Thermaltake Volcano 9

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Variable fan moderates noise and performance – Joe

SUMMARY: Good cooling at fastest setting, flexible fan controls.

Thermaltake Volcano 9

Size: 80x80x77 mm, fan noise 17 dB at 1300 rpm, 48 dB at 4800 rpm.

The good guys at Thermaltake were nice enough to send a sample of their latest heatsink, the Thermaltake Volcano 9.

It ships with a load of parts:

Thermaltake Volcano 9
  • Thermistor Cable
  • Potentiometer Cable (10K)
  • Four Pin Power Adapter
  • Thermal Pad
  • Thermal Grease

The fan is an Everflow Model #TT-8025TU – an 80 x 25mm unit which features 3 operating modes:

  • Flat Out – 4800 rpm
  • Temperature Controlled: 1300 rpm @ 20C, 4800 rpm @ 55C
  • Resistor Controlled: 1300 to 4800 rpm

It’s spec’d @ 17 dBA, 20.6 cfm at 1300 rpm to 48 dBA, 75.7 cfm @ 4800 rpm. In use, I measured its speed at 5480 rpm at 12 volts.

At full bore, the fan consumes 8.4 watts, so the four pin adapter is essential. The fan has a separate tachometer output so you can plug it into the motherboard’s fan header to monitor rpms. You have the option to vary rpms by temperature or manually adjust rpms with the potentiometer’s dial – both allow settings from 1300 to 4800 rpms.

One thing not mentioned in the packaging (although it is on the website): In order to activate temperature or potentiometer control, you MUST remove the blue jumper on the fan’s thermistor cable pin.

I measured its noise, 5347 rpm, at 70 dBA with a Radio Shack sound meter 8″ from the fan’s intake, a little louder than a Delta 38 (about 69 dBA). It’s not safe to use a motherboard fan header, and Thermaltake provides an four pin adapter cable.

The base

Base

features a copper core surrounded by aluminum fins. The copper core is slightly above the aluminum base, which is not a problem as the core is large enough to contact any CPU. The base is flat but not polished.

Some think that a copper core/aluminum fin arrangement is a superior combination due to each metals’s thermal characteristics. Bunk. It’s lighter and cheaper – that’s it. The fins

Fins

are typical aluminum extrusion – nothing out of the ordinary.

The clip engages all three lugs, so mounting is very secure. However, it does require a screwdriver to mount, so the screwdriver-challenged should take note.

In summary, a fairly conventional aluminum extrusion/copper core heatsink with a very secure clip and a 3 way fan.

The TEST CONTINUED page 2…

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THE TEST

The Volcano 9 was first tested on the CPU Die Simulator which gives results that are unaffected by motherboard influences. I then tested it on an Iwill KK266+, modified to read AMD’s on-die diode, as an example of what users might see on their systems.

In addition, with an adapter I tested it on a Lucky Star P4A845D with a modified P4 1500 to read CPU case temps. The copper core covered about 95% of the CPU case top.

TEST RESULTS – CPU Simulator

Heatsink
Die Temp
Ambient Temp
Delta
C/W
Volcano 9, 5347 rpm, 48 dBA
54.2 C
27.2 C
27.0 C
0.36
Volcano 9, 2617 rpm, 34 dBA
63.2 C
27.7 C
35.5 C
0.48

Note: dBAs normalized to spec.

TEST RESULTS – Motherboard
CPU/Motherboard

CPU Die Temp

Ambient Temp

Delta

C/W

CPU Back Temp

Palomino 1200, Iwill KK266+

31.9 C

19.5 C

12.4

0.23

33.8 C

Lucky Star P4A845D, P4 1500

45.9 C¹

29.8 C

16.1

0.28

39 C²

¹CPU Case Temp    
²CPU Die Temp per MBM

Delta = CPU temp – Ambient Temp
C/W = Delta / CPU Watts

Interpreting C/W: For every watt (CPUw) that the CPU
consumes, the HSF will limit the CPU’s temperature rise to (C/W x CPUw)
plus the temperature at the HSF’s fan inlet. For example, at an ambient temp of 25 C, a C/W of 0.25 with a CPU radiating 50 watts means that CPU temp will increase 50 x 0.25 = 12.5 C over ambient temp, or 37.5 C. The lower the C/W, the better.

Die Simulator results place the Volcano 9, at its highest rpms for Socket A cooling, in the mid rank of heatsinks (Heatsink Ranking). At a more noise tolerable 2617 rpm, the Volcano 9 falls into the lower ranks of heatsinks tested.

For P4 cooling, the Volcano 9 ranked lowest of those tested; the thermistor was placed against the CPU’s side, and the fan ran at 3336 rpm while running Prime 95. At idle, the fan ran at 2162 rpm – very quiet.

Thermistor Control CONTINUED page 3…

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Thermistor Control

To test the thermistor, I taped it to the side of the Palomino’s core. Thermaltake shows the thermistor taped to the backside of the CPU, with the thin blue wires resting between the socket and the CPU. Because of the thermistor’s length, the tip will not contact the back center of the CPU¹, where the temps are the hottest. I decided to use the CPU side instead.

TEST RESULTS – Thermistor Fan Control
CPU/Motherboard

CPU Die Temp

Ambient Temp

Delta

C/W

CPU Back Temp

IDLE, Palomino 1200, Iwill KK266+, 3155 rpm

42.5 C

29.8 C

12.7

0.23

44.8 C

STRESS, Palomino 1200, Iwill KK266+, 3533 rpm

46.0 C

30.2 C

15.8

0.29

48.3 C

Graph

The Volcano topped out at 46C, 3533 rpm, running Prime 95. I then let it run at Idle until temps stabilized. After about 30 minutes, the CPU powered down into a “sleep” state:

Sleep

The Volcano 9 hit its lowest rpms at this point – about 2151 rpm. I then woke it up by running a Quake Demo:

Quake

Note the rapid rise in temps – the thermistor lagged somewhat, but reached 3091 rpm at the peak – don’t expect response to be instantaneous. However, at idle it’s quiet and probably OK if you want to sleep.

CONCLUSIONS

Thermaltake’s Volcano 9 offers consumers three options in fan control – thermistor control may offer an attractive option to some users. Potentiometer control offers more rpm range, although users must manually dial in rpms. Cooling performance is OK but not top rank.

For Socket A cooling, the Volcano 9 is an OK performer; for P4 (not designed for it), it ranks at the bottom.

Overall, an interesting blend of performance options and noise control.

If you purchase this heatsink or fan, I would be very interested in your opinions.

The Volcano 9 is available from The Heatsink Factory. Thanks again to Thermaltake for sending this our way.

¹You could bend the probe into a “U” shape and contact the back, but on some CPUs, there are components on the back which interfere with contact.

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