by Sergey Lepilov
12/09/2008 | 07:20 PM
The simplest way of increasing the efficiency of an air cooler is to make its heatsink larger, provide a more powerful fan or even a couple of fans. In my opinion this is purely extensive development, however, there are a lot of companies out there, who have no problem with taking this extensive path. Take, for instance, the CNPS series coolers from the Korean Zalman Company –7000/7700 and 9500/9700 models. However, despite the seeming simplicity of this approach, it is very effective and larger coolers do offer better cooling efficiency.
Our today’s hero is a new cooling solution from Thermaltake – Thermaltake V14Pro. It is a typical example of this type of coolers, because it is a successor to Thermaltake V1 with a little bit more modest dimensions and weight. So, let’s check out the newcomer now.
The large cardboard box that Thermaltake V14Pro (CL-P0472) ships in is designed in Thermaltake’s typical manner. There are two cut-out windows on the front and back of the box that reveal the cooler:
As for the information on the package, it is pretty common for Thermaltake, so there is barely anything peculiar about it that we could point out.
The clear plastic casing inside the cardboard box holds the cooler and a small box with accessories securely:
The small white box contains the following accessories:
I would like to mention that the new cooler still comes without the retention kit for the LGA 1366 platform. Another interesting thing is that Thermaltake V14Pro, unlike Thermaltake BigTyp 14Pro, is bundled with Thermaltake interface instead of the SilMORE thermal compound. We are going to check out its efficiency in one of our next thermal compound roundups. At this point I have to add that the new cooler is made in China and its recommended price is set at $83. The sample we got for our tests today was made on 08/13/2008.
Thermaltake V14Pro cooler is very stately and beautiful:
It has grown up quite a bit: from 147 x 92 x 143 mm to 171 x 100 x 161 mm, however, its design didn’t change. The difference is that now it uses 6 copper heatpipes 6mm in diameter instead of 4:
The heatpipes hold two heatsink arrays, each including 49 thin (~0.15 mm) copper fins. The fins are spread out in a fan-shaped manner starting at the base of the cooler where they are pinched together with small locks. At the top of the heatsink the gap between them is about 5mm. each fin bears an embossed Thermaltake logo.
There is a fan installed between the heatsink arrays. It cools them down with incoming and outgoing airflows:
In my humble opinion, the heatpipes distribution from the cooler base is not quite correct. Two shortest heatpipes coming out of the center of the base lead to the lower part of the “fans” and end almost at the level of the fan rotor. As you know, the airflow generated by the fan is relatively weak in this area. Two heatpipes next to them are a little longer and go in the opposite direction:
They pierce the heatsink a little above the fan rotor. And a pair of external heatpipes transfers the heat to the very top of the two heatsink “fans”. This is the zone where the heatsink temperature is overall lower and the airflow from the fan – higher. So, why couldn’t Thermaltake engineers try making these long heatpipes come out of the center of the cooler base rather than its sides? Theoretically, even despite the length of these heatpipes, the cooling efficiency should improve. By the way, the manufacturer claims that the total length of the heatpipes used in Thermaltake V14Pro cooling solution equals 1730 mm!
Frameless fan is fastened on an aluminum stand between the heatsink arrays. The stand is screwed on to the aluminum pad on the heatpipes:
You can unscrew this aluminum pad and remove it easily. You will notice traces of thermal glue beneath it that is used to ensure better contact between the heatpipes and the copper base plate:
By the way, the fins also glued to the heatpipes, but not soldered, like by Thermaltake BigTyp 14Pro, therefore, some of them are not sitting on heatpipes tight enough and may shift if you are not handling the cooler gently.
In the base, the heatpipes lie in special grooves, so there is larger contact area with the base and as a result, the heat is transferred more effectively. The thinnest part of the base beneath the heatpipes measures 3mm:
The base is impeccably finished and polished to mirror-shine, like the base of the praised Thermaltake BigTyp 14Pro:
It is also remarkably even: both thermal compound imprints came out extremely fine:
Thermaltake V14Pro uses exact same seven-blade 140-mm fan as BigTyp 14Pro. It is 30 mm tall:
I would like to remind you that its rotation speed may be adjusted from ~1000 to ~1600 RPM at 16.0-24.0 dBA of noise and 85.76 CFM maximum airflow.
TT-1430A fan model is made by EverFlow and has three blue LEDs:
The fan frictionless bearing should last 50,000 hours or over 5.7 years guaranteed. According to the specifications, maximum power consumption of this fan is ~3.84 W (at 0.32 A), although the information on the rotor sticker tells otherwise. However, I have already pointed it out to you in the previous article.
The fan is connected to a three-pin mainboard connector:
You can adjust the fan rotation speed with a small regulator that is not very convenient to work with. It is attached to the main fan cable.
Thermaltake V14Pro weighs 840 g, which is even 40 g heavier than Thermaltake BigTyp 14Pro weighs.
Thermaltake V14Pro may be installed on Intel platforms with LGA 775 socket and AMD platforms for K8 and K10 processors. In the latter case you will have to use the enclosed swing-clip with a thumb-lock that catches to the loops on the standard plastic socket frame:
And as for LGA 775 platform, the cooler installs using plastic clips. The cooler is pressed against the processor heat-spreader pretty tightly in this case, because this type of cooler retention even bends the mainboard PCB. However, I would prefer to use reach-through retention with screws and backplate for the cooler of this size and weight. I would also like to mention once again that at this time there is no LGA 1366 retention kit among the bundled accessories.
Thermaltake V14Pro installed into a system case looks like this:
Although the cooler is pretty compact at its base, one of the heatpipes touched the chipset heatsink:
However, this is not a critical issue for LGA 775 mainboards, because you can simply turn the cooler by 90 degrees. As for AMD K8 and K10 platforms, you have to make sure in advance that there are no tall heatsinks in the area around the processor socket. We haven’t revealed any dependence of the cooling efficiency on the way the cooler is facing when installed into the system case. You can also download multi-lingual installation manual from Thermaltake’s official web-site (5.506 KB file).
The fan highlighting looks very pretty in the dark:
Even during the day you can’t help noticing bright blue lighting between the heatsink fins. Although, LED highlighting is a matter of individual preference, of course.
Technical specifications and recommended retail price of the new Thermaltake V14Pro cooler are summed up in the table below:
The new cooler is even more expensive than Thermaltake BigTyp 14Pro ($70)! Most likely the use of solid copper, complex and unique design and the requests from marketing department have affected the end price. At this time Thermaltake V14Pro should already be selling.
We tested Thermaltake V14Pro and its competitor in two modes: in an open testbed when the mainboard sits horizontally on the desk and the coolers are installed vertically, and in a closed testbed with the mainboard in vertical position.
Our testbed was identical for all coolers and featured the following configuration:
All tests were performed under Windows Vista Ultimate Edition x86 SP1. SpeedFan 4.36 beta 15 was used to monitor the temperature of the CPU and mainboard chipset, reading it directly from the CPU core sensor and to monitor the rotation speed of the cooler fans:
The mainboard’s automatic fan speed management feature as well as CPU power-saving technologies were disabled for the time of the tests in the mainboard BIOS. The CPU thermal throttling was controlled with the RightMark CPU Clock Utility version 2.35.0:
The CPU was heated up in two modes. First we used Linpack 32-bit with convenient LinX shell version 0.5.1 to heat up the CPU to its maximum. We manually set the RAM capacity at 1850MB and recorded 15 runs.
Since we ran the test twice with 20/10-minute idle period between the runs for the system to cool down and temperatures to stabilize, the relatively short actual testing period was quite enough for the maximum processor temperature to become stable.
The second test mode included performance under workload created by the popular Far Cry 2 game. We ran the built-in benchmark in “Ranch Long” mode three times:
To minimize the dependence of the CPU performance on the graphics card in our system we used low 800x600 pixels resolution but “High” image quality settings. In this mode our GeForce GTX 260 (216 SP) graphics card working at higher frequencies delivered average framerate of ~114 fps. I would like to say that if you have any suggestions about an alternative to Linpack workload using some other contemporary game/application, please email us. We will gladly consider your input.
I performed at least two cycles of tests in both test modes and waited for approximately 20 minutes for the temperature inside the system case to stabilize during each test cycle. The stabilization period in an open testbed took about half the time. Despite the stabilization period, the result of the second test cycle was usually 0.5-1°C higher. We took the maximum temperature of the hottest processor core after two test cycles for the results charts. We will also provide the detailed temperature readings for each core in the results table.
The ambient temperature was checked next to the system case with an electronic thermometer that allows monitoring the temperature changes over the past 6 hours. During our test session room temperatures varied between 23.5~24.0°C. It is used as a starting point on the temperature diagrams. Note that the fan rotation speeds as shown in the diagrams are the average readings reported by SpeedFan, and not the official claimed fan specifications.
The noise level of each cooler was measured after 1:00AM in a closed room about 20sq.m big using CENTER-321 electronic noise meter. The measurements were taken at 3cm, 1m and 3m distance from the noise source. During the acoustics tests all three 120-mm case fans were slowed down to ~700 RPM. In this mode the background noise from the system case measured at 1m distance didn’t exceed ~32.8 dBA, and the loudest fan was the 140-mm fan of the system power supply. When the system was completely powered off, our noise meter detected 30.8 dBA (the lowest on the charts is 30 dBA. The subjectively comfortable noise level is around 34~34.5 dBA.
Unfortunately, we no longer had the previous “fan”-shaped coolers at our disposal, so it was pretty challenging to find a fair competitor to Thermaltake V14Pro this time. It seems to be a tower-cooler, but its extremely unusual shape made the fairness of this assumption doubtful. Besides, it is also pretty expensive. Therefore, after a lot of thinking we decided to compare it against Thermalright SI-128 SE ($40) equipped with the most suitable Scythe Ultra Kaze fan ($13.6) measuring 120 x 120 x 38 mm:
This comparison against an etalon cooling system will allow us to compare Thermaltake V14Pro against the recently tested Thermaltake BigTyp 14Pro. The fan on Thermalright SI-128 SE worked in two modes: quiet mode at ~960 RPM and maximum rotation speed for this fan of ~2920 RPM. Thermalright SI-128 SE was installed into the system case with the ends of the heatpipes facing up. We didn’t improve the cooler in any way, namely, didn’t additionally polish or even out its base.
During Linpack tests inside a closed system case using the “weakest” cooling system of the today’s testing participants we managed to overclock our 45 nm quad-core processor to 3.7 GHz (+23.3%). The nominal processor Vcore was increased to ~1.4875 V in the mainboard BIOS (+29.3%).
During the tests in Far Cry 2 game the CPU remained stable up to 4.0 GHz (+33.3%) at 1.525V (+32.6%) Vcore.
The detailed results for both coolers are given in the table below (click to enlarge) and on the diagram. The results are grouped according to the testbed type (case or open testbed) and according to the noise level:
Click to enlarge
I don’t think that any of our regular readers actually believed that Thermaltake V14Pro could succeed against one of the best super coolers. The newcomer lost about 7-9°C to Thermalright SI-128 SE under peak load in Linpack 32-bit. In Far Cry 2 the temperature difference between the two coolers is smaller, and so is the temperature of the hottest CPU core.
At the same time, if we compare Thermaltake V14Pro against its predecessor, Thermaltake V1, we will see a significant improvement in cooling efficiency and increase in processor overclocking potential. Just remember our recent review of Thermaltake V1 AX, where the latter could cope with an overclocked processor in Linpack 32-bit only at 3.5GHz frequency and 1.375V Vcore. Thermaltake V14Pro helps retain CPU stability at 3.7GHz frequency and 1.4875V Vcore.
Here I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that the processor temperature dropped down a little when the fan rotation speed on Thermalright SI-128 SE cooler tripled. As we found out during an additional test session, the temperature of the processor topped with this cooler reduces is the fan rotation speed increases at up to ~2,000 RPM. Further fan rotation speed increase doesn’t have any positive effect. At least, this is true for the current processor overclocking and the particular fan type we used. This powerful fan may have even greater advantage at higher CPU frequency and Vcore settings.
The next thing to discuss is the diagram with the acoustic measurements for our today’s testing participants:
It doesn’t make sense to compare the acoustics of these two coolers at maximum rotation speeds of their fans, because it is quite logical that the fan of SI-128 SE working at almost twice the speed of Thermaltake will be louder. However, when we looked at the results obtained at minimal fan rotation speeds, Thermaltake V14Pro again yielded to the competitor, although its fan working at ~920 RPM generated subjectively comfortable noise. We noticed no crackling of the rotor or parasitic vibrations.
I believe Thermaltake V14Pro cooler shouldn’t be estimated only from the efficiency standpoint. First of all, this cooling solution is intended to impress and amaze, now even more than its predecessors did. And we have to admit that it really does great here, because dual copper fan highlighted with blue LEDs will undoubtedly be the most beautiful part of your system. Although you will have to have a clear side panel or window or use no case at all in order to enjoy this beauty on a daily basis.
The cooler is truly beautiful, but we also shouldn’t forget about its improved cooling efficiency: far not every cooler out there can get a quad-core CPU overclocked to 3.7GHz running in Linpack for 30 minutes. However, overclockers may still be able to find something more efficient and quieter and definitely way cheaper than $83 they ask for Thermaltake V14Pro…