It Appears Step Thermodynamics has gone out of business! This review was done in 1999. Things seem to have changed since then!
On this review I’m going to do something a little different. I’m combining a Vendor Review and a product review into one article. The reason is that you cannot review a STEP Enhanced CPU without also reviewing the Company behind it.
I started talking to the great folks at STEP ThermoDynamics a couple months ago because their products really interested me. There have been some reviews of the STEP CPU’s on other sites but what really caught my attention is their guarantee. Who would ever think someone would guarantee an overclocked CPU for LIFE. We all know what overclocking a CPU will eventually do to the life of that CPU. The reason this happens is quite simply HEAT.
Heat shortens the life of almost any electronic device, especially IC’s (Integrated Circuits). STEP is a company made up of mainly Engineers who specialize in Thermo Dynamics. They only manufacture cooling systems that have all been designed in house with some very impressive Technology.
STEP: The Company
As I said, I have been in contact with Skye from STEP for a couple of months. We exchanged several dozen emails while I was debating which CPU I was going to obtain. Every question and concern was answered promptly and honestly even when I felt I was being somewhat of a pest.
During these emails, I learned a lot about STEP and their “Mission Statement”. Quite honestly, they want their customers to be happy, period. That’s why the Lifetime Warranty on the STEP CPU’s and Cooling Systems. STEP also sells CPU’s and Memory AT THEIR COST so you may pay a little more for the cooling system but in the long run, it ends up being cheaper if you also buy the CPU and Memory from STEP.
I found my experience with STEP to be one of the best I ever had. I would definitely recommend them to anyone.
STEP Enhanced PIII 500
Upon opening the box from Step I was a bit surprised that the PIII did not use any TEC’s (Thermo-electric devices). I once again emailed Skye questioning this, as I was under the impression that the STEP cooling systems made use of TEC’s or Peltier devices. This was his reply:
“Our ET Chips are really great, and may come back into play in the not too
distant future. But the bottom line is that our customers expect certain
things from us. Honesty. Great service. Reliability. And results. The
10-20F that MAY be saved with the ET Chips just wasn’t needed to get the job
done…” “…And overly complex systems just don’t hold up as well”
“…Look at our competition come and go. =( But there are winners out there. Kryotech lives on one end of the scale… STEP on the other. We’re a quality company with a different perspective. We would love for EVERYONE to have a PC with a STEP Enhanced CPU! (No, we’re not nuts! )”
What I did notice that the area around the “core” of the CPU was built up with STEP’s Primary Modified Acrylic Ester to pull heat off the entire CPU core and transfer it to a beryllium copper plate. Not just the ½” diameter metallic part of the CPU but the entire core. The Cache was also treated with Titanium Dioxide, which was also bonded, to the Copper plate to remove heat from the cache, which has been proven to help overclockability.
Bonded to the Beryllium Copper plate was two of the STEP designed heatsinks. These heatsinks are designed to have as much surface area as heatsinks that are much larger which helps to dissipate the heat very successfully. Mounted to the heatsinks were 4 very high quality ball bearing fans that move about 36 CFM. This combination makes for an extremely efficient setup without being too large and causing space problems on the Motherboard.
I first tested this CPU on an ASUS P3BF but was getting some strange core temp readings. I confirmed this wasn’t fault of the STEP cooling system by mounting a PIII CPU and Alpha cooler and also noticed extremely high core temp readings (about 150 – 160 F!). After some checking I found that this seems to be a fairly common problem with the Asus so I decided to use my trusty BX6R2 for core temp comparison. I was able to run the STEP enhanced CPU at 665 Mhz (5×133) on the Asus at 2.0 volts with total stability.
On the BX6R2 to get some good comparisons, I borrowed a friends PIII 500 which was the same stepping (SL3CD) and mounted an Alpha PIII (P3125S) Heatsink with 2 YS Tech 27mm Fans. All tests were run at 620 Mhz (124 x 5) at 2.1 volts because that’s the best the non-STEP CPU would do. Idle temp was measured 10 minutes after booting into Windows 98 and sitting idle. Temps under load were taken 20 minutes after starting Prime 95. Room temp was 77F for all tests. Case was a PCNut “Nutcase Jr.” with sides on and one 80mm 36CFM Intake fan in the front and one 80mm exhaust fan in the back. Power supply fan was blowing out.
The PIII with the Alpha was 87F idle and 109F under load. The STEP Enhanced CPU was also 87F idle but only 103F under load. The STEP Enhanced CPU out performed the Alpha PIII by 6F under load. Also the STEP cools the cache which helps overclocked stability a bunch. Keep in mind, thermal diode readings will vary from board to board (My particular ASUS is a good example).
Lifetime Warranty, CPU at cost, a very effective cooling system, and a company that is really concerned that you are happy with your investment makes a STEP Enhanced CPU a great investment in my opinion. If you want a very good performing CPU/Cooling System that you can just plug in and forget it. The STEP Enhanced CPU is the way to go. Many years of Engineering and design have made a system that works as advertised and STEP is so confident, they will stand behind it forever. STEP also sells 133Mhz and 150Mhz Memories with Lifetime Warranty’s that you can purchase along with your CPU/Cooling System. They are also in the process of ramping up for some Overclocked K7 action!
This review and comments are just my personal observations and
opinion. As with any products and services, please research throughly
before making any purchases. The reviewer and overclockers.com shall not
and will not be held liable for any damages cause by products reviewed in