by Sergey Lepilov
02/06/2009 | 06:19 PM
The first photos of the new Cooler Master cooler with a short “V10” name first appeared more than a year ago, namely in early January 2008. The solution created a real commotion at the time, to say the least of it. The cooler revealed a design using 10 heatpipes, three large heatsinks and two 120-mm fans! After that throughout the year we witnessed the arrival of a gigantic Scythe Orochi, copper Scythe Ninja and Thermalright TRUE, and even V10’s younger brother – Cooler Master V8. However, it didn’t diminish the interest and excitement about the upcoming newcomer that has been constantly pushed back to a later launch date.
Finally, in the end of January 2009 Cooler Master rewarded the patience of their fans with the official release of this wonder-cooler and today we are among the first to offer you a detailed review of this remarkable solution:
It turned out that the cooler uses a TEC module – thermo-electrical module operating based on Peltier effect that wasn’t mentioned earlier. Well, it is going to be even more interesting to see how efficient the new cooler turned out to be and if it will justify its high price, large size and weight.
The new Cooler Master solution ships in a large black box with a big cooler photo on the front side of it and detailed specifications on the back:
Besides a large tag on the box top telling the potential owners about LGA 1366 platform support, there is also a large sticker announcing new ThermalFusion 400 thermal interface bundled with V10. The accessories bundle includes everything necessary to install this cooling solution on any of the contemporary platforms:
I would like to specifically dwell on ThermalFusion 400 thermal interface sealed in a small plastic packet with a small promotional booklet:
Unfortunately, this booklet contains no useful info, just marketing slogans with general phrases promising high cooling efficiency and other advantages. When we finished this review, there was still no information about this thermal interface on the official company web-site. We are not going to talk about efficiency of this thermal compound in our today’s review to keep you intrigued for a while, however, ThermalFusion 400 will be included in our next roundup of thermal interfaces.
Even a quick look at the new V10 cooler gives you to understand that there hasn’t been anything like that in the cooling solutions market before. See for yourselves:
The cooler is pretty big. It is not really tall, but long. Cooler Master V10 measures 236.5 x 129.6 x 161.3 mm and weighs 1200 g.
Nipping on ahead, I’d like to say that far not all the system case will be big enough to accommodate this cooler, however, we are going to go into details regarding this problem a little later in our review. And now let’s proceed with the cooler design.
The top and sides of the cooling system are hidden beneath a plastic casing with a mesh section over the horizontal fan and the manufacturer logo above the two vertical heatsinks and a fan:
There is no casing in the way of the airflow:
If you turn the cooler, you will see that there are three aluminum heatsinks in it:
Now let’s take off the casing and fans:
We see three aluminum heatsinks of different size and shape. The only things they have in common are 124 mm depth, 1.8 mm spacing between the heatsink plates and 0.4 mm plate thickness. The horizontal heatsink is 20 mm wide, trapezoid-shaped and consists of 56 plates. Its calculated effective surface is 2509cm2.
The next heatsink is a vertical one that is 35 mm wide and is made of 38 aluminum plates. Its effective surface size is 3298 cm2.
Finally, the third heatsink is the biggest (45 mm) and consists of 39 plates plus 5 short plates sitting on two heatpipes at the top. Its calculated effective cooling surface is 4762 cm2. So, Cooler Master V10 features a total effective surface of 10569 cm2. For the sake of comparison let me remind you that the gigantic Scythe Orochi has a smaller heatsink with only 8702 cm2 surface area.
The heatpipes structure of this cooler is a little more complex and difficult to follow. There is a total of ten heatpipes, each 6 mm in diameter and covered with nickel alloy. Six heatpipes out of ten go through the cooler base. Four of them pierce the horizontal heatsink, and the other two enter the first vertical heatsink in front of the fan:
Then, four heatpipes out of six that go through the base of the cooler come out on the other side and contact a 1.5 mm nickel-covered plate:
There is a thermo-electrical module (Peltier module) installed on this particular plate. It transfers the heat to the remaining four heatpipes that go through the second vertical heatsink.
So, according to Cooler Master V10 developers, this TEC module should work as a “pump” accelerating heat transfer from the heatpipes to the most efficiently cooled heatsink. It is a very interesting concept, however, we need to find an exact same cooler but without the Peltier module in order to find out how efficient it actually is. Namely, we need a cooler where these four heatpipes would go straight into the heatsink instead of the TEC module. By the way, we didn’t notice any thermo-electrical module on the very first pictures of Cooler master V10 that appeared in the media over a year ago.
Now I have to say a few words about this particular thermo-electrical module. There is a small plastic box installed directly above the heatpipes that manages TEC module operation and also serves as a stand for the vertical fan:
There are a simple PCB and a thermal diode inside:
The thermal diode is pressed against the last heatpipe, which is, in fact, pretty strange, because central heatpipes warm up more than the ones on the sides. The Peltier module rated power varies depending on the CPU temperature and, therefore, heatpipe temperature. According to the specification, it may reach 70 W under maximum load.
The heatpipes and copper base are all nickel-plated. The base is very nicely finished and is perfectly even:
The heatpipes are soldered to the cooler base, which is the most efficient solution for the fastest heat transfer.
There are two 120 x 120 x 25 mm fans screwed on to the plastic casing: one vertically and another one perpendicular to the first one – horizontally:
The casing itself locks to the sides of the horizontal heatsink and is then fastened with two screws at the top. The fans look really nice: nine sickle-shaped semi-transparent blades look very attractive with red LED lighting.
The fans are connected with one four-pin cable and are controlled using pulse-width modulation method (PWM). Their rotation speed changes from 800 to 2400 RPM creating maximum airflow of 2 x 90 CFM and generating 17 dBA of noise. The static pressure I this case is 2 x 2.94 mmH2O. I believe that the noise spec is valid for the minimal fan rotation speed. As for the level of generated noise at maximum fan rotation speed, the manufacturer keeps quiet about it.
The fans use Rifle bearings.
The manufacturer claims that these bearings will last 40,000 hours or over 4.5 years of non-stop operation. Each fan consumes no more than 4.5 W at maximum rotation speed.
The next chapter of our review will dwell on the installation peculiarities and issues that you will most likely come across with your Cooler Master V10.
Cooler Master V10 is compatible with Socket 754/939/940/AM2(+), LGA 775 and LGA 1366 mainboards. Before installing the cooler onto the board, you have to attach the appropriate retention to its base:
Mainboards for Core i7 processors with LGA 1366 socket use the same type of cooler retention as LGA 775 platforms, only their brackets are a little longer. You should use special rubber rings on the spindles to protect the mainboard PCB against scratches and other damage:
After that turn the cooler upside down and put the mainboard on top of it tightening the screw-nuts on the spindles inserted through the backplate or through plastic washers if no backplate is used. I would strongly advise using a backplate in any case: it will prevent the PCB from bending and will ensure more secure installation. I also have to add that it is very inconvenient to tighten the screw nuts with the enclosed wrench: the wrench is constantly slipping off the screw-nut because of the backplate edges. I would strongly recommend that Cooler Master pays special attention to this matter and fixes this issue in the upcoming V10/V8 cooler revisions.
After that all you need to do is simply install the mainboard with the cooler into the system case. I may have sounded too optimistic when I said “simply”, because the board with Cooler Master V10 on it simply didn’t fit into my Ascot 6AR2-B case: the plastic casing of the cooler was pushing against the 5-inch bay chassis. Even with the casing removed, the horizontal heatsink kept pushing against the non-removable case chassis:
Nevertheless, I managed to fit the mainboard with the cooler into the case. Those of you who are planning on buying Cooler Master V10 should keep in mind that the distance from the right side of the mainboard PCB to the 5-inch bay chassis should be at least 40 mm to fit this cooler. Otherwise, the cooler will not fit into your case with the casing on. With the casing removed this distance should be at least 33 mm. however, you should also take into consideration the location of the CPU socket on your mainboard. If it is shifted to the center of the PCB, the cooler will be hanging off the other side even more, and the other way around.
Despite numerous heatpipes, Peltier module and a horizontal heatsink, nothing interfered with the electronic components on the mainboard around the CPU socket:
Even tall memory heat-spreaders didn’t disturb the horizontal heatsink, even though it was touching them during installation. Everything could be real great at that point, however, there was one more problem waiting ahead: I still had to attach the fans to the cooler. The fan sitting between the two vertical heatsink arrays was an easy one. However, the only way I could install a horizontal heatsink was like that:
Of course, there were no problems like that in an open testbed that is why at first I decided to check out how removed casing and a fan installed at an angle would affect the cooling efficiency. It turned out that when we removed the casing from Cooler Master V10 in an open testbed, the CPU temperature under maximum load dropped 2-3°C. Installing the fan at an angle didn’t have any effect on the cooling efficiency whatsoever. I dare suppose that installing this fan at an angle rather than the default way may be pretty beneficial inside the system case, because in this case the side of the fan will not be blocking the airflow from reaching the vertical fan. Anyway, I need to get a bigger case to see if this assumption is true or not 9which I am planning on doing in one of the next articles).
However, once thing is undeniable: the fan highlighting looks much cooler with the casing removed:
Very beautiful, isn’t it? However, as we can see from the discussions in our forums and articles, not everyone is fond of the LED lighting, so it would be really thoughtful of Cooler master to allow disabling it if necessary.
The cooler technical specs and recommended retail price are summed up in the table below:
Just like with a bunch of other cooling solutions, we tested Cooler Master V10 in two modes: in a closed system case and in an open testbed. In the former case the mainboard is set vertically and the “tower” coolers are turned horizontally, while in the latter case the mainboard sits horizontally on the desk and the coolers are installed vertically. Our testbed was identical for all coolers throughout the test session and featured the following configuration:
All tests were performed under Windows Vista Ultimate Edition x86 SP1. We used the following software during our test session:
I decided to replace the formerly used SpeedFan with RealTemp program that reports a 4°C lower CPU temperature because we are transitioning to LGA 1366 platform with Intel Core i7 processors at this time. Besides, RealTemp offers broader monitoring capabilities and easier calibration.
So, the screenshot taken off the monitor during our test session now looks as follows:
The stabilization period for the CPU temperature between the two test cycles was 10 minutes. We took the maximum temperature of the hottest processor core after two test cycles for the results charts.
The ambient temperature was checked next to the system case or open testbed with an electronic thermometer with 0.1°C precision that allows monitoring the temperature changes over the past 6 hours. During our test session room temperature stayed at 23.5-24°C. It is used as a starting point on the temperature diagrams. Note that the fan rotation speeds as shown in the diagrams are the average readings reported by monitoring utilities, and not the official claimed fan specifications.
Now let me say a few words about the today’s main competitors of the new Cooler Master V10. First of all it is Cooler Master V8 that is not just the predecessor of our today’s hero, but also a very efficient cooling solution:
We tested Cooler Master V8 in two fan modes: in quiet mode at 1080 RPM and at maximum fan rotation speed of 2000 RPM. We used Zalman ZM-MFC2 panel to adjust the fan rotation speed.
There is also another cooler that will also participate in our today’s test session. They say that you can lower the CPU temperature by 2°C by simply putting it next to the system case… It is ThermoLab BARAM:
We tested this super-cooler with the same two fans that were installed on V10. We also performed the tests in two modes: quiet mode at 1080 RPM and at maximum fan rotation speed of 2300 RPM. The fans were installed onto the heatsink for intake-exhaust.
We tested Cooler Master V10 without the plastic casing in both: the open testbed and closed system case. The operational modes for the fans were the same as for ThermoLab BARAM.
Inside a closed system case using the “weakest” cooling system of the today’s testing participants we managed to overclock our 45 nm quad-core processor to 3.78 GHz (+24.3%). The nominal processor Vcore was increased to ~1.5 V in the mainboard BIOS (+30.4%). The obtained results are given on the diagram below (the coolers are grouped according to the testing conditions and noise levels):
Unfortunately, Cooler Master didn’t win in our today’s test session. Moreover, with the disabled TEC unit V10 couldn’t outperform its younger brother – V8 cooler. As you can see, Peltier module allows Cooler Master V10 to improve CPU cooling by 4-6°C under maximum workload, which doesn’t justify the use of a TEC unit, in my opinion. According to the readings from Zalman ZM-MFC2, TEC consumes about 76 W of power. Moreover, when the CPU utilization is minimal the module continues to work at its full potential (as you can see from the CPU temperature in idle mode), so I couldn’t quite understand why they needed a thermal diode in the cooler base at all.
If we disregard all these facts, we will see that Cooler Master V10 is running neck and neck with one of the cooling leaders –ThermoLab BARAM. The latter is only 1-4°C more efficient than the newcomer. However, it is only if we “disregard all these facts”…
I have to say honestly, that I was a little bit disappointed with Cooler Master V10 performance today compared against two other super-coolers. In fact, the newcomer’s performance was very good, but I personally was expecting a more convincing victory over the competitors. Otherwise, I simply cannot justify the high price of this new solution, its extreme weight and size as well as very complex design using 10 heatpipes, three heatsinks, two fans and thermo-electrical module. Yes, I remember that there is also new ThermalFusion 400 thermal interface and hope that the new cooler will do better on a new Core i7 platform, which we are going to check out in one of our upcoming articles. So stay tuned for the next series of tests!
P.S. for Cooler Master: It would be extremely interesting to see how well the cooler performs without the TEC modules between the heatpipes coming out of the cooler base and the heatpipes piercing the external vertical heatsink. Removing the Peltier module will allow not only lowering the production cost, but also adding another dozen of plates to the vertical heatsink array. What if the TEC module is not necessary at all?