Two Against One, Part 2: Thermalright Silver Arrow vs. Noctua NH-D14

We continue discussing the duel of the best cooling products for processors. Today a cooler from Thermalright will be fighting against the solutions from Noctua.

by Sergey Lepilov
08/28/2010 | 11:53 PM

In our previous review of the new Thermalright cooler we discussed and tested thoroughly HR-02 cooler, which managed to outperform Noctua NH-D14 in passive mode and in active mode with one quiet fan. However, when it came to absolute efficiency with two active fans and maximum processor overclocking, HR-02 still fell a little behind NH-D14. Therefore, this Noctua cooler remains the best air-cooling choice out there for those computer users and overclockers who do not care that much about the noise. Today Silver Arrow cooler from Thermalright will attempt to dethrone it.

Package and Accessories

 

The usual cardboard box contains the cooler as well as the most complete set of retention accessories for all existing platforms, two installation manuals, Chill Factor 3 thermal compound and eight rubber shock absorbing pads for the fans:

Unlike Thermalright HR-02, Silver Arrow comes with two newest fans – Thermalright TY-140. The fans are 153x140x26.5 mm in size and weigh 140 grams each:

We will discuss these fans in our upcoming roundup, but at this point we can already say that Silver Arrow seems to be somewhat more appealing than the already discontinued Thermalright IFX-14 with the same price tag. Silver Arrow is priced at $79.95, but it already includes two very good fans among the bundled accessories. Now let’s check out the heatsink.

Design and Functionality

Doesn’t it look familiar to you?

 

 

True, this is none other but a nickel-plated and polished off Cogage Arrow heatsink, which in its turn is none other but Thermalright IFX-14 with modified heatsink fins. So, you probably wonder how Thermalright is going to regain its leadership? Well, let’s find out.

The Silver Arrow cooler consists of a copper base plate, four copper heatpipes 8 mm in diameter, two heatsink arrays with 0.3 mm thick aluminum plates that are spaced out at 1.6 mm all contact spots are carefully soldered together, so that no soldering residue is anywhere to be found. The ends of the heatpipes are covered with tall caps. These caps make the cooler 166 mm tall instead of the 160 mm as indicated in the spec sheet. It is 147 mm wide and 123 mm deep. The heatsink weighs 825 g.

 

The entire structure is nickel-plated and polished off to mirror-shine. The distance between two heatsink arrays is 39 mm:

 

The calculated effective heatsink surface of the Thermalright Silver Arrow cooler is 11,560 cm2. Each aluminum heatsink plate has eight petals along the edge with one beveled corner that are bent in different directions. According to Thermalright, these petals should help reduce the airflow resistance and push the airflow faster through each of the heatsink arrays. It these particular petals that make Silver Arrow extremely efficient even with low-speed cooling fans.

The heatpipes are arranged very simply inside the heatsink arrays: they are all lined up along the same axis and pierce the heatsink arrays right in the center:

The thinnest part of the copper base is 2 mm and each heatpipe lies inside a special groove:

The 40x40 mm base of this cooler is finished in a typical manner for this Taiwanese company:

As for the flatness of the base surface, it is also the same uniquely uneven contact area, which is also typical of this Taiwanese manufacturer:

 

Despite this fact, the cooler is pressed against the entire CPU heat-spreader, although the pressure is uneven, which is something we have expected to see considering how bend the cooler base is:

 

Compatibility and Installation Tips

Thermalright Silver Arrow is totally universal. For AMD processors you will need a backplate and a cross-shaped retention plate. For Intel CPUs you will use retention with a universal backplate for all three platforms (LGA775/1156/1366) that provides variable pressure. We have seen a similar retention on Venomous X and HR-02 cooler.

Silver Arrow looks gigantic when installed onto a mainboard:

The distance from the LGA1366 mainboard to the lowest heatsink plate is 47 mm, so there will hardly be any conflicts between the cooler and any heatsinks in the area around the processor socket. However, one of the fans installed using enclosed wire clips and shock absorbing pads may be in the way of memory modules with tall heat-spreaders, because its lower edge is going to hang lower than the heatsink:

As we have already mentioned above, Thermalright TY-140 fans will be discussed in detail in ou8r upcoming article, although we did include their specifications into the Silver Arrow technical specs chart below. However, we would like to point out right away that Thermalright could have made the fan power cable somewhat longer, as it is only 25 cm, which is not enough.

