Brother against Brother: Thermaltake Big Typhoon vs. Thermaltake MaxOrb

Coming from the same brand, these two air coolers are just too different to end their today’s competition with a draw. We are going to introduce to you the newest Thermaltake cooler – MaxOrb. Let find out if defeats the powerful predecessor.

by Sergey Lepilov
04/19/2007 | 09:02 AM

Releasing their highly successful Big Typhoon back in 2005, Thermaltake has not treated us to anything new and more effective in the way of air-based cooling of CPUs since then. Minor improvements of the Typhoon resulted in the modified VX version presented in 2006, and that’s all.

 

The return of the Orb trademark with appropriate air coolers was, in my opinion, a rather lame attempt to appeal to overclockers. And finally, there was CeBIT 2007 where Thermaltake showcased its MaxOrb, a cooler that combined radial ribs with heat pipes.

However, the Typhoon is still being produced and selling for very modest money in comparison with other high-efficiency coolers. Can the young MaxOrb challenge the old Big Typhoon and earn overclockers’ recognition? I am going to answer this question, and some others too, in this article.

So let's get started!

Thermaltake MaxOrb (CL-P0369): Package and Accessories

The impressively large red-and-black box with a cut-out in the face side proved to be very light for its dimensions. The reason for low weight will soon get clear. Right now, let’s check out the packaging:

It is pretty, isn’t it? Here are more photos of it if you like to read texts on product packages:

  

Inside the cardboard box there is a plastic tray that envelops the cooler and its accessories:

This minimizes the risk of the device getting damaged during transportation. I put a stress on this fact because sometimes we receive crumpled, bent or even downright damaged components. Any of you who has ordered a component with delivery can encounter the same problem, so the manufacturer’s attention to packaging is important.

The following accessories are laid into a separate white box in the bottom part of the box:

Design

There is not much new, let alone revolutionary, in the MaxOrb design. The changes it brings into the well-known Orb series should rather be regarded as a deep modification. The shape of the cooler’s heatsink hasn’t changed much and remains a ribbed bowl with a fan in the center:

The bowl is rather large in diameter at 144 millimeters, so the manufacturer easily placed a 120mm fan into it. What is the most surprising thing, the cooler weighs only 465 grams with all its large dimensions! For comparison, the Big Typhoon is as heavy as 813 grams while its modernized VX version, 822 grams.

But as soon as you turn the MaxOrb upside down, you realize that Thermaltake’s engineers have finally set themselves to work and come up with something truly new and original (they took 3 years to do that, by the way :)):

So, there are six 6mm copper heat pipes going out of the nickel-plated copper base. Each pipe makes up a semicircle in its separate tier of aluminum ribs, distributing heat flow among them.

The manufacturer’s “Tt” logo is pressed out in the outermost (tallest) row of the ribs. This row is also reinforced with a rigidity rib that additionally enlarges the heat dissipation area. The edges of the ribs are processed so that you didn’t cut your fingers on them.

The ends of the pipes meet in the horizontal mounting block. This makes the whole arrangement robust because the heatsink actually hangs on the heat pipes:

There is a total of 142 aluminum ribs hanging on the outermost pipes. There are fewer of them on the internal tiers.

There is a continuous fan speed controller there:

Just like with the Thermaltake Big Typhoon 120 VX, this position of the controller helps avoid extra wires in the system case, but you have to delve into your computer every time you want to change the fan speed.

The MaxOrb is equipped with a fan with nine translucent 110mm impellers (120mm fan form-factor) and blue highlighting:

 

This ТТ-1225А fan (marked as “T121212SH”) was manufactured in China in January this year (probably by Everflow). The speed controller can change the rotation speed of the fan from a minimum of 1300rpm to a maximum of 2000rpm, creating 86.5CFM airflow. The noise level changes from 16 to 24dBA at that.

The cooler’s base is processed well:

The visible circular traces of the milling machine are not perceptible by touch. The base is perfectly flat.

There are grooves in the bottom plate of the copper base as well as in the cap above it. They increase the heat transfer area. The heat pipes have contact with both plates by means of soldering. You can see barely visible traces of soldering on the edges of the plates:

 

A screw is inserted into the top plate and a fastening lever rotates freely on it. It is about how to mount and fasten the cooler on a mainboard that I’ll be talking in the next section.

Installation

The enclosed guide gives you a detailed description of the installation process for every supported platform. Well, the process is intuitive, so you can just as well do without the guide.

The universal fastening frame is the main thing here:

The photo above shows this frame with LGA775 fasteners. As for fastening this frame on platforms for K8 processors, you only have to replace the plastic fasteners with barrels and screws and an appropriate back-plate. I guess it’s clear that you have to take the mainboard out of the system case to do that and your choice of the orientation of the fastening frame is going to be limited. But the MaxOrb being not a tower-like cooler, this fact is not as critical for it as for tower designs, so I don’t count this as a drawback.

It’s all simple after that (well, there has not been anything difficult before, either). Just put the frame on the socket and insert the plastic locks into the mainboard’s holes:

Then smudge some thermal grease on the CPU, put the cooler down and fasten it to the CPU heat-spreader by means of the pressure clip and the long thumb nut:

The pressure force is high. The cooler doesn’t wobble on its base as some other models do (including the Thermaltake Big Typhoon 120 VX, by the way). The plastic frame is compact enough for the mainboard’s elements around the socket not to get in its way.

The MaxOrb is only 95 millimeters high, so it doesn’t look large inside the system case:

As I said above, the cooler’s fan has blue highlighting which will please every modder, especially at night:

The cooler’s fan is very quiet at its minimum 1300rpm. When working at 2000rpm, it is just as noisy as any other 120mm fan at such a speed. The fan bearing doesn’t rattle whatever speed you select for it.

Specification

The following table lists the specifications of the two coolers from Thermaltake:

Testbed and Methods

The coolers are tested in a closed system case with the following configuration:

All tests are performed in Windows XP Professional Edition Service Pack 2. SpeedFan 4.32 is used to monitor the temperature of the CPUs, reading it from the CPU sensor. The AMD CPU is heated by S&M version 1.9.0b for 15 minutes at 100% FPU load. The Intel CPU is heated up by means of Intel Thermal Analysis Tool for 18 minutes (according to the method described in our article called Originality or Efficiency? Cooler Master Mars, Eclipse and Hyper TX Cooling Solutions Reviewed).

The mainboards’ automatic fan speed management is disabled for the time of the tests. The thermal throttling of the Intel Core 2 Duo processor is controlled with RightMark CPU Clock Utility version 2.25 (our processor begins to skip clock cycles on reaching a temperature of 81.5°C).

I perform at least two cycles of tests in each mode (TAT and S&M) and wait for 25-30 minutes for the temperature to stabilize during each test cycle. The maximum temperature 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 ambient temperature was monitored by means of an electric thermometer and remained at 23.5°C during the tests.

Thermal Performance

The AMD Athlon X2 3800+ was overclocked from its default clock rate of 2000MHz to 2860MHz (a frequency gain of 40.0%) at a 280MHz clock-gen frequency and with a core voltage increase to 1.55V. The Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 processor was overclocked from its default 2133MHz to 3500MHz (a 64.1% frequency growth) with a core voltage increase to 1.45V.

The fan speeds in the diagrams are shown as reported by the monitoring tools. Let’s now see which of the two coolers is more effective.

The older cooler wins here, but its advantage is far from overwhelming. The difference between the two coolers is really negligible on the AMD platform in Low Noise mode, which is actually the most important operation mode. On the hotter processor from Intel the MaxOrb is about 3°C worse, which is not critical, either. At the max speed, i.e. in the Performance mode, the Big Typhoon wins by a considerable 5°C, though. Thus, if you are into extreme overclocking and utilize air coolers for that, the Thermaltake Big Typhoon is preferable to the MaxOrb.

Conclusion

I’ve been comparing two coolers from Thermaltake in this review. So, which is better? The Big Typhoon is more effective than the MaxOrb at cooling CPUs and is already selling for a modest price. I guess these two factors are enough to make a choice between the two tested solutions. But if these are not crucial factors for you, you may appreciate the two times lower weight of the MaxOrb, its more convenient fastening mechanism, high finish quality of the base, fan highlighting, and better cooling of the near-socket space (because the fan is placed much closer to the mainboard than with the Big Typhoon). The two coolers are equals when it comes to their noise level, both at the min and max speeds (I compare the MaxOrb with the VX version of the Big Typhoon).

We are now looking forward to test the Zalman CNPS8700, which is designed alike to the MaxOrb, and to a possible release of an all-copper version of the MaxOrb from Thermaltake.