by Sergey Lepilov
04/28/2011 | 04:13 AM
There are various ways for the manufacturers of coolers for PC components to draw customers to their products. They can emphasizesuch benefits as high cooling performance, low noise, a compact or gigantic size, eye-catching packaging, highlighted fans, low price or a lucky mix of any of these. But perhaps the simplest way is just to name your product in a remarkable and attention-grabbing manner. That's why Deep Cool and ThermoLab took the names of their new products from the Wachowskibrothers’ cult trilogy The Matrix.
The name of the first product, Deep Cool Ice Matrix 600, contains the word itself whereas the cooler from ThermoLab is called Trinity, which is also the name of the Matrix heroine brilliantly portrayed by Carrie-Anne Moss. In this review we will put aside the philosophical and religious ideas of the trilogy to focus on the performance, noisiness and versatility of the new Matrix-themed coolers. Let’s get started.
The Deep Cool Ice Matrix 600 cooler features original packaging: a half-open cardboard box with a plastic insert within which the heatsink with fan is fixed in place.
This provides a good view of the Ice Matrix 600 without opening the box. The sides and the back of the box offer a lot of information about the cooler and its features in as many as 13 languages.
There is a small cardboard box with accessories at the bottom of the main box. The accessories include three back-plates, two pairs of steel fasteners with screws, spacers with bushings and nuts, four wire clips for fans, two fan adapters, and an installation guide:
The cooler is manufactured in China and sells for a recommended $40.
First of all, let’s take a look at the Deep Cool Ice Matrix 600 heatsink:
The tower-design heatsink features six nickel-plated copper heat pipes, 6 millimeters in diameter, that go through the copper base and pierce the aluminum fins.
There are a total of 42 fins here, 0.35 millimeters thick and placed 2 millimeters apart from each other.
Each fin is only 45 millimeters wide. Considering the length of 140 millimeters and other factors, the heatsink has a total surface area of less than 5540 sq. centimeters, which is far from impressive by today’s standards. The total weight of the heatsink with fan is 1100 grams.
The heat pipes form a straight line within the heatsink body, ensuring uniform distribution of heat in the fins.
The pipes are rather close to each other, though. We guess that nonlinear positioning of heat pipes, like in some other coolers, would be even more effective.
You may be wondering where's the Matrix? Here it is:
The fins of the Ice Matrix 600 cooler vary in height, forming 1.5-millimeter-high squares with smooth edges where the air goes in and out of the heatsink. This is expected to reduce the resistance to air flow and the resulting noise. There is also a 3-millimeter slit in the center of the heatsink but we couldn’t find out its purpose.
We also couldn’t identify the way by which the fins have contact with the heat pipes because we couldn’t see any trace of soldering or thermal glue in our sample of the cooler. So, the fins may be just press-fitted onto the pipes. There are traces of soldering in the cooler’s base although everything is overall very neat and tiny there.
The nickel-plated copper plate of the cooler’s base is at least 3 millimeters thick beneath the pipes.
The cooler’s sole is exceptionally flat and, despite some visible signs of processing, rather smooth to the touch. The imprint of the heat-spreader of our LGA1366 processor was just exemplary:
The Deep Cool Ice Matrix 600 is equipped with a single UF140 fan:
We covered this model in our 140mm fan roundup, so we will give you just the basic facts about it here. The fan is PWM-controlled automatically within a speed range of 700 to 1200 RPM, producing a maximum air flow of 71.8 CFMat 17.8 to 26.7 dBA of noise. The fan is attached to the heatsink with two wire clips. Included with the Ice Matrix 600 is a pair of brackets for attaching a second fan.
Deep Cool's new product is compatible with all modern platforms including the LGA1155 platform for Sandy Bridge processors. The installation procedure is most simple and was described in detail in our review of the twin coolers Alpenföhn Matterhorn and Deep Cool Gamer Storm. The fastening mechanism is robust and has a high pressure force.
We tried two variants of positioningour Deep Cool Ice Matrix 600 on the CPU socket and found its performance to be the same irrespective of its orientation.
So, you should orient your Deep Cool Ice Matrix 600 depending on the configuration of air flows inside your system case and how close your graphics card is to the CPU socket. By the way, there is 50 millimeters from the cooler’s bottom fin to the mainboard surface, but the bottom edge of the fan in the center of the heatsink is 10 to 12 millimeters lower. Anyway, this didn’t prevent us from installing memory modules with tall heatsinks as is indicated by the photos above.
That’s all we can tell you about the Ice Matrix. Let’s move on to the next product.