As a result, we see the same Thermalright IFX-14 with slightly modified heatsink plates, improved retention, two 140 mm fans among the bundled accessories and almost mirror-like nickel-plated coating. Don’t you think that these modifications could be too insignificant to ensure that the cooler wins Thermalright their leadership back with confidence? Well, we are about to find out now.

Technical Specifications and Recommended Pricing

Testbed and Methods

We ran all tests inside a system case with a removed side panel. Here is our testbed configuration:

When we tested the coolers with fans installed, we overclocked our six-core processor (with its default protuberant heat-spreader) with the multiplier set at 24x and “Load-Line Calibration” enabled to 4.41 GHz. The nominal processor Vcore was increased to 1.44375 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 1.47 GHz (7-7-7-14_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:

We increased the amount of RAM compared with our previous test session in order to increase the load. 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 23.6-23.9 °C.

We are going to compare Thermalright Silver Arrow against Noctua NH-D14 super-cooler with a default fan and with two Thermalright TY-140 fans:

 

 

Both coolers were tested in three speed modes of their Thermalright TY-140 fans: at 810, 1020 and 1280 (±2%) RPM. Besides that, we also tested the efficiency of Silver Arrow and NH-D14 with two high-speed Scythe Slip Stream 140 fans at 1750 RPM (92.4 CFM).

Cooling Efficiency Tests

The obtained results are summed up in the following table and diagram:


Click to enlarge

Obviously, these two super-coolers are very close in cooling efficiency. Nevertheless, despite pretty high heatsink plate density, Thermalright Silver Arrow proves more efficient than Noctua NH-D14 when tested with default fans (do the petals really help?). The difference is 3°C in quiet mode, 2°C in medium speed mode and 1°C at maximum fan speed. I have to say that when we installed Thermalright TY-140 fans onto the Noctua heatsink, its efficiency didn’t improve compared with what we saw with default fans, which indicates clearly that both companied did a good job finding the best fan for their product. The use of high-speed Scythe Slip Stream 140 also didn’t substantially affect the cooling efficiency of either Silver Arrow or NH-D14.

In conclusion to our cooling efficiency tests we would like to see how far they allow overclocking the processor with their default fans in place and working at their maximum rotation speed:


ThermalrightSilver Arrow
(2 TY-140 1280 RPM)


NoctuaNH-D14
(NF-P12 1340 RPM, NF-P14 1240 RPM)

As we see, we managed to achieve the same CPU frequency in both coolers – 4488 MHz with identical Vcore setting of 1.46875 V. However, Thermalright Silver Arrow ensured slightly lower peak CPU temperature, than Noctua NH-D14. Anyway, both coolers are simply excellent, no doubt about that.

Acoustic Performance

We will measure the noise from 140 mm fans of the today’s testing participants using our new measuring methodology, which will be described in detail in our next article. Here are the obtained results:


Click to enlarge

As you can easily notice, Thermalright TY-140 fan is way quieter than Noctua NF-P14 FLX. And the difference is so significant that at the level of acoustic comfort when both fans produce the same amount of noise the difference in rotation speed reaches 200 RPM in favor of the Thermalright solution. From the subjective prospective I would also like to point out not the low level of noise from TY-140 that much, but the pleasant sound it makes: it doesn’t rattle, crackle or whistle. There are no acoustic parasitic additions of any kind. At up to 800-850 RPM we can only hear the sound of flowing air creates by the fan blades. In other words, while Thermalright Silver Arrow didn’t really outperform Noctua NH-D14 that much in cooling efficiency, but when it came to acoustics, Silver Arrow was indisputably on top.

Conclusion

Noctua NH-D14 appeared about 7 months ago and outperforms the former leader, Thermalright IFX-14, by about 1-3°Cin cooling efficiency. As we have just found out, Thermalright didn’t take long to prepare revenge and created a new competitor built around their successful IFX-14 cooler equipped with the new retention and a pair of new TY-140 140 mm fans. As a result, a new old leader in the CPU cooler market was born. It is also extremely important that the fans used on Silver Arrow cooler are much quieter than the Noctua fans of the same size, so the new cooler will definitely please not only the users who look for maximum cooling efficiency, but also those who value quiet systems. Also do not forget that the MSRP of the new Thermalright Silver Arrow cooler is $5 lower than that of its direct competitor. We hope that with the launch of this new cooler we will see a new round of competition in the upper price segment, which will encourage the manufacturers to design not just modified and upgraded, but completely new solutions.

Thermalright Silver Arrow receives our Editor’s Choice title as the today’s most efficient CPU air-cooler: