Cooler Master Vortex Plus Heatsink

Cooler Master have sent us over a new heatsink which is aimed at the Home Theater PC (HTPC) market: the Vortex Plus.  I’ve been a fan of Cooler Master products for years so I was excited about the chance to see how this heatsink performed.  Since most HTPC users are mostly concerned with silence, I wasn’t expecting the Vortex Plus to break any overclocking records.  However, I was expecting it to outperform any stock heatsink in both efficiency and noise level.  Therefore, I have used the stock Intel heatsink supplied with my Xeon 3050 processor for comparison.

Product Info

Description from the Cooler Master product page:

“Vortex Plus is a low profile CPU cooler with compact size but uncompromising cooling efficiency. The compact feature best suits in HTPC chassis or chassis with slim width and limited space. The heatsink comes with 4 heatpipes and direct contact base to maximize the heat conductivity and dissipation efficiency. The balanced PWM fan works to provide high airflow under high RPM mode.”

Product features from the Cooler Master product page:

  • Compact profile design for HTPC chassis and LAN box chassis.
  • Universal mounting for Intel LGA1366/1156/775 and AMD AM3/AM2/940/939/754 sockets.
  • 4 x Direct Contact heatpipes for seamless contact between CPU surface and cooler.
Dimensions courtesy CoolerMaster.com
Dimensions (Image courtesy of CoolerMaster.com)
Base courtesy CoolerMaster.com
Base (Image courtesy of CoolerMaster.com)
Fan Installed courtesy CoolerMaster.com
Fan Installed (Image courtesy of CoolerMaster.com)
Heatsink and Fan courtesy CoolerMaster.com
Heatsink and Fan (Image courtesy of CoolerMaster.com)
Installed in Case courtesy CoolerMaster.com
Installed in Case (Image courtesy of CoolerMaster.com)
Accesories courtesy CoolerMaster.com
Accesories (Image courtesy of CoolerMaster.com)

Specifications

Model RR-VTPS-28PK-R1
CPU Socket

Intel Socket LGA1366 / 1156 / 775

AMD Socket AM3/AM2/940/939/754

CPU Support Intel LGA 1366 / 1156 / 775 Socket CPU

  • Core™ i7 Extreme
  • Core™ i7
  • Core™ i5
  • Core™ i3
  • Core™2 Extreme / Quad / Duo
  • Pentium
  • Celeron

AMD AM3 / AM2 / 940 / 939 / 754 Socket CPU

  • Phenom™ II X4 / X3 / X2
  • Phenom™ X4 / X3
  • Athlon™ II X4 / X3 / X2
  • Athlon™ X2
  • Athlon™
  • Sempron™
Dimension 116 x 100 x 84 mm (4.6 x 3.9 x 3.3 inch)
Weight 445g (1 lbs)
Heat Sink Material Aluminum fins + 4 heatpipes
Fan Dimension 92 x 92 x 25 mm (3.6 x 3.6 x 1 inch)
Fan Speed 800 – 2800 RPM (PWM)
Fan Airflow 15.7 – 54.8 CFM
Fan Air Pressure 0.35-4.27 mm H2O
Bearing Type Long life sleeve bearing
Fan Life Expectancy 40,000 hours
Fan Noise Level (dB-A) 17 – 35 dBA
Connector 4-pin
UPC Code 884102008511

First Impressions

The packaging is everything you’d expect from a well respected company like Cooler Master.  The colors and design of the exterior of the box are very professional and the padding on the interior is more than adequate to keep the contents from getting damaged.  The heatsink itself looks like it is manufactured to very exact standards and solidly put together.  I was a little disappointed that the fan did not use ball bearings but it still feels like a quality piece.  All of the mounting hardware is metal except for the pins which attach everything to the motherboard.

This is the only part that bothers me as these are plastic and almost exactly like the stock Intel pins.  The Cooler Master pins do seem to be made of a harder plastic, though, so maybe they will hold up better over several mounts and re-mounts.  However, in practice, one would not expect to mount a heatsink in an HTPC more than once, so if it is mounted correctly the first time then it should not break over the life of the machine.

Packaging
Packaging
Packaging
Packaging
Packaging
Packaging
Packaging
Packaging
Heatsink
Heatsink
Heatsink
Heatsink
Heatsink
Heatsink
Heatsink
Heatsink
Base
Base
Base
Base
Base
Base
Base
Base
Fan
Fan
Fan
Fan
Accesories
Accessories
Heatsink Mounts
Heatsink Mounts

Test Setup

For the tests, I will be using a Xeon 3050 processor with a Biostar TForce 965PT motherboard and 2GB of GeIL DDR2 RAM. Full specs are listed in the table below:

Heatsink
  • Cooler Master Vortex Plus
  • Intel Stock
Motherboard Biostar TForce 965PT w/ Rebels Haven Modded Bios P96CA601.XXX
Processor Intel Xeon 3050
RAM 2GB GeIL DDR2-800 GX22GB6400UDC (2x1GB)
Power Supply Antec NEO HE500 500w
Video Card Gigabyte NVIDIA Geforce 7950GT
Hard Drive Western Digital Caviar SE WD800 80GB
Case Cooler Master CAV-T04-UKC
TIM stock supplied Cooler Master TIM

Each heatsink was tested with a minimum of 3 separate mounts and the temperatures were averaged. The processor status was monitored using HWMonitor, CPU-Z, and CoreTemp.  Stress was applied to the processor using ORTHOS.  Ambient air temperature was monitored using a digital thermometer and fan speeds were controlled using SpeedFan.  Since the Vortex Plus is not marketed as an ultra high performance heatsink, I decided to use the supplied Cooler Master TIM for all of the tests.

Intel Heatsink Installed
Intel Heatsink Installed
Processor Installed
Vortex Plus Mount Installed
Vortex Plus Installed
Vortex Plus Installed
Vortex Plus Installed
Vortex Plus Installed
Fan Installed on Vortex Plus
Fan Installed on Vortex Plus
Fan Installed on Vortex Plus
Fan Installed on Vortex Plus
Clearance is tight but still works
Clearance is tight but still works
TIM Application
TIM Application
TIM Spread Pattern
TIM Spread Pattern
TIM Spread Pattern
TIM Spread Pattern

Cooler Master TIM supplied with the heatsink
Cooler Master TIM supplied with the heatsink
From the spread pattern pictures, it is easy to see that the base of the Vortex Plus is a little too large for the LGA775 processor and all heat pipes do not get good coverage.  However, the processor is getting good coverage so I am not too worried.

Results

Processor at stock settings
Processor at stock settings

Vortex Max Fan Speed: ~2900rpm
Vortex Max Fan Speed: ~2900rpm

Intel max fan speed ~1700rpm
Intel Max Fan Speed: ~1750rpm

Processor Overclocked Settings
Processor Overclocked Settings
Vortex Plus @ 10% Fan Speed: ~800rpm
Vortex Plus @ 10% Fan Speed: ~880rpm

When I overclocked the processor, I was able to reach the exact same settings at which I have been running this processor for a few years with the Vortex Plus and still kept the temperatures at 60°C max: 425mhz fsb, 1.35v.  I was not able to overclock the processor at all when using the Intel heatsink because the temperatures were already so close to 60°C at stock settings.

Average Temperatures

Idle
Vortex Plus, Stock CPU, Max Fan 30.3°C
Vortex Plus, Overclocked CPU, Max Fan 40.5°C
Vortex Plus, Stock CPU, 10% Fan 37.0°C
Stock Intel, Stock CPU, Max Fan 38.3°C
Stressed
Vortex Plus, Stock CPU, Max Fan 45.0°C
Vortex Plus, Overclocked CPU, Max Fan 60.0°C
Vortex Plus, Stock CPU, 10% Fan 57.0°C
Stock Intel, Stock CPU, Max Fan 55.3°C
Results
Results

Conclusion

The Cooler Master Vortex Plus is a very capable heatsink and will serve any HTPC build very well.  Whether the goal is silence or maximum performance, the Vortex Plus can cover it all.  Without a doubt, it stomped the Intel heatsink.  While I did not test the heatsink with no fan at all, the sound level created by the fan at 10% speed is so minimal it’s not even noticeable.  I would definitely suggest using this fan in a HTPC build.  To get the most benefit from this heatsink, I’d recommend leaving the processor at stock settings and set the fan control to only increase the fan speed when temperatures rise above 60°C.

Pros:

  • Heatpipe design improves cooling efficiency
  • Can be run with low fan speeds for low noise
  • Most parts are metal; very solid build quality

Cons:

  • Sleeve bearing fan
  • Plastic pins to secure the mount to the board
  • Heatpipes spread too far apart to properly engage processor

A special thanks to Cooler Master for providing this excellent heatsink to review.

splat

Discussion

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  1. Good job!
    The wide spaces between heatpipes is very odd, especially widest gap in the center of the base where the CPU die is located (the source of the heat).
    JackNSally
    Reminds me of the Thermalright XP-90/120.
    Great review none the less.

    That's the first thing I thought when I saw this review. I saw the pic and thought "why are they re-releasing the xp-90?" I still have the copper version of that thing on a e6600.
    This is a good writeup, and looks like a quality product for those people who can't cram a tower heat sink in their case.
    MattNo5ss
    Good job!
    The wide spaces between heatpipes is very odd, especially widest gap in the center of the base where the CPU die is located (the source of the heat).

    I think they are targeting the i3 and i5 processors that have a gpu and a cpu on the chip. Because the heat sources would be further out.