Thermalright TR-FDB fans on them, up to 3°C in the quiet mode. The better of the two new products, Deep Cool Gamer Storm, is a mere 1°C behind the ThermoLab Baram-2010, which is a negligible difference. So, we guess we should compare these coolers once again in another test.
We tried to reach as high a CPU frequency as possible using our Deep Cool Gamer Storm (the better of the two twins) with two Thermalright TR-FDB fans in the quiet mode at 1010 RPM and at the max speed of 2020 RPM. The room temperature was 28.2°C during this test. For easier comparison, we show the results of the ThermoLab Baram-2010 at the same CPU frequency.
As you can see, the Deep Cool Gamer Storm keeps the six-core CPU stable at a frequency of 4413 MHz and a voltage of 1.44375 volts while running 64-bit Linpack. The peak CPU temperature is 91°C in quite mode and 83°C at the maximum fan speed. This is an excellent result considering the hot weather. Under the same conditions and with the same fans the ThermoLab Baram-2010 kept the CPU temperature at 91°C in quiet mode and at 80°C at full speed. Thus, these coolers are equals when equipped with low-speed fans and the Baram is better with high-speed fans. But we must acknowledge that the latter is cheaper and lighter, which are important factors, too.
The following diagram shows how much noise the tested coolers produce:
The Alpenföhn Matterhorn and Deep Cool Gamer Storm are equipped with very quiet fans which do not disturb the background noise of the quiet system case at speeds up to 1050-1100 RPM. They can hardly be heard at all at 800 RPM. The addition of a second such fan does not increase the noise as much as when we add a Thermalright TR-FDB as a second fan. The latter is quieter in solo mode, though.
The new coolers Alpenföhn Matterhorn and Deep Cool Gamer Storm are undoubtedly among the leading tower-type air coolers available today. Their performance is very high irrespective of the possible variations between different heatsink samples. Each cooler is equipped with a quiet fan that features an original vibration-absorbing system and three speed modes. Wide CPU compatibility, simple installation and reliable fastening are among the highs of these twin coolers, too. As for aesthetics, they are nickel-plated and look very stylish. Considering also the pretty packaging and competitive recommended price, we have two very appealing products that will make the market competition even tougher!