by Sergey Lepilov
11/23/2007 | 01:19 PM
They say that the name of a person has a large impact on his fate. I don’t believe in this and that’s probably why proud names of CPU coolers do no impress me in the slightest although I have tested Japanese samurais from Scythe, butterfly girls from Titan, knights from ASUS, and even 3D rockets from Gigabyte. Other manufacturers do not give a personal name to their product at all. For example, Zalman just adds a new number to the CNPS abbreviation of its coolers. XIGMATEK uses a numeric marking as well.
One the other hand, it is a trait of human psychology that a meaningful, memorable name of a cooler (or of any other PC component for that matter) attracts the potential customer better than a string of numbers and letters. OCZ Technology uses this human trait to its advantage, giving its new coolers remarkable names.
We once tested its Vindicator (see our article called OCZ Vindicator CPU Cooler Review: When the Copy is As Good As the Original), and today I’m going to discuss the Vanquisher and the Vendetta.
Although not quite sensible (I wonder what kind of vendetta can occur inside a PC case?), the names are indeed memorable. But will these coolers be remembered for their high performance? You’ll learn it in this review.
The names of the manufacturer and cooler are printed on the face side of the blue box. A picture of the Vanquisher can be seen here as well.
The sides of the box contain text with information about supported CPU sockets, key features and specs of the cooler:
Inside the exterior packaging there is a plastic box that envelops the cooler tightly. Above it there is a clip to fasten the cooler on mainboards for AMD K8 processors and a brief installation guide:
The LGA775 fasteners are already installed on the cooler by default.
Here is the OCZ Vanquisher in person:
This small 72x110x134mm cooler has a copper base with three copper heat pipes, 6mm in diameter. The pipes carry a total of 41 aluminum plates placed at a distance of 2-2.2mm from each other. Each plate is about 0.4mm thick.
The whole thing is cooled by a 92mm fan with an open impeller and a wire grid. The fan hangs on a plastic frame secured with screws to the top and bottom ribs of the heatsink. According to the specs, the fan speed is varied from 800 to 2000rpm by means of PWM-based regulation. The noise level and the air flow are not declared. It turned out that the real speed was higher at the maximum (2400rpm, to be exact) and the fan was only quiet at a speed of 1500rpm or lower.
You can notice that the Vanquisher is not different from many other coolers of its kind. It represents the tower-like design I have tested quite a lot of times. Well, I guess that every respectable firm operating on the market of cooling systems should have such an inexpensive, yet efficient, model in its product range. The manufacturer claims the new cooler can cope with a CPU that generates as much as 200W of heat, though. That’s a very optimistic claim, and I’ll surely check it out soon.
There are bottlenecks in the spots of contact between the aluminum plates and the heat pipes. They enlarge the area of contact and increase the efficiency of heat transfer. Unfortunately, the manufacturer doesn’t specify how the contact is established, with thermal glue or with soldering. The assembly quality is so high that I couldn’t find it out by myself. The bottom rib of the heatsink is quite high above the cooler’s base (over 3cm), and the whole thing is compact, so nothing should prevent you from installing the Vanquisher even on mainboards with a whole forest of heat pipes and heatsinks around the CPU socket.
There are plastic caps on the ends of the heat pipes.
A couple of those caps would fall off from the pipes and I had to glue them eventually. The photo above shows that the OCZ logotype is stamped on the aluminum plates. Note also that the sides of the heatsinks are open. It means that quite a large portion of the air flow is lost at the sides and bottom of the heatsink. To make sure of this you can just place your hand or a sheet of paper near one side of the cooler. The air flow at the cooler’s bottom will help cool the mainboard’s near-socket components, though.
The base is protected with a plastic cover.
Or rather, it protects the pre-applied thermal grease.
The white thermal interface is thick and viscous. There is too much of it on the cooler to my taste, but its efficiency proved to be only 3°C worse than that of Arctic Silver 5 under peak CPU load. Quite a remarkable performance.
It is very simple to install the cooler on mainboards. It is pressed down to the CPU heat-spreader with a special lever on Socket 754/939/940/AM2 platforms – you have to remove the LGA775 fasteners, preinstalled on the cooler, before that. If you’ve got an LGA775 mainboard, you use the standard plastic locks typical of this socket. Some serious effort is required to fix the locks, and the mainboard bends noticeably. You don’t have to take the mainboard out of the system case to perform the installation.
Here is what the Vanquisher looks like inside a system case:
The manufacturer recommends to sell this modest low-end cooler for a mere $20 and provides a 1-year warranty.
The Vendetta is going to be more interesting for overclockers than the above-discussed Vanquisher. This cooler comes in a medium-size cardboard box with a cut-out in its face side through which you can spot the heatsink.
Technical information is provided on the sides of the box, like on the Vanquisher package:
Inside the cardboard wrapper there is a polyurethane box unfolding into two halves:
One half contains the fan and the other, the heatsink and accessories. The accessories include:
A detailed assembly and installation guide can also be found in the box:
The cooler follows the same tower design with 8mm heat pipes carrying aluminum plates.
However, the Vendetta has at least two unique peculiarities that distinguish it from other tower-like coolers. I don’t mean the principle of direct contact of the heat pipes with the CPU heat-spreader because it is employed in coolers from Ice Hammer and XIGMATEK (see our article called Thermalright SI-128 and XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 CPU Coolers: 8mm of Efficiency). By the way, the Vendetta was actually developed for OCZ by XIGMATEK specialists.
The heatsink consists of 42 aluminum plates (0.3-0.4mm thick) placed at a distance of 2mm from each other.
The sides of the heatsink are open. Like with the Vanquisher, this will result in a loss of the air flow.
The unique V-shaped profile of the ribs with a groove in the center enlarges the useful area of the heatsink without increasing the dimensions of the latter.
Each of the 42 ribs also has 42 punched-out hollows:
According to the manufacturer’s website, these pimples increase the turbulence of air to avoid a stagnation of hot air amidst the heatsink ribs. I can’t smooth the ribs out and test the cooler two times with flat and pimpled ribs to see what is more efficient. So, I can’t tell you if these pimples are indeed helpful. Anyway, I will test the cooler as it is to see its overall efficiency. After all, the user is more interested in the end result rather than in theoretical engineering speculations.
To remind you, the cooler is compact at 97x79x134mm. The pipes have a diameter of 8mm, thus covering almost the whole surface of the CPU heat-spreader (with the addition of the space between the pipes). Among coolers with the direct contact technology we have tested so far in our labs only two were indeed efficient in their class. Both came from XIGMATEK: the HDT-S963 and HDT-S1283 models. The latter easily won the title of a super-cooler and features a very appealing price/performance ratio. The former is very much alike to the Vendetta, but the Vendetta seems to have a more advanced heatsink design.
The cooler’s base is covered with a piece of polyethylene film like the one of the XIGMATEK HDT-S1283:
The base isn’t polished, but XIGMATEK tried to reduce the spaces between the pipes and the aluminum inserts to a minimum:
Alas, the direct contact technology is yet far from ideal in providing a solid and polished base of the cooler.
The cooler comes with a 7-blade 92x25mm fan:
The speed of the fan is regulated using pulse-width modulation, but the regulation range differs from the Vanquisher: 1200 to 2800rpm at a noise level of 22-34dBA and 39.0-54.6CFM airflow. The fan is secured on four rubber pins inserted into the grooves among the heatsink ribs:
The Vendetta is compact even with the fan attached:
The cooler is fastened to the mainboard like XIGMATEK’s coolers. You use a locking clip for K8 CPUs – it is inserted into the slits of the base between the pipes:
To install the cooler on LGA775 mainboards, you have to secure two fasteners with plastic locks on the cooler’s base:
The installation procedure is very simple in either case and does not require you to take the mainboard out of the system box. When installed, the OCZ Vendetta looks like that:
The cooler comes with a 1-year warranty at a recommended price of $30-35.
The specifications of the new coolers from OCZ and of one of their opponents are listed in the following table:
The coolers were tested on an open testbed and in a closed system case with the following configuration:
The quad-core CPU with a polished heat-spreader was overclocked to the maximum stable frequency it had with the weakest cooler. That was 3159MHz. The core voltage was set at 1.3875V.
CPU-Z, SpeedFan and Everest reported a core voltage of 1.364V. The memory voltage was increased to 2.1V. The other mainboard voltages were left at their defaults. I set the CPU Voltage Reference at 0.63x and the CPU Voltage Damper at Enabled in the mainboard’s BIOS Setup.
All tests are performed in Windows XP Professional Edition Service Pack 2. SpeedFan 4.33 is used to monitor the temperature of the CPU, reading it from the CPU sensor.
The CPU is heated up by means of OverClock Checking Tool version 1.1.1b in a 24-minute test during which the system remains idle in the first and last 4 minutes for the temperature to stabilize.
The mainboard’s automatic fan speed management (Q-Fan technology) is disabled for the time of the tests. The thermal throttling of the Intel Core 2 Quad processor is controlled with RightMark CPU Clock Utility version 2.30. Our CPU begins to skip clock cycles on reaching a temperature of 82°C and higher.
I perform at least two cycles of tests and wait for 20 minutes for the temperature to stabilize during each test cycle. The maximum temperature of the hottest CPU core in the two test cycles is considered as the final result (if the difference is not bigger than 1°C – otherwise the test is performed once again). Despite the stabilization period, the result of the second cycle is usually 0.5-1°C higher.
The noise level of each cooler was measured according to our traditional method. The subjectively comfortable level of 36dBA is marked with a dash line in the diagram; the ambient noise from the system case, without the CPU cooler, was about 34dBA when measured from a distance of 1 meter.
The ambient temperature was monitored by means of an electric thermometer and remained at 22.5-23°C during the tests (marked with a red line in the diagrams). The fan rotation speeds are shown in the diagrams as reported by SpeedFan. ASUS’ P5K mainboard series does not support PWM-based regulation of the CPU fan, so I set the subjectively quiet mode for the OCZ coolers manually with SpeedFan.
One of the opponents to the new coolers has been mentioned in the specifications table. It is the Cooler Master Hyper TX 2, the universal version of the Hyper TX we had reviewed earlier. This cooler was tested in two modes: quiet (at 1510rpm) and max speed (1900rpm, which is not actually loud, either). I also added the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme as a performance reference f(and other characteristics) among air coolers. It was tested with a 120x120x32mm fan from SilverStone (the FM122 model) in two modes: quiet (at 1130rpm) and loud (2550rpm).
The next diagram shows the temperature of the CPU with each cooler:
So, the low-end Vanquisher isn’t far inferior to the Cooler Master Hyper TX 2 that features a superb price/performance ratio. The latter is noticeably better on the open testbed and in the quiet mode, but the Vanquisher is again close when the fan speed is set at its maximum. I should confess the Vanquisher is too loud at the max speed, though.
The OCZ Vendetta performs just brilliantly. Slightly more expensive than the Vanquisher and Hyper TX 2, it leaves them no chance in this test. OCZ has come up with a high-performance, universal and very compact cooler! I won’t comment on the performance of the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme as it is our reference. It only serves as a reference point.
Next I found the maximum stable CPU frequency with each cooler. This test was performed on the open testbed only. Here are the results:
The CPU voltage was set differently in this test:
The Vendetta confirms its claim on the title of a super-cooler in this test, yet I guess stops just short of getting it. At the maximum speed this cooler reveals 95% of the CPU’s overclocking potential (if you take the result achieved with the Ultra-120 eXtreme for 100%), but the noise level is too high at that.
