Evercool Transformer 3 Heatsink Review

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Last time out, I reviewed the Evercool Transformer 4. This time, I am reviewing the other product I received at the same time, the Evercool Transformer 3 heatsink. The Transformer 3 looks to me like it should be a more inexpensive offering than the Transformer 4, seeing as it only has three heatpipes instead of four. I haven’t been able to find it for sale anywhere yet, so this can’t be taken as fact. Also, instead of coming with two fans like the Transformer 4 did, this heatsink only comes with one. We will be taking this heatsink for a test drive on my LGA1366 test system to see how well it stacks up against its older brother and the competition.

Features and Specifications

(Courtesy of Evercool Thermal Corp., Ltd.)

Features

  • Support for all modern Intel and AMD socket designs
  • The three Ø6 mm heat pipes in V shape and the special fins design effectively increase airflow and cooling performance.
  • Equipped with a 12 cm PWM fan provides a silent and good performance; one additional fan can also be added.
  • Shock absorption rubber nail design reduces both vibration and noise.

Specifications

  • Overall Dimension : 130 x 161 x 78.5 x mm
  • DC Fan Size : 120 x 120 x 25 mm
  • Heat Sink Material: Aluminum Fin + Heat-Pipe
  • Bearing Type: Ever Lubricate Bearing (Long Life bearing)
  • Noise Level: <15 ~ <35 dBA
  • Fan Speed: 800±25% RPM ~ 2200±10% RPM
  • Rated Voltage: 12 VDC
  • Weight: 630 g

As you can see from the features and specifications listed above, this heatsink uses 6 mm heatpipes instead of the 8 mm heatpipes used on the Transformer 4. We will see if the size and number reduction affects cooling performance perceptibly. Also from the specifications this heatsink is supposed to come with mounting solutions for all modern Intel and AMD sockets.  When I opened the packaging up however, I found one set of brackets for mounting to LGA775 and LGA1156 missing, as well as a set of four nuts for mounting the heatsink to the motherboard. Since I am testing on an LGA1366 system, the missing brackets didn’t mess my testing up, but I did have to go to the hardware store and buy four M3 nuts for mounting purposes. That isn’t a very good start, Evercool. The bare heatsink massed in at 476.3 grams and with the fan mounted as installed the mass was 640.0 grams, which is only 10 grams off their specifications. The mass of the heatsink and the fan assembly were checked with my Ohaus 2610 triple beam balance. The fan by itself comes in at 160.7 grams.

Packaging

Unlike the Transformer 4, the Transformer 3 comes in a cardboard box instead of a sealed blister pack. The box dimensions are 5 7/8 X 5 X 7 1/4 inches (148 X 126 X 185 mm). I much rather the packaging of this heatsink over the Transformer 4, as it is easier to open and I think it affords better protection. It’s also easier to use again for storing the heatsink if you remove it from service. A small instruction sheet is included in the package, for installing the heatsink into your system.

Front of box

Front of box

Right side of box

Right side of box

Back of box

Back of box

Left side of box

Left side of box

Top of box

Top of box

Heatsink and mounting hardware pulled out of the box

Heatsink and mounting hardware pulled out of the box

View of heatsink with hardware pack removed

View of heatsink with hardware pack removed

 

 

First Look and Installation

Upon removing the heatsink and mounting accessories from the packaging, you see right away that this is a smaller heatsink altogether than the Transformer 4. Its basic shape is also different and more like the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus. It uses three 6 mm heatpipes bent in a “U” and are staggered into a “V” shape going through the fins. The finish on the base is good, with it being flat and with the heatpipes being very well integrated into the base. For mounting on AMD systems, there is a crossbar that utilizes the stock AMD retention module for mounting.  Also included with it is one 120 X 25 mm PWM controlled fan, instead of two of them like the Transformer 4. The fan is also different from the ones that come with the Transformer 4 and it has nine highly swept blades on the impeller, much like a Cooler Master R4 series fan. The fan is also finished in a plastic chrome finish, like the fans included with the Transformer 4. The Intel mounting system for this heatsink has mounting arms that screw to the heatsink base with 2 screws per arm. It came with the mounting arms for LGA1366 and LGA1156  installed. The instructions also show a separate set of mounting arms that are designed to mount to either LGA1156 or LGA775 systems, but my sample didn’t come with them. There is overlap for the LGA1156 platform with either set of Intel mounting arms.

Intake fan side view of heatsink

Intake fan side view of heatsink

Side view of heatsink

Side view of heatsink

Top view of heatsink

Top view of heatsink

Bottom view of heatsink

Bottom view of heatsink

Base is nice and flat

Base is nice and flat

Closeup of base. Nice job done on this by Evercool.