In the wake of its successful baram2010 cooler ThermoLab is presenting the Trinity. This cooler is shipped in a medium-sized flat cardboard box.
The packaging is quite informative, offering information not only about the cooler’s specs but also a design drawing with its dimensions, temperature graphs, frequently asked questions, etc.
The ThermoLab Trinity comes with the same accessories as the baram2010 except for the installation guide and a short resistor cable:
The cooler is manufactured in China and has a recommended price of $52-58.
The ThermoLab Trinity is a tower-design cooler measuring 150x136x85 millimeters. Its weight is 735 grams.
As opposed to the baram2010, the new Trinity comes with a fan. That’s not the only difference between the two products, though.
The dimensions of the cooler are shown in the next drawing:
The Trinity features four copper heat pipes with a diameter of 6 millimeters. There are 42 aluminum fins, 0.4 millimeters thick and 2 millimeters apart, press-fitted on the heat pipes. The heatsink surface totals 7050 sq. centimeters which is larger than that of the Deep Cool Ice Matrix 600 but smaller than the surface size of the best of air coolers. This is also smaller than the surface of the baram2010 heatsink by 1850 sq. centimeters.
ThermoLab calls the Trinity a harmonized and balancedcooler.The company’s engineers suggest that it represents an optimal mix of cooling performance and noise level. There are a number of factors contributing to this: the heat pipes are positioned in the heatsink body in a nonlinear way. The fins have an optimized profile on the side where air comes into the heatsink. The fan is large and fast. And there is also direct-touch technology here. Yes, ThermoLab has begun to produce direct-touch coolers, too!
The cooler’s fins are covered with decorative plates from top and bottom.
The top decorative plate bears the name of the manufacturing company as well as the name of the cooler.
The heat pipes are fitted into an aluminum base. There is only 1 millimeter between the centermost pipes whereas the outermost ones are almost 2 millimeters apart from the central ones.
The different distance between the heat pipes can hardly have a positive effect on the cooler's performance but that's a problem with any direct-touch cooler (however, products with no gaps between heat pipes are expected to arrive soon).
The cooler’s sole is flat and properly finished.
The heatsink fins form a wavy profile on the input side of the heatsink, but this is not as conspicuous as with the baram2010.
The photo also shows silicone pins for attaching a 130x25mm fan.
Judging by the sticker on the fan’s motor, it is manufactured by ADDA (the AR1212LX-A9BGL model). Its speed is PWM-controlled within two ranges: 600 to 1800 RPM or (if you use the included resistor cable) 600 to 1200 RPM. The bottom noise level is specified to be 16 dBA in both cases. The maximum noise is 24 and 32 dBA at 1200 and 1800 RPM, respectively. The air flow and the service life of the fluid dynamic bearing are not indicated in the cooler specs.
The Trinity is quite effective at cooling the mainboard’s power components in the CPU socket area thanks to itslarge fan positioned low on the heatsink.
There is a video clip from ThermoLab that illustrates the movement of air in the bottom part of the cooler.
The Trinity is a versatile device compatible with Intel’s LGA775/1155/1156/1366 platforms as well as with AMD’s Socket AM2(+)/AM3. The fastening system hasn't changed since the baram2010. The cooler is secured on a CPU by means of a back-plate, steel fasteners, bushings with spacers and thumbnuts.
The pressure isn’t high, but ThermoLab considers it to be sufficient to ensure effective heat transfer between the CPU and the cooler’s heat pipes.
We tried two orientation variants with our Trinity: 1) the air flow goes towards the back panel of the system case and the heat pipes lie along the CPU's heat-spreader and 2) the air flow goes towards the top panel of the case and the heat pipes lie across the heat-spreader.
The second variant turned out to be better than the first one, each of the CPU cores being 4°C lower. If the Trinity's sole were not flat or deformed when installed on the CPU, we might suppose that the bulging cap of our LGA1366 processor was just a better match for it. However, the cooler's sole is actually flat and did not deform (the fastening mechanism isn’t that strong), so the difference in temperature must be due to the different position of the heat pipes relative to the die of our six-core CPU. This can be expected with direct-touch coolers, so you should check out different orientation variants with them. Coolers with a classic base do not usually show any variation in their performance depending on the orientation, the above-discussed Deep Cool Ice Matrix 600 being a good example of that.
Finally, here is a photo of the heatsinks of the following coolers: Deep Cool Ice Matrix 600, ThermoLab Trinity and Thermalright Archon.
We performed all cooler tests inside a closed system case. Here is our testbed configuration:
We overclocked our six-core processor (with its default non-lapped heat-spreader) with the multiplier set at 25x and “Load-Line Calibration” (Level 2) enabled to 4.32 GHz. The nominal processor Vcore was increased to 1.4 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 1.4 GHz (7-7-7-16_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 CST 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 hourly monitoring of the temperature changes over the past 6 hours. The room temperature during our test session varied between the annoying 24.2-24.7 °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 our new controller by changing the voltage with 0.5 V increment.
We are going to compare our today’s testing participants against Zalman CNPS10X Performa and Thermalright Archon in their standard configuration with one fan. The first cooling system is a direct competitor to Ice Matrix 600 and Trinity in the pricing aspect, while the second one is an ideal reference cooler. All coolers were tested in different fan modes (when the rotation speed of their default fans changed with 200 RPM increment), except Thermalright Archon.
You can view the results in the next diagram as well as the detailed table below.
A few explanations are necessary. None of the three coolers copes with our CPU at a fan speed of 600 RPM. Therefore the results begin at 800 RPM in the diagram. The maximum speed of the Ice Matrix 600’s fan being 1200 RPM, we tested that cooler with a fan from the ThermoLab Trinity at the higher speeds.
Neither of the two new coolers boasts high performance. They are both inferior to the Zalman CNPS10X Performa in each mode without exceptions. The ThermoLab Trinity is more effective than the Deep Cool Ice Matrix 600, though. The latter's performance doesn’t depend much on the speed of its fan: when the default fan’s speed is increased from 800 to 1200 RPM, the peak CPU temperature lowers by 7°C only (from 92 to 85°C). When equipped with the Trinity’s fan, the Ice Matrix 600 lowers the CPU temperature by only 3°C as its speed grows from 1200 to 1800 RPM. By the way, the addition of a second Deep Cool UF140 fan for exhaust helps the cooler at 600 and 800 RPM only. At 1000 and 1200 RPM the second fan lowers the temperature by a mere 1-2°. Well, that’s what we might have expected from a heatsink that is only 45 millimeters wide.
The ThermoLab Trinity behaves in a different way. When its default fan accelerates from 800 to 1200 RPM, the top temperature of the hottest core of our six-core CPU lowers by 8°C (from 93 to 85°C), yet the cooler's performance can be increased even further. The temperature lowers by 4°C more at 1400 RPM, by 3°C more at 1600 RPM, and by 1°C more at 1800 RPM. As a result, the Trinity beats the Ice Matrix 600 at high fan speed although is inferior to it in quiet mode. You can also note one more thing about the Trinity: the CPU is 10°C hotter with this cooler than with its opponents in idle mode. This must be due to the original implementation of the direct-touch technology.
The Thermalright Archon, being our reference point in this comparison, surely hails from a higher league both in performance and noise level. Working at 800 RPM, the Archon beats the Ice Matrix and the Trinity by as many as 12-13°?!
We measured the amount of noise produced by the coolers throughout the speed range of their fans according to the method explained above. You can see the result in the next diagram:
The Deep Cool Ice Matrix 900 proves to be the noisier of the two new products. Up to the subjectively noiseless level of 33 dBA the Deep Cool UF 140 fan is successfully competing with the Trinity's fan but they part their ways at the subjectively comfortable level of 35 dBA. While the Ice Matrix 600 is comfortable up to 940 RPM, the Trinity remains such at speeds up to 1010 RPM. The Trinity is also superior to the Ice Matrix 600 in terms of noisiness at the higher speeds, too.
We should note that we didn't hear any unwanted sounds from either fan. There was no rattle, vibration, clanging or anything. So, both coolers come with high-quality fans, and the Deep Cool UF140 is even attractive visually.
Our reference cooler Thermalright Archon beats the two newcomers in this test, too.
We must confess we expected somewhat better results from the Deep Cool Ice Matrix 600 and the ThermoLab Trinity. Yes, each cooler copes with our six-core CPU working at 4.32 GHz and 1.4 volts Vcore, but this is no great achievement in our cooler tests. There are well over a dozen air coolers capable of that today, including cheaper ones like the Zalman CNPS10X Performa we’ve included into this test session for the comparison’s sake. The support for multiple platforms and the simple installation procedure of the Ice Matrix 600 and the Trinity do not constitute a special advantage today. The new coolers are not very quiet, either (but we must note that the Trinity is somewhat quieter than the Ice Matrix 600 at the same fan speed). And while the Deep Cool is more or less competitive in terms of pricing ($40), the ThermoLab with its recommended $52-58 seems to be a little overpriced. So, at this point we’d recommend you to consider other coolers which are available aplenty on the market. However, some users may want to buy one of these two products just to have a piece of the Matrix in their computers. :)