The final diagram of this section shows you the amount of noise produced by each cooler:
I guess no comments are required. Each cooler can work in both a quiet and a medium-noise mode.
Systematically testing various cooling systems, I often have to change not only the frequency of our quad-core CPU but also its voltage due to obvious reasons. Air, liquid or thermoelectric CPU coolers all differ, sometimes radically, in performance. So I decided to examine the overclocking potential of our Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 (stepping B3) depending on its voltage. The temperature of the CPU was also monitored.
The tests were performed under the conditions described in the Testbed and Methods section of this review. The CPU was cooled with a Thermalright SI-128 that had a 120x32mm 9-blade fan working at 1160rpm (the SilverStone FM122 model). I tried to keep the test conditions as close to reality as possible, so I tested the CPU in a closed system case. To improve the cooling I replaced the system fan on the side panel with a high-performance but relatively quiet Scythe Minebea 4710KL-04W-B29 at 1140rpm.
The default core voltage of our CPU is 1.2875V and that was the starting point of the test. The mainboard’s BIOS Setup allowed to change the core voltage with a step of 0.025V, but the first step was smaller (0.0125V). I also monitored the voltage with CPU-Z which always reported a different value than set in the BIOS. The CPU multiplier was automatically reduced from 9 to 6 in idle mode.
Here is a table with results and a diagram that shows how the CPU frequency depends on its voltage:
It is clear that good air cooling can help achieve the maximum CPU frequency growth (+28%) even without increasing the core voltage. Then, after the voltage was lifted up by 0.3125V, the frequency could only be increased by 15% more. Note that the CPU shows an almost linear dependence of frequency on voltage. Increasing the core voltage above 1.6V did not affect the frequency potential of the CPU.
Here are temperature data for the CPU at different core voltages:
Note that the quad-core CPU is stable at its default frequency even when the voltage is reduced (you cannot set a core voltage lower than 1.1V on the ASUS P5K Deluxe mainboard). The temperature of the CPU is ridiculously low then, 29°C under peak load. This indicates the opportunity to use a passive cooler for the B3 stepping Core 2 Quad. CPUs of the more progressive G0 stepping dissipate even less heat and thus feature higher overclockability.
And then the picture changes to the opposite and the temperature rises to a critical mark which is close to the thermal throttling threshold of our CPU (82°C). The temperature is ready to jump up as soon as you increase the core voltage – you should keep this in mind when overclocking. The CPU temperature is lower in idle mode than the ambient temperature – the monitoring program must be showing an incorrect, too low, value. This bug seems to have been corrected in SpeedFan 4.34 beta 34. On the other hand, SpeedFan 4.33, TAT and ASUS Probe unanimously reported the same CPU temperature. Well anyway, even if the temperature data are not 100% accurate, this test helps determine the cooler’s practical capabilities which are more important than dry temperature data.
The OCZ Vanquisher proved to be a well-made inexpensive cooler in my tests. It is efficient, universal, simple to install, light, and very affordable. In other words, it’s got all the properties you expect to find in a product of its price. Still, I think the Vanquisher has got an even bigger potential because too much of its air flow it lost at the sides and bottom of the heatsink. I guess this is the reason, together with the use of a low-performance fan, why the Vanquisher was slightly less efficient than the Cooler Master Hyper TX2.
The OCZ Vendetta, on the contrary, boasts impressively high performance for its dimensions and price. Its performance can satisfy even a demanding overclocker that cannot afford a super-cooler. The cooler’s fan supporting PWM regulation, you can always select a comfortable mode while retaining high performance (this is also true for the Vanquisher). As for possible improvements, I guess the sides of the heatsink should be made blank while the base might be polished better. Perhaps this would provide the couple of degrees the Vendetta lacks to enter the league of super-coolers.