Closeup of base. Nice job done on this by Evercool.

Fan included by Evercool

Fan included by Evercool

The sparse mounting hardware included with heatsink

The sparse mounting hardware included with heatsink

AMD mounting instructions

AMD mounting instructions

Intel mounting instructions

Intel mounting instructions

For mounting the heatsink to the motherboard, Evercool decided to just use four screws with plastic washers stuck through the mounting holes instead of using a back plate. This works, but doesn’t spread the mounting pressure over the whole socket area. Rather, it point loads the tiny area around each of the mounting holes, which could warp or crack thinner motherboards. A back plate would be much better than the system they decided to use, in my opinion. I think this could end up costing you a motherboard if the case is bumped hard with the heatsink installed. And this also brings up one further problem I ran into with this heatsink. The sample I received was also missing the four M3 nuts for the mounting screws, besides missing the LGA775 mounting arms. The heatsink does mount up to the motherboard securely with their chosen mounting system though and it does supply sufficient clamping pressure for good heat transfer.

Screws for mounting heatsink stuck through mobo

Screws for mounting heatsink stuck through mobo

Front of mobo where mounting screws come out.

Front of mobo where mounting screws come out.

The fan is held on the heatsink with some specially made silicone rubber pins that slide into slots cut in the heatsink. I find that this system for mounting the fan(s) to the heatsink to be much inferior to the clip type mounts used with the Transformer 4, in that they can’t support a heavy fan nearly as well and they used a soft silicone in the mounting pins that is pretty easy to rip and tear on you when removing the fan from the heatsink. While testing this heatsink, I had three of the eight silicone rubber mounting pins that come with this kit tear and become useless and I was being careful with mounting and dismounting the fans.

Back side of heatsink with those cursed rubber mounting pegs for the fan

Back side of heatsink with those cursed rubber mounting pegs for the fan

Heatsink with fan mounted with those rubber pegs

Heatsink with fan mounted with those rubber pegs

Side view with fan mounted

Side view with fan mounted

Mounted on mobo. Again, note those stupid rubber pegs for mounting fan

Mounted on mobo. Again, note those stupid rubber pegs for mounting fan

Here are three pictures of the heatsink mounted and installed with various fan combinations that I tested it with:

Plenty of clearance between fan and first ram slot

Plenty of clearance between fan and first ram slot

S-Flex fans mounted on heatsink

S-Flex fans mounted on heatsink

120 X 38mm Delta fans mounted.

120 X 38mm Delta fans mounted.

Test Setup

Fans used for testing were as follows:

Fan(s) Size (mm) RPM CFM dBA H2O Static  

Pressure

(in H2O)

Wattage Mass (g)
Stock Evercool fan EC12025H12EP 

120 X 25 800-2200 

(PWM)

N/A <15~<35 N/A 3.84 160.7
2x Scythe S-Flex SFF21F 120 X 25 1600 63.7 28 N/A 2.4 178
2x Scythe S-Flex SFF21G 120 X 25 1900 75 35 N/A 2.88 182
2x Sanyo Denki San Ace 109R1212H1011 120 X 38 2600 102.4 39 0.26 6.24 243
2x DeltaFFB1212VHE 120 X 38 3200 151.85 53 0.445 12 403

I couldn’t test this heatsink with my Sanyo Denki compound fan as the fan mounting system wasn’t robust enough to hold that heavy fan securely. The mounting system was pretty much strained to the max just holding the Delta fans on the heatsink.

The testbed system is configured as follows:

  • Case – In Win Dragon Rider. The 220 mm side door fan has been shifted downward to give clearance for tall heatsinks such as this one. No other alterations have been made to this case.
  • Motherboard – Asus P6T
  • Processor – Intel Core i7 930, overclocked to 4000 MHz @ 1.304 v.
  • RAM – Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1600
  • Video Card – eVGA 7900GTX
  • Power Supply – HEC Cougar series (German HEC, not US model) S700
  • Hard Drive – Western Digital Caviar 250 GB SATA hard drive
  • Optical Drive – Lite On DVD-RW drive
  • OS – Windows Vista Ultimate 64 Service Pack 2
  • Arctic Cooling MX2 thermal paste was used for testing as I have found it to give good consistent results with no appreciable break in and it applies and cleans up easily.
  • All testing was done with the side door fastened to the case

Test Methodology and Results

The testing methodology used is the same as I used with my previous reviews. All energy saving features of the motherboard and processor were turned off to keep it from down clocking the processor speed and vcore. All fan control functions were turned off in bios to keep the fans at maximum speed. For processor temperature monitoring purposes, I am using Real Temp 3.46, with logging enabled at 2 second intervals. For room temperature monitoring, I am using a Fluke Model 52-2 and using a “K” type thermocouple that is inserted into the case front where the front intake fan is mounted. The Fluke records the maximum, minimum and average temps during the run at 1 second intervals.

Temperatures in my computer room were maintained as close as possible to around an 18 °C average during the run, as measured at the lower front intake fan by the Fluke. At the end of the test run, I logged the maximum, minimum and average temperature. The maximum and minimum temps are given as recorded by Real Temp, but the average temperatures have been adjusted to a constant 18 °C as derived from the Fluke average temps.

For loading the CPU, I used Prime95 version 25.8 using in-place large FFT’s and ran it for 30 minutes to stabilize temps. After 30 minutes, I would exit Prime95 and let the CPU idle for at least 10 minutes. The highest recorded temperature from the hottest core for each run was then recorded off of the Real Temp log, the lowest temperature on any core was recorded and the average temperature on the hottest core was calculated during the load portion of each run.

Each fan configuration was tested with three remounts of the heatsink, and the lowest average temperature run recorded, to minimize any problems between mount to mount installations.

The following chart gives the results I obtained with the fans tested above:

As you can see, this heatsink was able to keep temps pretty much in check on my test system. And it did show some scaling of performance as the fan CFM increased. The high reading of 84 °C with the stock fan kind of concerns me though if your system was continuously running at load, like running a distributed computing project, such as Folding@Home, BOINC/Seti or BOINC/Rosetta@Home as those programs will keep your processor at 100% load all the time.

Now we will see how this heatsink stacks up against it’s older brother, the Transformer 4 and also the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus. The chart below tells that story:

As you can see from that chart, it lags both the other heatsinks in cooling performance. It is just a little behind the Hyper 212 Plus, but it lags the Transformer 4 by quite a bit in cooling performance.

Conclusion

Looking around the internet, I still can’t find the Transformer 3 for sale anywhere, so I questioned Evercool on the pricing. They replied back that the MSRP on the Transformer 3 will be around $26. And since you generally find budget heatsinks selling for less than MSRP, you could very well find this at around the $20-22 price point. On the plus side for this heatsink, the base finish is about as good as I’ve seen with a HDT type of heatsink. The base was nice and flat and the heatpipes were very well integrated into the aluminum of the base. But, this heatsink has some serious weaknesses in my opinion. First and foremost is the mounting situation for Intel boards. Four screws with some plastic washers doesn’t constitute a good and solid mounting solution for a tall heatsink of this type. It is true that the stock Intel mounting system point loads the mounting holes around the socket in much the same way as this heatsink, but I really would rather see companies use a backplate to distribute the load on tower style heatsinks. Next, the rubber mounting pegs for the fans plain suck. They hold the fan that come with this heatsink adequately, but really fall on their face as the fan weight goes up. Also, the silicone rubber they are manufactured with is too soft to hold up well with repeated removal and re-installation. And you will need to remove at least two of them to get the fan off the heatsink. When they do tear up down the road, you will either have to get in touch with Evercool to buy more or jury-rig the fan to the heatsink with zip ties. Their other heatsink I reviewed, the Transformer 4, also had problems with it’s mounting system too. This is telling me that Evercool really needs to step up and fix their mounting issues. As competitive as the CPU cooling market is right now, I think that if Evercool  addresses these issues, it will differentiate themselves from their competition in the budget to lower-mid cooling market. So I will give this heatsink the Overclockers Meh rating.

In closing, I would like to thank Evercool for sending the Transformer 3 for me to test along with the Transformer 4. This one needs more work before you release it guys. Fix the fan mounting and include a backplate for the Intel mounting and this would have been an Approved rating. And stay tuned, I have a couple of new reviews coming very soon.

– Jim Gautreaux (muddocktor)

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Discussion
  1. Good read Mudd!
    For the price this might be right for someone, but the mounting and fan holds are things I'd want to be aware of up front. :salute:
    Do my eyes deceive me?
    I'm looking at this picture from the review

    And it looks as if the heatsink is on the same style of the NH-D14 or the Silver Arrow... But then we get to the pictures further down the page and find this

    EDIT
    Just realized it is an optical illusion. The cardboard box splits the fins down the middle and makes it look like a dual tower HSF. Still it had me scratching my head for a couple minutes.
    :chair: