CPU Cooler Tests

ALPHA Socket 7 and VANTEC Heatsink Tests

Vantec kindly sent me four heatsinks to test – two PII units and two PIII’s, each representing a single and double fan configuration. They are very well made, easy to mount and perform adequately with one exception – the Vantec PIII double fan unit is the BEST PIII cooler tested to date. It ranks about equally with the Global and TennMax Celeron coolers and that ain’t bad. The three others are OK performers but not stand-outs. For you folks buying PIIIs, this 2 fan unit is the way to go – relatively quiet, uses a unique rear mounting system that looks like a Ninja star, uses SUNON branded fans rather than non-descript OEM fans and performs very well – worth a serious look.

The real surprise (maybe we should not be so surprised considering the Celeron ALPHA) is the OUTSTANDING performance of the ALPHA Socket 7 cooler – it cools better than top rated VEK12! This for a single fan unit! This is extremely well engineered, sporting over 250 octagonal pin fins and a fairly substantial base. It is anodized but not black – silver colored but non-conductive – I tested it and it does not conduct electricity.

The fan is mounted so that it blows up and out, not down. There is a skirt around the top half of the heatsink to channel air more effectively though it and it works great. The unit right now does not come with a fan so I used a VEK12 fan (26cfm) to cool it. From what I can see this is about the upper limit of what I can find in 60mm fans, so it should be representative of what to expect. Alpha plans to sell this unit with a fan but it is not available yet.

Pricing

Alpha is quoting a price of $20.40 for the unit without a fan, and $32.20 with a fan, plus $5 shipping. If you have a real good 60mm fan, buying the bare unit is OK. If you don’t, you can spend another $15 easily to get a 25 cfm 60mm fan. I am talking to ALPHA about a bulk purchase and chasing down some fan sources to bring prices down somewhat. I’ll keep you posted – this is not my line of business but I am so convinced that this heatsink is so far ahead of any other commercially available that I will go out on a limb. I am also convinced that this is one heatsink that will allow us to mount peltiers on Socket 7 CPUs.

CONCLUSION

For PIIIs, the VANTEC P3D 5020R is a solid performer. For Socket 7s there is no one close to what the ALPHA PFH6035MFC can do. Stay tuned for availability.

The CPU Cooler Database is designed to measure the relative performance in an apples-to-apples comparison of one of the most critical elements in your overclocked system – the Heatsink. If you want more details, use the links at the bottom of this page.

The following Table lists a number of CPU Coolers for Pentium IIs, III’s and Celeron Slot 1 and PPGA’s. These units were tested using a 40 watt Peltier to simulate a C300a overclocked to 450 @ 2.4 volts – This is a torture test for these coolers. All units were tested with pads removed and using thermal grease – some pads may be as effective as grease (certainly not messy) but the best pads equal grease’s performance but do not exceed it. If you think you’re getting the absolute best pad with your unit, you’re probably wrong.

The Score represents all units relative to the absolute best temperature difference you could achieve between the peltier’s cold side and the ambient temperature: 65 degrees MAX. The score is derived from the best stable cold side temperature each heat sink was able to maintain relative to ambient temperature, expressed as a percent of MAX. All units were tested within one hour of each other. Two power supplies were used, one for the Peltier and one for the fans. The test results represent four separate test series conducted at different times and different days.

Three units identifed with Mod are stock units modified as follows:

The Benchtest Fullway is the Fullway heatsink modified by Jim at Benchtest.com.
The TennMax VIVA Mod replaces the stock fans (MO # N5010B) with faster ones (MO # N5010B1-8 – 10,000 rpm) from the same manufacturer; in addition, I tweaked performance by placing a small card between the 2 fans so that they would not interfere with each other;
The AVID is a stock 1 fan unit modified to take 2 10,000 rpm fans;
The PII333 Intel is a stock Intel unit with the hood removed and with one 10,000 rpm fan.
Oh, the Ultima J is my home made cooler – it is an industrial heatsink consisting of a 4″x4″ block of aluminum, 10 fins 1 3/4″ high cooled by a 120mm fan, total weight 1 1/2 pounds. Now if I can only figure out how to mount it…

A=Anodized, B=Bright, C=Cast, M=Milled,

CPU Cooler Test          
           
Cooler Score Fans Type Noise Notes
           
Ultima J 95.4 1 BM LO- Home Made Monster
ALPHA PFH6035MFC 92.9 1 A LO- BEST Socket 7
Benchtest Fullway 86.5 2 B LO Super Celeron Heatsink
Global VEK 12 PII 86.1 2 AM HI BEST PII – but Noisiest
TennMax Viva Mod 86.1 2 AM LO- Faster Fans = Performance Equal to VEK 12
TennMax Viva PII 83.6 2 AM LO Surprisingly close to VEK 12
Global FAB 28 Celeron 83.3 2 BM LO- BEST Celeron – FAB24 with faster fans
TennMax Celeron TF 82.1 2 AM LO Close to Global FAB28
Vantec P3D 5020R 81.6 2 AM LO- BEST PIII Cooler
Global FAB 24 Celeron 81.5 2 BM LO Well made, easy to mount
Global CPM25603-12 PPGA 80.6 1 AM MOD Very Good PPGA Cooler
AVID PII Mod 80.6 2 AM LO OK for easy overclocking
Global PIII AOS 20 78.2 2 AM LO Small version of VEK 12
Intel Celeron 266 77.3 1 AM LO OK for normal use
Vantec PIID SL 5020 76.5 2 AM LO OK for normal use
Intel PII333 Mod 74.8 1 AC LO- OK for normal use
Vantec P3 5020R 74.2 1 AM LO OK for normal use
Net-N-Dude Glacier 4500 C 74.2 3 AM MOD Not for Overclocking
PC Power & Cooling Z1 71.6 1 BC LO Not for Overclocking
Cofan PII KC300 71.4 1 BC LO Not for Overclocking
Cofan Celeron KC266 67.4 1 BC LO Not for Overclocking
Vantec PII SL 5020 64.0 1 AM LO Not for Overclocking
Net-N-Dude Arctic Cap 59.1 1 AM LO OK as Slot 1 back cooler
Generic Socket 7 34.0 1 AM LO Inadequate

Conclusions: No question ALPHA makes one of the finest heatsinks around – also no question the Celeron and PII versions are large and do not pass Intel’s spec – see reviews at John Bogush’s Celeron OC Info. The Socket 7 is a little larger than the Global CPM12 but not overly so – the ALPHA is 2 1/2 inches high. From what I have seen any ALPHA will beat any other heatsink by a large margin.

The Global VEK 12 is noisy* but very effective, ranks #1 for PII coolers but not by as much as you might think – The TennMax VIVA PII is not that far behind and a lot quieter. With higher speed fans and a little tweaking, the TennMax VIVA ranks equal to the VEK 12 and a lot easier on the ears. If TennMax wants to market an overclockers product, IMHO it won’t take much – it’s a fan switch with minimal direct cost impact.

The Global FAB28 pulled ahead of the TennMax TF using faster fans from a company called Innovative – the same company that supplies the VEK12 fans. The Intel units are not bad; I was surprised at their performance and they are certainly adequate for normal use, as are the Cofans and Net-N-Dude units (see Net-N-Dude review in Articles).

The Vantecs are good units also and the P3D 5020R is a solid choice for PIIIs. The others are OK but not up to the performance levels of Global and TennMax.

The Cofans deserve a special mention; these units are well designed, cast aluminum units but are underpowered. The radial design of the casting is clearly very efficient, but without 2 fan horsepower, lags the field. (The Net-N-Dude Glacier 4500 C uses the Cofan KC266 and mounts 3 fans on it, but performance is not markedly improved.) I overvolted the fans and found a 3 degree temperature improvement. These are adequate units comparable to Intel’s stock units. NOTE: The literature recommends mounting these units without thermal grease – if you want them to run 10-15 degrees hotter, be my guest.

More units are on the way for tests – stay tuned.

Links to Manufacturers and other Reviews:

Reviews (Go here for details):

Heatsink Guide – One of the best Cooling Sites around.
Thermal Net – Another site specializing in cooling info and data.
Benchtest.com – Great site for all kinds of cooling stuff.
John Bogush’s Celeron OC Info – Heatsinks reviewed at various O/C speeds.
Anand Tech – Review of selected Heatsinks.
Tweakit – Review of selected Heatsinks.
CPU Central – Review of selected Heatsinks.
Hardware Pros – Review of selected Heatsinks.
BX Boards – Review of selected Heatsinks.
The Techs – Review of selected Heatsinks under “Cooling”.

Manufacturers (Go here for specs and pretty pictures):

AAVID
ALPHA
COFAN USA
Global Win
Net-N-Dude
PC Power & Cooling
Tenn Max
Vantec

*I tamed the noise on my VEK 12 by taking off the 2 50 mm fans and mounting a 90 mm fan instead – same performance at greatly reduced noise…as long as you have a case that allows for the extra height (InWin Q500 – IMHO best case for the $s).


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