by Sergey Lepilov
03/11/2010 | 03:43 PM
The today’s most efficient processor air-coolers belong to the tower-type and have their heatsink composed of two independent arrays with a fan inserted between them. Among solutions like that are Thermalright IFX-14, Asus Triton 88, Noctua NH-D14 and Cogage Arrow. In fact, there is nothing more efficient out there than these four solutions. However, there are coolers that feature the same design structure, but their potential is not fully unleashed, for example, Tuniq Tower 120 Extreme. Moreover, there are also a few obviously weak solutions, like Dynatron G950, which review will follow shortly. In other words, we can conclude that it is not only the design of the cooler heatsink that matters the most, but also its proper implementation.
Coolink Company doesn’t have any implementation issues and is known for the European quality of their solutions, including processor and VGA coolers as well as very good SWiF and SWiF2 fan series. At the same time, it is very difficult to really invent something new and innovative in the CPU cooler segment these days, therefore Coolink decided to built their new solution using the already existing achievements in this field, including the dual-array heatsink structure. At the same time, the new Coolink Corator DS cooler launched on January 20, 2010 has at least two unique features, G.D.T. (Gapless Direct Touch) Technology being one of them.
So, our today’s review is going to tell you all about it, so let’s get started.
The new Coolink cooler is packed into a large box with the Corator DS image on the front:
The sides of the box are also not empty and allow the potential owner to learn everything about the peculiarities of the cooler inside even without opening the box:
There are flat boxes at the top and bottom of the package. One of them contains the bundled accessories. Corator DS cooler sits in two half-boxes that hold it securely at the top and bottom protecting against possible transportation damages.
Here are the accessories included with the cooler:
As you may have noticed the retention parts as well as the manual design are identical to those that come with Noctua NH-D14 cooler. Yes, Coolink decided not to invent anything here, but simply ordered SecuFirm 2 retention kits from Noctua and added their Coolink Chillaramic thermal compound to it. Well, it is true: if you can’t design anything better then make the same one or use the existing solution.
Coolink Corator DS is made in Taiwan and is priced at $59.90 MSRP. It comes with 60 months warranty.
At first glance, Coolink Corator DS seems to remind us of Thermalright IFX-14. Moreover, it looks remarkably similar to the popular super-cooler from Thermalright:
It looks like the design when there are two aluminum heatsink arrays pierced with four 8 mm copper heatpipes and a fan installed between them turns a classical approach to the best air coolers out there. Corator DS is the fifth cooler already that intends to become one of the best.
The new solution weighs a little over a kilo – 1040 g- and measures 121 x 140 x 155 mm:
However, things are not as simple as they may have seemed at first glance. The thing is that one of the unique peculiarities of the new Corator DS cooler is the use of assymetrical heatsink arrays. The first array to heat the airflow consists of 30 aluminum plates spaced out at 3 mm from one another, while the second array that receives the airflow from the fan features 40 plates with 2 mm gaps. You can easily notice the difference between these two arrays on the photo on the right:
In our opinion, this approach to heatsink design makes a lot of sense and should lower the heatsink resistance on the way of the airflow going towards the fan, which keeps Corator DS efficient even at low fan rotation speeds. And at the side that receives airflow from the fan where the fan static pressure is higher than on the air intake side, the heatsink is denser, which increases its effective cooling surface size and improves the cooler efficiency.
However, Coolink engineers didn’t stop at creating an asymmetric heatsink. If you take a closer look at the heatsink plates, you can notice that they have embossed dots that create additional turbulence for the airflow and therefore improve the heat transfer. Moreover, the middle part of the inside of the heatsink plates has comb-like edge pattern about 2 mm deep:
It also lowers the heatsink resistance to the airflow from the fan and maintains high cooling efficiency at low fan rotation speeds. I would also like to add that the heatsink plates are 0.5 mm thick and they are pressed firmly against copper heatpipes.
The smallest gap between the Corator DS heatsink arrays is 26 mm that is why you won’t be able to fit any thick fans in-between the heatsink arrays without damaging the cooler.
Heatpipes pierce the heatsink arrays in a straight line, but they are slightly spaced out in two pairs away from the center of the heatsink where you see Coolink company logo:
The second unique peculiarity of the new Corator DS cooler is its base that uses G.D.T. (Gapless Direct Touch) technology:
In fact, it is a direct-touch base, where the heatpipes contact the CPU heat-spreader directly and not through the copper base plate. However, G.D.T. technology differs from the HDT technology that we are very well familiar with by the absence of a solid aluminum insert between the heatpipes. In this case it has been replaced with four individual solid copper inserts:
The base surface is very even and is finished perfectly for a direct-touch type of a base. You also notice that the heatpipes in the base are somewhat thicker, which looks very much like soldered additional copper plates, but we didn’t find any traces of soldering or thermal glue to support this assumption. I would also like to point out that although Corator DS uses 8 mm copper heatpipes, they narrow to 5.5-6.0 mm in the base and the 5 mm gap between them is completely filled with the above mentioned copper inserts:
We cannot complain about the quality of the thermal compound imprint left by the processor heat-spreader on the cooler base. Here we can clearly see copper pipes and inserts, which create an illusion that the base is built of seven copper heatpipes 5-6 mm in diameter that are pressed against one another. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
Coolink Corator DS cooler comes equipped with one 120x120x25 mm fan featuring eleven acid-green blades:
The fan is also made by Coolink. It is modelSWiF2-120P that came to replace the older SWiF fans.
According to the specifications, the fan is pulse-width modulation (PWM) controlled in the interval from 800 to 1700 (±10%) RPM. At these speeds SWiF2-120P creates 35.55-75-10 CFM airflow and generates 8.5-27.1 dBA of noise. The fan specs do not mention the lifespan of the fluid dynamic bearing inside, but we do know that the maximum power consumption of this fan shouldn’t exceed 4 W:
SWiF2-120P rotor is 41 mm in diameter and the fan power cable is 400 mm long.
The fan is attached to the heatsink with two wire clips that should be inserted into special grooves in the heatsink arrays:
The fan frame contacts the heatsink through two special silicone strips stuck to the inside of one of the arrays. Unfortunately, there were no wire clips and silicone strips for the second fan included with the Corator DS cooler. Even if the second fan doesn’t contribute much to the cooling efficiency improvement, it would still be nice to have an extra fan retention kit, just as a token of the maker’s good will. Especially, since they really cost pennies.
Coolink Corator DS is compatible with all contemporary platforms, but we don’t think we need to dwell on its installation details, because it uses the exact same retention as the already reviewed Noctua NH-D14 cooler and therefore should be installed in exactly the same way. Although the retention kit is simple, it requires the mainboard to be removed from the system case, and is very reliable. When we installed Coolink Corator DS onto an LGA1366 processor, it proved to be 2-3°C more efficient when installed as follows:
In this case all four copper heatpipes are positioned the same way, which as we know is better for effective heat transfer. I would like to add that the distance from the lower heatsink plate to the cooler base is 41 mm, so Corator DS is highly unlikely to interfere with any heatsinks on the voltage regulator components surrounding the processor socket.
We are going to test the cooling efficiency of our today’s hero and its only competitor in the following testbed:
During this test session we managed to overclock our 45 nm quad-core processor (with polished heat-spreader) with the multiplier set at 21x and “Load-Line Calibration” enabled to 3.93 GHz using the weakest cooler of the two in quiet mode. The nominal processor Vcore was increased to 1.34375 V in the mainboard BIOS.
The memory voltage was at 1.64 V and its frequency was around 1.5 GHz (7-7-7-14_1T timings). All other parameters available in the mainboard BIOS and connected with CPU or memory overclocking remained unchanged (set to Auto).
All tests were performed under Windows 7 RTM 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 average temperature of the four processor cores under peak operational load and in idle mode for the results charts. Moreover, we will also provide a table with the temperature readings for all cores including their maximums. 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. During our test session room temperature was at 24.9-25.1 °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 200 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 34.5 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 Coolink Corator DS will be competing against the most efficient tower-cooler out there – Noctua NH-D14:
As you can see, we equipped our super-cooler with two Noctua NF-P14 fans and tested it in two modes: in quiet mode at 910 RPM and in moderate acoustic mode at 1220 RPM. We used the same fan to test our today’s hero, Coolink Corator DS, too:
Besides, we also tested Corator DS with Thermalright TR-FDB fan installed between its heatsink arrays in the speed interval from 600 to 2000 RPM.
Before we get down to comparing Corator DS against Noctua NH-D14, let’s check out how the cooling efficiency of the new solution depends on the rotation speed of its default fan and how it changes once we replace the default fan with a 120 mm Thermalright TR-FDB one or install a Noctua NF-P14 fan instead (in this case the case side panel was removed):
The first thing I would like to point out is a practically linear dependence of Corator DS efficiency on the speed of its default Coolink SWiF2 fan. In the interval from 600 to 1200 RPM its cooling efficiency increases by 8.3°C, and in the interval from 1200 to 1800 RPM – by about another 4.5°C. However, it is not the peculiarity of Corator DS heatsink. It most likely is because of a weak or not quite suitable fan for this type of heatsink. To prove this point check out the results obtained on Corator DS with Thermalright TR-FDB fan. In the interval from 600 to 1200 RPM the cooler performs 2-2.5°C better than with default Coolink SWiF2 fan and the temperature drops by 8.8°C. However, when the fan is working at 1200 RPM+, we no longer see the same progressing increase in cooling efficiency and a gently sloping graph up until 2020 RPM indicates that the temperature lowers only by 2.2°C.
Corator DS working in an even more interesting manner with a Noctua NF-P14 fan: it outperforms both other set-ups with 120 mm fans up until they reach 1000 RPM. At 1200 RPM we see that Corator DS with a Thermalright TR-FDB fan starts losing. We have no idea which way things could turn later on, because the maximum rotation speed of Noctua NF-P14 fan is only 1200 RPM. I would also like to add that the only reason why there are no results for Corator DS with two fans at the same time is that we didn’t want to overload the chart. When we added a second Thermalright or second Noctua fan, the temperature dropped by 3-4°C in the interval from 600 to 1200 RPM and by 2°C or less at higher speeds.
And now we must compare Coolink efficiency against that of Noctua NH-D14 (the CPU is overclocked a little bit better here and the system case is closed):
Although Corator DS cooling efficiency is quite high, it still fails to catch up with Noctua NH-D14. When tested with two identical fans, Corator DS loses about 4.7°C in quiet mode and about 5°C in moderate mode of two Noctua NF-P14 fans. The results of Corator DS with its default Coolink SWiF2 fan fall right between the results with two 140 mm Noctua NF-P124 fans in different speed modes. I would like to remind you that these two coolers use identical retention mechanisms, which means that we are comparing two heatsinks with different contact technology in ideal conditions. The last but not least comes the table with complete temperature readings for each processor core:
The noise generated by the Corator DS default fan - Coolink SWiF2-120P – was compared against that of the other two fans we used for our performance tests: Thermalright TR-FDB and Noctua NF-P14. For this test we installed all fans into their default position, i.e. between the heatsink arrays. The diagram below shows the obtained results:
It turned out that Corator DS with a default Coolink SWiF2-120P fan works quieter than with a Noctua or Thermalright fan. Moreover, only the graph for Coolink SWiF2-120P was a linear one, while the other two fans didn’t manage to achieve the same acoustic harmony with the Corator DS heatsink. Although Thermalright TR-FDB fan did improve the cooler efficiency quite noticeably, we can hardly recommend it for Corator DS, maybe only up to 950 RPM rotation speed, because at higher speeds its noise level and tone are quite unstable.
The new Coolink Corator DS with gapless Direct Touch technology turned out a very well-made high-quality solution. Although this newcomer didn’t manage to shake up the positions of the air-cooling leader, it will still find its niche in the market primarily due to lower price tag than that of Noctua NH-D14. Corator DS is pretty efficient and is comparable with the cooling efficiency of such famous products as Thermalright IFX-14 or Scythe Mugen 2. Due to very convenient and reliable retention, Corator DS can be easily installed onto any contemporary platform. The default fan provides acoustic comfort up until 1050 RPM and is extremely quiet at up to 900 RPM.
But nevertheless, we were still not quite satisfied or maybe even a little disappointed by the end of our test session. Although the developers have obviously put a lot of effort into creating a unique solution with proprietary features (such as G.D.T. or asymmetrical heatsink), we feel that they didn’t really reveal the cooler potential to the full extent. In our opinion, the primary enhancement that could increase the cooler efficiency would be G.D.T. 2 technology that implies the use of 6 or even 7 heatpipes forming the cooler base. This will ensure more even and much faster heat transfer from the processor heat-spreader to the cooler heatsink and hence will improve the cooling efficiency.
The second enhancement could also be the upgrade to a 140 mm fan instead of the currently used 120 mm one, or a 120 mm fan with blades of different shape, because Coolink SWiF2 fan currently used with Corator DS doesn’t seem to be such a good match for this cooler (remember the results with Thermalright TR-FDB). Moreover, although a second fan increases the cooling efficiency insignificantly, it would be nice to have a couple of extra wire clips and silicone strips for the fans included with the cooler, so that the user could decide for himself, if he needs an additional fan or not. It is a small thing, that it could make a big positive difference.
In conclusion, we would like to say that the results of our today’s test session allow us to award Coolink Corator DS with our Recommended Buy title, as a very attractive solution in terms of price-to-performance: